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Girlfriend wants to stay with ex abroad.


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Speaking only for myself, my private rule is that I won't involve myself with anyone who's still involved with an ex--in any way, shape or form beyond shared children. You're learning WHY.


I would tell GF that I adore her and can picture the two of us together in the future, and that's why I'm walking away while we both still think highly of one another. If she ever reaches a point in her life where her old business is completed and all exes are completely gone from her life, she can reach out and let me know. If I'm still available then, we can meet to catch up. Otherwise, I wish her the best.

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I like your attitude, OP. Can relate to it, in ways. Being open, non-judgmental, and eager to learn has brought me so much joy, so much richness—and, yeah, there have been times when it has lead me to get tangled up with some questionable people. Especially romantically. Add in the salt shake of physical attraction, the desire for connection that resides in all our hearts, and our best wiring can get crossed (and exploited) pretty quickly.


I'll try (and probably fail) to keep my own philosophizing proclivities to a minimum here, and just focus on one little piece of this current puzzle that's been catching my eye: this idea you have of her ex as a toxic person, the "triangulation" business, and so on. It's an idea that is bringing you a certain level of comfort right now, in that it feels like a reward for your own self-work: being able to spot these things where you once could not.


But I feel that reward is coming at a potential cost, as your fixation on him strikes me a bit as a way of excusing your gf—and, perhaps, numbing your own discomfort. She remains the saint, he the sinner, the sour point in the triangle. It's the easier path, in ways, since she stays exactly who you want her to be—a fellow empath, worthy investment, and so forth—when the harder path means having to recast someone you are falling for and investing in in a harsher light, maybe even a light that darkens and dampens your spirit.


The ex is not actually a real character in this story, and he poses zero threat to you or your relationship; your gf's relationship with him and feelings toward him, however, might.


All you know about him has come from her, and so the portrait you paint of him—dashing, charming, irresistible, with a Svengali-like power and toxic swagger—is a portrait she has helped you paint. Sure, there may be some standard-issue early jitters and insecurities at play—like maybe you see in that picture on the wall a man you find more handsome than the one you see in the mirror—but you're clearly too smart, reasonable, and self-assured to be guided by them alone.


You were probably aware of a certain charge between them before this moment—that picture, alas, hangs on that all—and make no mistake: it takes two to sustain a charge. You have now seen the machinations of how they each sustain it. She came right out and told about the head-spinning/Pandora's box stuff—and then she pushed a little more, into those spins instead of away from them.


Speaking bluntly? What you've described there, to me, sounds like immaturity, not empathy. It sounds like unresolved feelings and/or a friendship dynamic that has not yet found true platonic footing. It sounds like, moving forward, you now know that one role you will play in this relationship is being there for her as she works through these feelings, adjusts this dynamic, much the way you once knew that dealing with Asperger's traits would be part of an earlier romance.


I don't say all that to encourage you to pack your bags and be on your way—or even, really, to make this much of a talking point with her. You guys are new, it's early. This is the time for observation, to let people be who they are and see if who they are gels with you. To observe clearly we need clear lenses, is all I'm saying, so right now I would keep the lens trained on yourself and your spirit and your gf and her behavior.


It does seem, to piggyback onto some of RainyCoast's wise and rollicking words, that you have a tendency to override your connection to your own spirit—the churn of the gut, so to speak—through a level of intellectualization. Can relate to that myself, and it's taken me a good long while—and some wild rides with some wild souls—to appreciate the wisdom of my gut and to protect what it's sometimes asking me to protect.


Maybe this is your next great love, or maybe this is a chapter that helps you get even more in touch with your gut, to build another radar, alongside your radar for toxic people, that alerts you to the importance of your own feelings and seeks out someone who can accommodate your feelings with the same gentle nuance that you accommodate theirs. Sounds like you're already thinking along those lines, which is good stuff.

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