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Author Topic: Confused about my relationship
warhiro
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I am in my second long term relationship with another woman. We had been dating for 8 months when she went away for the summer. The last two months before she left had been shaky. She was feeling insecure and badly about herself as a person. I was not giving her the attentions she needed becuase i felt drained due to not taking enough personal space and her neediness. When she finally did leave, we talked about taking space from one another and agreed. I wanted her to feel free and find inner confidence, and so i agreed that she could see other people if that is what she needed. We wrote a lot at first, but i realized that meant we werent really taking space. So we decided to stop communicating for one month.
She arrived back home two days ago. I could tell she had been with someone else and I asked her. She confessed that two days before coming back she had flown to another city and slept with an elementary school teacher of hers that later turned into her mentor and friend. The woman is 20 years her senior and had never been with another woman before. The two had had a sexual attraction, but had never acted on it due to the fact that the woman is married and their mentorship like relationship. But this time they did. Just once but it was apparently very emotionally and spritually significant and she said in an email that it was 'life changing'.
Im not mad and dont feel betrayed in the normal way, more i feel like her love for me now is less.
My girlfriend says she wants to be with me but Im confused about what to do. I love her very much and am in pain. She seems confused too and I dont feel that she is being 100 percent present with me, more like 90%. When i asked her if she would be okay never sleeping with her again, she couldnt answer me. She said she would choose me if we were both in the same city, but i think that is because the woman is married and older. She also said she loves me very much, is in love with me, and wants to be with me. She also said today: do you think its possible to love two people at the same time? Im worried that this means she is not as in love with me as she thinks and that it will affect the potential for a better relationship in the future. I do believe we can enter a new phase of our relationship as the last few days have been great despite her truthfullness, but how can i be with her when i am afraid of opening up.
I dont know if I should ask her to take space to process her confusion, if i should go on and just be present in our relationship (which is hard cause i get these waves of insecurity and hurt) or what. I told her i want her to set boundaries with this school teacher, who is still persuing her and has promised to 'sexually please her three times a day,' fly her out to see her, and that 'before you spend the rest of your life with someone who couldnt possible know you as i do, think before you act.' She has not responded. I also told her i wouldn't force her to cut off contact with this person who is important to her.
I feel that insecurity is making me cling to her and so im finding it hard to say, take space. I don't even know if that is the right solution. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Heather
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I'm going to confess that this one is going to be a bit tricky for me from the get go.

That's because my personal ethics, as someone who has been a teacher and mentor for close to two decades, is that it's just not okay to cross that boundary and blur the lines by pursuing any kind of sex or sexual relationship with current or former students. I am always wary of people who do, especially when we're talking about something like this, where your girlfriend would have idolized this woman when she was just a child. I think an adult knowing that needs to consider, very carefully and with a lot of thought, what that means in terms of how someone as an adult is going to feel about them.

In other words, I'm personally just not okay with the teacher's behaviour in any of this.

quote:
'before you spend the rest of your life with someone who couldnt possible know you as i do, think before you act.
It was the teacher who said that? If so, I actually find that incredibly creepy.

It sounds like this isn't the first issue you've had in this relationship, though. You seem to be expressing that she's had insecurity issues and also was demanding too much of your time and attention.

How candidly can you talk to her about what's been going on with her ex-teacher? Is she able to look at the situation at all critically and recognize that the teacher was/is making what many people would consider a pretty major ethical breach? That perhaps the teacher also is not the most well-adjusted, healthy individual?

As well, do you each have other people you can talk to about all of this right now, people who know you both pretty well?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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warhiro
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The best part of this relationship is that we do have really good communication. The only time i feel we are lacking in communication is when one of us is confused and has a hard time disciphering what we feel inside. This is why this issue has been hard for me becuase i know my girlfriend is very confused right now about how she feels and thus has not always been able to express everything. Its also really hard to hear and believe - i love you and want to be with you - and then hear, as she told me last night when i talked to her about setting boundaries that she can't do that. Her reasoning is that she can't say something until she really feels it. She can't make a break from the teacher until she is ready and i get that in some ways. She also admitted she selfishly doesnt want to shut the door on the possibility between the two. This is incredibly painful to me becuase i believe one needs to sacrifice things in a relationship. In the end, i asked her if she would feel comfortable telling the teacher that she is with me and loves me and that that is her reality right now, and she said that she did feel comfortable saying that. I accepted that because i feel that our relationship was on shaky legs before and now our focus needs to be on whether we can enter a new and more healthier place.
My worry is that she was feeling insecure and that she then got her security not through a process of elevaluating her own self worth - as i had hoped she would do this summer - but through someone who is older and worshiped her for 24 hours. My girlfriend told me: i was feeling so badly and then i had these 24 hours when someone made me feel so beautiful and wanted and special.
I dont feel that i can talk to her about power dynamics. I wish I could but am scared of coming of as trying to manipulate her feelings on the matter. I am hoping that a friend will talk to her about this, but i feel hestitant to interfere.
There is one last thing i have to confess. I broke into her email account. I know this is also a very ethically wrong breach of trust and I did it from a position of pain, hoping to find some fragment of truth in something she wrote to someone else, but that is NO excuse. Now i can't seem to stop checking it. When i opened it today, the teacher had written another email. Its really f--up. first she says she in love with my girlfriend. Then gets angry at her for not having written yet: "As much as I long to hear from you, I actually hope you show your flaws and don't respond." She tells her not to write or to see her, but the letter is, from my psycological evaluation, one that is trying to provoke a responce. Then she says about me (for the record i am 1 year older than my girlfriend) "The thought of you in bed with some kid right now is making me ill." says that i'm fucked up and that we are both "kids" She continues "Pray tell, what is wrong with you? You're a kid. Well, I can't and won't handle this anymore. My goal is to erase the memory, the nightmare, from my mind....just ask yourself this-was it worth it? Was the **** really worth it? You lost so much more than you can even imagine-maybe some day when you're 45-you'll realize what you gave up for a couple of hours in bed with your TEACHER. Really, are you that lonely, or in need of sex, that you have to stoop this low? And don't think I don't accept responsibility for my part in this DISASTER. I fucked up. But at the very least, I am trying to deal with it-not avoid the PROBLEM-communicate-I know"
Alright, im quoting all of this, because its obvious to me now - before i had more sympathetic feelings for this person, belief that she was an imperfect person like so many of us who just had really intense feelings, etc - that this woman is off her rocker. I'm seriously worried about how this will affect my girlfriend - she is very sensitive - and i dont know what to do. Everything is just so screwed up right now. When with her everything feels so precious and great. Which is why she hasn't written. We've had some hard talks, but mostly we have just been spending the time loving each other intensely and she says she is happy. When she leaves, all i can do is imagine her with this teacher and im overcome with such anxiety i dont know what to do, and now this really crazy letter that i, as someone in my 20s, wouldnt even stoop so low to write. Then, here i am, reading my girlfiends emails, which there is never ANY excuse for and wondering if there is any way out of all of this. I, for one, pledge i am not going to open that inbox anymore and to someday admit to what i did. But for right now, on how to take care of me and how to love her, i am lost.
There is one person who knows about our saga but does not know us both THAT well. But i trust her. Should i ask her to be there for my girlfriend?

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Heather
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Suffice it to say, I agree with you that that email was an attempt at hardcore manipulation. It was also incredibly shaming and really quire cruel. And again, seriously creepy. This woman sounds very maladjusted to me, and not at all like a safe person. I agree: she's off her rocker.

(I confess, I read this an hour ago and had to just walk away from a bit because I was so bothered and disturbed by what was said.)

Obviously, there is nothing illegal about the relationship. Like I said, by many people's standards, including my own, strongly unethical. And it also sounds like it's already potentially if not already emotionally abusive.

And yes, you have your own ethical breach to deal with, in terms of invading your girlfriend's privacy.

My suggestion would be to simply deal with that by making clear you did, and taking responsibility for doing so. Then I would talk about what you found. I hear -- and appreciate -- your concerns that you have your own biases, and that you don't want to be manipulative yourself. But you voicing those concerns tells me that you being so seems very unlikely. As long as you're mindful about that, and make discussion of this about your concerns for her and your relationship, and do so without any ultimatums, without bringing any jealousy you may have into the picture, I think it's an important conversation and one you both need to have.

Now, I recognize that your telling her you opened the emails alone may and probably will create new issues and potential problems in your relationship, and may put it at risk. But it seems to me that if you can manage it, your girlfriend is in a pretty bad way right now, and now mixed up with what sounds like a pretty awful person: she needs a friend, for you and anyone else to bring friendship to the table right now, which I'm sure is part of your whole relationship as-is.

You do also need to stop opening the emails, though. Don't keep doing it and continue doing something that isn't okay for you to do, and that breaks down trust.

(Do you know if this person is still teaching? I ask because she really sounds very scary and potentially dangerous in some way to me. If she is, it may actually be worth thinking about forwarding those emails to her supervisor.)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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warhiro
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Okay. I am pretty much in agreeance with everything you said but my problem is that i do not know if i can do it. I'm not in a very good way myself right now, pretty much sitting her with a very constant sense of anxiety about everything and just trying to keep it together and im just really scared that if i tell her this, she will leave me. And the thought of that is really just hard for me to process right now. I do agree she needs a friend, and im really trying to be selfless but Im just not sure if i have the guts to be. Its not that i will never tell her but im just not sure if i can now knowing full well the consequences.
The letter that the woman sent was only part of the longer letter, and the longer letter was even worse. It was bad for me to read and i cannot imagine what its going to be like for my girlfriend. I'm scared that the manipulation might actually work (the woman knows how to push all of her button, as she saw her growing up; when she was in college she bought her books and sent her on summers expedition trips. Later on she paid her too much to hang out with her and "babysit" her kids.) I'm scared if it doesn't work, if my girlfriend sees through it, it will devestate her and make her feel horrible about herself. I honestly dont know what will happen and am dreading my girlfriend reading it in a couple of hours. And still im having a problem doing the best thing for her and confessing. I wish i was a more realized individual.
The teachers letter profoundly disturbed me too. But my girlfriend would never forgive me if i sent it to the woman's supervisor behind her back. As far as i know, Mena is the only student of hers that this has occured with and despite my concious saying - think about the other kids - i feel pretty confident that the teacher is not abusing any of her students. I dont know. I just don't.

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Heather
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I hear all of what you're saying. I'm afraid to some degree, I'm a bit lost myself. This is obviously a really tough and fragile situation.

One thing I want to say is that in my personal experience, in the queer communities I have spent time in, and overall what I know from my work is that in relationships between women, it's actually pretty difficult to lose or tank the whole relationship. I used to make a joke for a while with women I dated who'd say they had a recent breakup where I asked, "How recent? And what breakup was it, the 1st or the 5th?" That was a light way of addressing that often it seems like it takes a few breakups for relationships between women to really be over, rarely just the one.

Why I say that is to say that my guess is you saying what you saw, and admitting you invaded her privacy in doing so, will undoubtedly cause conflict, but it probably not only will be okay in time, it's also really important. You do need to accept responsibility and be truthful (and all the more so if you two are starting to patch up parts of your relationship: you NOT telling her is also a breach of trust). I agree, this email IS likely going to be really upsetting to her, the whole relationship with the teacher seems upsetting and unhealthy as-is, and you being there for her, perhaps even giving her advance warning about it, being there with her when she reads it, being a support and making sure she knows this woman's words are NOT okay or loving, and are all about manipulation and control... all seem vital to me when it comes to caring for her and loving her.

I think for both of you, it's really important you do this. I also think no matter what you do, there are going to be consequences with the whole of this, and expecting that that letter -- whether you saw it or not -- and this relationship with the teacher, especially from the sounds of the dynamics of it throughout, NOT to have some big effects on the two of you just isn't realistic.

I have to say that in a word, even though yes, your girlfriend is an adult, and this is not illegal, it sounds like your girlfriend has been exploited by this woman. Based on the whole history you lay out here, what she has said, the letter, her having a sexual relationship with her at all: all of the pieces put together spell out something exploitive. And that's going to be really huge for your girlfriend, no matter what happens from here on out.

Are your girlfriend's family good people, supportive, including of her orientation and partnerships with women? I ask that because I wonder if at some point, it might not be a good idea to suggest she get someone involved who knows this woman and her history with her.

[ 09-10-2009, 11:30 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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By the by, I wanted to be sure and add that we're a resource you could certainly share with her for extra support with all of this. We talk a lot of users through the dynamics of unhealthy relationships, through being exploited or abused, so this is at least one additional place you could BOTH look to for help through this.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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warhiro
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My girlfriends parents know she is gay but are not the most accepting. She has also commented that she could never tell her parents because the woman precisely was her 6th grade teacher and they have also maintained a relationship with her. Honestly, i think that my girlfriend does not see this woman as someone who could realistically fit into her the image she has of her life, but my girlfriend also doesnt want to lose that feeling she has when she is with her. I guess that possibly, someday, if she is not with me, they could have some sort of casual relationship. But the phsyical space between them is quite large and she is here now and still has a few more years of medical school.
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Heather
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Well, I'm afraid that a) having a sexual relationship with this woman and b) the way this women is behaving are likely to change your girlfriend's feelings regardless. I very much question them having a "casual" relationship, and given the teacher's words so far, I think it's obvious I would advise against it. Again, this sounds like a potentially abusive person to me, quite clearly.

I hear you on the bit about family: so, let's scratch that for now. Mind, I'm not really on board with keeping this from family because the family is still in relationship with her, primarily because it really sounds like she has exploited their daughter, and they likely would not want the daughter to keep that a secret, but still.

Let's not go to any what ifs, but deal with what's going on right now. Have you been able to talk to her about the letter yet and you reading the emails? If not, I'd still suggest that.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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warhiro
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What's going on now is that i am in crisis. You are right, the affair with this woman is having and will continue to have much farther reaching consequences than i fathomed at first. My girlfriend read the email yesturday and met up with me a few hours later. She was very down on herself and extremely heart broken and it really took everything i had to be a friend to her in spite of the pain i felt. I tried to stress that this woman was trying to manipulate her and that nobody should ever write someone else a letter like this. In the end, i did really succeed in cheering her up and we acutally had a nice night. She takes great objection when i refer to the woman as her teacher, and does not want to admit any power dynamics might exist there. She responded to the email how i predicted, meaning she was manipulated to respond and she took all of the blame, saying that she was a bad person and saying she was breaking up with me because she doesnt feel she can be a good partner to anybody. I just tried to combat the first part. I did not admit to the email inbox, it would have just gotton too complicated and she told me most of it in the process.
She admitted to me that after sleeping with the woman she had such strong feelings she wondered if she was the love of her life.
At the same time she can't see how this woman could fit into her life because it would mean lying to everyone around her.
My guess is that she has very strong feelings for this woman, probably stronger feelings than she has for me at this precise moment, but that she is conflicted because she can't imagine her life without either of us.
The whole rest of the night she kept telling me she wanted to be with me. That she was not going to leave me, but then this morning when she signed on to check her email and write the woman a short note asking for time to write her back and to respond in a less emotional way, she saw that the woman had written her back several times and the first parts of these emails. I dont know what she said, but i predict, given the manipulation, that the woman apologizes and tries to get her back. My girlfriend, at that moment, decided she needed space and i told her that she had to make a choice. She knows this as i have been a wreck and she sees that i am hurting. I told her my ideal situation would be that she writes the woman saying that she has decided she wants to be with me and for the woman to respect that choice that she is making. My prediction is she decides to be 'alone' for some period of time and then later goes back to the teacher. Pessimistic? Yes. But thats life.
I can't be getting into bed, making love, opening myself up to someone who i believe might possibly leave me tomorrow. Its just too hard for me to do. I think i just really need to stick to her writing to the woman and not go back into the relationship without her telling the woman to respect what we have. What do you think?

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warhiro
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What's going on now is that i am in crisis. You are right, the affair with this woman is having and will continue to have much farther reaching consequences than i fathomed at first. My girlfriend read the email yesturday and met up with me a few hours later. She was very down on herself and extremely heart broken and it really took everything i had to be a friend to her in spite of the pain i felt. I tried to stress that this woman was trying to manipulate her and that nobody should ever write someone else a letter like this. In the end, i did really succeed in cheering her up and we acutally had a nice night. She takes great objection when i refer to the woman as her teacher, and does not want to admit any power dynamics might exist there. She responded to the email how i predicted, meaning she was manipulated to respond and she took all of the blame, saying that she was a bad person and saying she was breaking up with me because she doesnt feel she can be a good partner to anybody. I just tried to combat the first part. I did not admit to the email inbox, it would have just gotton too complicated and she told me most of it in the process.
She admitted to me that after sleeping with the woman she had such strong feelings she wondered if she was the love of her life.
At the same time she can't see how this woman could fit into her life because it would mean lying to everyone around her.
My guess is that she has very strong feelings for this woman, probably stronger feelings than she has for me at this precise moment, but that she is conflicted because she can't imagine her life without either of us.
The whole rest of the night she kept telling me she wanted to be with me. That she was not going to leave me, but then this morning when she signed on to check her email and write the woman a short note asking for time to write her back and to respond in a less emotional way, she saw that the woman had written her back several times and the first parts of these emails. I dont know what she said, but i predict, given the manipulation, that the woman apologizes and tries to get her back. My girlfriend, at that moment, decided she needed space and i told her that she had to make a choice. She knows this as i have been a wreck and she sees that i am hurting. I told her my ideal situation would be that she writes the woman saying that she has decided she wants to be with me and for the woman to respect that choice that she is making. My prediction is she decides to be 'alone' for some period of time and then later goes back to the teacher. Pessimistic? Yes. But thats life.
I can't be getting into bed, making love, opening myself up to someone who i believe might possibly leave me tomorrow. Its just too hard for me to do. I think i just really need to stick to her writing to the woman and not go back into the relationship without her telling the woman to respect what we have. What do you think?

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Heather
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I'm so sorry, warhiro.

quote:
She admitted to me that after sleeping with the woman she had such strong feelings she wondered if she was the love of her life.
IME, most of the loves of our lives are equitable relationships, but of course she is going to have strong feelings here. This person has been a lifelong mentor, and something of a mother figure. And when we first meet people when we are only children, when those relationships are sustained, they are of course going to be powerful, and also powerful in a way that different kinds of relationships usually cannot be. That'd be one of the reasons why the adult in that situation -- the person who has been an adult throughout -- should be more mindful and really cautious. And obviously, in my book, not seek out sexual/romantic relationships with the other person in the first place.

quote:
I can't be getting into bed, making love, opening myself up to someone who i believe might possibly leave me tomorrow. Its just too hard for me to do. I think i just really need to stick to her writing to the woman and not go back into the relationship without her telling the woman to respect what we have. What do you think?
I think you absolutely get to have your own limits and boundaries here, and draw whatever lines you need to to protect your own heart. And by all means, not only do you get to ask for monogamy if that's what you want and need, I also can see how it would be vital to not have her involved with this woman, period, especially since it's clearly so manipulative, it's not like you could (if you wanted to) negotiate poly arrangements with this woman and expect her to honor agreements.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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warhiro
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Thanks for all of your advice Heather. After thinking for a while, my girlfriend decided to stay with me and told the other woman this. Things have been going pretty well, although i have moments of doubt and jealousy as my girlfriend continues to write to the woman. I have a problem with her cultivating some back-up plan for when she finishes med school and almost feel sometimes that i am being used for the moment as she is always saying that we should live in the present, that she has dreamed of the future too many times with other partners and it has never worked out.
She says she can't control how she feels about this woman and the unanswered questions that linger on and I get that on one level but also think it detracts from our relationship on others. Maybe she needs to explore the reality of the situation with the teacher and discover it for what it really is?...or maybe i should just hold on and hope they resolve. I just know her, she holds on to things like this.
The conversations that we do have always end with her being unable to make any definitive choice. She says that even if she did stop writing it wouldn't change that intensity she felt during that very short amount of time.
Im having a hard time giving all of myself because i often feel like it is doomed to failure and i am confused about what to do. I don't think its wrong to think about the future but i think that when we do she feels badly because she doesn't and can't promise me anything (which, honestly, nobody can). But it seems she is always perserving some escape route so that if and when she does leave she will be able to not feel guilty.
All of this is very problematic, and i dont know whether I should give the relationship some time (we have resolved many of our past issues) or whether i should just leave. I've made the tentative plan to give it until December when we are supossed to meet each others families.
Thus, I'm still confused but not in crisis.

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Heather
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I really would not do anything to encourage this relationship. Like I said, this does NOT sound like a healthy person. This seems exploitive and manipulative. That intensity she is feeling is probably in part because of those dynamics, but also because again, this is someone she bonded to as a mentor in and throughout childhood.

Mind, I'm not suggesting you try and control what your girlfriend does or who she chooses to speak to: that's not healthy, either. But I'd just not make any moves to encourage this.

In terms of the two of you, I'd encourage you to by all means live in the present day, no matter what the situation. However, when it comes to any serious partnership, I'd also check in with your needs. if you want and need a partner to make some future plans with you (needing some planning isn't the same thing as expecting a guarantee), then you need to choose partnerships where you can get those needs met.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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warhiro
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The problem is that this woman has some sort of hold on her and it doesnt seem to be going away on its own. Everything is great with us, but I told her she needs to make some sort of choice. So appartently, she decided that she needs to talk with the woman. I can't really prevent this and I actually think its for the best because perhaps it might give her some clarity one way or the other. Either way, i can see her making some great mistake but sometimes we are incapable as individuals of stopping a person from making it. She could easily leave me for this woman and have it be a great disaster. But maybe that is what needs to happen for her to move on. I don't know. I do know i can't have brilliantly amazing and loving moments with her talking about how she wants to be the mother of my children and then have a talk about her heart being conflicted and not knowing what to do. She needs to make a concrete decision and if its to stay with me than she needs to stop communicating with that woman and let the feelings fade away.
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atm1
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quote:
She needs to make a concrete decision and if its to stay with me than she needs to stop communicating with that woman and let the feelings fade away.
Have you plainly said that to her?

It sounds like that's what *you* need to feel safe and secure in this relationship. While it's not appropriate to dictate who your girl friend communicates with, it is appropriate to say that you need, as a general rule, to have an emotionally monogamous relationship. If that truly is what you need, and she is unwilling to give it, then I think it's clear that this relationship is not what you want right now. You can talk about it so that it's not about *her* relationship with this other woman, but rather about what *you* are comfortable with in your relationships.


Too, her relationship with this other woman is *not* healthy at all. Have you read this article? Blinders Off:Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault There are definitely pieces in there that seem to describe the way this woman is treating your girlfriend. Now, I'm not sure whether or not it's best for you to be intervening in this way, but if you choose to go down this path, maybe, you could print out the article, highlight things you believe are relevant, and try to start a discussion with that.

This is what I'm hearing (correct me if I'm wrong): you want to help your girlfriend and be there while she sorts out her feelings, but it's simply eating away at you to be dealing with all of these things. While it's good and noble to work to take care of someone else's needs, you've got to take care of yourself first (otherwise, what kind of help can you provide when you're worn down?).

Also, in general, everyone has dealbreakers in a relationship. I've got a bunch, say smoking. If someone I'm dating were to pick up smoking, I'd make it very clear that, for health reasons (most of which are related to my asthma), I cannot be with a smoker. If they choose to keep smoking, I would leave. I would never say that they don't have a right to smoke, but I would make it clear that it's incompatible with a relationship with me.

Here, it seems that you need someone to be emotionally committed to you, in a way your girlfriend simply isn't right now. There's nothing wrong with that need, and if it is very strong, then you should end the relationship. Otherwise, it's just plain unhealthy (just like an asthmatic being around someone smoking all the time is).

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warhiro
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The problem is that this woman has some sort of hold on her and it doesnt seem to be going away on its own. Everything is great with us, but I told her she needs to make some sort of choice. So appartently, she decided that she needs to talk with the woman. I can't really prevent this and I actually think its for the best because perhaps it might give her some clarity one way or the other. Either way, i can see her making some great mistake but sometimes we are incapable as individuals of stopping a person from making it. She could easily leave me for this woman and have it be a great disaster. But maybe that is what needs to happen for her to move on. I don't know. I do know i can't have brilliantly amazing and loving moments with her talking about how she wants to be the mother of my children and then have a talk about her heart being conflicted and not knowing what to do. She needs to make a concrete decision and if its to stay with me than she needs to stop communicating with that woman and let the feelings fade away. I told her this and she knows that the situation hurts me but is almost waiting for some sort of sign about what to do. She can't continue to cling to both because it detracts from us. She is too honest to hide it and hurts me when she exposes it for what it is.
I just hope that her friends tell her to beware of the teacher but i don't think she would allow any of them to read that letter and thus that is improbable. One joint friend told her that she was arrogent for not caring about what the future between her and the woman would mean and now she is not talking to that friend (who is like a mother to us both). Maybe she just needs to reach into herself and find answers.

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warhiro
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Thanks again Heather.
I have told her i need this. Not that she can't talk to this other woman but that she needs to be emotionally monogamous to me. She also feels like she needs to make a choice, and in fact did make a choice in the past - me - but feels increasingly confused that her underlying feelings won't go away.
If she cannot handle even hearing that her thoughts might be arrogent or selfish, i find it hard that she would even consider the idea of abuse. I have put it forward several times but the woman has been a saint since the explosion letter, so she is obviously realing her back in. She shuts down completely to any sort of critique about that woman's behavior. The biggest problem is that she hasnt told anyone about that letter and doubt will since she is ashamed by it.

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Stephanie_1
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Hi warhiro. Like with Heather, this is one that is likely to be difficult for me to answer. As a teacher, I am very bothered by the boundaries this former teacher and continued mentor crossed.

Have you had a chance to sit down 1-1 with her and explain not only how this has made you feel, but also some of the things that you’re noticing with the way that she is being manipulated? While it’s never easy to show someone that the dynamics of any relationship they’re in is unhealthy or abusive, it’s something that is very important. Not only in the sense of it being pointed out, but in it being shown by someone that really cares about her.

As well, I think it’s still very important that you find a way to talk to her about what you read. As Heather said, it’s something that is likely to cause some extra trouble for a little bit, but something you want her to know sooner rather than later. It’s better to have you say something intentionally, than to accidentally say something that tells her the same thing. Especially considering if you tell her, you’re showing a want to rebuild the trust and an understanding that what you did violated the trust she has for you (as opposed to her thinking that you never intended to tell her and thus having more trouble trusting you in the long run). You can explain to her how you felt about them, that you’re sorry for reading them. Also, it’s important that she understand that your reading them did come from your care for her as well.

The hold that she has over your girlfriend is really normal, and one that will likely take quite some time to break free from. Consider someone that you look up to, that taught you many things, helped you in so many ways over the years. This person becomes something of a hero to you. That’s a really strong bond in and of itself. But then if you can imagine a relationship that was more intimate than just the mentor-mentee that means a great deal especially to the mentee – it’s really not something that can just be walked away from. So know that if you’re planning to be there and help her through this, it’s going to mean a good bit of time for her to not only begin letting go, but to also be let go to a point where you’re comfortable with.

That said, knowing the hold is normal still does not make it healthy. She’s using this hold as a form of manipulation, and that’s certainly not okay. It’s difficult to know what other friends will tell her though, as you don’t know if she’s told any of her other friends. After walking away from one friend, I don’t think it’s likely she trusted this information to another so easily. An important thing now is for you to assess how much you can handle. If she chooses to stop talking to her mentor, it’s going to mean a lot of tough patches to get through. She’ll be holding on to a really heavy load, and she’s going to need someone else to help her. It may also mean having to find someone that you can both trust (Like a counselor/therapist) to talk through things with. Do you think that’s something you both would be able to and willing to try?

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

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warhiro
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I hear what you both are saying and I'm trying as hard as I can to really figure out what is best for me in this situation. First, the reason I am still living in this city is because of my girlfriend. I don't like my job and was planning to go back to school across the country next year with the idea that we would only be apart for one year. Second, I am trying to deal with my feelings of jealousy and separate those from what i believe will make me happy and is reasonable to deal with. In other words, i don't want to continue in some situation which is just going to prolong our eventual breakup because if that were the case i could move now and continue on the path i see in front of me. Three, I'm trying to figure out if i could be in some sort of open relationship with my girlfriend knowing two things. A) that she will cultivate something with that manipulative and creepy woman B)That if I have a emotional connection and sexual encounters outside of our relationship, I really don't believe she will be able to handle her jealousy as she can't even deal with boys looking at me and is very jealous of my past girlfriends, who are still all in my life.
I don't know what the answers are. Yesturday she talked two full hours with that woman on the phone (first time, before they were just emailing). i was in the other room and it was very hard. This morning we talked for a long time and she was like, something just seems off. Why should i make this decision. If I love you both why can't i love you both, why can't i have my cake and eat it too, what is wrong with that?
I have always been attracted to the notion of free love but have found it easier in theory than in practice. That is how i started considering the idea of an open relationship.
There is one other thing. She has 10 days for christmas and she was supposed to meet my family for 5 and I hers for 5. Now she doesnt want to do that because she wants some time with the teacher. Im trying to figure out if that is okay with me given how much she knows it means to me. Then again, its her only time to see this woman.
All in all, its hard to figure this all out considering all the factors of space, time, the teacher, her relationship, people having kids, being married, what that means for me, etc. But at least i feel like i have some part in this decision and have decided to take a week apart as soon as my girlfriend finds her own place to just really think and ponder these issues.

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Heather
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Maybe what we really need to talk about, warhiro, is not about your girlfriend and the abusive relationship with that woman, but about YOU and what you need and want?

Because it's sounding like there's a lot more going on that just this: that you don't like where you are per your location or your job, that you want to go back to school elsewhere, that in many ways, this relationship, period, isn't sounding like the best fit for you (especially if it means having it be an open one which includes a secondary abusive/manipulative relationship), especially when it comes to your future plans.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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warhiro
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Yes, that is what i am trying to do right now: think about what i need and want. I do care about her and am worried about the effect of the teacher, but there is only so much i can do. She is a smart and intelligent person and eventually she will have to figure things out but sometimes people have to make their own mistakes and i feel that might be what needs to happen with her.
I'm trying to figure out what i need to be happy. These last few days have been good, in that we have been able to talk honestly and the decision feels like a joint one, not just something im being told. We have agreed to take some time apart as soon as she straightens out her living situation to listen to our real feelings and thoughts away from each other and her also away from the teacher. I need to decide whether its healthy for me to stay in this situation. On the one hand, we are communicating and open to each other. Its healthy and honest. On the other hand, her relationship with this teacher is painful to me. Can i stick with her through this or do i need to let her go and figure out what the teacher means to her and what she wants out of life. I don't want to enable her but i also don't want to leave something that does bring me lots of happiness and joy. If we stay together in a monogomous relationship, will these feelings just reappear again and will we go back into the same situation. These are all questions Im having a hard time answering. And im having a very hard time doing what most people think i should: walk away. If our communciaton sucked, than that would be easy, but in fact, things are really healthy and stable with us in this wierd way despite what is going on.

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Heather
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Well, it sounds like you're doing the smart and sound stuff when it comes to figuring out what you need in this. I also think the bit of time apart sounds like a good idea and will probably be really helpful for you.

I agree, there is only so much you can do when it comes to her other relationship. Ultimately, besides being supportive of her as a person, I think most of what you can do is going to boil down to what limits you set and how you set them. For instance, if you do stay together and agree to any kind of open relationship model, a limit like "I'm going to veto any secondary relationships that are abusive or are with unhealthy or abusive people," is not only a very common (and sound) limit for everyone, it sends a pretty strong message about what the choices here are, too. You know?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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