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Issues with trust and comparison

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  • #367160
    psc1227
    Participant

    Hi all,

    I have been in a relationship for 1.5 years with someone who I love and who loves me (I will call him Michael). We generally are thoughtful and open with each other, communicate regularly, make each other laugh, and care a lot about each other. However, I am still working through issues from past relationships around cheating and betrayals of trust, and because of this I’ve often created issues around trust in my current relationship. Specifically, I have been unnecessarily focused on Michael’s past relationships–he is still friends with his exes on social media and because of the way cheating has developed in my past relationships this has been triggering even though I myself am friends with some exes on social media and even very casually/distantly in real life. He has also had relationships in the past with people who are controlling and I don’t want to be like that. I realize that these concerns are based in my insecurities and also how frustrating it is to my boyfriend for me to bring up past relationships when he hasn’t done anything other than like a few pictures–he has done nothing to betray my trust and many of these relationships are many years old. He has common friends with most of these people and he still cares about them on a platonic level which is why he is still friends with them.

    A few weeks ago he and I were talking about silly vanity license plates and he said that he has a friend who posted a funny one recently on Instagram. I asked him which friend, since I know most of his good friends, and he said it was someone who he and I are both friends with on Instagram, someone I’ll call Bob. Since I am also friends with Bob on Instagram I knew that Bob hadn’t been the one to post this picture since I hadn’t seen this post. When I asked who it really was that Michael was referring to he said it was someone he had dated a little bit before we met. At first he said it was someone named Rachel, but then he changed his story again and admitted that it was another girl (I’ll call her Alice). He and Alice are also still friends because they both work in the same industry (brewing) and she is friends with many of his friends in the industry. They have also seen each other (apparently only in groups) while he & I have been dating at three different beer events, but he never had told me that they had dated and he never invited me to these events (I probably only could have attended one of these since the others were in the city Alice lives in). They also sometimes talk via text and Instagram message, although he says it’s very brief messaging and only once every month or so, and that it is usually just about work questions or they’ll send a funny picture of something they see. He says he only went on a few dates with Alice and they stopped seeing each other a few months before he & I met, so it wasn’t serious. They seemed to have stopped dating because they live in different cities and because she started seeing someone else who she was more interested in. I stupidly asked if he was still attracted to her, to which he said yes, but he says he only has feelings of friendship towards her. He said he isn’t sure whether they would have continued to date if she hadn’t started seeing someone else more seriously but that he isn’t interested in her in that way now.

    He has since apologized for lying. He said it was because he knows how focused I have been on past relationships that mean nothing to him and he didn’t want to create another issue out of this friendship with Alice. He also says he has “muted” Alice on social media, which I appreciate, although I know they will still likely communicate via text and Instagram message. But he says he will try to avoid initiating these messages. He also said he will never lie to me again. But he also said he doesn’t want to end a friendship because that seems controlling, which I can see and agree with.

    I am upset because of his lying, although I understand I have created a context (worrying about his past girlfriends) where it is difficult for him to be open about who he has dated especially if they are still in his life. But it still hurts. Also, I feel like the fact that he lied makes me feel more insecure and untrusting. I will admit I have now looked at Alice’s Instagram, and she seems much more his type–tattoos, working in the brewing industry, artsy, into his type of music, etc.–everything that I feel I am lacking and which makes me feel I am not as attractive to him (even though he says he finds me attractive). Connected to this, I have been thinking of getting a tattoo for the first time but now I don’t know if I am doing it for myself or to feel more attractive to him. I am having a hard time not comparing myself to her.

    I guess I have a few questions:

    -How do we rebuild trust and figure out a way to move forward? How do you get to true forgiveness? Is it possible in this situation?

    -How can I accept that he is attracted to other people while also accepting that he loves me? This seems very important and something I struggle with because of past cheating and betrayal.

    -How can I stop my issue with comparison to Alice? She and I are different races and, like I said, she has tattoos and is very artsy. I feel like I’m lacking and need to be more like that to be attractive.

    I appreciate any advice & I’m sorry for writing so much!

    • This topic was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by psc1227.
    #367173
    anita
    Participant

    Dear psc1227:

    Because re-reading your previous threads is likely to help me understand your current thread, I have done so. Here is a summary of what you shared there:

    In May of 2016, you met a man with whom you were in an “off and on pattern every few months” for almost 3 years. He repeatedly broke up with you and repeatedly returned to you, apologizing for everything.. only to break up with you again: “Each time he was the one who broke up with me, and each time we got back together he was the one who came back to me and wanted to get back together. He apologized each time”.

    He often got annoyed with you for comments you made and questions you asked, such as regarding his drinking of alcohol, his past 10 year marriage, and his ex- coworker whom he told you previously that he wanted to date. He often became “very upset and non-communicative”, blaming you for being insecure and immature and “chipping away at the relationship”.

    During one of the times he broke up with you,  he told you that “he feels nothing for me, that he doesn’t love me or feel any attraction to me”, and that he will not second guess his feelings this time. Yet you wanted “nothing more than to change his mind… having obsessive thoughts about him being with someone else and being so much happier without me”. You worried that you were “too needy and needed to talk through my concerns too much or exhibited signs of jealousy and just pushed him away”.

    That I-feel-nothing-for-you breakup was followed by “the worst breakup occurred in January 2017” during your birthday party, immediately after your sister “pulled him aside during the party and she told him that she wanted to make sure that he wasn’t going to hurt me again”. A few months later, you were together again,” things were good for a few months. But you were anxious and depressed because of the unstable relationship with him (“constantly worried he was going to leave”), and because of your mother’s worsening neurological condition, and because of “other family dynamics”. He was living with you at the time, and you “started going to therapy and taking anti-depressants”.

    In May 2018, I think it was, you ran a 10 mile race and he was supposed to cheer you on from the sideline, at a particular spot, but he wasn’t there. You were very sad that he wasn’t there and expressed it to him. He was annoyed that you were sad, and you “ultimately apologized for being sad”. The night after you apologized for being sad, you told him that you felt “that he didn’t necessarily prioritize my interests as much as his own (he is a musician and I’ve been to all of his shows and even hosted a concert for him at our apartment)”. His reaction was to get upset and accuse you for being resentful, and said “that he doesn’t know if he can be with someone like me”.

    Following that, you “kept asking for forgiveness but he didn’t seem to be forgiving me or  open to me”. Next he said he was sorry for being distant and that he was ready to be open with you. Next he blamed you for creating “too much pressure” on him, and that “he wasn’t happy being in the city we live in, he wasn’t happy with our apartment, and he wasn’t happy with his job or with our relationship”, and that he wanted to move back to his hometown. Within an hour, he told you that his father found a place for him in his hometown. Next he told you that “he loves me and doesn’t want to leave me”, and next, he told you “that he’s definitely moving to his hometown”, and that you “had been too difficult and that he doesn’t think we should be together”.

    He later apologized, told you that “he definitely loved me”, and then… messaged his sister that “things were difficult and that he never wants to live with me ever again”, and that “breaking up is a process”. You found out that he was planning to move out from the apartment you shared long before he mentioned it to you, and that “he had emailed multiple friends about(moving out of the apartment) and asked then to keep it a secret from me, His parents and sister had also told him to keep it a secret from me since he and I were living together and they didn’t want it to be ‘uncomfortable’ for him”. Later you told him that you found out what you did, and he “continued to deny that he was lying, but then half apologized”.

    After that (final?) farewell, you asked: “How can I forgive myself? Is this my fault?… Because it was so on and off and he always came back I think I’m having a hard time believing it’s over… I feel lost and like I’ve lost so much of myself in these three years.” (June 25, 2018).

    Two years and three months later, today, you posted about a new relationship of 1.5 years, a relationship with Michael. You wrote that you have a thoughtful relationship where the two of you are open with each other and communicate regularly, caring a lot about each other, “However, I am still working through issues from past relationships around cheating and betrayals of trust.. I have been unnecessarily focused on Michael’s past relationships- he is still friends with his exes on social media… I am friends with some exes on social media”. You shared that “he has done nothing to betray my trust”, but he lied to you, a minor lie regarding who posted a funny vanity license plate. He told you it was a male friend of his who posted it while it was a girl (Alice) who he went on a few dates with before he met you. He apologized to you for lying, and said “it was because he knows how focused I have been on past relationships that mean nothing to him and he didn’t want to create another issue out of this friendship with Alice.  You asked him if he was still attracted to her, and he said that he was. “He also said he will never lie to me again. But he also said he doesn’t want to end a friendship because that seems controlling, which I can see and agree with”.

    You wrote that you are upset about his lying, although you “understand I have created a context (worrying about his past girlfriends)”. You wrote about Alice: “she seems much more his type… everything that I feel I am lacking and which makes me feel I am not as attractive to him.. comparing myself to her”.

    Your current questions: “How do we rebuild trust and figure out a way to move forward? How do you get to true forgiveness? Is it possible in this situation? How an I accept that he is attracted to other people while also accepting that he loves me?.. How can I stop my issue with comparison to Alice?”

    My input and answers today: there is a difference between your current boyfriend and your past boyfriend. Your past boyfriend was dishonest with you on an ongoing basis, he was deceitful. He planned on moving out months before mentioning to you that he had it in his mind to move out. He communicated with multiple people behind your back about things he hid from you. In addition to his dishonesty, he was very impulsive, back and forth, over and over again. These two  things: his dishonesty and impulsivity are not things that you created-that’s not something you caused: that’s who he was, and as you shared, his family encouraged him to be dishonest.

    Your current boyfriend’s lie about who posted a particular photo is far from being similar in magnitude to the lies your ex boyfriend told you, or the truths he hid from you. Lying to you about his plans to move out of your shared apartment was a lie of importance and consequence. On the other hand, It is of no importance and no consequence- who posted that vanity license plate photo. Like he told you, and you agreed, he was worried that you will become anxious if he told you that Alice was the one who posted the photo. I think that this lie is forgivable.

    I detect a deep hurt in you, a deep emotional injury: feeling less than other girls/ women and that injury keeps opening up so often, during your past relationship and during this one.

    If you want to, please share with me about the origin of this injury: do you remember when and in what context you started feeling less-than/ not-as-valuable-as-other, as early back in time as you can remember (before your previous relationships with men)?

    anita

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