How to Strengthen Your Relationship/Soulmate... with his ex.
QUESTION: Hello Sharon,
Here is my situation. I'm 24, my boyfriend is 26, we've been together for 2 years and we've been living together for 2-3 months now. I think we have a warm relationship, although he often has kept some distance, which taught me to (try to) do the same.
He is in close relation to one of his ex-girlfriends. They've been together for 3 years and they've also have lived together for some time. I don't now the exact reason they've broken up, only that he didn't want to and that he have taken it tough. He explained to me that he is selfish and she has been a big part of his life and that's why he tried to stay close friends with her. He once told me that he is still sometimes jealous of her.
Sometime in the beginning of our relationship she set him to work where she does. So, they have been in the same team, have seen each other almost every day and have been sitting next to each other (by their own desire) since then.
All this has been bothering me now and then. Unfortunately, I am not a confident person at all and have some very nasty abandonment issues and I am sometimes very socially awkward. And she is beautiful, independent and an extrovert. Yes, I know I am making a mistake by sometimes trying to compare myself with her. And the worst is that, because of my low self-esteem, the result of that comparison is making me feel worthless and ashamed. The other thing is, when we all three are at the same place, here is what I see: he can't take his eyes off her, they sometimes hug and laugh like children, he looks more interested in her than me, they have funny talks about friends and collegues in common, common stories from before or happenings at work in which I simply cannot participate. I feel excluded, it hurts me and I become even more closed and numb. What I see may be a little exaggerated but there definitely is something... One time (we weren't living together yet) we were celebrating her birthday in the park. It was pass midnight and we all had to be at work in the morning. When he was leaving he turned to her and said 'Please, will you send her off to her place!' about me. Is it normal that he has more trust in her than me about myself? Is it her job to send me off? I think it's nobody's...
I like her, I love him but I don't know how to cope with all that. I think it is nice that they've kept their friendship. But sometimes I feel like he is not totally over her. It hurts me to listen what she said or did today. I sometimes feel fed up with her and start developing negative feelings towards her, him and myself. My reaction is very poor - I simply become sullen. I try to not hold him responsible for my fears and feelings (because he is not) and keep grumpy silence. It is very hard for me to express to my boyfriend what is bothering me. I am not sure he realizes he has this special attitude towards her and that this attitude hurts me.
I know that from the written you will notice the general picture - I have bigger problem, this jealousy has its roots and they are in me and my insecurity. That is true. But while I am trying to cope with/accept myself I need some practical advice how to act and be OK when we three are together or when he talks about her. Because these situations are unlikely to just disappear.
Is there a point talking with him and... what for?
Thank you in advance!
ANSWER: Dear Mia,
What you need is my coaching program. This cannot be fixed in one or two questions/answers. It takes an organized effort in working a program to be able to build the confidence you need to live your life more powerfully. You need to learn how to speak up and communicate your feelings to others without fear and you can learn how to do that.
Now to the problem.
Now, one of the problems is that you have set yourself up for failure by moving in with him. By your moving in with him you have said to him that you accept him and his situation with his ex girlfriend. We show other people what we want by our actions. Since he had baggage with his former girlfriend he was not ready for a full commitment. When you move in with a guy that is settling for less than a full commitment and then when problems come up you are in a very weak position to do anything about it.
So, now what can we do? Since you cannot speak up with confidence and because of your shyness and lack of self-esteem, perhaps you could write to him and tell him how you feel and ask him to help you understand his relationship with his ex-girlfriend. Ask him the questions you want and then tell him how it makes you feel to be ignored, etc. Then ask him this very important question, "What can we do to make our relationship better so that both of us feel confident in it?" You could also ask him what he thinks you should do with these feelings of doubt?"
It is not dumping on him but it is asking for his help and suggestions. Who knows, you might open up a way to communicate more with him by doing this that will start you on the way to a closer relationship.
Now, apparantly he cares about you to some extent--maybe a lot. He is with you and not her. Perhaps, she fills a need that you do not fill by her being able to more openly communicate. That would be my guess. You need to let your own personality emerge. You do not have be someone else because within you is a perfectly wonderful personality that just needs to be released. You must step out of your comfort zone and do lots of things to build confidence and communication skills. Learn to ask questions and take an interest in what they are saying when you are all together. You can make yourself a part of the conversation. If it is difficult to talk about yourself you can always learn how to ask good questions and then listen to other people talk bout themselves, which they love to do , anyway. When someone makes a comment, ask them how that made them feel, or what do they think about such and such.
You should do everything in your power to increase self-confidence. Do things that are hard for you to do. Read good self-help books. Take classes. Step out--speak up--every chance you get in all circumstances. If you are interested in my coaching program go to www.personalityconsultant.com and contact me there for more information and we can correspond from my email.
So, do all you can of the above and let me know if anything helps.
Personality Consultant/Life Coach
Learn to ask questions that require more than a yes or no. Instead of do you like your new car? You ask, What is it like to own a car like that? Or instead of, did you like the movie you ask: What did you like about this movie--or what did you not like about this movie?
When you asks questions like that it helps to give the conversation more information and helps keep the conversation going.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Dear Sharon,
Thank you very much for your response!
I really liked and maybe even needed two of the things that you said. They give me a new perspective.
The first thing, about moving in together while I am not able to fully accept his baggage... Yes, I've been thinking a lot about that lately. I feel that things are getting more serious now, something I truly wanted, but when it is finally happening, I'm so scared - on one hand we are arranging a home, on the other - I still haven't resolved our situation and talking about it is almost impossible now, because it's been a while and I haven't raised my voice (and leaving in the worst case becomes harder and harder...). It is good to know why and how I got into this. Thank you!
The second thing, about her fullfilling a need of his... That could be a very good explanation. He is a musician - very magnetic person who easily and eagerly communicates, even though he sometimes tells me after he hadn't felt innerly willing to.
I previously tried to be brief so I might have misled you a little. I'm not exactly shy with people, maybe a little anxious. I think I have some communication skills - I could chatter but I prefer truly connecting with people. It's just that my skills depend on my mood and my mood often swings, depending on my confidence. :) And also I am often misunderstood - I leave the impression that I don't like my collocutor while I'm actually very fond of and excited about him/her and maybe he/she subconsciously interprets that as agression... My point was, because I'm not capable of proper communication people don't generally like me at first. And she is calm and charismatic, so I guess it is easier and funnier around her.
So, let's see if I got you right. You suggest I participate more eagerly in the conversation and not take it tо heart, when they unintentionally (I hope) exclude me? And not flinch when I hear him mentioning her. And not taking it to heart or flinching will naturally come with building my confidence? :)
Expressing my feelings to him is difficult because it is very hard to rationally explain them while feeling them with full power. And if I don't try to rationalize and put in order emotions and feelings I'm just getting us into a drama night with quiet quarrels and tears until we both reach to the other's point. Sometimes I try and almost every time I regret it - it is so complicated and exhausting that I preffer to keep it all to myself. Also, I feel very guilty because he seems generally ok with me - he doesn't have sparks of jealousy or disapproval for something I do. I'm the one with the problem. Last time I tried the construction 'I feel <somehow> because/when you are doing <something>, what do you suggest we do with that?'. Am I on the right track? It wasn't quite productive, because he said he simply wished I hadn't made a problem of such thing (it wasn't about her). We couldn't think of anything specific but the good thing was there was a will for that from both sides and there were no accusations.
I hope the detailed explanation doesn't bother you! If you'd like to read some feedback, I'll continue sharing improvements or changes when there are any. Sorry if my grammar is poor but english is not my native language!
Thank you for your selfless help! With the guidance of people like you out there I believe that many confused souls will soon find their true paths in life.
A couple of things. If things were reversed and it was you talking to a guy frequently and leaving him out of the conversation you can be sure he would have a problem with that. I don't like that when you go to him with your feelings of having a problem that he accuses you of creating a problem. I beieve that a loving partner would want to find out what is hurting you and would want to help solve the issue. When one person has a problem it is a problem for both parties until they work it out and nothing more can be done to solve it, or it becomes very clear that the individual is the only one that can work it out.
One thing for sure. The more you can become confident and independent the more balanced the relationship. Right now you are in the weaker position because he pretty much does what he wants to do, even though that makes it difficult for you. The more you do things independently to let him know in quiet ways that you also have a life and that he needs to get on the ball and not take you for granted, the better it will be.
It is difficult for me when I do not have all the facts but it seems like it would benefit you both if he saw you going out and doing things on your own more and with other friends, etc. so that he doesn't get the feeling that you are wrapping your whole life around him. This keeps a guy on his toes. Whenever one person makes significant changes it changes the dynamics of a relationship.
I think you are on the right track in the conversation with him you described and at least, as you say, there were no accusations. That is a good way to communicate.
That is all I can think of in the moment.