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Is it unforgivable? Messy start ruining my loving relationship.

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This topic contains 21 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 months ago.

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  • #274023

    Dan
    Participant

    Hi all and thanks for reading. I have been with my girlfriend L, for 7 years and we seemed to be better than ever in a lot of ways. We love spending time together, support each other and talk through our problems reaching solutions together. In a lot of ways we are perfect for each other and that’s what makes this so confusing and painful. Its a bit of a long story but I feel that context is everything so here goes.

    I haven’t been able to get past what happened when we were first seeing each other. When we met she was 19 I was 21, we lived in a communal squat with loads of other friends, including my brother who is older than me by two years. We had known each other about a year while she was with someone else but then they broke up and she was available. We got together one night pretty spontaneously and had sex. The following weeks were a little awkward because her ex still lived with us for a while, he was my friend and I was worried about hurting his feelings so I know I acted a bit distant and cold to her in front of him. At the time I also still thought I was in love (unrequited)  with another girl who wasn’t in the country who I was in contact with online.

    I spoke to L and said I didn’t want a relationship and just wanted to be friends. But we liked being together ended up having sex again soon. It wasn’t planned, and I knew I was conflicted and not being open with her but I found it hard to say no to a girl I actually liked who obviously wanted to sleep with me. I hadn’t had many sexual partners and zero relationships and felt quite self conscious so it was an unfamiliar but amazing feeling.

    After getting together a couple more times I repeated our conversation about not wanting a girlfriend and actually said something like “don’t let me stop you finding someone or having fun”. I realise now that I was being very selfish not telling her I wanted someone else, but I thought I was at least not leading her on or playing with her feelings. Those days we were kind of distant most of the time. I had band practice and work commitments and was getting on with my own life. But when we spent time with each other we would usually end up in bed together.

    So this casual thing went on for a few months and things got more serious. Eventually we became a couple, I told her about the other girl and I promised I was over her (which was true) and we said we would be together exclusively. Thing were really good for a few more months until one evening, after a night out we were both a bit intoxicated and opening up about personal things. I told her I believed in being honest in relationships, she agreed, then said she had something she needed to tell me. Then she told me she had slept with my brother after we had first slept together. I freaked out. My head exploded and I felt sick. I started crying and shouting and generally took it really hard. She said it was only once and we weren’t a couple yet and I had told her I didn’t want to be with her so she could sleep with who she liked. Also she said she was lost and confused and not thinking clearly after the death of a close friend that year and that it was a mistake. I think I was in shock/denial but that night I eventually told her I didn’t want to give up something special like we had because of one mistake. Thing spiralled downhill for a while, I cried a lot and cut myself off from all my friends. Our relationship was very up and down, I would be normal, not thinking about it for a while then something would remind me and all the anger and resentment would come flooding back and I would either shut down and not talk to her for days, or get angry about trivial things or jealous about her sexual history, but whatever the issue in the moment it always came back to: well you fu**ed him so your a bi*ch. A year after she told me, I was arguing with her one day and I got the feeling she was hiding something. I challenged her and after a lot of shouting and denials she admitted there was almost second time with my brother but she had stopped it before actual penetration and said no. The big deal for me is that she slept with me, then him, THEN ME AGAIN before “almost” (in bed and aroused but not all the way) having sex with him again. then she kept going with me and only told me months later after I had developed feelings for her. I have tried to get over it and accept that we all make mistakes, I also acknowledge that I have hurt people in the past and I contributed to the messy way we got together. But it seems like when the memories come back it’s like she’s just told me all over again and I get heartbroken and angry for days.

    Recently, like I said at the start, things have been going really well. But something triggered me the other day and it got so bad we basically split up. I said I didn’t know if I could ever forgive and be happy with her. I feel stupid and not quite sure how I let myself get to this point, but I feel like If I leave her I will be losing everything I ever wanted, but if I stay then I’m sentencing myself to a life of pain and heartbreak. Like before I have told her I want to try forgive and move on but I’m really struggling to stop the cycles of replaying thing in my head and getting angry all over again. I fall back into depression, my thoughts are a mess and have wandered to suicide, which is something I thought about a lot in my youth but haven’t considered for years. I feel that the way the offenses came to light incrementally may be one reason it’s all still so fresh and raw. I’m spending time online actively trying to find ways to release this horrible weight and forgive. I’m doing the mental routines/exercises and reading the articles. I’ve never been good at forgiveness and any other time someone has hurt me I’ve tended to just cut them out of my life and not think about it/them. This time I have the desire to keep her in my life, but my brother will always be there to remind me so I just don’t know if it’s possible to let it go.

    I guess I’m writing this to get it off my chest, (I have never said this whole story to anyone because It makes me sick and I’m embarrassed to have let her do this to me, or even for being with someone who was capable of that), but also to get an outside perspective and opinions as to whether this is really unforgivable..?  What I can say is that she’s genuinely changed since we’ve been together and consciously tries to be a better person. She really is loving and caring. Tries to help me reconnect with my partly estranged family, and has made full, unreserved apologies that did not involve any of the reasons/excuses that tainted her previous ones. We have an amazingly close relationship that is going towards completely fulfilling all my desires and hopes for my life. Confusing right? I guess this is also a cry for help because I am struggling to see past this and I don’t know what to do. Is this a lost cause? Or is this just life? does love always come with pain? I don’t know if I even know how to be happy…

    #274031

    Mark
    Participant

    Dan,

    You wonder how you can forgive her? I’m confused. She was sexual with your brother twice and both times you were a couple. Nothing to forgive.

    In my opinion, you have deeper issues especially how you deal with your anger and resentment, shutting down, getting angry about trivial things or jealous about her sexual history.

    Address that to start with if you want to be happy. In a lot of ways, this has nothing to do with her. You have personal issues like trust and anger issues among other things. You pointed to your estrangement with your family. Those are the starting places to address before even thinking of having a healthy and happy romantic relationship.

    Make sense?

    Mark

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Mark.
    #274035

    Dan
    Participant

    Thanks so much for answering Mark! It means a lot that you are giving me your time.

    I totally agree I have issues to work out. My trust and anger problems are something I am starting to accept and try to fix. In fact L has persuaded me to talk with my mother again after a few years of no contact, and helped me to have a healthier outlook about my family in general. I still have anger issues and they all seem to be rooted in my past. But I gave up years ago on the possibility of closure or even a meaningful apology from the causes of pain from back then. So I feel if I can just learn to find peace in myself I will be able to be happier in general.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “nothing to forgive”  are you saying you wouldn’t even consider forgiveness?? or that I shouldn’t blame her?

    thanks.

    Dan

    #274037

    Dan
    Participant

    And just to clarify. we were having casual sex but were not a couple until later. both the times she messed around were during the very start of the casual period.

    Thanks.

    #274063

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dan:

    There are things that when told, cannot be untold. I don’t think any man likes to hear that his girlfriend had sex with his brother… or with anyone really.

    Lets look at the context, the circumstances when that happened: she was 19, “lost and confused and not thinking clearly”, had a recent breakup with a boyfriend and a close friend of her died that year. She was living in a “communal squat with loads of other friends”, young men and women with strong sexual drives, driven to mate. Maybe alcohol was involved, those older than 21 buying the alcohol and sharing it with the under 21. She sleeps with you, it just happened; then with your brother, it just happened, then with you again, then with him. Maybe with others as well, maybe she remembers maybe she doesn’t.

    Having read the rest of your post, I would forgive her if I was you. I would figure that your brother probably has no concrete memories of the experience with your girlfriend. He probably slept with other young women within the communal squat and outside of it. He likely has no memory of how she looked naked or how it felt. Only twice and so many other women then and since, all he remembers most likely is the dry fact that he had sex with her but no details, no recollections of how the experience felt, looked, or sounded like… Almost like it didn’t really happen.

    Maybe the reason this is bothering you as much as it does is because it triggers a feeling of betrayal that you experienced as a child, a betrayal by your mother with whom you didn’t speak for years and maybe should have kept it that way. Why didn’t you speak with her for years?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  anita.
    #274075

    Inky
    Participant

    Hi Dan,

    There are literally billions of other women on the planet. At least one of them haven’t slept with your brother, nor would sleep with your brother. You’ve been with her long enough. So she grew as a person. That’s great. She still slept with your brother.

    I think forgiving her will be loads easier at the very moment you break up with her and especially after you find someone new.

    Good Luck,

    Inky

    #274263

    Mark
    Participant

    Dan,

    So she slept with your brother before you two became a couple? Then she revealed that she and your brother became sexual without intercourse BEFORE you told her that you have feelings for her?

    You wonder how you can forgive her? I’m confused. She was sexual with your brother twice and both times you were a couple. Nothing to forgive.

    In my opinion, you have deeper issues especially how you deal with your anger and resentment. Shutting down, getting angry about trivial things or jealous about her sexual history,

    Address that to start with if you want to be happy. In a lot of ways, this has nothing to do with her. You have personal issues like trust and anger issues among other things. You pointed to your estrangement with your family. Those are the starting places to address before even thinking of having a healthy and happy romantic relationship.

    Mark

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Mark.
    #274293

    GL
    Participant

    Dear Dan,

    You were in a friends with benefits relationship with your current girlfriend and that was it. You were friend with benefits, you weren’t girlfriend/boyfriend, you were also supposedly in love with another girl at the time too. So no, there is no apologies needed from your girlfriend and for your forgiveness, her boyfriend.

    Why?

    Because you both decided that it was fine to share the same bed, but without communicating that you both were not going to sleep with other people at the same time. I repeat, you were friends with benefits without a contract of sleeping exclusively with each other. So no, your girlfriend has done nothing wrong, she was only trying to distract herself from her pain. And sleeping with people did that for her, that’s all.

    Clearly, you have some family issues that you need to sort out, but your girlfriend is not at fault for her actions before you both decided to enter into the exclusive girlfriend/boyfriend relationship. You fell for her of your own violations and she share mutual affections now, but before? Before was every person for themselves as you were only friends with benefits. So instead of thinking that your girlfriend is at fault when you weren’t even a couple back then, look at your own insecurities and think about why you’re so trouble about her sleeping with your brother. If it was some other person who you didn’t know, would that have made it sting a little less?

    And hey, she could have ignored the past and not even told you about it. That she even told you just goes to show how much she want this relationship to work. She chose to be honest with you. Now you need to stop blaming her for something that she is NOT at fault for and look at your insecurities.

    GL

    #274395

    Kkasxo
    Participant

    Hi Dan,

    It is understandable that you are upset and hurt over this. I do believe however that it has somewhat been escalated because the person who she had sex with is indeed your brother. I don’t think you would have been so upset to find out that she was sleeping with other people prior to your relationship.. as were you I’m sure, we are all adults, it is just what happens!

    As mentioned above by GL, technically you do not have a right to be upset with her for her actions PRIOR to you two being exclusively together. She was single at the time and in turn able to do whatever she wanted without the worry of hurting anyone – she had no one to hurt, she could only vouch for her own self. However, I say technically because this is where things get complicated. It would be great if we could all live in the ‘technically’ frame of mind but unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. Technically you shouldn’t be upset, but you are. Technically this shouldn’t hurt you, but it has. I feel that the fact that it was your brother she slept with has crossed some boundaries for you. I am currently dealing with something similar and I know just how difficult it is to get past the technically, because it hurts! It hurts regardless of whether it should or shouldn’t, it just does.

    I think this is a deeply personal issue to you and it is only you who can answer the question, can I really move past this?

    #274649

    Dan
    Participant

    Wow, thanks so much to everyone who has read and taken the time to answer. It really means so much! I’m going to try answer all of you, then try to put into words where I am now… so here goes.

    Mark.

    Yes, she did both back and forth things before we were a couple. She told me about 1 time after we became exclusive, then told me the rest a year later. Sorry if I was unclear, it was all coming out in a bit of a flood when I wrote my first post. Thanks again for taking the time!    You are right, it’s nothing to do with her in many ways. I’ve realised that more and more because I keep coming back to my family issues in my meditation. I was thinking I needed to forgive her, but really I need to learn to forgive period. Not excusing or condoning anything, but just letting go of my own pain and anger to have a better life. And it obviously starts with my family.

     

    #274681

    Dan
    Participant

    Anita.

    Yes, you have it right that not only alcohol, but drugs and the environment we lived in were big factors in our behavior at the time. We were essentially homeless, moving squat every few weeks/months (sometimes 3 or 4 times in a week) living a totally unstructured lifestyle, and taking recreational drugs/drinking almost every day for years. A pattern which we helped each other to break. She was becoming addicted to ketamine (which I have strong feelings against) when we met, I helped to convince her was unhealthy and destructive even though most of her freinds were taking it and offering it to her. And she made me question the way I would say yes to “fun” drugs/drinking all the time, regardless of weather I should (or even wanted to) in the moment.

    Thanks for those points about my brother (I will call him O from now on) and his memory. I also know that when L stopped the second time from going all the way, she told O she had been with me and he said sorry and that he didn’t know we had been together.

    I do feel betrayed by my mother. I have for my whole adulthood, although there are some events that really stand out. Why I stopped talking to her is a big question so I’ll try not to write my entire life….When my mother had her first child, she joined a religious cult called “The Family” or “Children of God”. Me and my 8 siblings were split into age groups with lots of other kids and didn’t interact normally as a family. I barely knew them, except O who was grouped with me because we are close in age. We lived a strictly controlled life. EVERYTHING we watched read or listened to was made by or approved by the cult leaders. It was a very sexually charged atmosphere. And children were sexualised by the adults when they barely reached puberty.

    Although O and I were fortunately too young to directly experience any sexual abuse ourselves (as far as I remember….I’m not certain), there was physical and psychological abuse. My oldest siblings weren’t so lucky and they have clearly been struggling to live happy lives. In one case the abuse continued from one brother to one of my younger sisters, who later tried to kill herself. I blame my mother for this happening in the first place, for failing to address it properly when she found out at the time, and not ensuring my little sister got the help/support she needed.

    My family left the cult when I was 8 yrs old (my oldest sister had run away previously but I didn’t know). So at that tender age I discovered that everything I been taught in my life previously, everything my elders/parents and role models had said was lies. I had to try get over the weird beliefs and find out what was true. Since then my mother has consistently denied any wrongdoing, never even bringing up the past at all. She will say she doesn’t remember traumatic events, or that she “made some mistakes but did her best”, without ever apologising (to me at least). Which makes it extremely difficult to resolve any of our issues.

    I had quit secondary school aged 14. A year before getting any qualifications, but just managed to get let into a college as the youngest student there, my mother split up with the man who left the cult with us who we had called dad. She married someone else almost immediately, eloping to Hawaii alone, before moving miles away into a 1 bed apartment with her new husband and my little sister. O was practically on the street already dabbling in heroin and I said I didn’t want to move, but stay in the area and finish college, so she left me with a guy I’d never met, who put me up until I was kicked out of college not long after. I went into homeless shelters and different places at the age of 15. That was when I stopped talking with my mother. Although she did barely maintain contact with a phone call or two per year. I basically had nothing to say to her for a long time.

    #274685

    Dan
    Participant

    Inky.

    Thanks for the input. That was my gut reaction when she first told me, I was like: she makes me happy, but she slept with him. and I would go in circles a lot, always coming back to that one thing. Now I am putting things into words I can see that the good things outnumber the bad. I think I could easily have left her back when she first told me, but fear of loneliness and a twisted need to punish her/get revenge was holding me back. Now, those toxic reasons have been (i think) replaced by real love and respect for who she is, plus our relationship has really blossomed in the last couple of years, we both have grown and at present I feel that instead of fear of being single (I have thought about what I would do if we split up and it might be scary but not the end of the world) it’s appreciation for what we have that is keeping me with her and making me want to work on myself to fix our relationship.

    Obviously I’m still conflicted. Nothing heals in a day. But I feel that I’m clearer about what I need, and I’m trying to be more open about how I feel instead of bottling things up. If we end up together I’ll be happy. If not, I will be happy knowing that we weren’t right for each other, instead of wondering if it was just my issues clouding my perceptions.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to help me. Your words (and my reactions to them) have really made me realise how much I care for L and value our relationship. There are a billion women out there, but I have met few couples who have the friendship and common goals that I believe we share.

    #274687

    Dan
    Participant

    GL and Kkasxo.

    Thanks for reading and leaving your input. I’m going to reply to you both because your points are connected.

    I can’t argue that she was free to do as she liked. It’s hard to accept but I have told myself this and I know its true. Your both right that my insecurities about myself and my brother O, plus the fact that it was him who she slept with, have made this into a much bigger deal than it should be. I would definitely not have been as upset if it was anyone else. I have lots of unresolved issues and perhaps L has been an easy target to blame for everything bad I’m feeling, including my anger towards O.

    O has made me feel very bad at some times in my life and I’ve found it hard to accept that L would sleep with a person like him. But at the time she hardly spoke English and was just getting to know us both so I can’t really blame her for that. We were just friends with benefits, but I do think she betrayed that friendship by her actions and didn’t show me much respect as a friend. Sure we weren’t exclusive, but my brother? Of course I have made mistakes in my past too which might make people say the same about me… Of course she couldn’t know about my family issues, my past with O, or how it would effect me to this extent. She’s told me O didn’t know about us, that he initiated it and she just went along, so I believe there wasn’t anything malicious in it. I know my actions at the time probably made her more likely to sleep with other people and I hated myself for that a long time after. She told me (about the once) without having to, but I had to push her to get the whole story. Technically she was honest the first time (they only “had sex” once), but it didn’t feel very truthful when I found out the rest. Perhaps she wasn’t obligated to tell me anything but we had promised to be honest with each other so hiding it doesn’t seem right either. At least now I know everything, I can put it where it needs to be and perhaps move on.

    I absolutely trust that she’s honest with me these days and I have given up any thoughts of hurting her back. I do know she wants this relationship to work and she’s been amazingly patient and supportive of this process. I actually want to forgive everything (including myself) and stop making her live with my pain and I don’t want to live with it either. Basically I have gone round and round both sides of this in my head for too long and I just want it to stop. What I’m learning as I write these posts is that staying with her or not isn’t the biggest issue for me. I do believe the good outweighs the bad and I want her in my life. When it come down to it, the truth is I should get over it and stay with her, or get over it and let her go. I need to sort my head out, regain confidence and find myself again. Then make decisions from a place of peace.

    Thanks for bearing with me through my arguments with myself. It’s helping me so much just to talk about all this and organise my thoughts/feelings.

    #274699

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Dan:

    You and L were two very young people in a group of a “homeless, moving squat”, relocating very often, “living a totally unstructured lifestyle, and taking recreational drugs/drinking almost every day for years”- within this context, really, it doesn’t matter whether it was your brother there in the squat or someone else that she slept with. These were not circumstances where a person can be held responsible for whom they sleep with. It is quite impressive to me that she can even remember who she slept with and especially impressive that she remembers a second time that it didn’t go all the way. I didn’t know daily drugs and alcohol in a homeless kind of life allowed such good memory.

    “Is it unforgivable?”- you asked. I say it is Forgivable. But if it hurts you too much, for too long, then you need to do what you need to do so to remove this hurt.

    You shared that your mother joined a religious cult called “The Family”, with all nine of her children. You and O were grouped together with others about your age. “It was a very sexually charged atmosphere. And children were sexualized by the adults when they barely reached puberty”. Your mother didn’t protect your younger sister from sexual abuse, nor did she try to help her after the abuse.

    When you were 8, your mother, her boyfriend and siblings left the cult. Your mother and her boyfriend broke up, she married someone else almost immediately, flew to Hawaii and later moved to a 1 bedroom apartment with her new husband and your younger or youngest sister, while you soon after found yourself in “homeless shelters and different places at the age of 15”.

    I wonder what motivated your girlfriend to suggest that you renew contact with your mother (not a good idea as I see it). What did she say to you in this regard, encouraging you contacting this woman, your mother?

    anita

    #274735

    Dan
    Participant

    Hi Anita.

    It’s true that unstable behavior came hand in hand with that lifestyle. I was not in a good place at the time and neither was she. The more I write these things and put it into words the more I realise that we shouldn’t blame each other for anything we did back then. I really appreciate your thoughtful words and it helps me put things in perspective.

    I am starting to realise that my family are bad for me. They need to heal themselves before we could ever start to have a good relationship.

    L suggested I reconnect with my mother because she could see I had a lot of anger towards her. I had cut things off with her in anger and never really stopped being angry, even though I had stopped thinking about it all the time. She thought it would be good for me to have a mother figure in my life and not be so angry at her. L was not aware of the full extent of my mothers failings. She couldn’t understand how I could speak so harshly about her. To be fair, my mother was helpful at first when we came back to live close to her and we have been on ok terms. But the old issues have never been talked about or acknowledged. So we just slipped into a pattern of small talk and being civil to each other without fixing anything.

    I still don’t feel I have a mother figure, and I’ve found myself trying to deal with her newly discovered racism and nationalism. It has been exhausting and ultimately futile.

    I think I’m making progress with my pain. This back and forth is helping me to see where my hurt is really coming from. Thanks again for your time, kind words and the effort you put in every day to help everyone who is hurting on this forum!

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