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Thread: How To Gain Independence From Cheating Boyfriend

  1. #1
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    How To Gain Independence From Cheating Boyfriend

    I have been with my boyfriend for over two years, and have lived with him for just over a year now. We have a big age difference. I'm 23 and he is 44. Most of the time we get along very well, have the same sense of humor and have an indescribably deep friendship, rooted in both of our families. Our age difference is the least of our problems, although I do think it effects how seriously he is able to take me.

    There is hardly any ever intimacy (less than once a month; I used to try to initiate often but he mocked me whenever I did, and the rejection was damaging my self-esteem so much that I stopped trying altogether).

    He has cheated on me many times, pretty much whenever he gets the chance (even if one of us is only away for the day like off at work). This has affected me greatly since I've put off getting a job after graduating college (where I excelled, graduated with honors and won an award for my thesis). I used to be excited about my career, but now a career just feels like it will occupy me while he betrays me. Whenever my head is turned, he is usually doing something that will hurt me. As it would, this has created a vast trust issue for me.

    I have lost a great deal of friends since college; most of them have moved away. It feels like he is my only support system, which is why I've come here. We get in nasty arguments when he cheats on me, and then at the end of the argument, I feel I have nowhere else to go he's still standing there.

    It is a vicious, never-ending cycle. I finally got fed up with the cheating last year, broke up with him, moved to a different apartment in a different neighborhood. He called me multiple times a day begging for me back. I was severely depressed and did not have a support system. We started hanging out again and he was like brand new. Everything was perfect until we officially got back together, and then the behavior started again.

    I go through his phone on an almost daily basis, and every single time I find something gut-wrenching. For example, I know he's going on a date this coming week. He refuses to have any sort of public recognition of our relationship, and doesn't even follow me on social media. This means no pictures, no likes, no comments. I'm a very attractive young woman and don't think that this stems from him being embarrassed of being with me, rather him wanting to look available to other girls, and social media is often where he finds them. When I've confronted him about blatantly obvious evidence, he denies everything and says he's never cheated on me. I feel like I've been going crazy for years, and feel like I really messed up by moving back in with him, but am so tired of being uprooted and moving around.

    I know it seems obvious about what to do, but I think I'm just asking how to begin to gain my own independence, so that the next time I leave it will stick. I've become attached to the pain of sexual rejection, the relentless cheating, and his and my denial that there is anything wrong.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
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    You need to go about this as if it's an addiction, because it is in a lot of ways. People practice abstaining from drugs and alcohol so they can get to the other side. You have heard `going cold turkey'. This is what you need to do and you to accept that it will become more difficult before it gets better.

    It seems for you, that you get so far and the pain becomes unbearable. You return not because you believe it's a good idea, but merely to stop the pain of withdrawals.

    I am sorry for you that you don't have a support system. Where is your family in all of this?

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    Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. My family actually adores him, which has made this more difficult. My mom was aware of everything that went on in our relationship leading up to our initial breakup but was happy when we got back together because it sounded as if everything had changed. I've mentioned a few problematic things to her, or have mentioned that we've had bad fights, but she is no longer interested in the details and tells me not to fight with him. I think a part of this is that I'm still unemployed and 'having a boyfriend' is the one thing I have succeeded in on the surface. This is very important to her.

    We visit my parents out of state often, and he is a completely different person in front of them. I love those visits not only because it's nice to see my family, but it's nice to experience a dose of what our relationship once was.

    Your comparison to alcohol or drug addiction is interesting and I agree with it. I also have a problem with alcohol, and this is a big part of our relationship. My boyfriend is 10 years sober but likes to live vicariously through me, so it is not rare for him to bring me drinks first thing in the morning. I loved this about him when I was in college, but it's become more and more inappropriate as my alcoholism has progressed. Lately, it's felt like his way of controlling me. Especially because when I'm drunk is the only time I have the confidence to confront him about ill behavior, in which case he says I'm just being crazy because I'm drunk, even in cases where the drinks were few and the behavior was obvious; (ex: opening a sext while laying in bed beside me).

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    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    I'm going to start with the positives here. Namely: you clearly have a razor sharp mind, an ability to step outside of things in order to see and process them. That's rare stuff right there, and it's going to serve you well in life.

    Now, time to really access all that in extricating yourself the mess you've so clearly diagnosed.

    I second what reinvent said about thinking of this as an addiction. Basically, clear as you can see everything with your mind, your emotional system has been rewired in an unhealthy way, no different than the heroin addict (I've known many) who uses not to "get high" but to not "get sick," and in the process becomes only more sick. You've found a kind of comfort in pain, basically, and in finding temporary relief from the pain from the very source of it.

    You've broken away once, so you know you can do that and survive. You ate, you breathed, you were sheltered. Remember that, and know that from that place, hard and lonely as it will be for a bit before getting better, there is really only clear skies ahead.

    You're young, smart, attractive. In the scheme of your life story this can be nothing more than a hiccup, a fender bender rather than a 10 car pileup. Not that you need me to tell you that—you already know it.

    I'm also sorry to hear about the thin support system. Aside from family, do you have access to a therapist to help you through this?

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  6. #5
    Bronze Member Afireblue's Avatar
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    I am sorry you are going through this, but great that you see your relationship clearly, so koodos for that!

    A painful, yet good learning experience for you of what you NOT want in a future partner.

    You are going to need a support system here, that may be what was lacking last time you ended things.

    It sounds like you are determined, I wish you all the success and don't hesitate to pop back here for support!

  7. #6
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by pinkyankovic
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. My family actually adores him, which has made this more difficult. My mom was aware of everything that went on in our relationship leading up to our initial breakup but was happy when we got back together because it sounded as if everything had changed. I've mentioned a few problematic things to her, or have mentioned that we've had bad fights, but she is no longer interested in the details and tells me not to fight with him. I think a part of this is that I'm still unemployed and 'having a boyfriend' is the one thing I have succeeded in on the surface. This is very important to her.
    We often look to our parents as all knowing and a reason to guide us. But parents are not always perfect and in this case, certainly not right. You are in a vulnerable position and clearly beaten down. Add in the fact that your own mother invalidates your situation is unbelievable. I am sorry.

    You are on the wake of knowing better. The goal here is for you to have the strength and resolve to do this on your own.

    Have you considered looking for a support group? Have you been to an AA meeting? That would be a good place to start.

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    Thank you so much.
    I was seeing a therapist for a while, but he wasn't very interested in talking about my boyfriend. It later became clear that there was an ulterior motive to explain that, and I stopped seeing the therapist altogether. That was a little over a year ago and I have not returned to therapy since.

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    Gold Member smackie9's Avatar
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    Next time? You should leave NOW! You are young beautiful and talented... what the hell are you doing? You are investing in a dirtbag narcissist. That's right he is a narcissist, with the possibility of a psychopath. He only cares about himself...everything else is a con game for him. People like him look for weak/vulnerable. You were ripe for the picking, because you have no support and you completely depend on him. This is how he controls and manipulates you. He puts on many disguises to fool all those around him. They are charmers, and put you and everyone around them under their spell. he is a dangerous person to be with...as you can see your self worth and you life crumbles around you, as you sink into this hole and you keep jumpin back into it for him every time. Get the f out now! block/delete go no contact to break his chains of manipulation.

    IMO you don't need therapy....the issue lies with him.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by pinkyankovic
    Thank you so much.
    I was seeing a therapist for a while, but he wasn't very interested in talking about my boyfriend. It later became clear that there was an ulterior motive to explain that, and I stopped seeing the therapist altogether. That was a little over a year ago and I have not returned to therapy since.
    It's very common for a therapist to redirect your attention when discussing another person. The therapist was treating you and can't speculate on your boyfriend seeing they never met.

  11. #10
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    Haha I'm terrified of AA! I've looked into and it 'almost' gone quite a few times... I'm terrified of losing my drinking problem because it helps me deal with a lot, but I suppose that's really why I'm in this position in the first place and putting up with this behavior. Thank you for the advice

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