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Thread: Should I set a boundary or is there no hope?

  1. #1
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    Should I set a boundary or is there no hope?

    Hello,

    Will keep this as short and to the point as possible.

    I have been with my gf for 10 months now. We have been living together for the past 6months.
    She is responsible, dependable, extremely intelligent, successful, and strives to be fair with everyone. We also are aligned on what we both want in terms of next steps in our lives as individuals and fundamental morality concepts. Those are all qualities that I love about her and make what I will attempt to describe below very hard for me...

    She suffers from anxiety and struggles with a high level of insecurity and low self worth. It’s very hard for her to set boundaries explicitly and finds herself in difficult situations because of it. She’s had a very tough childhood and has been unlucky in her adult relationships. I can handle insecurity and I can help her manage her anxieties. I love her and these things don’t bother me.

    What I struggle with is her relationship with other men. Her father routinely cheated on her mother and was extremely harsh on my gf (i.e. she would always walk on eggshells around him - is she misbehaved according to his book he would deprive her of his “love” for weeks and sometimes months on end).

    My gf has been open about her past which I appreciate but there are remnants of it that seem to still be unresolved.

    1. There is an old friend who she used to travel with (1on1) and have fun with (making out and partying together but it never got sexual). That friend has tried to cross the line multiple times and has professed his love for my gf - even after he entered a committed relationship. He tried to make out with her a few years back while she was in a relationship and she had to stop him (but allowed the kiss to carry on for a few seconds). He has bad habits (drugs) and commitment issues (has cheated on his gf). My gf cares for him but not in the romantic sense.

    2. There is this other guy who she’s also known for a while but it isn’t actually someone who she is close friends with. He has been trying to get alone time with her for months now and she’s Been deflecting. He has invited her to dinner only to retract the invite when she mentioned that I was her plus one -instead of a gf. He has referred to me as “Mr Right Now” followed by a snarky emoticon and has told her in prior messages how he has “certainly missed her” followed by the relevant emoticon. Aren’t These kind of comments odd from someone that you don’t see or talk to often and who supposedly doesn’t know your personal life well?

    3. She follows her exes and past flings on social media and has some saved phone conversations from over a year ago (even though they screwed her over). There has been someone at work who has said inappropriate things to her... These things wouldn’t bother me but call it insecurity, jealousy or whatever, they are starting to become relevant now...

    I don’t want this type of interference in my relationship. I believe these remnants of a past life need to be cleaned up when you commit to someone. She doesn’t have to do it but that’s what I offer her because I want to do right by both of us and for the good of the relationship.

    Where am I wrong and what can I do about this? Is there hope or is there some sort of male validation thing going on?

  2. #2
    Gold Member SarahLancaster's Avatar
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    Have you had a conversation with her about setting boundaries in your relationship??

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    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear this. Why did you move in after dating 16 weeks? That in itself reveals a problem with boundaries. Stop playing therapist. If her issues are too difficult, you need to move out. You need to get to know each other over the course of dating 10 months, not try to fast forward into playing house then find out who someone is.
    Originally Posted by markoutsis
    I have been with my gf for 10 months now. We have been living together for the past 6months.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    Can I ask how old you guys are? I'm also curious why you guys decided to move in together so quickly, if you can expand on that.

    It is hard, reading what you wrote, not to see a dynamic in which your relationship is constructed pretty intensely around her insecurities and anxiety—and, especially, her poor methods of coping with all this. You mention her childhood, for instance, in a tone a therapist would take when taking notes on a patient, which makes me wonder how much of your early bonding was connected to her telling you (a) some horror stories of youth; (b) how those horror stories continue to affect he as an adult.; and (c) you feeling "privileged" that she was willing to "open up" about all that.

    That can all feel super vulnerable, but it's also a way of indirectly creating a system that validates that cycle and nurtures poor coping mechanisms, which is different than supporting someone. Seems you're awfully close to crossing that line, if you haven't already. If one of your own major emotional rewards is being the exceptional person who who can understand her anxieties and insecurities—well, that means they need to remain potent and volatile, you know? If they were better controlled, where would the emotional bonding happen?

    As for the specifics: I'm curious how you know so much about these men. Is she volunteering this information regularly, telling you about the friend, showing you the texts and emoticons from the work friend? Or are you looking through her phone? If it's either of the above—well, bad sign. Those are pretty iffy boundaries right there, on both sides: iffy boundaries breeding iffy boundaries—a corrosive cycle.

    Have you had conversations with her about how all this makes you feel? About what you need to be secure in a relationship? That's generally part of dating—ideal, in the early stages, when things aren't heavy, so together you slowly build a world in which you can both be secure. It's less about "setting" a boundary than expressing your own boundaries, listening to someone express theirs, and seeing if you can create boundaries together that work for a harmonious relationship. There are ways in which that is an ongoing part of all relationships, ideally pretty smooth rather than contentious.

    Seems you guys skipped that step a bit, as I can't tell if you guys have had such conversations, or if those sorts of talks are eclipsed by discussions about her anxieties and insecurities. Regardless, better late than never, as they say.

    In your shoes, I'd let her know—calmly, respectfully—that you're finding some of these relationships to be interfering with the sanctity of your relationship. Just express that, without offering rules or prescriptions or judgements, and see how she responds. Hopefully she is understanding. Then, together, you can create some different boundaries—and then you see if those are stuck to, and if you can feel more secure. If the answer is yes—great, a sign of compatibility. If the answer is no—well, not as great, but at least you'll know that you're in a relationship in which you can't feel secure, and can proceed accordingly from there.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member Andrina's Avatar
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    You've skipped over many important steps and that's why you've found yourself in a bind. At the point of becoming exclusive, that's when the relationship boundaries discussion should've come into play, because why be with someone if they don't share the same boundaries? That's, as you see, sacrificing the one precious life you have on someone who regularly upsets/frustrates you.

    A guy I had been group friends with as a teen sent a friend request to me on Facebook. He then messaged me and made inappropriate flirty comments, when he could clearly see I had a husband. I immediately deleted him, because that's what a decent person with a good moral compass who doesn't need an ego boost from a scumbag does. Plus, I'd never risk my marriage over nonsense like this.

    What would I say to her? "I made a mistake not discussing relationship boundaries with you before moving in together. I don't believe in staying in touch with exes or communicating with people who have a crush, because that's disrespectful and unhealthy to our union."

    And then listen to her response. If she starts on a pity party of her past, it's BS. If she's holding on to emotional baggage, she can't be a good partner until she seeks therapy and it works. If she does it because she gets an ego boost from it, she won't admit it, but know that's often a reason people who are taken allow someone else to flirt with them without shutting them down.

    It's better to choose a partner you DON'T want to change. I have a feeling you won't break up with her even though she has no respect for your union, but if you have self-worth and walk away, in the future, don't make major decisions like moving in with someone until you find out all the major things about them which usually takes a minimum of a year. Sounds like you knew some of those things about her early on, but in the throes of the new highs of the relationship, chose to ignore the red flags. Learn from your mistakes so you'll have a lower risk of heartbreak in the future. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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    Great feedback from all of you. Thank you so very much.

    Will attempt to answer as many of the questions posed / add color and will revert later for anything missed:

    1. We moved in early due to an issue with her lease. We’re both in our 30s and although it seemed a bit rushed we agreed to underwrite the risk if you will and go ahead with it. We are pretty compatible when it comes to cohabitating and we haven’t had issues in that regard.

    2. She has been faithful and honest about her whereabouts and I don’t believe she has or has had anything else on the side since we began dating.

    3. In terms of red flags, no one is perfect and I do appreciate honesty and award effort. I try not to judge a person solely on their past - I won’t discount it and will seek some “predictive validity” if you will but I won’t disqualify them simply because they made mistakes when they were younger or because their father was an abuser.

    4. We agree on outside influences and how we need to prioritize each other in our relationship. In my mind cutting off communication with prior partners (or people where emotional/physical boundaries were crossed) is the right thing to do in a committed relationship. She won’t cut someone off like that unless they become a problem. She won’t proactively reach out either. In one instance she came to me and asked me how she should respond because she wanted me to be ok with the interaction. She doesn’t want to hurt people unnecessarily but she is to a degree frustrating me by not clearing this up.

    5. Unfortunately I have assumed the role of a therapist a little bit. She works for a hedge fund and it’s brutal, she’s been without a role for a while and it’s really affecting her psyche. I get into the supportive partner mood by letting her vent and assuring her that she isn’t alone etc etc.

    Sometimes things in life don’t work exactly how one would expect and you either have to take a chance or not. I did. Now We have to sort this out.

    If there is a need for an ego boost / validation from past partners and men in general I will not accept that so yes for that I will break up. The issue of me being the perpetual therapist is also something that needs to be resolved but perhaps solving for what is the primary driver of her anxieties at the moment will resolve a good chunk of that issue.

    I really appreciate the feedback. Thank you again.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    As already pointed out, moving in so fast with a complete stranger shows a lack of healthy boundaries for both of you. You then proceed to outline all the thing that you like and appreciate about her.....yet majority of those things are more imaginary than based in reality. The reality that you are describing, meaning her actions, choices, relationship history, current behavior show that her values are fundamentally different from yours.

    My best guess is that you got caught up in being told what you want to hear, didn't take the time to actually get to know, observe, and evaluate whether her actions actually match her words, and now you find yourself in quite a dilemma where it's hard to admit that you made a mistake in getting involved with this woman because she is not at all what you want/imagine her to be.

    Relationships are not fixer upper projects. It's not your place to play therapist to her. Her issues, since she is so aware of them should have been long ago addressed and dealt with in therapy and counseling which would actually require her to be single and not involved in any relationships for an extended period of time. If she genuinely wanted to fix her issues so she can have a healthy relationship going forward, she'd either have already pursued intensive therapy or would be doing so currently instead of manipulating you into a whirlwind live in situation where you hold her hand while she maintains inappropriate relationships with other men because she likes it that way. There is a less PC and much more blunt way of putting this - the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and what she is doing is using. Wrap your head around that if you can. Of course that means you have to put aside your own issues of playing the knight in shining armor who'll rescue the damsel in distress. Users love people like you.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    As time goes on you'll get to know what's really going on with her. Right now you're guessing because she has not been forthcoming with you about quite a few things. She keeps you focused on nonsense drama and neurotic issues to keep you from seeing the truth...and you're falling for it.. She needed a place and there you are.

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    Platinum Member Andrina's Avatar
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    So hurting you by not hurting men who flirt with a taken woman is not an issue for her? Shows you what her priorities are.

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    I have been talking about all this with a therapist. Alone, primarily because I do want to understand why I need to be that knight in the first place. It’s certainly helping and a lot of what you are telling me I have been considering already.

    Unfortunately I love this person and yes that makes it hard to let go... She is coming with me to a future session - thinking of next week. I plan to lay all this out in a clear, concise, and non-accusatory way and see what comes out of it.

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