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How much do I want to know about what might have happened during the break-up?


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I've been in the process of reconciliation for about 2.5 months now, and things are going very well, with more time spent together and feeling very close and loved and loving again. It's all I wanted and I feel incredibly happy and fortunate, and sometimes think back to the days when I was so miserable during the break-up, and feel so thankful to have him back in my life. We were together 5.5 years before the break-up, and broken up for 5 months before he came back and said he wanted to try again - he was the dumper and I was completely devastated by it. He broke up with me because he had doubts that he wanted to commit to me 'forever', and he does still have some of these doubts but thinks he made a mistake breaking up and does really want to be with me and try to make this work again.


Anyway, we live in separate cities right now, but I've been coming to visit him a lot, and on this latest visit things were going so well, and it was feeling like we were making some progress. And then last night when I was getting ready for bed I saw something I really wished I hadn't seen: a condom in his toilet bag. We haven't used condoms since the very beginning of the relationship, and not since the break-up.


Some background: I honestly haven't given too much thought as to whether he might have slept with someone else during the break. I did not - I didn't even kiss anyone, or meet anyone I was remotely interested in. I wasn't in any kind of space to be interested in anyone. It would have taken me a long, long time to be able to sleep with someone else without it feeling like I was cheating on him. If I thought about it at all, I thought it most likely that he would not have seen anyone else during the break up, because a) he's a bit of an acquired taste, if I can say that without sounding too mean, and is not someone who has women throwing themselves at him, b) he's a bit funny about sex anyway, and not as into it as other men I've known - certainly someone who thinks with his brain and not his d*ck, and c) because we were together so long and such a serious couple, I thought it would take us both a long time to be interested in anyone else.


We have not had any discussion about whether either of us saw/slept with anyone else during the break. I am the sort of person that, if I had, I would have felt I had to tell him early on. I would like to think he would have felt the same way, but I do have a reputation in the relationship of being sensitive and 'not being able to cope' with emotional pain, so it is possible that he would keep something from me because he was worried about hurting me.


So, anyway: I told him pretty much straight away that I'd seen the condom, and he said "Oh that's no big deal, those are from before we got back together" (well, duh, they'd better bloody well be). Then he said: "I know you don't really like to talk about that time." (Does this mean, 'there are things you don't want to know about that time'? I've never really said I didn't want to talk about that time, but I guess I don't bring it up, so he might have concluded that). Then, when I was clearly still upset, he said: "They were something I bought more in a spirit of optimism than anything that got any actual use." (Does this mean, he didn't use any of them? Most of them? Some of them? And was it optimism in general, or optimism for someone specific? I did not ask any of these questions because, oh god, I DON'T want to hear something that is going to upset me.) I said: "I don't like to think of you feeling optimistic about having sex with someone else." And he said, deflecting and jokey: "I feel optimistic about having sex with you." Then he was all loving and sweet, trying to comfort me while I was quiet and brooding, and he said several times: "I want to be with you. I love you."


He tried to get me to talk more about what was going on for me, but I didn't really know what to say. I know that we were broken up so he was 'allowed' to have sex with whomever he pleased. I was too scared to ask the direct questions, so instead of course I have instead been stewing on them through the night and this morning. A part of me thinks I should ask him directly. A part of me just doesn't want to know. Should I just suck it up and let it go? Am I going to be able to? The best possible scenario as I see it is that he bought the condoms with general "well, you never know, better have these" optimism. And even then I am upset to think that he was at that stage of contemplating sex with another when meanwhile I was halfway accross the country crying my eyes out on a daily basis.


Am I being a petulant twit here? I guess I somehow have to learn to accept that for a time he really was done with us. Should I just thank my lucky stars that he changed his mind and really does want to be with me again, and let this go? Things have been going so well, and I don't want to screw this up by being resentful and punishing him for something he may or may not have done, and actually had every right to. I feel like it's ruined everything.

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Ha, NO. I wondered what Americans might call a toilet bag. It's a bathroom travel kit thing he keeps his toiletries in...




MO if you guys have been together for a year and are still very happy and very together...if you still want to know...talk about it then. You know, when the relationship has had more time to solidify. By that time you probably won't even care.

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well i had a situation where my ex did have a fling with someone while we were broken up. it is in my nature to question and question and question everything until i make myself go crazy with all the details. but in this case i didn't. i knew that i literally would not be able to handle the details and i knew that it would damage our reconciliation. so i never mentioned it. and it worked. i actually almost completely forgot about the fling and the girl. it amazed me that i forgot and made me feel a lot better in myself.

so my advice is make a commitment to not ask. and don't think about it. i know it hurts and you never wanna imagine him even wanting to be with someone else. but just deal with you reality NOW, the present. PAST IS FINISHED.

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It's good to hear a follow up of your reconciliation process. I remember reading about it a couple of months ago. From your previous thread, you mentioned how he came back and you were going to give it a go. Now I can see that a couple months down the line, you're still working on it. That's a good sign! It takes a lot of work to keep two people together.


Anyway, my advice to you is that he was single then, and it's not really your business whether or not he slept/wanted to sleep with someone else. You were entitled to that same right when you were single. Now, you can find out if you'd like, but you have to ask yourself why you'd like to. Hypothetically, if his answer is that yes he did sleep with someone else, and you feel jealousy and resentment, ask yourself why. Look inside yourself to see why you're feeling resentment. Besides, whatever occurred when you two were single, already happened. Being jealous and mad isn't going to change that. And you can't flip-flop between knowing and not knowing either. If you decide not to pursue an answer, then you have to stick to it and never dwell or bring it up again. Make the decision to actively drop it - let it roll right off your back. It will be passive-aggressive to him and yourself if you dwell on it and act out. If you decide to press the issue a little more, you have to accept whatever he says as truth. Don't second guess if he's hiding something or withholding the truth from you. Doubt and lack of trust will destroy any relationship, let alone one that's trying to get back together. Basically either path you choose, you NEED to learn to shrug it off and let it go.


I understand where you're coming from in terms of getting back together and resentment. While things are progressing nicely, I'm struggling with some of the obstacles of reconciliation myself. It's almost like you're looking for a reason to be mad. Not necessarily at him, but the breakup. Things are going well in the relationship, which almost makes it feel that the breakup never happened. But it did happen. And your emotions were hurt deeply by it. Now, all of a sudden, since things are going so well, it almost seems like all that pain from the breakup was for naught. Well, your mind and ego searches for a reason to justify that pain, almost as if you miss it. So, you look for problems in the relationship to guard yourself from being hurt by him. Like they said in Swingers, we miss the pain because we had to live with it for so long.


Before I broke up with her, I used to be very curious and invasive. When we started to get to know each other, she gradually told me everything that she had ever done sexually with others. We were just FWB at the time. As I developed feelings for her, I began to snoop and investigate. I'm an IT guy, so I had my methods. But whatever she said, it all checked out. She never had any reason to lie to me. Even through the relationship, I kept up the habit of snooping and checking stuff. I justified it as, "Well, if I just know everything, I can learn to cope with it and not let it become an issue." And this was true too. I would learn that guys would message her on chat or that she had blocked certain people, and then I would try to guess the reasons. It all helped me kind of just deal and observe everything. She didn't ever wrong me, but my mind was ready in case she ever did. Eventually, I kept it up after the breakup. At that point, it was a full invasion of privacy, because I wasn't even with her anymore. I saw phone calls between her and the rebound. Even though I blocked her on facebook, I found ways to look at her profile and find things I didn't like. I was basically looking for trouble, and I was good at finding it. I tortured myself. But part of the growth I learned from the breakup was that I needed to learn to be secure with myself enough not to check things. I needed to stop being jealous. I turned her passwords back over to my ex at the time, and she knew that I was looking and was glad I stopped. Now that we're reconciling, the urge to check is still there, but I'm trying to learn to be comfortable with myself to not snoop. And keep in mind this is not the same as turning a blind eye to the problem. You need to pursue any real issues that will directly affect your, your partner, or your relationship. Not addressing issues will lead to bigger problems down the line. But you need to know the difference between your insecurities and resentments and the issues that affect your relationship.


Just remember, he is with you now. He wants to be, and is giving his love to you. You may be mad at what he did when he was single, but that man is not the person with you. That person is a person in the past that you have in your mind. "Don't let the imaginary person in your head keep you from loving the real one right in front of you."

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^^^^awesome advice.


You need to focus on today and tomorrow w/ your ex, not what happened in the past. He seems sincere in his desire to be together, and as you said, he knows talking about the past might cause you more anxiety than closure. As hard as it is, let it go....

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Hey...treat it like a new relationship...whatever happened with whoever before you, it's not important. It's meaningless now. It will hinder your progress unless you accept it and move forward. Whatever he may or may not have done as a single man has no reflection on his feelings for you now.

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I get such great advice here - thank you so much to everyone who responded. Your comments really put things into perspective for me, and I have been able to, for the most part, let the issue go. Hurray for the enotalone voices of reason!


charity: It helps to hear the view of someone who has successfully put the past 'unknowns' behind them - thank you! Especially someone, like myself, who can make themself go crazy with the details. It takes strength to make the conscious decision not to let this jealous irrational side rule the show, huh?


weight: Wow, your response really brought it home for me. Thanks for taking the time to impart such wisdom! This sentence in particular is extremely relevant to me and how I have been in relationships: "You need to know the difference between your insecurities and resentments and the issues that affect your relationship." I think we should all have this tattooed onto the backs of our hands or something. If I had heard it and understood it years ago, it would have saved me much heartache. I will use it - I already have in the past couple of days, asking myself whether something is really an issue, or is my insecurity. So, thank you! I also appreciated hearing your story about snooping. As I said above, it can be so hard not to let the jealous side take over and justify all sorts of behavior. I have to consciously remind myself of the sort of person I want to be, and that it is my choice to be this person, and not to act out my jealous impulses. It's an ongoing, learning experience.


mhowe: hello, again - I hoped to hear your perspective on this, as we are on similar paths right now. Thanks for joining in the voices setting me straight.


Overall, I have been surprised at how quickly emotions ebb and flow - this whole thing, which caused me much upset less than a week ago, has more or less been forgotten. On the day I wrote the original thread, he rang me from work and said he just wanted to see I was OK, and that he hated to see me sad, and I felt very touched and relieved by this, and he said we could talk about it later if I wanted to. With the encouragement of the enotalone responses I decided to make a conscious effort to try to let it go, and not to sulk or be passive aggressive or dwell on it, and didn't bring it up again. So I think we're OK.

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great to hear you've got a handle on things. The comment you pulled from WEIGHT's response hits the nail on the head. During the process of reconciliation, it is easy to let our insecurities get the best of us --- but if our partner has come back in an authentic way, we can't sabatoge the process by acting as though they haven't made the changes they promised to make. It's hard, I know, when it "appears" as though we've seen this act before...and yet, it isn't the same.


So, stay strong -- be patient and enjoy!

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Yes, this whole process is like a rollercoaster ride.


I find the trick for me when negative thoughts creep in is just to sit back and do nothing. One lesson I learned from NC was that if you do nothing, you can't screw anything up.


Well, in that sense, there are times I felt like asking a loaded question to my ex just to affirm my suspicions. But I thought, what good would that bring me? Why do I look for trouble? I'm really good at finding it too, when I want.


I think it's my ego's defense mechanism for keeping myself guarded.


However, one major thing I learned about myself after this breakup is to look within myself for the answers. Asking my ex about the guy she was intimate with is not going to give me the answer to why I feel jealous. So, by doing nothing, I'm able to be a little more introspective and deal with things more healthily. Remember, it's important for the reconciliation process to work things out with your partner as well. But if there's anything that I learned during the breakup, it's to be okay with myself to begin with.

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Exactly -- when I don't hear from my bf my head goes to ....is he putting distance in again so he can bu????


How about, he's busy!!! And he will call/stop by when he has a chance!!! So now, I tell myself.....Go find something to do besides obsessing about something you have no control over!

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