Making Up For Lost Time

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    Hello all-

    I have had a hell of a relationship. I went through a five-year phase of not giving a shit what I did to people.

    My high school ex was an awful man. He had hit and raped me, also locked me in a room for a time. It was a bad relationship. I dumped him when I discovered I had feelings for a man named Eric whom I worked with. Eric and I began dating not three days after I dumped my ex.

    In doing so, I brought all my baggage with me into the relationship. I lied to Eric, I went behind his back, fell in love with another man while dragging him along, and never admitted to my actions until Eric said that he knew everything. I was in bad shape, and I didn’t realize it… nor did I care. Even when Eric begged me to get help, I didn’t believe I was the one who needed help.

    A year ago, I woke up. I looked at Eric lying beside me and told myself “If you don’t do something, you’ll lose this amazing man,”

    I lost him anyway.

    I have been working with various therapists to improve myself- to confront my fears and face my demons, to stop lying and start believing in myself. It has been a difficult, trying process and I am grateful for every minute of it.

    And Eric has watched along the way.

    Tonight, he said something to me that I am not sure how to figure out. He says that if I cared, I would be trying to make up for the time that I wasted in our relationship (even though we are broken up and have been for nearly a year). I asked him what do I do because… I really have no idea. And he said he didn’t know, and that if I cared, I would figure it out myself.

    So, here I am. I am in love with this man and want to make him happy. I myself am already happy with the actions of my present self, and will continue as such.

    So, the blatant question is: What can I do to show him that I want to make up for the time I wasted? That I truly care? I have no job, so I cannot buy anything. I just genuinely don’t know what to do.

    Thank you to anyone and everyone who is willing to help.




    Hi Kateleigh,

    My initial reaction is that his comment sounds a bit manipulative, passive-aggressive, and resentful.

    It feels like he has a lot of pent up frustration and he’s trying to make you suffer as retribution for your indiscretions.

    At this point, I wouldn’t take his words too literally because there seems to be a lot of emotion behind them. You’ve already asked him to be more specific and he’s come back with a snarky remark that tries to undermine your confidence in your love for him. I personally don’t like when people “test” my love or make me try to prove anything. That’s not a healthy place to be coming from.

    You’ve said your sorry and you’re going to work on making the relationship work. That’s all you can promise. It’s not going to happen overnight and there’s no point in trying to “make up for lost” time. You’re not a car that can just be shifted into overdrive and do everything faster. Change requires patience and understanding.

    All the best


    Hello Kateleigh,

    I really think you should just be yourself and show him how much you care or love him. Little details matter the most. You can tell him how much you love him but you need to show him and only you know how. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. Be yourself and take a risk and try to work things out with him without thinking the past. Be vulnerable. It will take time to gain his confidence trust.

    1. Communicate with him respectfully.
    2. Let him know he’s important to you.
    3. Try to understand his reasons, even when you disagree.
    4. Ask for his help.
    5. Let go of the small stuff.
    6. Tell him you love and respect him
    7. Give him some space for his hobbies
    8. Show him that you respect him and trust him.
    9. When you go out together don’t bring up problems.
    10. Focus your attention on what he’s doing right.
    11. Show interest in what he feels is important in life.
    12. Be happy and positive when he comes home.
    13. Give him half an hour to unwind after work.
    14. Don’t allow any family member to treat him disrespectfully.
    15. Defend him to any family member who tries to dishonor him.
    16. Compliment his efforts above his performance.
    17. Seek his advice when you face challenges.
    18. Set and work on goals together.
    19. Don’t over commit yourself, leave some time for him.
    20. Be forgiving when he unintentionally offends you.
    21. Find ways to show him you need him. Guys need to be needed.
    22. Don’t fill his every spare moment with chores.
    23. Peel away your pride and admit your mistakes.
    24. Rub his neck and shoulders when he is stressed.
    25. If he wants to talk, listen and ask viewpoint questions.
    26. Express appreciation for his hard work.
    27. Tell him you are proud of him for the person he is.
    28. Give advice in a loving way; do not in a nag him.
    29. Reserve some energy for him when he wants you sexually.
    30. Don’t expect him to spend all his time on honey do projects.
    31. Commend him for being a good man.
    32. Brag about him to other people even when he’s not there.
    33. Share your feelings with him but keep it abbreviated.
    34. Tell him 3 things you specifically appreciate about him.
    35. Honor him and show your respect in front of everyone.
    36. Get up with him, even when he gets up earlier than you want to.
    37. Be his helper in whatever ways he needs it.
    38. Accept that sometimes he just wants to be with you and not talk.
    39. When he’s in a bad mood don’t crowd him.
    40. Help him accomplish his goals.
    41. Work to get rid of habits that annoy him.
    42. Don’t compare his relatives with yours in a negative way.
    43. Thank him for things he’s done around the house.
    44. Don’t expect him to always notice everything you do.
    45. Consult him before making important plans.
    46. Let him sleep in when he can.
    47. Don’t belittle his intelligence or be cynical with him.
    48. Initiate sex periodically but be responsive more often.
    49. Get to the point in your discussions without endless details.
    50. Wink at him from across the room when you’re out together.
    51. Give him the benefit of the doubt when he misspeaks.
    52. Don’t quarrel over words.
    53. Be kind and courteous with him.
    54. Don’t blame him every time things go wrong.
    55. When he blows it don’t say, “I told you so.”
    56. Never argue over money, he already feels responsible.
    57. Hold his hand and snuggle up close to him.
    58. Praise his good decisions and minimize the bad ones.
    59. Don’t expect him to read your mind, we’re not that smart.
    60. Check with him before you throw away his papers and stuff.
    61. Work to keep yourself in shape in every way.
    62. When you’re angry don’t give him the silent treatment.
    63. Look your best for him and make him proud to be seen with you.
    64. Be his best cheer leader.
    65. Acknowledge his successes in areas of everyday life.
    66. Patiently teach him how to demonstrate his love for you.
    67. Thank him for just being himself.

    • This reply was modified 10 years, 5 months ago by Edlin.

    I have to agree with John’s reaction; this man sounds manipulative. Think about it, what he’s saying is: “you could erase the past if only you could read my mind.” But the reality is that none of us are mind readers! The best relationships are built on foundations of honesty and communication, none of which he is giving you.

    If this man really cared for you, he would not be holding onto resentment, he would be supportive of your healing process and would not selfishly ask you to start putting him first when you’re making such progress in becoming your authentic self!



    In contrast to John’s intuitive defensive posture and Edlin’s list of actions, what I see is a man who went through a troubling experience from his side. Perhaps what he is seeking is a validation of his difficulties and emotions while he was going through it. A few things came to heart as I read your words.

    When we are in pain, such as your “baggage” you brought with you, we act and think selfishly. That’s normal and usual, and there’s no need to beat yourself up for it. Our pain is real, and it draws our attention. For instance, you had a real fear of harm, so you lied. To be honest would be to invite abuse in your past, and so in trying to protect your heart, you tried to paint a “safe” picture for him. Its very reasonable to do so, but is also not great for intimacy. Its said that the lie is worse than the trespass, and when we are actually safe, it is. Otherwise, we do what we need to do to be safe.

    The problem is that neither of you had the space to see one another and love one another completely. You didn’t see the loving and supportive man, and he didn’t see the scared woman. This split in views caused erosion of intimacy. If one or both of you had been able to see through the walls, it would have been fine. But, from his side, it was very painful to be lied to and cheated on. That’s normal, most of us are not saints.

    When his words of “making up for lost time” came across my heart, it felt like a hope for validation for his experiences. For instance, “I am sorry for what I did to you, will you forgive me?” might on the surface look like a just apology. However, it is still self-centric… all about you. Consider the difference “It must have been painful for you to go through that, and the fear you saw in me during our relationship didn’t fit your actions, you were great.” Can you see the way it remains centered on him and his experience? He is a real, autonomous man who went through a difficult time as he tried to relate to you. Now, that is his baggage… his confusion and unresolved moments.

    That being said, you have no obligation to reach out to him in such a way. You and your karma are your business first and foremost. Him and his baggage are his business first and foremost, not yours. His experiences are not your fault. Even if he blames you for them, it is still not your fault. We all make mistakes. He saw a deceptive woman instead of a scared woman. His issue. You saw an abuser instead of a safe man. Your issue. We all have our hangups, and when we untangle our own, we honor those painful moments we shared with others, no matter where they came from. Then, gently, with growing skillfulness, we can reach out to others and try to help them find their peace and joy.


    With warmth,


    I have to agree with Matt. My response was defensive. When I read your post, I could feel anger rising in me and a need to reach out and protect you.

    At the same time, I think we’re saying the same thing, although Matt’s approach is a lot more compassionate to both your suffering and his.

    I feel it too now. He is suffering also. He’s been hurt and wants validation. Unfortunately, it comes out as wanting compensation. I can see the difference now.


    Thank you everyone for all of your answers- they have all been extremely enlightening! There are definitely some viewpoints that I never really thought of before.

    Thank you! I will write when I have more time.



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