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Everything posted by bluecastle

  1. I agree with DancingFool that you are dangerously close to enabling his behavior. There are some players who have zero interest in changing, and others who may want real intimacy and connection but have a host of issues preventing them from really going there. Either way, if you give this type a guy a long leash, which you're doing, he's going to take every inch of it. It sounds to me like you clearly know what you want: a real, committed relationship with him. So tell him and see what happens. If you keep jockeying and waiting for him to "come around," you may not even trust it if he genuinely does.
  2. Yeah, that's actually what I thought. I guess now that it's been no dialogue for two weeks I'm wondering if that counts as improvement, regression, or just a little space for us both to heal and process. I certainly needed a moment, but I'm starting to feel like waiting much longer just starts sending the message that I don't want to engage when, in fact, I do. Delicately, slowly, but with clear intention. What I really don't want to be is just a source of comfort while she navigates the new realm of single life—I want to make sure we are engaging honestly, with clear intentions. Last we spoke we both said we were talking because we wanted to see if this was salvageable, so...
  3. Her explanation is spot on and typical of someone with Depression. I believe she feels worthless and in a way it was to punish herself and to perhaps reinforce that she is worthless to you too. Yup—your second sentence was essentially what she said verbatim. Here's the thing that snags about the princess stuff: that's what I did all summer. Flowers left on her doorstep. Amazing trips. Fancy meals. I LOVED doing all his, but it was all kind of pushed away. Granted, I didn't know about the affair/assault—and I think a big way she dealt with that was by continuing to view me as the bad one (as opposed to him) since it was a way go gain power and deny the full truth of what happened. As she put it in a recent email: "Every incredibly kind gesture you made, I didn't deserve. And I knew it. And it was almost like I had to prove even more that i didn’t deserve it by continuing to do ty things." Obviously, that all took a toll on me, so it's hard to go right back into hardcore romance mode with the fear that it just enables the same behavior. That said, perhaps waiting for her to reach out is a bit too much to ask for, given that I've also delivered a giant blow to her ego and I need to just step up. My big concern, of course, is that she's kind of just engaging in the same behavior right now (seeking validation through being shiny with new people) without the guilt or weight of the relationship. But there's only one way to find out.
  4. Your wife sounds a lot like my ex-girlfriend. For years I indulged in this, not quite recognizing that I was enabling a dynamic that was really, really unhealthy and ultimately lead to some catastrophic fissures. My suggestion is: She needs to be talking to a therapist.
  5. Thanks for this—I know it's a lot, and I appreciate you for not just rolling your eyes. You're exactly right about depression—of all the issues, that's what frightens me the most. In her case, it came on so suddenly and I'm frankly not sure how well she's truly working on managing it. She's now on meds and in therapy—but she has yet to tell her therapist about what happened. Also, I left out that the assault was not the only infidelity. A few months later, she slept with an old fling while I was away. In her telling, it was like she already felt worthless and just wanted to prove her worthlessness even more. I don't think she ever fully trusted me, or really trusts people. Maybe telling her what I did was too much, but my thinking was: if we're going to confront all this it has to be on a new plane—one where we either accept each other as flawed humans who love each other rather than idealized versions of who we are, and see if trust and acceptance and growth can come from there. I believe it could, but that belief needs to be shared. I go back and forth about reaching out and seeing if we could explore things slowly. I'd be up for that, knowing the odds are slim, but since I haven't heard from her part of me assumes that she has decided for the time being that space is what she needs.
  6. I've been in a version of this. The two most important things to focus on right now are: 1. You love her and care about her and need to be big enough right now to make those the only emotions you tap into when dealing with her. 2. She has been assaulted and needs real help and support that you can't provide because your own emotions are thrown. Is she talking to a therapist? If not, that should be the first step. I'd suggest you do as well. Whether you two are able to get past this as a couple is something that will be told in time, but you're not going to be able to go down that road in any productive manner until she processes what happened to her. That she doesn't want to cut him out of her life, to me, sounds like a classic (and human) way of trying to minimize what happened rather than face it. You have every right to be upset about that, but, again, voicing those concerns is only going to add volume to an already too-noisy room. Basically, you need to let go of the boyfriend role for a moment and really tap into the friend role. That's the support she needs right now, and it's what will determine the sustainability of your romantic future. You clearly love her, so just be guided by that.
  7. We were together for three years and broke up 2.5 months ago. I’m 38, she’s 26—quite a gap, but the most incredible love I’ve experienced and the first woman I saw myself spending my life with. I initiated the breakup after 5 rocky months, but in both my head and heart I didn’t believe we’d written our last chapter together. Three weeks ago I learned through friends that she had been unfaithful to me back in May, giving me a new perspective on those rocky months. It was after the affair that she first voiced concerns about my commitment level, and while I did everything I could to “step up,” she only became increasingly distant and angry. It got to be too much. I felt I’d already lost her, and was verging on losing myself, that all attempts at communication had broken down, and so I ended it. She didn't fight the choice—by then we were both worn down, and I think she was just scared to pull the plug herself. She has real depression and self-esteem issues that she is just starting to reckon with with a professional, but suffice to say that this "affair" was along the lines of the Harvey Weinstein variety. She’d been in a deep depression for months, and was taken advantage of by a real predator: a businessman who promised her a job, preyed on her insecurities with me, and then took the job off the table after some oral sex that walks the line between semi-consensual and assault. As much as it hurts me, I mainly just feel terrible about what happened to her and wish she could have told me at the time. (I’d asked, she’d denied, I never quite believed.) She was gutted. So just as I’m stepping up, I now see that she was in a real spiral of shame and guilt and self-hatred that made engaging in the relationship next to impossible. During this period, much of her anger directed at me came in the form of resentment for my being distant during our first year together. She would frequently lash out about something I did two years earlier that was “fine” at the time. Taken aback, I minimized this pain/resentment. My attitude was: yeah, I was slow to come around, but you’d gone along with it then, and I DID come around am here NOW showing you my love and taking you on trips and trying to talk things through like adults. Thing is, 5 months into our relationship I slept with my ex. A dumb choice. I was weak and confused. I'd always felt guilty about this, but kind of rationalized it because we were still in the early stages and it was the moment I let go of my past and focused on what was in front of me. After that, I committed, cut off all contact with my ex, fell deeply in love, and was a decent boyfriend for the next two years (one with a big lie in his pocket, yes). Anyhow, all of this would just be a toxic stew to process on my own had my ex not surprised me the same day I learned of her infidelity with wanting to talk about a reconciliation. In response, I opted to tell her that I had been unfaithful early; being on the other side, it was like I’d finally learned the ways in which dishonesty can fester and come back to haunt a relationship when least expected, and if we were going to move forward I wanted all cards on the table. For all the depth we shared—it's important to note that even during this crazy period our day to day was generally warm and passionate—we'd never been able to be fully open in the relationship, and as such (I see now) we never fully trusted. My feeling was: We deal with each other now like the flawed humans we are and love, or we don’t deal at all. This all lead to a week of very HARD but very GOOD talks. Lots of pain, lots of warmth as we mutually confessed and listened—maybe the first time we’d both overcome some deep-seeded individual issues (trust, control, intimacy) and experienced what it was like to be fully transparent with someone we love. The circumstances couldn’t be more dire, I know, but I’m genuinely grateful for getting to share this moment with her. Two people learning important lessons and growing as individuals in the deepest of trenches. One talk ended with a kiss. I'm very ready for a relationship after many years of cursory loves and plenty of shenanigans. Even with all this, perhaps even because of all this, I want that relationship to be with her. The work required excites more than it intimidates. She, however, is 12 years younger and frankly I don’t know where she’s at or if she knows. Has she learned from all this? Is she still in the same guilt-shame spiral, or has she gotten a grip on her depression, impulse-control, and validation-seeking behavior? Was the guilt really the big thing preventing her from stepping in as I stepped up, or should I just look at it all as sign that she’s just not ready for a relationship with me right now or that our relationship was built on a too-fragile foundation to survive or be renewed? I know to most this all sounds nuts. Me, I live a pretty unconventional life, and don’t have such a black and white view on things like infidelity and monogamy. I’m pretty hardwired to forgive humans for being humans—no one is perfect. But, of course, that’s just me and I’m only one half of this equation. We last spoke a little over two weeks ago. We agreed we needed some time to heal and process and would keep communication open. We were also clear that we were engaging in these talks to see about a future—I was very clear that I'm not looking for friendship or don't want to extend the mourning/moving on period. The last thing she said to me was, “I’m having very warm thoughts.” I’m currently in another city where I own home. Needed to clear my head, work on strengthening my inner core, give some real space between us. I have a thriving creative career, deep friendships, lots of hobbies, financial security, and am committed to therapy—so my core is pretty solid. She’s in a murkier spot in life, so I don’t expect her to be on the same timeline. My feeling has been: yes, I dropped a pretty big bomb, but I think my behavior of the past 2 years, and especially during the last 5 months, has shown that I love her, believe in her, and believe in us, whereas hers has shown the opposite. I know she loves and misses me, but if she’s still just confused I don’t want to “convince” her of anything. It needs to come from her, or so my thinking goes. Anyhow, I’m curious to hear some thoughts. I expect most of you will just say it’s time to move on—keep working on myself, apply these lessons to what comes next to avoid so much toxicity. But I’m writing this feeling like we’ve found a sliver of peace in a warzone, perhaps even an unorthodox platform in which we could learn and explore some new lessons together, and wonder if anyone sees any signs of this being salvageable and, if so, how best to proceed.
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