Gracey asks: I am in a relationship where things seemed to be beautiful at the beginning, but that began to change when we started having trust issues. Although my partner told me he’s always had trust issues in relationships, I thought ours would be different. He started going through my phone checking my messages, stalking me on social media and questioning me about my friends. He started restricting me from seeing some of my male friends. Recently I met someone I really liked and we began to flow at the beginning. I told him I was already in a relationship even though it seemed to be crumbling. He said he’s willing to hang on for me. We started meeting and I enjoyed his company. My boyfriend found out and tried to disconnect the 3rd party and I. But I like this person and I wasn’t willing to let go. Then my boyfriend took my phone and went through my chat with the 3rd. He got upset and called us quits. He sent the 3rd party a message stating he can have me all to himself. I do want to start a new relationship with the 3rd party but I don’t know how to because my self-respect is already at stake. How do I handle this?
Hi Gracey –
For most of your question, I thought I’d be writing you about how to deal with someone with trust issues, and how difficult that is. But when I reached the end, I realized we’re dealing with a completely different problem.
It’s like those nights when Handsome has ordered a pizza, and I spend an hour trying to figure out how I can steal some of it from him, and wondering if I should do something that would upset him so much, and debating how I can justify it to him and myself… and then suddenly he turns around and hands me the half of it he didn’t eat!
On one hand, I feel great – I got just what I wanted without any of the trouble. But on the other, I was so prepared for the trouble that getting handed the pizza feels, well, a little anticlimactic!
So you have the delightful problem of figuring out how to live with the fact that, instead of you having to leave this guy, he left you!
And I’ll bet you’ll get to feeling fine about that one pretty soon.
But you also have this OTHER problem, which is that
this guy’s suspicions and harassment have made you feel bad, even though you didn’t do anything wrong. And I’m wondering if you might also be worried that he’ll tell other people, like your mutual friends, about what a cheater you are!
This is an awful situation. My human friend Handsome went through this a few years before we met. He’d dated a woman, broke things off with her, and then took six months away from the school they were attending. When he went back, half the people he knew, who had always been friendly, now wouldn’t speak to him. Why? Because of all the horrible things he’d done to her, how he’d set up and betrayed her, how he’d been so terribly cruel. Had he done those things? Been those things? No, it was just what she’d spent those months telling them.
In the short term, it ruined his last semester there, and he lost a number of friends (not the close ones who knew him well, but others). But in the longer term, it kept him from making professional connections with those people, which possibly ruined his career.
And check this one out – ten years after their breakup, he was dating another woman, who heard from one of those students about how horrible he’d been, and so broke up with him! TEN YEARS LATER!
So I can’t tell you there’s nothing to worry about. But I can tell you two things:
First, the people who’d believe that you were so awful, and believe that he is telling the truth, probably aren’t going to be great friends to you anyway. And you can do a better job than Handsome at calmly, coolly, telling them the truth, and not getting all freaked out about it (the way he did).
But second, anything bad that happens to you from this is just more proof that you LUCKED OUT! That this guy was putting you through hell, and would have kept doing it forever. So the fact that you’re out of that relationship, and in a new one so soon, is just wonderful. Your whole life is ahead of you, and you never need to spend another second trying to please that guy, or convince him you’re not the awful person he thinks you are.
And let me give another take on it – from me:
Most of my life is pretty fun, but some days aren’t. I’m lonely, or Handsome’s in a bad mood, or I have to go to the veterinarian or get groomed.
But every time I start to feel bad about things like that, I think back to the dog pound I was in, where Handsome found me. Where I lived in a small cage, and was scheduled to be killed if no one wanted me.
And I feel better. Because no day since I left the pound has been nearly as bad as any day there.
Well you’re out of the pound too. I can’t promise everything will be easy, but no matter how bad it is, at least you’re not that guy’s girlfriend anymore.
So celebrate. Especially since you now have someone wonderful to celebrate with!
All my best,