Interpersonal Issues

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year. Before him, I only dated once, and I was really heartbroken when it was over. It took me years before I finally fully reconciled what I had lost. Since then, I only had a temporary “fling,” where I also got hurt. So, when we started dating, it was really stressful and overwhelming for me, especially since we only spent about 2 weeks getting to know each other. He was very passionate about his feelings for me, and it wasn’t long before we started having sex and he told me he loved me. I have a history of depression and anxiety, and I had a hard time voicing the many struggles I had within our relationship. He had dated 3 women consecutively before me, two of whom he was intimate with, and I was confused how he could get over a long-term relationship so quickly after it had taken me so long to get over my first one. I struggled immensely with the fact that he had sex with other women before me, since he was my first true experience with sex, and I also was questioning his relationship pattern: can he go without dating a woman? He grew up with a single mother, so it makes sense, but he only waited a month or so to start dating me after his last relationship ended (it lasted about a year and a half). I wondered if I was just the next girl in line, and if I was really any different from the rest. He’s very in love with me, and I love him, but not as much as he loves me. I broke up with him a few weeks after our 1 year because I couldn’t take the struggles anymore, and he was physically sick. He said he cried himself to sleep each night and vomited in the morning. I couldn’t stand how much pain he was in over me, and I also felt like I still have love for him, so I went back with him within a week and a half. During this time apart, his ex contacted him and they met up- she wanted him back, but he told her he wanted to be with me. He also hung out with another girl (who just found out we got back together) and said he “met” someone, but it didn’t go anywhere. He said all he really wanted was to me with me. However, he didn’t tell me about his ex contacting him until about a week after starting our relationship again, and he didn’t tell me they communicated at one point during the summer either. He is sometimes inappropriate with his flirting, and when I talk with some of the girls he knows, he asks me “what we talked about,” and now I’m paranoid that he’s hiding things from me. I just don’t know if I can totally trust him. I know he loves me very much, but I just feel uneasy in our relationship at times. What should I do?

A: I appreciate the pain and struggle you are going through with this relationship, and while I don’t want to be simplistic about the differences between men and women and dating I will say there is some truth to the statement that when relationships end, men replace and women grieve.

That having been said, the insecurities and concerns you are feeling are natural in this relationship. The first thing that I would note is that the primary concern you have seems to be during the time you were broken up. During that 10-day period your then ex-boyfriend began some connections with other women. This should not be a surprise given that men will most often move on faster than women. Of course this isn’t always true, but what I am saying is that if you were broken up, his behavior isn’t a surprise.

I would encourage you to find a voice in this relationship and start creating a commitment that is based on mutual trust. Explain what you need from him in the relationship and be open to hearing his expectations. True intimacy is the result of shared vulnerability and this needs to happen with a discussion.

In your profile it indicated you were in college. I would take advantage of the counseling program at the school and see if they would be willing to have a few couples sessions. This might do wonders fo the two of you beginning to communicate your needs and expectations more directly to one another.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Dec 2012

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Interpersonal Issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/12/01/interpersonal-issues/