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Someone else's past
January 3, 2001
1:46 pm
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Stephen D
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My girlfriend and I live together and are engaged. Everything is very, very good. I am attracted to her. I lover her. She is good to me. The problem is that a couple years before I met her, she had a relationship with a man (she was 25, he 35). He had a serious girlfriend at the time, whom he ended up marrying. For two and a half years, my girlfriend (Mary) and he carried on an affair. She lied to all her friends about it. She lied to her family. They flew around the country together (he had money) and basically guiltlessly enjoyed this affair.
She was mostly honest with me from the beginning, althought she lied and told me they never said "I love you" which I later found to be false.
I fear there is more to the story than I know. I have been carrying a resentment around for a long time. Sometimes it causes me to feel a total lack of respect for her. Every mistake she makes is "because" of this affair, in my mind. She gets angry and defensive when I bring it up. She says she wishes it never happened but there's nothing she can do about it.
There is also nothing I can do about the feelings I have. I am considering having us go to counseling together.

January 3, 2001
3:20 pm
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gingerleigh
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You mention that you feel resentful... what do you resent? Do you feel that because she participated in a relationship that you find morally unclean, that she would be able to hurt you by perhaps reengaging in a relationship like that?

Her anger and defensiveness when you bring it up is understandable. She is probably embarassed and ashamed of it, and doesn't want to think about it or rehash something she feels lies in the past.

I suspect that there is more going on in your relationship than her past. "Every mistake she makes is 'because' of this affair..." What types of mistakes? Are there other issues that you are putting on the back burner or blaming on her affair?

I'm not condoning her actions, because she certainly must have felt sick inside to have to lie to everyone about it. She must have felt awfully comfortable with you to tell you about this. She's put her trust in you, so let the past be in the past. It was years before you met!

But you need to take care of you too. Try to define what you are feeling more granularly. You think about the affair, you get sick to your stomach, you see red, you want to cry, what? What are those feelings? What is going through your mind? What voices are screaming in your head? Listen to them, no matter how irrational they sound, don't push them down. Are they yelling "I'm dirtying myself by being with this person!" "I'm so afraid she will leave me for someone with lots of money!" "I'll bet she's lying to me now too!" "I wish I could have been a rebel and done something like that!" "She's not telling me everything and is shielding me from the truth because she feels I'm not mature enough to handle it!"

Be honest with yourself about what is bothering you so much. And then go from there.

Good luck.

January 3, 2001
3:37 pm
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R2D2
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I just don't see how you fit into this past of hers. I also don't see how she needs counseling.

You fear there is more to the story than you know, ...why? That story is old news and you have no need to know any more than you know. If she is not cheating on you, let it go. She doesn't owe you a detailed explanation of the whole thing. If you keep blaming everything she does on her "affair", no wonder she decided to not say anymore about it(if there IS anymore to tell) She didn't cheat on YOU. She didn't cheat on anyone, the man did. Whether it was immoral or not, it didn't concern you and don't judge her. If you truly love her today, that's all that matters.

She had an affair with a married man, before she met you. She told you about it. That's where it should end. It is in her past, not yours. You need to love her (you say you do), trust her,(has she given you reason not to?)and never bring it up again. ALL of us have done things we are totally ashamed of and whether we admit them to our lovers and humiliate ourselves with the truth is up to each of us. She loves you enough to tell you these things she did and share them with you. Don't punish her for it. Encourage her to trust you by allowing her to heal on her own from what she did and get over it. Unless she has done something directly to you, I don't see how this should be any kind of an issue to you. Move on. If you love each other and plan a life together, you will have your own issues to settle, trust me. Don't dig into the past for problems. It's the here and now, love her for who she is now..with you.

Just my 2 cents..

January 3, 2001
4:51 pm
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nothing matters.
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Your primary issue is a lack of trust. A good relationship is only possible if you have the neccessary ingredients to make it possible, such as trust, loyalty, honesty, respect, caring, and so on... It is difficult to experience the "closeness" in your partner if you do not trust her. Your relationship will slowly fall apart or it will never be complete.

Either open yourself up and make it possible to trust her and letting go of your fear of what has happened in her past or if you wish to safe guard yourself, it's better to stay friends and learn more about eachother before hopping into a relationship.

Another approach is to have a honest discussion. It takes a two person effort to reslove issues. She should let go of her fear and shame and be openly honest with you that soemthing like this wont be repeated. Honesty is will assure you and herself that bad deeds done will never again be repeated if learned. Communications and agreements are important. Relationships are like business deals.

January 4, 2001
5:33 pm
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Stephen D
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Why are people so quick to condemn others for judging? We judge to protect ourselves. There is good and evil in this world, and judging lets us decipher what is best for us as individuals and lets us create a core set of values as a society. I am not hateful or vengeful. I don't want anyone to suffer. If I had a friend I wanted to set you up with, and told you he had battered his past two girlfriends, would you date him? IT'S IN THE PAST! Still, you would probably want nothing to do with him. Now, if I wanted to set you up with another friend, and I told you he had been dumped by his past three girlfriends for cheating, would you date him? IT'S IN THE PAST. Still, you would probably hesitate to get involved.
So why is it that after a man meets a woman, the world is so quick to treat him like a pariah for questioning her sexual past?

January 4, 2001
7:38 pm
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R2D2
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Sorry Stephen, in my opinion, you have no god-given right to know anything about her past. If she trusts you enough to tell you some of it, fine, if not, so be it.

You started out your post by saying you love her. Then it's a little late to judge. If you are judging her and have decided you just cant take what she did and you don't trust her, then let her go. You are not mature enough, or secure enough to deal with her life before you. And that's the real point...BEFORE you. She didn't cheat on you, she didn't cheat on anyone. HE did. Sure, if you want to take the high road, most people would condemn what she did. Can she change the past?
No. Can you? Can any amount of counseling change it? I'm pretty sure it can't . If you cannot accept her for what she is now, get out of it.
You said you're judging to protect yourself. It won't work. When you take a chance on a relationship, that's exactly what it is, a chance. Just because you know a person's past, it's not a guarantee that you wont be the first one that person hurts. Get it? If you're going to allow yourself to love someone, use your head and your heart and make the decision on what is happening today, what she is to you. You need to trust someone before you can say you love them. If you cant, it's not love, it's attraction, or lust, not love.

You're right, I wouldn't date anyone who beat up his last 2 girlfriends. That's a far cry from what she did.
And big deal, I'm sure I have dated some men who did cheat on their girlfriends, so what? I'd get to know them first and then decide if I wanted to take that risk.

You posted for advice. Sounds like what you really want is someone to agree with your distaste for her. I don't. I think the only thing that should matter to you is what she is doing with you, to you.

If you need to know the sexual past of everyone you date, good luck fella.
The problem with judging, in my mind, is that the judge better be squeaky clean.

You sound as though you have some very high standards and that's great. I really mean that. There's nothing wrong with that, stick to them. But don't punish or belittle, or continuously blame this girl for something she did BEFORE she met you.
It's still none of your business.
Go find someone who measures up more to your standards and let this girl find someone who loves her for who and what she is today, and will take that risk of trust, because he loves her.

January 4, 2001
9:04 pm
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gingerleigh
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Stephen D, I reread all these posts, and it doesn't seem like anyone is picking on you. Chill out.

R2 has a point in that it sounds like you were looking for complete support of your viewpoint, and not a different perspective. (It sucks, I know, I hate that part sometimes.)

But that is what makes these discussions so valuable to people seeking support. Hopefully we are sparking some creative ideas in your head and solutions that you hadn't yet thought of.

It is one of the most horrible things in the world to bear your honest soul to someone, and then have your confidant turn away from you in disgust. It hurts like nothing else could.

You are waffling between two extremes right now... pick one... if you can accept her for who she is, then love her. If you cannot, then leave her.

January 9, 2001
6:31 pm
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Stephen D
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Thanks for the insight, guys. It's not easy to have a battle in your head that neither side can win. Accept her and love her, or leave her? If I could push a button and forget what I know, I would. The choice is easy-I love her. But where's the button?

January 11, 2001
8:14 pm
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gingerleigh
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What is it about her past that bothers you? Can you identify it? Put a name to it? I remember that when a man I was dating told me about his wild and promiscious past, it enraged me, kept me awake at nights. And I couldn't figure out why. Finally, I examined as to how I really FELT about it... I felt somehow not as good as him because I had only had a few relationships before him, whereas he was so much more experienced. I also felt insecure, wondering how long he would stay faithful to me... the leopard cannot change his spots and all. As soon as I faced that it wasn't really his stories that were hurting me, but my overwhelming lack of self confidence that was destroying me, his past just fizzled out of my head and that was that.

That was where the button was for me. Now then, where's yours?

January 11, 2001
8:28 pm
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janes
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The button is in you. Only you can push it. Only you can find it.

Good luck.

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