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Keeping Part of Yourself for Yourself - How Much Should You Tell Your Ex/Partner


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I've been reading a book recently which has gotten me thinking about this. I can see that a big mistake I have made in my past relationships - I have considered my partners "MY Best Friends". Please read on before you make a judgement about this.


I'm seeing now that whilst "Partners" can be people we share unique relationships with, that whilst I never had many really awful things to tell them about myself, I would have maintained their interest and special affections more if I had remained a little more mysterious.


I would say that all of my exes have been high-maintenance men, and during the course, bit by bit, I saw less of my female friends. I should add that my most recent ex often complained that he didn't see enough of me, but really I do have a job and other responsibilities.


In my time apart from him, my friendships with my female friends have become much closer. I've told them things now that I doubt I would tell another partner, ie talking too much about issues from work and ever dqy stuff. I can see now that most men see that as being needy. A lot of it's just every day stuff, but I guess boring to them. I would never let a man know again if I was jealous, especially as I now know of other ways to deal with that which are more effective. It comes down to valuing yourself and having lots of friendships and personal inner strengths for dealing with issues. I should have focused more on having fun with him.


Today I know I have a best friend. Her name is Heather. We have been there for each other in the good and bad times. We have lots in common. I've told Heather that if I was gay or a man, she would be the one for me! Too bad.


Anyone else want to share about this.

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Oh. When I first read your title, I was thinking this was going to be about something else. Most of the time, this subject is centered around your number of past sexual partners or sexual exploits.


Well, I think each relationship is different. Each person has a line of what's good conversation, chit chat, and drivel. Each time you start a relationship with someone, feeling out where their lines are is part of the development. I enjoy talking to my SO at the end of the work day. Sure, she talks about work and work problems. Most of the time, I enjoy hearing the stories, and I try to be supportive. But of course, there comes a point, usually about once every month or two, when she will bring home the same problem day after day and my line will be crossed. We've developed a system, and I usually roll my eyes and she knows she should stop. Of course, this happens in reverse from time to time as well.


It seems odd that your recent men have wanted a higher level of attachment with you, more of your time, but you bring up the subject that you've divulged too much. Do you feel like, over time you've slowly given in and they've dragged it out of you? Or are you thinking that in spite of the fact they want so much of you, that your droning about work and non-fun subjects has eventually caused them to lose their interest?

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I think it would also be worthwhile looking within yourself honestly to see if any of the complaints that these 'high maintenance' men had about you had any validity.


Yes DN. I have. The major complaint was that when I moved into a job which had a lot of stress, high burn-out, etc, that I was very absorbed with work, talked about it a lot, and that left a lot less time for fun which had a big impact on the relationship.

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Hey thanks Oldenough to know. My most recent ex told me many times, including at the breakup that our early years together were the happiest of his life. Okay, this is very personal, and the sex was the best he ever had in his life. I made that big mistake you mention where I was talking about the same thing over and over again. He would tell me what he thought I should do, and I would tell him I couldln't do that as I would likely get sacked. He would have liked to have seen me more, gone out together, cuddled by the fire and yes, lots more of the other thing too.


BTW, I am really turned off by knowing too much about a previous partners sex life. I would much prefer not to know most of it.

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Oldenough, you have reminded me of something too which I'm sure I need to be more skilled with. I must go about hearing my exes concerns in the wrong way. If I sensed he was sad or worried about something, I would ask. Sometimes he would say a little, but then I wouldn't press him thinking that would be invasive. At the breakup, he told me that he had wanted to talk to me about worries he had in his life, and he offered without any prompting from me that I had in fact asked him about those things, and when he didn't talk a lot about them, I moved on in conversation. On the night he said he wanted a break, I had said to him, "We need to talk. I can sense you're unhappy, and I want to know if you want to talk about it. Is it something I'm doing?" He got angry accusing me of wanting to break up with him, then saying he was unhappy about other things in his life which he named and which we had talked about many times. Then after that, he said we should have a break. Things pretty much snow-balled from there over the next couple of weeks. I think I'm not skilled in gently drawing a person out, but where do you draw the line between that an invasiveness? Maybe I should have just been silent and not talked about anything at all. Maybe then he would have talked about those things that were bothering him.


Oh yeah, and with regard to the "drivel", Heather, my friend and I are both horselovers and animal lovers. We live in different states, but both in grape-growing, wine-producing historic regions which we both love. Both sort of country girls. We can talk endlessly about horses. My ex and his "best friend" will talk endlessly about practical jokes they played on people more than 15 years ago. The first 10 ten times I heard them, they were genuinely very funny. I wouldn't say I hated hearing for the one hundredth time these stories, but it did get less fun. I think that for all of us, there are certain friendships outside of our partnership relationships which are important to us and help keep us who we are.

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Hum, well, you mentioned that you moved into a high stress job, that was while you were in your last relationship? That can cause a major change in a relationship, especially if you were with a guy who like a high level of attachment. You never mentioned where you were in the attachment area. Were you okay with your increased job responsibilities and reduced time with your SO?


As far as how you listened to your ex, it sounds like you're doing it well. Simply inquiring if anything's wrong isn't invasive. If you go on, hour after hour, day after day, that would be annoying. It's up to him to talk about it or not. Guys aren't always forthcoming with their problems, and your being aware enough to ask once (or once every few days if it's ongoing) is at least showing attentiveness and support. That's about all you can do.


It sounds like you've figured out that you went on about work problems too often in your relationship and that's something you can work on. So, what have you come up with regarding your string of high maintenance guys. Do you know what's drawing you to them? Do you also like giving a high level of attachment, or do you just like to feel it from your partner? Or, do you think you would prefer someone who's more average in his need for togetherness?

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Hi OE,

Well they have all been high maintenance in different ways. I have really only been in long-term relationships(3), and I don't think any of them were alike except the first and third are both perfectionists and have been very successful in their careers. I would say the have all been sensitve people. When I think about it, apart from relationship no2, there was definitively a good/attractive side to them being perfectionsist and successful and sensitive. BTW, my relationship (1) ended 20 years ago. We are on very good terms. Reason only ended because we were so young when we got together (relationship lasted 17 years), and eventually he faced that he is gay, and now lives a fairly openly gay life. Maybe with no 2, I had been on my own for a number of years bringing up a young child, and I was easily flattered, desperate for love, attention and living happily ever after, but no 3 felt very different. I definitely fell for him in a big way. We were friends for a while (even though I like him a LOT), was careful not to get involved too quickly. From what he has said to me and other people, I could fairly safely assume it was the same for him. One of the things which brought us both together, firstly as friends was that we had both had long term relationships with a partner who went into a gay relationship almost immediately after our relationships with them ended. There was a lot of understanding, empathy and support between us. However, I had gone through all that many years before he had, and I believe I had healed a lot more.


I would have liked more time with my most recent ex. When we were first together, it was as though we just couldn't get enough of each other. Me being a shift worker messed up a lot of time for us to spend together. For the first couple of years though we used it to our advantage as it enabled me to support him in taking care of his children who were then in their early and mid teens.


I would like to give a high level of attachment, and I think I do and have. I'm not really sure that I can compare the level of attachment in the 3 relationships because when I think about it, they were all so different. In the second relationship, he turned out to be a serial cheater, and for a while, I responded by being more clingy, but eventually walking away from the relationship. In relationship no 3, I was definitely attached, but I would say that a lot of our time together was not high quality due to both of us often being tired. He also has stressful work. In the earlier part of the relationship, he was in a job - which he later left - which had an enormous stress level to it. He also had stresses from trying to finish his pHd.


I would say that the attraction in at least relationship no 3 and high maintenance is that those aspects of his personality which can cause high maintenance also have a good side - a side I am definitely attracted to - highly intelligent, sensitive, perfectionist. If we are ever able to get back together, I wouldn't want him to lose those traits, but I would like to become more skilled and tolerant in dealing with the negative aspects of those personality traits. I hope that makes sense, and thanks very much for your reply and encouragement.

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Random thoughts: You said you were attracted to intelligent, perfectionistic, successful and sensitive guys. You yourself are pushing your way up the career ladder. Number 3 also had a partner that came out, but he wasn't done processing it yet. From that equation, I would guess he needed a bit more attention from you, while your life's path went with a promotion and probably less time with him. Not a good combination for a sensitive guy. You keep using the word "invasive." In an intimate relationship, there's very little that would come under that definition - the number of past sexual partners, past sexual antics, and other miscellaneous subjects (that you shouldn't want to know) come to mind. Otherwise, that's why they're called "intimate" relationships. And as I said before, guys, even "sensitive" ones, aren't always forthcoming with their problems and need them drawn out a bit. Asking one question and then dropping the conversation won't allow enough prodding for him to open up. That's why I asked how you viewed your level of attachment. Many people with low attachment aren't interested in the details of their partner's life, as that would effectively increase the intimacy of their bond. I'm not saying any of this is good or bad. But your real (not perceived) tendencies are what you need to look at if you are really interested in this type of guy. What does the word "invasive" really mean to you? What are your thoughts?

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In the beginning I think certain information should be withheld. When interest starts to peak and there is an emotional bond then a little more can be let out. Too much honesty is not attractive at the start, it comes off as desperate. Girls have it good because their friends will actually listen to their problems and concerns and have an actual conversation. Guys on the other hand, we lack empathy (for the most part) and are not really focused on other people's drama. So guys learn to just suppress their emotions, which can lead to moodiness. If one of my guy friends is upset, or goes through a situation (job loss, breakup) he gets one night of drinks on me and my ear (kind of) and then I do not want to hear about it anymore. I think it is so important for a couple to both have their own social lives/circles outside of one another. It a. keeps things fresh b. Gives each person an outlet for their bad feelings (dumping them on your partner is asking for trouble). I had a girlfriend that hated all my friends, was basically jealous and needy and it killed my life and caused me to resent her. Independence is sexy and will keep a relationship alive. No one wants to feel obligated or trapped.

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Hi Oldenough. Sorry, I only just saw your reply to my posting. Well, by invasive, I guess I feel like maybe I would be not giving him the space he might want. The reason I don't like to know TOO much about intimate details of previous partners sex life is that even though we know of course that we weren't born yesterday, I don't like thinking of my partner having sex with another person, especially knowing details of lovemaking. It has made me feel uncomfortable in the past and on the occasions (rare) I have felt that if I revealed a lot of information about sex with previous partners, it would be off-putting.


I admit that I must be different to a lot of women because when I was preganant with my son who is now 24, my husband and I decided that we didn't know whether he should come in with me while I gave birth. He said he didn't know if he could cope with it, and I wasn't sure if I wanted him to see me like that - my vagina all stretched, etc. On the day I went into labor, we were in the casualty department, and when the time came, we told the nurse I would be going in by myself to the labor room. She was appalled and said that every father went in and it wasn't right. By that stage, I was at a point where I couldn't argue, but it truly did gross my husband out. In retrospect, I would have liked either my mother or a friend with me. On top of that the birth went very wrong and medical intervention was required. I would hear other women talk about how the birth had brought them closer to their partners, but that didn't happen with us. My husband used to tell me also that he was revolted by the thought of a baby inside my stomach. However, I was very happy when I was pregnant, one of the happpiest times in my life and very healthy. I swore after that if I had more children, I would give birth in my home.


I guess I'm not all that experienced with relationships - or maybe I should say healthy ones at that. I think my ex and I did share a lot of personal information, I just was maybe oversensitive thinking that he didn't want me to ask too much - that he would resent it.


BTW, since my last post on this thread, the organisation I work for has gone through major restructuring. The job I was in is now gone, so I have stepped down. Management have said they want me to continue management training and apply for other management postions. Frankly, I've had enough of it all. I'm really not an ambitious person. I feel very enthusiastic right now about doing more hands-on work, earning more money doing this and having more days off. My ex doesn't know that.

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Thanks Wordup. I can see now due to various reasons, I wasn't seeing enough of other people,and I wish I had spoken less to my ex about work stresses. Since the BU, I do have other resources in my life and have reconnected with old friends, and also have new friends. I can understand and appreciate what you are saying.

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I just finally got a text from him about collecting my things. He took 5 days to respond to my email, saying he has been too busy, and he has set the date for a week after I suggested. It's pretty much the sort of email you would send to an acquaintace or somebody how comes to mow your grass or whatever. Sorry to have posted on this board because it's supposed to be optimistic about reconciling and it looks very much to me like he has completely moved on and likely replaced me.I suppose, that especially after I have gotten all my things from his place, I can REALLY focus on moving on completely and healing. I feel really sad right now.

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I don't have too much of a need to keep things from my partner or try to retain a little bit of mystery. I suppose I wouldn't talk about my bowel movements too much like I do with my sister, but that's about it. But honestly, a person that is grossed out by bodily functions is not the person for me.

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