- 5 years ago
Hi everyone. I’m new here. My relationship with my boyfriend (unofficial fiance) is the first I’ve ever been in (I’m twenty-two) so I really don’t know what to do and I feel like I desperately need help. Sorry the post is so long!
Basically, I had never had a relationship, and I reached the point in my life where I wanted to see what it was like. I met this guy who was really amazing, but someone told me he had a girlfriend, so I immediately considered him off-limits. But then he explained to me that it was an open relationship. Non-exclusivity was always unthinkable to me– when I was five years old, I remember believing that I couldn’t love someone who had ever loved anybody else. I know that’s stupidly unrealistic, but I was five 🙂 Anyway, I’m still really romantic, not to mention I grew up in a very conservative country. But he said his girlfriend had moved away. I asked if they were in a long-distance relationship and he said no, they were both free.
Love was out of the question for me now. But I thought that it would be okay for a super-casual relationship. I was only going to be in the city for a month anyway. I asked him at least to be exclusive with me for that month. He agreed (except that he would still write to his girlfriend and consider her above me, and he would visit her AFTER I had moved away… but basically, while I was there he wouldn’t sleep around.)
We were like that for a month, just seeing each other on the weekends. Then something terrible happened: I fell in love with him. He had always been hard and cold (although he still told me that he loved me, but it didn’t mean anything because he told everyone that…) but that weekend he opened a lot to me and I saw a real sweetness. He asked me to come back someday.
I left for three months, missing him hugely, and then came back. He told me he would prefer to be non-exclusive with me. I said that exclusivity was really vital to me… except I compromised by leaving a weird gray area where his ‘other girlfriend’ was concerned. It really killed me but I loved him so much. I didn’t want to force a change; I wanted him to choose me on his own. But time passed and he didn’t. I told him many times how much I was against the idea, but he would just respond by describing how beautiful a person she was, and how much he loved her, and (indirectly) how much better she was…
I was thinking that I would give him three months to choose, the most I could manage, because it pained me every day; after that, he’d need to decide what he wanted. I wanted him to actually embrace being with only me (as opposed to going on about his idea of what love should be: non-attached, non-dependent, polyamorous… non-loving, in my opinion… It always hurt me when he talked like that because it made me believe he was actually incapable of giving all of himself to whole-hearted love.) But he said that my point of view was unimaginative and conventional. He said he didn’t know who he would choose. He said that she shared his beliefs. That marriage might work with her. The way he described her, I didn’t even know why he was wasting time with me. I felt like crap. Also, I was only twenty, and he was thirty and so experienced, I felt like he could have been more gentle with me about this stuff. I was so conflicted, always teetering on the verge of leaving but never able to force myself to go through with it.
Those three months ended and he still loved her/ was with her. For visa reasons, I had to leave the country for a while. A few weeks before, I had asked him about her again and he said he wouldn’t “change a comma” of their relationship, and that I didn’t even have the right to ask. (I can’t describe how horrible, how sad and lonely and disrespected I felt after that.) Then weeks later he said maybe but he needed more time. It had already been the full three months though. So as I left I asked him if he could remain exclusive (i.e. not have sex with random people) while I was gone, and then I’d come back. He said he didn’t want to, he wanted to be “free” to sleep with other girls. I cried and cried at the train station. Still he let me leave the country like that. A few hours later, I texted him to say that I wouldn’t come back; he phoned and, after arguing and trying to convince me to give in, agreed to “try” to be exclusive while I was gone.
I was gone another three months. He’s very honest and he kept his word. I knew he would. But long-distance was hard enough without the added pressure of knowing that he loved someone else at the same time. I kept thinking about that other girlfriend, and I kept crying, and I couldn’t sleep. I decided I couldn’t stand it anymore, that it wasn’t fair of him and that if it continued this way I would end up really resenting him. I asked him about her again. He said that they were more like friends and he didn’t even know if they were still together. That sounded like vague procrastination to me, so I wrote again repeating my question. This time he said that she was out of the picture; that he was only with me now.
I was so relieved. Except then a few days later he posted a picture of himself holding a heart on her facebook wall. (Later he said it was non-romantic, he hadn’t even thought about the heart…) I joined him to travel through Europe together. The same week I arrived, he told me that he didn’t love the other girl anymore… but then went on to add that he had loved her more than he had ever loved me. And that she and his ex-fiancee were THE women of his life. I couldn’t believe that I was with someone who would flat-out say those things to me, rubbing them in my face. I wanted to leave but I was in the middle of nowhere at this point, kind of stuck with him.
That month was the worst. He told me such horrible things. For example, that he didn’t need me, that he would have children with or without me, that he didn’t really love me at all– only in the limited, non-special, non-dependent way he idealized. So every time he said “I love you,” I had to remind myself that it wasn’t real.
He did it because he thought it was ethical, because it was his philosophy, and he didn’t even understand why it would hurt me. And also because he was scared of getting hurt by actually loving someone.
We started living together. After a couple weeks of constant fighting, I realised that he did seem to love me at least a bit, even if he wouldn’t admit it. That made me relax and the fighting stopped. For a few months things were really good. He did love me properly after all. He committed to me. There were still situations that hurt me– for example, having to ask many times before he took down the wall displays that the other girl had made and that I’d had to look at every day. Another example: months ago he had called me his best friend, and I’d loved that. So one day I asked “Are we still best friends?” and he said bluntly no, the other girl was. These things always knocked me off balance, and I’d start to cry and remember how insulted and humiliated I’d felt for so long. But on the whole, things were much better, and I felt that our relationship was finally living up to its full potential.
Then I left for a couple of weeks to visit my parents. As soon as I was removed from him, I realised that emotionally I was in exactly the same place as I had been before: I still thought about our old problems all the time, I still got hurt every day when a chance remark would remind me of something he’d once said (“she’s my soul mate”, “she’s the only girl I share so many things in common with; you’re too different”, “if you met her you might love her too”, “everybody liked her”, “she’s so special and unique”, etc etc), and I was still horribly insecure about all of it.
After that, when I returned, we fought nearly every day. That was two months ago and it’s still the same. It happens like this: something innocent reminds me of an old wound– I tell him– he doesn’t understand why I can’t just forget about it and move on– while trying to make me feel better, he says something even worse– I start crying and feel a hole in me for the rest of the day.
For example, yesterday he bought a favourite book. I know that once, he’d sent the other girl a different picture from this book every day for a whole week– while he was with me. He said he does that with people he “adores”. Well, this book reminded me of that and how miserable I’d felt back then. I didn’t say anything because I wanted to just move on and forget, like he’d said, instead of “harrassing” him about it. But I woke up in the middle of that night with my stomach and chest hurting because of it. It felt like my skin had been taken off and a cold wind was just blowing into me. He noticed and asked why. I explained; he said I was over-reacting and seemed exasperated that I would pester him about it. He told me again that it’s past, that it’s irrelevant now. Then to make me feel better he tried describing how much he loves me. But here’s how he did it: he talked about his ex-fiancee, how devastated he was when she left, how much he loved her, how she was his life, how lost he was without her, how “cute” their relationship was… but now he feels better because he’s with me and I help him. But the first part of that speech wasn’t good for me to hear. It just made me feel more than ever the same thing he used to always insist: that he’s not mine. I felt dead and numb. I know that I should focus on the second part of his speech, not the first… and I honestly try but it still hurts. Now I just have another painful memory to carry around. He keeps adding to them without meaning to.
But he really doesn’t understand. I’ve explained and he still doesn’t get it. Apparently it’s not the way his brain works. And I know he’s right, it would be solved if I could just forgive. Now he says that he loves me most and that he was lying before to protect himself. And he doesn’t want to be non-exclusive anymore. He agrees that the way he treated me was wrong. He’s converted. So it should be the happy ending and everything should be perfect. But I feel like an animal that’s been hit too many times. I keep suffering. After all the things he’s told me, I don’t dare to believe him now when he says I’m the most important person to him; I still cry every day. I don’t know how to just let go. It lasted over a year, how things were so messed up. The relationship has been structured that way in my head.
Please, how can I let go? I don’t understand how he can be such a nice person and at the same time have treated me like that. I don’t know how much I believe him when he says he never meant it. I know he wouldn’t lie, but it’s all so contradictory. And I don’t know if I’m crazy to feel bad in the first place. He thinks that I’m over-sensitive and obsessive-compulsive. (The way I remember things all over the place, all the time, is probably OCD; but is there an actual issue here as well, outside of my head?) He doesn’t think we have a real problem because it’s all “past”. But I don’t trust him because by now I KNOW that out of nowhere he’s going to say something else soon that will hurt me. I’ve asked him to be more sensitive and he really tries but there are so many painful subjects, he can’t avoid them all. I’m so tired of hurting, I’m really exhausted, but it still gets to me all the time. I just want to be at peace.
I really love him and I want my life to be with him. And he’s so wonderful to me now that he’s decided to put himself at risk and to allow himself to properly love me. Why am I still suffering so much? What can I do? Maybe all I need is closure; but how to find that?