The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Chilipepper Chilipepper
I've been dating C for three months and we have a really good relationship save for the fact that he's working out his last relationship (ended a year before we got together) because it was traumatic for him. Because I've allowed him to verbally work this out by acting as his listener, I'm now hearing about all the other crazy bitches he dated ... in short, he never worked through the losses and feels safe enough with me to do so.

It's only been the past week that I've begun to develop a resentment to this, and my own feelings of jealousy are getting in the way. Yes, they all really were crazy in different ways and it's obvious he's glad he left them, but I'm feeling very crowded in this relationship. It's like they're looking over his shoulder at me and saying "You'll never be remembered like us. You'll never excite him like we did. You're too boring." (The fact is, comparably, I'm anti-drama and more well-adjusted, so I tend to be quiet.)

He's made it clear to me that he feels extremely comfortable with me and that I'm his equal and had always wanted to date me since high school and that our relationship is as great as he thought it would be. He certainly does not want to go back to any of the craziness. He's never compared me to them, and he does focus on Us when he isn't taken with some memory that pops up.

But I'm feeling resentment about all these Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. I've decided that I am going to have a heart-to-heart about this with him when I next see him, because I'm pretty sure he isn't aware that what he's doing is Against the Rules for Adult Relationships. Besides, I'm not a qualified counselor who can disassociate myself from my feelings and guide him through this. I'm not supposed to do it. He needs to work this out with a professional.

I'm afraid of him leaving me because of it - my previous experience is people dropping me as friend or girlfriend whenever I state that what they're doing makes me uncomfortable. The law of "if you can't accept what I do, then I don't need you" can only be taken so far - the other person's feelings have to be taken into account if the friend-/relationship means anything to you. So far, he's been reasonable about everything else, so this really is just my own fear tempered by experience with less mature people.

My nerves are making me sick. Wish me luck in expressing this in a calm, non-accusatory manner without using the wrong words.
12/23/2012
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evie.amor evie.amor
Quote:
Originally posted by Chilipepper
I've been dating C for three months and we have a really good relationship save for the fact that he's working out his last relationship (ended a year before we got together) because it was traumatic for him. Because I've allowed him to ... More
Wow! I applaud you for your efforts! I don't usually like to hear ex-girlfriend stories, especially when they make me feel inferior in some way. It's hard dealing with jealousy issues. Especially if you have been hurt in the past, it can be very difficult to brush aside fears.

I just have a few questions about your situation;

1) Were you friends before you started dating? If so, for how long?
2) Kinda related to the first Q: How long has he been confiding in you, and how long ago he start talking about ex-girlfriend issues?

Basically, have you been allowing him to be open with you for a long while? If you were okay with it for the first 2 1/2 months, it might make him feel bad if you cut him off. I would definitely have a talk with him about it, the longer it goes on the more resentful he may feel, just sure you word it thoughtfully.

Often in life you train people how to treat you. If you don't like something nip it in the bud before its engrained!

You'll be alright, he likes you because you're different. If he can't respect your feelings, better to learn it sooner than later.
12/23/2012
evie.amor evie.amor
Quote:
Originally posted by Chilipepper
I've been dating C for three months and we have a really good relationship save for the fact that he's working out his last relationship (ended a year before we got together) because it was traumatic for him. Because I've allowed him to ... More
Wow! I applaud you for your efforts! I don't usually like to hear ex-girlfriend stories, especially when they make me feel inferior in some way. It's hard dealing with jealousy issues. Especially if you have been hurt in the past, it can be very difficult to brush aside fears.

I just have a few questions about your situation;

1) Were you friends before you started dating? If so, for how long?
2) Kinda related to the first Q: How long has he been confiding in you, and how long ago he start talking about ex-girlfriend issues?

Basically, have you been allowing him to be open with you for a long while? If you were okay with it for the first 2 1/2 months, it might make him feel bad if you cut him off. I would definitely have a talk with him about it, the longer it goes on the more resentful he may feel, just sure you word it thoughtfully.

Often in life you train people how to treat you. If you don't like something nip it in the bud before its engrained!

You'll be alright, he likes you because you're different. If he can't respect your feelings, better to learn it sooner than later.
12/23/2012
Supervixen Supervixen
You sound really clear about this, which I applaud. You are absolutely right that you are not the one he needs to talk to about those past issues and losses--he needs a counselor for that. It's wonderful that he feels so comfortable with you, and sometimes when we feel really safe and comfortable with someone, we can accidentally start taking advantage of their goodwill without realizing it. Like you said, he probably isn't aware of how this is affecting you. I'm sure that if he loves you and respects you as he seems to, then he'll respect your feelings on this, and go get help from where he should be seeking it. You can be his support in other ways that are appropriate for an SO, by being a good partner. You aren't his psychiatrist, nor should you be. No wonder you're feeling crowded in your relationship--he hasn't dealt with the ones from the past, yet.

For what it's worth, if I were in your position, I probably wouldn't be nearly as patient and understanding. A lot of people wouldn't be. It's bad form to talk about exes with your current partner. It's not that it's off limits for good, or that you can never bring them up once in a while--we all have a past and a history that contributes to who we are currently, and sometimes, that past is going to come up. But to treat your SO like your therapist and go on and on about them, even if you speak of the negative things they did is just...selfish.

Have the heart to heart with him. You seem like the kind of person who can talk without letting your emotions get the best of you and flying off the handle. Be calm, honest, non-accusatory...and I'm sure he'll understand. Most people would not put up with listening to their partner go and on about the exes, because it's not really fair, and nobody wants to sit and think about the other people their partner has been with.

Good luck--I think you guys will be fine.
12/23/2012
Chilipepper Chilipepper
Quote:
Originally posted by evie.amor
Wow! I applaud you for your efforts! I don't usually like to hear ex-girlfriend stories, especially when they make me feel inferior in some way. It's hard dealing with jealousy issues. Especially if you have been hurt in the past, it can be ... More
To answer your questions:

1) We ran around with the same group in high school, so we were friends during our teens. He told me recently that all the guys in the group (including himself) wanted to date me, but they kept cock-blocking each other from doing so, so none of them said a word and I thought nobody wanted me. We lost contact about a year or two after high school - the last time we saw each other was at The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We reconnected at a mutual friend's party back in late September, where he told me he wanted me since high school - since he never gave me any grief back then, I gave him a chance and we've been steady since.

2) We've been open with each other about our pasts from the start. However, I guess since I've had three years since my separation, I don't mention my ex-husband much because I've already worked through it. He's finally un-numbing himself from having been with the last one (that's how traumatic it was: he had to emotionally numb himself to claw his way out), so he's running at the mouth to work it out. A few weeks later had the other ones being talked about (the one with the brain tumor, the one who practically tried to rape him to get his attention, the girl roommate his last girlfriend had living with them who cut his brake lines, etc). I was able to handle it for a while, but I'm just sick of hearing it at this point.

Honestly, that isn't the only thing we talk about. I'd say the Ghosts take up about 10% of his conversation. But I'm too emotionally involved with him now to be the Listener like I had been in high school. I have my own neuroses and inadequacies, and I refuse to take on others'. It feels crowded as hell and that I have to share him with them.

We've got to work on our communication, that's for damn sure. And it's going to start with me putting my foot down about this situation in particular.
12/23/2012
Chilipepper Chilipepper
Quote:
Originally posted by Supervixen
You sound really clear about this, which I applaud. You are absolutely right that you are not the one he needs to talk to about those past issues and losses--he needs a counselor for that. It's wonderful that he feels so comfortable with you, and ... More
Actually, it took me a while to notice it, which is I guess why I feel so resentful right now. I was still being poleaxed about being respected, fucked, engaged in intellectual exchange, feeling comfortable with a guy for the first time, etc that I looked over that. Now that I've gotten used to the relationship, I'm noticing that I really don't like this part of it. It surprised me when I realized this, so I couldn't say anything about it over the past week. I also didn't want to go off into a jealous rant and snark that I hope he talks as much about me to his next girlfriend as he talks about the previous ones to me.

Really, he's just being clueless, and I haven't called him on it yet. The communication is still being worked on. This is the first time in which my SO isn't an immature fuckwit, so I'm having to learn how to go about the communication in a more reasonable manner.

Thanks, Supervixen. You're a great person to have in one's corner.
12/23/2012
js250 js250
I would let him know how you feel--but do it gently. Tell him you know he needs to work through this, but since you are now very emotionally involved it is starting to hurt you to hear about his treatment from the others and you would like to work on making sure you guys do not end up hurting each other....

Hugs and it will go good--sounds like you have respect for each other!!
12/23/2012
Chilipepper Chilipepper
Quote:
Originally posted by js250
I would let him know how you feel--but do it gently. Tell him you know he needs to work through this, but since you are now very emotionally involved it is starting to hurt you to hear about his treatment from the others and you would like to work on ... More
That's an interesting addition to my discussion, as it does hurt to hear about the insane things he went through. It's his thing for wanting to "fix people" (the last ex made him thoroughly realize that some people don't want to be fixed), but nobody deserves to be treated like that.

Having written all this out has helped me a lot. I was faking the confidence that I can do it when I started this post (I really was feeling sick about confronting him about it), but now I'm more secure in my ability to address this correctly. It'll be taken care of without drama.

Thanks, JS. *hugs*
12/23/2012
El-Jaro El-Jaro
I disagree with the advice given. Men and women see things differently. From a guy's perspective - this is good for you.

You don't have to worry about intimacy issues if he's opening himself to you like this. He's obviously trusting you with his emotions and values your opinions (why else would he ask?). Once you see how he's been treated by his exes, you can see where to step lightly with him on issues and when to hold firm on something.

However you go at it, think of this: If he's opening himself up to you like this, the worst thing you can say is "I don't want to hear it", even if you don't say those exact words. You should say something if it's making you uncomfortable, but saying you don't want to hear about it is saying you don't want to know about his past and what he's been through.
12/24/2012
Chilipepper Chilipepper
In all honesty, I never got around to talk this over with him. Although I noticed he had really scaled back mentioning them - we spent two days together for the holiday, and there were only three brief references to them. I don't know if he picked up my recent discomfort or not. However, I'm feeling that my feelings of low-esteem and petty jealousy over his past should be dealt with before I call him on his unloading his past onto me.

And, yeah, the communication still needs to be worked on. -_-
12/26/2012
evie.amor evie.amor
Quote:
Originally posted by Chilipepper
I've been dating C for three months and we have a really good relationship save for the fact that he's working out his last relationship (ended a year before we got together) because it was traumatic for him. Because I've allowed him to ... More
I agree with Supervixen, maybe a couple sessions with a counselor would be beneficial for him. You're not his therapist. It's one thing to be comfortable with your partner, but bringing up past demons constantly is too much strain to put on a relationship.

Some people aren't bothered by hearing stories of exes so they don't understand how frustrating that can be for their partner. That's been the case for me with a couple of my boyfriends. I'm not sure if this is true or not in your case.

Regardless, I'm sure you'll get it cleared up with him just fine. Sit him down when you're both in a good mood and just explain how you feel. Maybe the closer that you two become and the more you care for him, the more difficult it is to hear about his exes. You're no longer a neutral party and it's not fair for you both to be stressing about his exes.

Let us know how it goes! Things will be better soon!
12/27/2012
spiced spiced
I can appreciate the position you're in, having had a girlfriend who liked to talk about her exes. I hated it but I never said so. I did learn from that to zip it about exes in my later relationships. I think it's awesome that you want to teach him, because it's something everyone needs to learn.

You might ask him if he wants to hear about YOUR exes the next time he starts to explore memory lane. That might help him to realize how it feels. Your suggestion of his getting counseling is excellent. I think almost everyone can benefit from it and especially someone who's having some difficulty moving beyond his past.
12/27/2012
Total posts: 12
Unique posters: 6