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Insecurity while dating a girl brings out the worst in me


bbogdanov
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8 hours ago, Batya33 said:

I agree.  It's bizarre to respond with "do not contact me" in that instance - 

Something along the lines of "I'm fine, thank you! How are you doing?" and couple of messages later followed by "I'm glad I heard from you, I hope everything goes well! I have a bf now and I don't think it would be appropriate to keep in touch but I wish you all the best!" or just wash her hands of it by saying "...I have a bf now and he is not comfortable with me staying in touch with exes so we better not communicate." will be perfectly fine for me! 

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8 hours ago, Batya33 said:

This reminds me.  I've been in touch on and off with a guy I dated over 15 years ago.  We dated for a few months.  I've set him up with a few of my friends over the years.  We're Facebook and Linkedin friends too.  He has been mostly single despite not wanting to be and he never once hit on me or flirted with me. 

Almost a year ago he finally met someone.  She seems great (what I read via fb).  I messaged him the other day because he's now connected with one of my cousins who does the exact same athletic activity he does -it's a bit atypical.  I sent him a link to an interesting article about the activity.  He knows I'm married and have a son.  He responded to thank me and we chatted a bit online, impersonally about random stuff. In those handful of messages he must have mentioned "my girlfriend" 3-4 times - mostly out of context. 

So I figured either she was sitting near him and very insecure or he thought she might see the messages. It was ridiculous.  We're all in our 50s, he knows I'm married, we've been in touch on and off for many years - and it was as if he was chatting with a single woman hitting on him and wanting to hit her over the head with "my girlfriend/my girlfriend/my girlfriend."  

If your girlfriend treats these people similarly -leaping to a conclusion that she'd better shut the contact down ASAP because someone messaged her "how's life treating you" or a random impersonal article - especially if she and the ex know people in common he'll think she was taken in by some bizarre cult or is in some incredibly suffocating/possessive relationship with a short-tempered guy.  In my cases I brushed it aside - no biggie - but yes it's weird for adults to treat each other that way.

For me - it's weird that adults keep their past in their present. It's just my way of thinking, of course. I myself like to think of a gf as my present and my future. Keeping ghosts from the past doesn't seem compatible with my views. There's literally zero need for me to check up on my exes from time to time to see how they are doing. I wish them all the best and I hope their lives are going well. And that's it. When we parted ways, my ex was upset that she wouldn't hear from me anymore and that she was not going to know how I was doing because she cared for me. Well, I also cared for her but you can't have your cake and eat it too. "Let's just be friends" is not my type of thing and I make distinction between friends and (former) lovers. I am not comfortable with mixing things. So I prefer having friends (including female ones) and a SO. Both are different entities to me and once you've been in one of the categories, you can't land in the other one. But its just my bias.

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8 hours ago, DancingFool said:

You don't have to change your stance, but you need to seek partners to date who actually share your stance without having to be intimidated into it.

I think a bigger concern for you should be the very fact that she felt intimidated by your tone, demeanor, or whatever and now feels anxious about approaching this topic or being honest with you about whatever comes up with whatever ex. You should be concerned about how you are coming across because that's a you problem, not a her problem.

Above aside, you don't date a person's good few qualities that you like. A large part of relationships is how YOU feel in it and whether the dynamic brings out the best in you or not. You know you met a good match because you feel safe and secure, because you get each other easily and without these kinds of dramatic talks. This situation is literally the opposite of that or so it seems from what you are posting.

 

You're totally right! That's another thing I learned in this case - to seek partners who share similar views about keeping exes in the picture. It just hadn't happened to me with any of my former gfs so I didn't think about that possibility...

I was concerned about how she was feeling and I assured her that it was not a problem - her ex was arranging things about the vacation and she didn't have to worry that she was doing something inappropriate. I really have no concerns about how I am coming across (however much I'd like her to be calm and not afraid of me, the latter was not the goal at all, of course) because when we shared our views on the topic a month ago, she confirmed that we were on the same page (keeping in touch with exes was not appropriate). So I thought that it meant any contact but it turned out that it was arbitrary. Maybe it all comes down to compatibility (again). And she has a similar fear about her summer vacation without me demanding anything. I did my best to assure her that when she gets back, I will be there for her and I won't be a different person but she's still in a panic (according to her words). And I guess it's partly because she knows deep down that going to that vacation is not so appropriate (she has told me similar thing and I've seen the battle between her conflicting views on the topic). But I still do as much as I can to let her know that I won't flip out and I will not let that event break our relationship.

Your point about how one feels in a relationship is a good one! I can say that the dynamic doesn't always bring out the best in me (as you can see :D ) but I have enough flaws and I may tend to ascribe it to my weaknesses and take responsibility for it. So overall it does feel good most of the time and my most frequent feeling when being with her is happiness. There are some issues (mostly the one with the exes now) but I will explore things further with her, at least for now.

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5 hours ago, bbogdanov said:

Something along the lines of "I'm fine, thank you! How are you doing?" and couple of messages later followed by "I'm glad I heard from you, I hope everything goes well! I have a bf now and I don't think it would be appropriate to keep in touch but I wish you all the best!" or just wash her hands of it by saying "...I have a bf now and he is not comfortable with me staying in touch with exes so we better not communicate." will be perfectly fine for me! 

Oh wow -you really want her -a grown woman -to tell these people that her boyfriend is not comfortable (honestly I can't even imagine doing so and referencing "husband" and I'm married -much more reasonable for a married or long term committed couple) - she would sound like a child "my daddy won't let me....". 

Of course all conversations not just with exes can go down the wrong path.  But the bottom line is do you trust her to have normal boundaries so that a simple how are you/how's the family doesn't become "come over and let's get boozed up".  And even if it did don't you trust her to know to cut things off right then?

This is on you.  You don't trust her in a situation which is not playing with fire in the least.  Of course she shouldn't meet an ex for dinner at a romantic restaurant on a Saturday night -not a good look, gives the wrong messages and despite trusting your partner it's likely inappropriate to be in a date like setting like that with a guy, ex or no.  

Also it's unfair for her to ask how he is doing knowing she has to cut him off to please you and accommodate your rules - that's disingenuous and wrong of you to burden her with that.  

If she truly was on the same page with you -your very strict stance on exes -she would have canceled her vacation without a thought to the $ or circumstances. If she has to cut off an ex as you described then going on vacation with an ex and communicating with him about all the vacay plans goes far beyond a simple polite exchange that also -to you -needs to be cut off.  She's worried because she's doing this all for you -she's not on the same page and I can see where while on vacay she'll feel on eggshells about her interactions until a point where- perhaps after a drink when she's a little relaxed she'll be like - ok this is crap. I'm on vacay, he's a new boyfriend, I'm tired of this ridiculous short leash.  Ex, let's dance!!"

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16 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

Oh wow -you really want her -a grown woman -to tell these people that her boyfriend is not comfortable (honestly I can't even imagine doing so and referencing "husband" and I'm married -much more reasonable for a married or long term committed couple) - she would sound like a child "my daddy won't let me....". 

Of course all conversations not just with exes can go down the wrong path.  But the bottom line is do you trust her to have normal boundaries so that a simple how are you/how's the family doesn't become "come over and let's get boozed up".  And even if it did don't you trust her to know to cut things off right then?

This is on you.  You don't trust her in a situation which is not playing with fire in the least.  Of course she shouldn't meet an ex for dinner at a romantic restaurant on a Saturday night -not a good look, gives the wrong messages and despite trusting your partner it's likely inappropriate to be in a date like setting like that with a guy, ex or no.  

Also it's unfair for her to ask how he is doing knowing she has to cut him off to please you and accommodate your rules - that's disingenuous and wrong of you to burden her with that.  

If she truly was on the same page with you -your very strict stance on exes -she would have canceled her vacation without a thought to the $ or circumstances. If she has to cut off an ex as you described then going on vacation with an ex and communicating with him about all the vacay plans goes far beyond a simple polite exchange that also -to you -needs to be cut off.  She's worried because she's doing this all for you -she's not on the same page and I can see where while on vacay she'll feel on eggshells about her interactions until a point where- perhaps after a drink when she's a little relaxed she'll be like - ok this is crap. I'm on vacay, he's a new boyfriend, I'm tired of this ridiculous short leash.  Ex, let's dance!!"

I explained here what would be my fine from my point of view (and what I would do) because we were discussing the ways one can politely cut contact with an ex, given he/she wanted to do it! That's why I said that if she was not comfortable enough, she could wash her hands of it and justify herself by saying that her bf won't be comfortable with it. And to me it doesn't sound childish at all if it is presented appropriately and if it's genuine. It may as well be seen as choosing a priority and taking into consideration your SO (like I could do the same, of course).

I trust her to have normal boundaries but I don't trust exes and I don't want to increase the chances for some drama. They've shared a lot of personal details recently (before we met) which are usually reserved for the most intimate friends or a gf/bf couple. That is a possibility for something deeper. We are talking about emotional involvement here...

Asking him how he was doing (hypothetically) was because of good manners. She can have a conversation if he reaches out (not cut him off immediately) but the outcome which I will be comfortable with is the one that leaves him knowing his further contact would not be appropriate. I repeat - it's my way of doing things (although I have outrightly ignored an ex of mine because I had a gf at that moment) and she is free to not "please me and accomodate my rules". After all, every one of us gets to decide the degree to which he/she is not comfortable with something

Discussing vacation plans (literally couple of messages back and forth) was something I was OK with and I told her that. What they will do at the vacation is their business. She is not on a leash but if she wants to be with me - she knows what I find inappropriate (dancing is one of those things for every normal person, I guess). So my "rules" are not some made-up BS and I don't force anybody to agree with them.

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2 hours ago, bbogdanov said:

That's why I said that if she was not comfortable enough, she could wash her hands of it and justify herself by saying that her bf won't be comfortable with it. And to me it doesn't sound childish at all if it is presented appropriately and if it's genuine.

But it's not genuine, she'd basically be following your marching orders if she did this--much like an obedient child.

Your girlfriend is comfortable with her ability to maintain appropriate boundaries if/when an ex contacts her. She's not comfortable making sweeping generalizations about her ex boyfriends and treating them as if they are guilty of having ulterior motives.

Question for you: do you think your girlfriend chooses men of such low character that they would simply hit on her when they were horny, without any respect for what's going on in her life? Is she such a fool that she would go for it? Do you think she's desperate for attention, or for love?

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2 hours ago, Jibralta said:

But it's not genuine, she'd basically be following your marching orders if she did this--much like an obedient child.

Your girlfriend is comfortable with her ability to maintain appropriate boundaries if/when an ex contacts her. She's not comfortable making sweeping generalizations about her ex boyfriends and treating them as if they are guilty of having ulterior motives.

Question for you: do you think your girlfriend chooses men of such low character that they would simply hit on her when they were horny, without any respect for what's going on in her life? Is she such a fool that she would go for it? Do you think she's desperate for attention, or for love?

Yeah, it won’t be genuine for her, I couldn’t agree more with you about that. It all comes to what’s comfortable for any of us. We seem to have different opinions on the topic and somebody have to make a big compromise, we both have to make a small compromise or we have to part ways. I don’t see other options except those three (I think that pretending everything is OK is not an option) . And I was enthusiastic about accepting it the first time we talked about it but my gut just told me otherwise the very next day. So I can’t really fight my feelings.

I don’t think that she dates men of low character but that particular ex has had a habit ot calling/texting her when he is drunk so I don’t know what to expect. I guess you don’t have to be a man of low character to hit on a girl in such situation, sometimes other factors may have impact. And she has told me that she doesn’t really know if he will keep his promise. She’s not desperate for love or attention, I suppose.

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2 hours ago, Batya33 said:

What you wrote above as to your not trusting her to react appropriately plus your rules and how you express them sounds really controlling -beyond the pale.  I think this is why she is fearful.

OK, if it sounds controlling, how can I act in such situation in the future? (genuine question). I didn’t mean to make her fearful but the result is that she is.

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"It's not fair for you to feel you have to change who you are fundamentally in order for me to feel comfortable. If you want to communicate with your exes you certainly have the right to do so. But I choose to date women who do not have any communication with their exes. Therefore it's best we wish one another well and go our separate ways."

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I'm saying most of this mainly to play the devil's advocate. I myself wouldn't blithely accept my boyfriend chatting away with his exes. I'd have questions. But I wouldn't go right into defense mode, either.

When my boyfriend and I got together, he had a couple of ex girlfriends who kept in touch with him. I had to do some serious weeding. But I didn't napalm the whole forest. He had options. We had discussions. It wasn't just my way or the highway. 

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3 hours ago, bbogdanov said:

OK, if it sounds controlling, how can I act in such situation in the future? (genuine question). I didn’t mean to make her fearful but the result is that she is.

You meant to control her contact with her exes because she obviously didn't and doesn't feel the same way about it as you and you presented your rules and restrictions.  I like what Boltnrun suggested.

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Just now, Jibralta said:

I'm saying most of this mainly to play the devil's advocate. I myself wouldn't blithely accept my boyfriend chatting away with his exes. I'd have questions. But I wouldn't go right into defense mode, either.

When my boyfriend and I got together, he had a couple of ex girlfriends who kept in touch with him. I had to do some serious weeding. But I didn't napalm the whole forest. He had options. We had discussions. It wasn't just my way or the highway. 

But did you also tell him if an ex contacts him and says harmlessly hi how are you he has to respond with "please don't contact me anymore as it makes my girlfriend uncomfortable"

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1 minute ago, Batya33 said:

But did you also tell him if an ex contacts him and says harmlessly hi how are you he has to respond with "please don't contact me anymore as it makes my girlfriend uncomfortable"

Absolutely not. That would be napalming the whole forest.

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4 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

Absolutely not. That would be napalming the whole forest.

Which is what he wants.  Had I done that I wouldn't have had the joy of becoming good friends with a woman, my child becoming friendly with  her kids and -bonus - because of her we were able to meet a famous person who led an incredible life, before the person passed away.  This woman dated my husband.  I first met her before she was married, when my husband and I were dating a couple of months.  We all had lunch.  They also were connected professionally.  Later, she married (same first name as my husband!) and had kids and we ended up living in the same city for certain summers.  Great friendship. How sad it would have been had I missed that opportunity just because she dated my husband.  One of several examples in my life.

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My mother used to date my uncle (my father's brother). It would have been basically impossible for her to go No Contact with her husband's brother. 

However my uncle was not contacting my mother behind my dad and his wife's back and he surely did not call her or send her letters asking how she was (no electronics in the 1960s and 1970s).

I did have an ex reach out to me a few months ago. I didn't see why he needed to know how I was doing so I gave an abrupt and brief answer. He got the message and stopped.

However...it doesn't matter what I did. The OP does not want to be in a relationship with a woman who communicates with exes. His current date communicates with exes because she wants to be "nice". Therefore they are incompatible if a compromise cannot be reached.

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1 hour ago, boltnrun said:

The OP does not want to be in a relationship with a woman who communicates with exes. His current date communicates with exes because she wants to be "nice". Therefore they are incompatible if a compromise cannot be reached.

Yes.  Very well put.  The issue is he will not accept the incompatibility and compromise (other than sticking around despite her not cancelling her vacation where the ex will be) and instead is trying to control it and get it all his way.

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10 hours ago, boltnrun said:

"It's not fair for you to feel you have to change who you are fundamentally in order for me to feel comfortable. If you want to communicate with your exes you certainly have the right to do so. But I choose to date women who do not have any communication with their exes. Therefore it's best we wish one another well and go our separate ways."

That sounds perfectly reasonable and I will take it into consideration. It's an option but I have to think about doing it, I don't want to act hastily.

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7 hours ago, Batya33 said:

Which is what he wants.  Had I done that I wouldn't have had the joy of becoming good friends with a woman, my child becoming friendly with  her kids and -bonus - because of her we were able to meet a famous person who led an incredible life, before the person passed away.  This woman dated my husband.  I first met her before she was married, when my husband and I were dating a couple of months.  We all had lunch.  They also were connected professionally.  Later, she married (same first name as my husband!) and had kids and we ended up living in the same city for certain summers.  Great friendship. How sad it would have been had I missed that opportunity just because she dated my husband.  One of several examples in my life.

You are saying that because of the knowledge you have now : ) Had you done that (requiring your husband not keeping contact with exes), you wouldn't know there was such a woman, such a kid etc. So you wouldn't lose anything. And there was a possibility that the woman would not like you (or you would not like her) so you wouldn't be (good) friends etc. It's all easy when something good has happened and you look back from the safety of retrospection. And having several good examples in your life tends to reinforce the confirmation bias. We all have such : )

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7 hours ago, Jibralta said:

Understood. I don't think it's the best way for him to address his problem.

There are no options left then. We both have different views about communicating with exes so we should part ways?

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7 hours ago, boltnrun said:

My mother used to date my uncle (my father's brother). It would have been basically impossible for her to go No Contact with her husband's brother. 

However my uncle was not contacting my mother behind my dad and his wife's back and he surely did not call her or send her letters asking how she was (no electronics in the 1960s and 1970s).

I did have an ex reach out to me a few months ago. I didn't see why he needed to know how I was doing so I gave an abrupt and brief answer. He got the message and stopped.

However...it doesn't matter what I did. The OP does not want to be in a relationship with a woman who communicates with exes. His current date communicates with exes because she wants to be "nice". Therefore they are incompatible if a compromise cannot be reached.

That's what I wonder about too. I don't see why an ex would need to contact an old flame out of the blue and ask how he/she is doing. Call me naive, biased, suspicious or whatever but I am almost sure that most of the times there's some surreptitious purpose. Especially when it's man->woman. Be it rekindling things (worst case scenario), being bored, needing validation, needing emotional support, not having other options etc. Many times people don't even know the subconscious reason for doing things (not enough self-awareness) or are outright delusioning themselves. And I repeat - there isn't a bad blood between me and any of my exes. I really hope they are doing fine and have all the luck and happiness in the world. But I don't feel any need to check up on them. It will be totally awkward for me to just appear out of the blue and suddenly be considerate about their lives (and I am still very fond of my most recent ex as a person and I had great connection with her whole family but breaking up means end of story).

Speaking of compromise - I guess (usually) a mutual one is the best strategy? Like both people make some steps towards each other and meet in middle ground (not giving up their opinion totally)? I will find some time to be alone with my thoughts and try to reason with myself about occasional contact with exes and see if there's some room for variation.

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6 hours ago, Batya33 said:

Yes.  Very well put.  The issue is he will not accept the incompatibility and compromise (other than sticking around despite her not cancelling her vacation where the ex will be) and instead is trying to control it and get it all his way.

I accepted the vacation because it will be a single occasion that's been arranged before we even met. Not that's a justifiable enough cause (according to some of you here) but let's assume that it's my part of the compromise equation. But let me correct you about me "trying to control it and get it all his way" and "sticking around" because there are some nuances and facts you don't take into account which is understandable - I am presenting a lot of information and sometimes it's hard to navigate it and many things are missed. So I'll try to be concise about the timeline of events without missing the important bits:

- she receives a late evening call (11PM) from her ex and when I ask her about it (on the next day), she initially denies, then is surprised how I know who he is and finally confesses and accuses me of not trusting her

- after couple of days of me thinking about it and trying to understand it (I don't want to make rash decisions based on my emotions), I ask her to meet me and explain the whole situation; she says that she keeps in touch with her ex from three years ago and they share a friends group; I trust her explanation that they are just friends and I behave like I am OK with it (I was really OK with it for a little while or I was just caught up in the moment and delusional)

- the very next day I feel bad and uncomfortable again and I am on the verge of ending things; we meet and I admit that I may have misled her and that I'm really not comfortable with her keeping contact with exes; she says that she totally agrees with me and that she also thinks that keeping in touch with exes is not appropriate so I don't have to worry about it (and couple of days later calls that ex of hers to tell him about me and to not contact her)

- almost a month later the ex contacts her to arrange some things for the vacation (I tell her that in that case it's not a problem for me, although she is afraid how I might react); after we dig deeper, it turns out that although she can't guarantee that a random ex won't reach out some time in the future (nobody has demanded such thing, of course), she is responsible to not initiate contact with any of them but she can't ignore or tell them all to not contact her (she is not "that type of person", she is friendly, polite, etc.).

So it turns out that for us two, "keeping contact" with an ex doesn't mean the same thing. For me, it means literally that. For her - it depends on how often it is (couple of times a week is not the same as couple of times a year) and how meaningful it is (personal stuff or just chit-chat) and it depends on who initiates it - she won't actively reach out to any of her exes but if somebody textes/calls her, she feels obliged to be polite, friendly, etc.

So it's not that I've tried to control it and get it my way. I THOUGHT it was my way as well as her way (see the third dashed paragraph). And I was happy and content that we were on the same page until couple of days ago when we found those "little" details about how one can interpret "keeping contact with exes" as.

Now I am really sticking around and considering what to do. It's been couple of days and I haven't thought thoroughly about it but I won't be in a hurry to take some action. I will try to see if there's a plank in my eye first.

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6 hours ago, bbogdanov said:

You are saying that because of the knowledge you have now : ) Had you done that (requiring your husband not keeping contact with exes), you wouldn't know there was such a woman, such a kid etc. So you wouldn't lose anything. And there was a possibility that the woman would not like you (or you would not like her) so you wouldn't be (good) friends etc. It's all easy when something good has happened and you look back from the safety of retrospection. And having several good examples in your life tends to reinforce the confirmation bias. We all have such : )

Nope not true.  I wouldn't have my husband had I "required" him because he would never have gone for someone dictating such an overreaction based on my insecurity issues.  I'm glad I married someone who would not put up with that level of control and nonsense. 

There's a possibility of everything.  But here's a guarantee -if you choose fear/insecurities and micromanage your own or try to do that to someone else  - there's a 100% guarantee you will miss out on positive life experiences for a negative reason.

  Many of the close connections I have to people and through other people (because I'm awesome at networking) and numerous professional successes are through other people are because I don't cut someone out of my life just because we dated or had a relationship. 

To me it's much more nuanced and I would never try to "require" my husband to do almost anything -there are exceptions that involve health and safety/this pandemic but I choose my battles carefully as does he.  We had a long talk about his most recent ex when we got back together.  I asked nothing of him.  He told me his plan since they still worked together and I trusted him to know what was the right thing to do.  I did not trust her -she tried to get him back - but it didn't change my trust in him.

We couldn't have been together had I required him for example to change jobs or to avoid any personal contact with her because as you may know working with people successfully often involves chatting about things that are not entirely work related.  In many jobs it's how you build relationships, how you get promoted, how you get a good reference for your next job.  

  You can say what you wrote about "ignorance is bliss" about almost all of life's experiences - it's a broad cliche and I will not live my life telling myself "well I'm going to give into my insecurities and avoid X and Y and Z and it's fine because I'll never know what I'm missing."  Had I done that I wouldn't have my career, marriage or child.  For example.  If you want to it's fine but know that your girlfriend doesn't or she would have wanted to cancel her vacation "well if I don't go and I ignore social media I won't know what I'm missing and there's a possibility I'd have a bad time anyway". 

She's going because she does NOT feel as you do-that ignorance is bliss -and she does not have the hard stance about exes.  I will tell you this -if she fears your reaction and she is apart from you having a great time that fear will likely turn to resentment that she allowed herself to be fearful and controlled by you.  He and her friends will be in close proximity.  On vacation.  Being carefree, not fearful.  Free not controlled.  You're pushing her along a path of making a choice to choose fun over fear.  

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4 hours ago, bbogdanov said:

So it's not that I've tried to control it and get it my way. I THOUGHT it was my way as well as her way (see the third dashed paragraph). And I was happy and content that we were on the same page until couple of days ago when we found those "little" details about how one can interpret "keeping contact with exes" as.

You created your own problem because you took such an extreme stance that made no rational sense to her (understandably) so she likely never thought you meant it is as rigidly as you did. 

Reminds me of my family road trip last week.  I don't like eating or having my son eat food that's been out too long.  My husband is far more lenient.  He gave him a small bite of a french fry that had been out a couple of hours and when my son mentioned something about having a fry my husband said no.  Because he honestly believed a tiny bite is not "having french fries".  Right.  My son told me he had a tiny bite, he was fine and so I told my husband - eating is eating - I don't want him having food that's been out in his mouth even a little bit. 

Did my husband lie? He apologized and to him a bite isn't eating.  Same with your ex - I am probably too extreme because of my fear of food poisoning and my husband lacks that fear so a bite is not eating.  You have these deep insecurities when it comes to romantic relationships she does not have so she can't relate to your extreme stance.  When people act out of irrational fear and insecurity it's a real risk that others will not understand your rigid approach.  You created this for yourself.

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