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Author Topic: How Do I Help Him Heal?
Unsuitable_Mentality_Me
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Member # 43041

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Hello all. [Smile] I'm here today seeking help on healing a soul that has been ripped apart.

My boyfriend and I have been dating now for almost 5 months, though it feels SO much longer than that. He means the absolute world to me, and I would do anything for him. He is unlike anyone I've ever encountered... he's a good man, with a good heart and good intentions. I'm afraid, however, that he's been hurt and I don't know how to help it.

Just some basic info: Before me, he and his last girlfriend were together for almost exactly 2 years. He doesn't speak much of her, mainly because it irritated me when he did, but all he ever had to say about her was bad. Below is a few estimated dates to give you a general idea of a timeline.

November 18, 2006 - he asked her out
October, 2007 - he left for Iraq
April 18, 2008 - she wrote him a letter
October, 2008 - he returned from Iraq
November 20, 2008 - she broke up with him
February 9, 2009 - we began dating

Some time between the asking her out and the letter, he asked her to marry him. I read this letter (at his discretion that I may... I accidentally found it when I stumbled upon the small box of stuff from her under his bed when we were cleaning.) The letter mentioned a dream she had about his proposal, and things like that. I didn't much pay attention to the rest of it, as it was just general chatter. In the box was a few shirts, a Christmas ornament, that letter, and an army bear.

Recently, before the discovery of that letter, I told him I loved him. We were curled up on the couch, and I whispered it to him. He hugged me closer, kissed the top of my head and said "mine" like he always does (not a dominating thing, just something he does that I kinda like). But he never said it back. And that's fine. I don't want him to say it if he's not ready. I don't say it at every turn. I said it to him, three times, I believe. Once when I said it on the couch, once when I was reassuring him that I wasn't out searching for new guys (was on the phone with a guy friend and he looked offended), and once on accident because it kinda popped out when we were parting ways last week. He's been more affectionate since this last one, but he still won't say it.

I recently spoke with his brother about all of this. He told me that my boyfriend had basically poured his heart and soul into his ex, and she broke him. They were going to move in together when he got back from Iraq, and they were going to get married at some point after that. When she broke things off, he lost all plans for his future. He is still living at home (he's 20), and to my knowledge, he stayed there because he was "recovering" from the ordeal with her. I'm afraid she hurt him worse than he leads me to believe.

I know that a week after they broke up, she showed up at his doorstep with her neck covered in hickeys and she was flirting with him and leading him to believe he still had a chance at getting with her. He recently found out that she's getting married to a new guy at the end of this year, or sometime. He says it doesn't bother him, that she turned into a real monster bit** at the end of the relationship.

He doesn't neglect me, he doesn't treat me oddly. For the most part, he acts as though it never happened. But I suspect there are old wounds that he thinks about from time to time, things that keep him from saying how he truly feels, maybe... Scars.

I guess my question is: How do I get him to open up to me? How can I help him heal from the scars she left? If he's hurting, I don't want him to be in pain anymore.

[ 06-25-2009, 02:50 AM: Message edited by: Unsuitable_Mentality_Me ]

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If Only You Knew

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Ecofem
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Member # 13388

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Hi Unsuitable_Mentality_Me, and welcome to Scarleteen! [Smile]

I'm sorry to hear your boyfriend is in so much pain over this previous relationship. It's great you want to help him but difficult, too, I can imagine. I can see how you want for him to heal, both because you care about his well-being but also because you want him to be able to fully enjoy and appreciate your new relationship!

We actually have an article on this very topic! Boys Do Cry: How To Deal With a Breakup Like a Man (While it may be more directed towards guys, it certainly can provide insight to everyone!) Please check it out and tell us what you think.

Any breakup is tough and this one sounds especially difficult for your boyfriend. I guess that this was his first big relationship, and the distance (especially during his deployment!) and level of commitment (life plans together) on top of that make it extremely hard. I think the key is that he can admit these feelings to himself (and not just complain about her which is perhaps not unjustified but also not easy for either of you!), focus on you and your relationship, and give it some time. If he can do those things, I think he will deal with these other feelings with time. I can tell that you really care for him, which is wonderful, and I think he really knows and appreciates that, too. You have opened the door for him to discuss this with you, which is important.

He can come to you if and when he's ready, which is great, but he also may want to process these feelings alone or with a platonic friend. You could talk to him about that. It sounds like he's open to talking about it with you BUT also doesn't want to go overboard and turn you into his counselor, which is actually the positive and respectful thing to do. That's actually a good sign on his part, just as your caring is a good sign on your part. [Smile] For now, I say please give it time and space and encourage him to seek outside help (be it a friend or counselor) if you feel he's starting to hurt extremely or dwell excessively on things.

One question: Do you feel he's ready to be in a new relationship or do you feel at times you must compete with her "ghost", if you know what I mean?

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Unsuitable_Mentality_Me
Neophyte
Member # 43041

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No, I don't feel as though I'm competing with her memory, or her ghost, or whatever. He doesn't compare me to her in any shape or form, that I know of. There hasn't been any largely accusing factor to let tell me that he's hurting, but I just kinda... see it, I guess. In his eyes, and in some of his actions. The way he would speak of her from time to time (not in a good way, but he may have still been hurting and was somewhat resentful of it), or how he would bring up updates about her (such as her wedding) when it was completely unprovoked by anything said or done. I just... want to know how to get through to him, to find if he's really as over her as he says he is, to know if he's really as okay as he says he is.

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If Only You Knew

Posts: 18 | From: My Mind | Registered: Jun 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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