In love with two different people?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’ve been in a relationship for the past 4 years and now things are changing. At first, my boyfriend was really nice and a complete gentleman, but ever since we moved in together last year, he is rarely nice to me and gets angered easily. He has gone as far as prohibiting things I can do, like what music I can listen to. He is verbally abusive and has told me that he feels like hitting me sometimes. I also feel like I can’t be myself around him. I’m not always happy in the relationship. I never considered leaving the relationship until recently when I saw the guy that was my first love.

I met this boy through my cousin when I was 10 years old and I automatically was attracted to him. We dated for a couple of days, but because he lives in a different country, I only saw him once a year or so. I hadn’t seen him in the past 5 years and I finally saw him again this summer when I went on vacation. When I saw him, all the feelings I had felt for him came back and I felt like that same 16 year old that once gave him my everything. He told me that he still thought about me and that he would give up everything to be with me again. I felt really happy for the first time and ended up kissing him while my boyfriend, back in the US, has no idea that I even saw this guy.

Now I am completely confused. I don’t feel guilty at all for cheating on my boyfriend and kissing this guy. In talking to my cousin, she suggested that maybe I am just with my current boyfriend because I am comfortable in that position, even if I am not completely happy. I find it hard to make a decision between these two boys. I do love them both very much, but I can’t decide whether to stay in this relationship and possibly live a life of complacency or leave this relationship and give my first love a chance.

A: I don’t think you should do either. Your relationship isn’t healthy. It’s only a matter of time before he moves from feeling like hitting you to doing it. Rather than addressing his anger management issues, he is trying to control you. You shouldn’t put up with this kind of treatment on the basis of a memory of a sweeter time together.

You shouldn’t jump into a relationship with the other guy either. It’s easy to idealize someone you met so young and who you’ve had so little contact with. I don’t think you are in love. I think you are convincing yourself you are in order to lever yourself out of a toxic relationship. That isn’t fair to him. It isn’t fair to yourself either. You need to take the time to heal from the relationship with your current guy and to figure out why you would put up with such treatment. To give the new relationship the best chance possible and perhaps to let real love grow, you need to learn how to establish a relationship that is based on mutual respect and equality.

I did a search on the Internet and found SafePlace, a program in your city for women who are in an abusive relationship. I strongly urge you to contact them and to see one of the counselors there. They can help you safely withdraw from your boyfriend and do the personal work you need to do so you don’t get into a similar situation again. Their website is
http://www.safeplace.org and the phone number is 512-267-SAFE.

Take the time to take care of yourself. You deserve it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Aug 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). In love with two different people?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/08/31/in-love-with-two-different-people/