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Dear Wendy

How to be better in my relationship?

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  • #1085693 Reply
    JJ
    Guest

    I am in my first relationship (female, aged 27). I waited to find the right guy and now that I am in my relationship, my insecurities about his past and his exes are ruining the relationship and I always compare my relationship to that of my friends.

    I don’t have any previous sexual experience nor do I have any romantic/dating past. My partner is the complete opposite of me – he is in his mid 30s and has been with a lot of women.(that also made me feel insecure).

    I am getting counselling for my low self esteem and insecurities.

    I am committed to being in this relationship. After a year of being together, he proposed to me and I don’t want to give up on us.

    But because I did not date before him, I feel like there are many lessons in love/relationships I have not learned. I keep thinking everything is supposed to be perfect and when it doesn’t match what is in my head I start to panic and wonder if we are right for each other.

    What advice can everyone give me that will help me in my relationship? Or things they have learnt through being in relationships.

    Also how can I get over his past/exes when I don’t have a past/exes myself?

    Thank you so much in advance!!

    #1085722 Reply
    Kate
    Keymaster

    “because I did not date before him, I feel like there are many lessons in love/relationships I have not learned.”

    Unfortunately that’s pretty much it. You don’t have the relationship experience and you’ve committed to the first guy you’ve ever dated, without the perspective to know if he’s really right for you. Honestly, good luck with that, I genuinely mean it.

    There’s no way to tell yourself not to let this stuff bother you, and then it just doesn’t bother you. The solution really is to go get some more relationship experience to get some perspective and discernment, and find the actual right guy by trial and error.

    I can tell you’re not going to do that though, so just continue working in therapy on the idea that your partner’s past made them who they are today, you love who your partner is (I hope?), and so his past is something you can embrace, without needing to know much detail about it.

    But honestly, yeah, there’s not a great prognosis here for the two of you. I’m sorry.

    #1085783 Reply
    Miel
    Participant

    I agree with Kate that I don’t think there’s a great prognosis here for you and your fiancé. Low self-esteem and insecurities that are “ruining the relationship” are no small things to work through.

    However I wanted to comment as someone who married the first guy I ever dated, that yes, it is possible to learn relationship skills without dating a lot of different people. So, theoretically, if you were committed to stay with your partner, here are the types of things that have helped me grow and learn about relationships without having multiple boyfriends:

    -Sites like Dear Wendy, and other advice columnist with good online communities. It has given me many examples of what happens in other people’s relationships: the types of things that should be deal breakers (screaming and calling names is never ok), and the types of things that aren’t even a problem (it’s ok if you guys don’t like the same music genres). It has provided me resources (“10 things to discuss before moving for love”) and questions to ask myself (“How would I react if I were in the LW’s shoes?”). It’s just an advice website, but it’s better than Instagram and romantic comedies. You can learn a lot from the mistakes of others without having to make the same mistake yourself.

    -Books and blogs about couple dynamics, attachments styles, love languages, abuse, jealousy, non-violent communication, problem solving skills… There’s lot of (serious, evidence-based, psychology-based) texts out there that can teach you a lot, and outline patterns you might have indivertibly fallen into. Right now I’m following a few writers who are well-known in the polyamory community and who write about it. Not because I’m into non-monogamy, but because they have really interesting things to say about respect, boundaries, communication, and building solid relationships…

    -Looking at people around me, and noticing healthy and unhealthy patterns. Not things like “he bought her a big engagement ring”, but more like “she interrupts him all the time”, or “he sounds really proud of her accomplishments”, or “they always laugh together”.

    -And yes, therapy, therapy, therapy. Not just individual therapy, but I also think couples therapy is a great way to improve any relationship, no matter if you felt like there were problems to begin with. It just gives you better tools to build a stronger relationship.

    Maybe if you put time into those types of things, it might become a bit clearer if the problems you have are solvable, and if so, how.

    #1085810 Reply
    Kate
    Keymaster

    I don’t mean to imply it can’t work with your first love, but when you’re having these kinds of issues that you described in this thread and the other one… these are a lot of red flags.

    #1085811 Reply
    Akeath
    Participant

    There’s more to the process of dating than just getting to know each other. Dating can sort of be like building a house. You are checking to see if the blueprints of the life you are building together will work with your idea of what you want, taking the time to build a strong foundation before balancing everything on top of it, and finding and fixing any possible issues before signing up for lifetime of dealing with them. Getting married before taking the time to do all of that is like moving into a house when the walls aren’t even ready to keep you out of the rain, and you haven’t gotten electric or plumbing in yet. Not only is it a pain, but it makes the construction harder. And if you move too hastily you may find that what you hoped for can’t even be built properly, and now you have to go through the difficulty of divorce.

    By the time you are getting engaged, you should have made sure you share the same dreams for the future, values, and moral compass. You should have already developed trust in him and yourself to the point that you aren’t jealous of his exes because you know they broke up for a reason and you trust in the value of what you two have built together. And you should see how you both interact in various situations, and have been with him long enough to know that your relationship has staying power. Lines of communication should be well built and steady. It sounds like you haven’t done all that yet, so you shouldn’t get married yet. If you two really are good enough for each other to marry, you still will be in a couple years. If not, then you’ll have saved yourself a lot of heartache and the mess of a divorce.

    Also keep in mind that for the first two years or so with a new partner your body is inundating you with feel-good lovey-dovey hormones and chemicals, which can make it unclear whether you two are really right for each other. Don’t let your first experience with these overwhelm you. After about 2 years, your body stops producing those to that degree and that’s when you’ll be able to see more clearly if you are really good for each other. That’s why statistically people who have been together for at least 2 years before marrying are much more likely to stay married. In a good relationship once the hormone onslaught slows your love will gradually switch from a white water rapids type of infatuation to a strong, deep undertow of lasting love. But in a lot of relationships, you’ll find that after the first rush of hormones and getting to know each other, you might not have anything deeper left to anchor you to the relationship, and then things will fall apart. So ensure you have staying power before making a lifelong commitment.

    After you’ve been together for a longer time and are more certain about getting married I strongly, strongly recommend that you two get premarital counseling together before marrying as well. That should help you learn how to communicate, fight fair, etc. in a relationship as well as making sure that you guys are compatible in the big things that are really important in choosing a spouse.

    As far as personal relationship advice goes…You are dating the reality of a person as they are now, and dating for potential or hoping they’ll change won’t work out. If you wouldn’t sign up for a lifetime of the relationship as is, then don’t get married. Treat each other with respect and compassion even when you are mad at each other. Remember you can’t read each other’s minds. You’ll need to use your words and tell him your wants and needs. When you have an argument, use the frame of mind that it is not you against him, but both of you working together against situations or troubles to try and find a working compromise you can both live with.

    #1085953 Reply
    ron
    Guest

    A number of concerns:
    “My partner is the complete opposite of me – he is in his mid 30s and has been with a lot of women.(that also made me feel insecure).”

    Is he the complete opposite just in relationship/sexual experience or in other ways? You should not feel this insecure in a solid relationship.

    “I am getting counselling for my low self esteem and insecurities.”
    While this is in progress does not seem to be a wise time to commit to marriage, especially to marriage with the first guy you’ve dated. Also, he should make you feel secure in the relationship.

    “I am committed to being in this relationship. After a year of being together, he proposed to me and I don’t want to give up on us.”

    So much wrong with this. For your first relationship, and one with a guy who seems to be about 7 years older and very experienced, a year seems way to short to commit to marriage. “I don’t want to give up on us.” sounds like you have very serious doubts — either that things are moving too fast, or that this isn’t the right relationship for you.

    He proposed. But have you discussed and reached agreement on: what are the most important things to you, kids, religion, finances, politics, where you will live, division of household work and child-rearing tasks, what you both intend career-wise, how you’ll relate to each other’s families? Have you gotten to know his family and friends. Has he gotten to know yours? What do your family and friends think of him as a life match for you? If you haven’t covered this ground in discussion and been satisfied with his answers, then you weren’t at a place where you were ready to accept a proposal.

    Why are you committed to this relationship — in a sentence or two?

    #1086334 Reply
    anonymousse
    Participant

    It is concerning that you feel so insecure and fragile in this relationship. He proposed after only a year of dating, knowing this is the only relationship you’ve ever had. I hate to say this but it really does seem like he’s pushing for a commitment way too soon.

    Questioning, feeling anxiety or panic are not signs that you are “giving up,” they are natural responses to being confronted with a important decision that you are hesitant about making. And rightly so. You are at a serious disadvantage as far as experience, and it doesn’t sound like he does much at all to help make you feel more secure, at least nothing you note in your post.

    My advice would be to back away, date around more and think about yourself and what you want, who you want to be with and try to date and spend time with people who make you feel whole, secure and happy. This guy doesn’t!

    #1086396 Reply
    Kate
    Keymaster

    You have to realize there is nothing in your posts at all about why your fiancé is a wonderful person, perfect for you, makes you feel safe, loved, you have so much fun with, really “gets” you, want to spend the rest of your life with, etc. All we’re hearing is that he proposed and you don’t want to break up and date other guys. But you feel insecure, disappointed, like your dreams aren’t coming true, and other negatives. As people have pointed out, a year is waaaayyyy too soon to be talking about getting married under these types of circumstances, not to mention that most or all of your relationship has been during a global pandemic. At the very least, you should hold off on planning a wedding and make this a looooong engagement. Then use that time to get serious about therapy and really see how you feel about your fiancé as life returns more to “normal.” Rushing into marriage is a seriously terrible idea.

    #1086414 Reply
    anonymousse
    Participant

    I think you have the idea that somehow you are the deficient person in your relationship, and you need to work on yourself to make it right and I don’t think that’s true. You aren’t deficient because you have less experience than he does. There’s nothing wrong with you.

    I think your intuition is trying to tell you that this isn’t the right relationship for you and that you definitely shouldn’t marry him.

    A year is too little time, and not because that’s a rule but because there is no reason to rush it when you’re trying to figure out whether you want to tie yourself to someone legally for life. It’s a huge red flag that he wants to marry you. Have you met his family or friends? Or he yours?

    And a year of dating in a pandemic, the weirdest year in modern times, it would be seriously foolish to marry this guy. Please call it off and consider what you truly want in your life. If this isn’t it, that’s okay- you have plenty of time to figure it out.

    #1088690 Reply
    Bittergaymark
    Guest

    Yeah, it’s very hard to say much as I have no idea whatsoever what kind of man this guy is. That said —- your insecurities seem to largely arise out of thing he can’t control… his past, his exes, etc. If this is the only cause of your insecurities, then you need to fix this on your own.

    But yeah… I honestly don’t advise anybody to marry the very first person they seriously date.

    #1088765 Reply
    LisforLeslie
    Guest

    Well his past – all of his past brought him each step closer to be where he was when you started dating. Had he not had his past, he wouldn’t be who he is now.

    As for the future – between this and your other post – you seem to be more focused on milestones and relationship goals than the actual relationship. Is he good enough for you? Does he treat you well? Do you have constructive arguments where you can disagree but come to a compromise? Do you share the same outlook on money and finance management? Do you have similar outlooks on children and child rearing (if applicable)? Do you have similar levels of ambition and independence?

    What about him makes you think he’ll be a good husband in one year? In five years? In 25 years? If you get sick, are you sure he’d take care of you? If you get the flu now, does he make sure you have nyquil and soup?

    No one is perfect and no relationship is perfect. So can you accept his imperfections with grace and can you be comfortable he’s doing the same for you?

    #1088831 Reply
    ron
    Guest

    L for L —
    So, you’re saying JJ and Jo are the same poster. Yes, taking the two posts together she is definitely not ready to marry, not this guy or any guy until she fixes herself. The first post certainly seems to have missed the big stuff, apart from her own lack of reality mental state. From that post, I’d have thought nothing wrong with the guy being her first, significantly older, much more experienced, in fact he would have been the perfect match if only he had made a professionally choreographed and recorded proposal in a great foreign capital.

    Jo or JJ — way more therapy needed.

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