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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Dealing with a jealousy issue after being cheated on.

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Author Topic: Dealing with a jealousy issue after being cheated on.
GodivaSyndrome
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A bit of back story: about 2 months ago, my boyfriend cheated on me with a girl he had liked long before he met me and had a lot of history with and we broke up (though still spoke on friendly terms) for about 3 weeks before he told me he was really confused until now and had come to the conclusion that he had made a terrible mistake. He asked me if I could ever forgive him and I said yes, I could this time and so I did. We've been together since and things have been great, loving, affectionate, open, and mutually satisfying just like they were before.

Well, almost ...

I seem to have developed a problem with jealousy and possession. I don't trust him 100% anymore and I'm suspicious of his female friends, almost to the point of resenting them. I text him more than necessary and don't like strange women being too friendly. I don't want to keep him away from his female friends and all the women of the damn world, because I know I have no right to and I really don't even WANT to, but the paranoia is overpowering and it become all consuming. I've tried to talk to him about this, but he doesn't see it as a big problem like I do and tells me that it's going to take some time for me to trust him again and that's normal. Is he right? Is this normal? Is there anything I can do about it? Any advice that might put this into perspective?

Thank you. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I love him and I just want things to be like before. I know I can't expect that right away, But I'm willing to work on it and that's why I seek guidance.

Posts: 21 | From: Oakdale | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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I think he's certainly right in that rebuilding trust does tend to take time.

But in the meantime, you certainly can control your own behaviors. In other words, you can make a rule for yourself about texting him. You can recognize that other women don't control him: what he did was something HE chose to do, about him, not about other women. (Perhaps you and he need to talk more about his choice so that you can really be sure you've held the right person responsible?) You could perhaps spend some time with his female friends so that you can give yourself a poke in the arm about being suspicious and resentful.

As well, are you still feeling like this? If so, it might help you out to do some more talking around those issues, too. Particularly since I'm sure that his cheating probably triggered them a lot for you.

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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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GodivaSyndrome
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You're right, and I've been losing sight of that, the fact that he controls himself and that these other women do not. Guess I really in my heart hold her more responsible because she initiated it with the intent to use him and just threw him away later (about two weeks after we had our talk about getting back together we found out that she had another guy on the side almost all along). I still hate her for that because she didn't seem to think for a second about who she was hurting and it insults me. While I know that he is the only one responsible for making the choice to have sex with her and I hold him to that just like he holds himself to it, I can't put him on the same level. Though that may very well be because he is trying to make up for it and is seemingly genuinely sorry. Do you think I'm still not seeing this correctly?

Unfortunately it is very hard for me to get to know his female friends. Our relationship is long distance (100 miles) and frankly, I'm very shy with new people. I think it might be a good idea to put out more effort though, to actually get to know them.

As far as the worthlessness issue goes, yeah, I've felt a lot of that since I found out what happened. I found myself competing with her and feeling really inadequate next to her (she is very, very pretty and is an actress, which I could never be), even after he decided that really wanted to be with me. It's gotten better, I used to just look at her Myspace pictures and just cry and cry because I felt I would never live up to this ideal she represented. I don't really do that anymore and have gotten some of my feelings of self worth back, but I still feel it sometimes. Do you have any thoughts on this? I mean, I've never really mentally compared myself to other ACTUAL people, I don't know how to stop and I don't know how to find my OWN worth. I've been sorta finding worth in what I have (qualities, etc.) that she does not, and I'm not really okay with this.

Posts: 21 | From: Oakdale | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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quote:
Guess I really in my heart hold her more responsible because she initiated it with the intent to use him and just threw him away later (about two weeks after we had our talk about getting back together we found out that she had another guy on the side almost all along). I still hate her for that because she didn't seem to think for a second about who she was hurting and it insults me. While I know that he is the only one responsible for making the choice to have sex with her and I hold him to that just like he holds himself to it, I can't put him on the same level. Though that may very well be because he is trying to make up for it and is seemingly genuinely sorry. Do you think I'm still not seeing this correctly?
That depends. Is all you're saying based on HIS perspective only? If so, then I'd make room for the fact that no, you can't possibly be seeing the whole picture, particularly since even if there are truths in all that, that gives him a lot of outs from his own responsibility and gets a lot of sympathy -- rather than anger -- from you, for him.

No matter what, though, I would say it is not sound to hold her more responsible than you hold him, or to make this about other women, not him. I hear you going to the place where this is all about what a rotten person she is, but I'd posit that that does tend to be the easier place to go. Mind, she may BE a rotten person, but if she was, I highly doubt your boyfriend would have thrown you two away to pursue her if he's someone of any intellectual and emotional intelligence, and as well, it's always going to be easier for us, less scary, to demonize a someone-else we don't have our heart with than to hold someone we deeply care for responsible for causing us pain or setting us aside.

I absolutely hear everything you are saying in your third paragraph, and imagine that this must have been (and still be) extremely hard on you. I'm so sorry, that's a horribly rough spot to be in, and obviously feelings that hurt very badly when they seem to be tangibly validated.

So, how to deal with that.

One thing I'd suggest in regard to your boyfriend and this girl is to perhaps remember that we don't get to choose where our hearts go. Where our BODIES go, yes, and what choices we make with those feelings, absolutely. But where our hearts go is not only out of our control, it also doesn't tend to be based on things like what someone looks like or what a person does for a living. So, his feelings -- about her, about you -- aren't about anyone's worth. Do you know what I mean?

If you have ever heard anyone shallow snarkily say, "Why is he with HER?" about someone who didn't meet a given ideal, that's what that statement is really about: about the fact that love and matters of the heart are not so surface or simple as all of that, and in many ways, often seem entirely random and like they have their own standards we can all barely understand or put our fingers on. It can be very frustrating for people who do feel they exemplify a given set of standards, and feel those things SHOULD equal being loved, or having certain relationships to discover that no, it just doesn't tend to work like that.

I do think you might be helped by having more in-depth talks with him about what happened, not to see who is better -- you or that girl -- but to get to how he is really feeling about this. If she had NOT been the one to dump him, would he have stayed? You say he came back to you because he was confused, but it also sounds like you are saying that she dumped him and that's when he came back. That's something you really need to know just so you can make choices about this relationship that are good for you, and that also assure you really are in something that won't land you here again. I'd also want to make sure that you know -- especially given your feelings about yourself -- is a relationship about what both of you know is your very best choice, what you want above all else, rather than something where anyone is settling, or worries someone may be settling.

In terms of what you can do for you, I'd suggest you start with your own esteem work by not comaparing yourself to this girl anymore. At all. I know it might take a while to get to that place, but I'd make it a serious goal. self-esteem, in the most literal sense, is worth in who WE are, no matter who anyone else is. It's value of everything about us, uniquely, and a sense of self we have not just in comparison to other people: that's about competition, not esteem.

What I'd ask then, is what you are doing in your life that's all about you, about who you are, about your interests, about your skills, about your own heart (and not just per romance with someone). How has school been going? What dreams of your own are you hot on the heels of? What do you do for yourself in a given day, week or month that makes you feel like your best self, the self you love passionately, your truest self?

[ 01-30-2009, 03:11 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
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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GodivaSyndrome
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Ah, as odd as this going to sound, these are not his words. She ventured to talk to me the day after they hooked up because she wanted to "know who I was". By the time I found out, I was in no state to talk to him, so I more or less demanded answers from her. She told she invited him over and initiated the encounter. I asked her why she did these things (she has done this before) and I suggested it was because she had self-esteem issues (which I can relate to) and uses the affections of men to make up for it. She was taken aback, but admitted that it was true. He has a history of being with women who beat him down and abuse him mentally and emotionally, probably making him a fairly easy target.

I would also like to point out that she did not dump him. He told me after a couple weeks of this that he had really been struggling with his love for me and his desire for her, and that he thought he made a big mistake and asked me if I could ever take him back if he broke it off with her. He did and then we found out about her other boyfriend a while later. I don't think I would've taken him back if he hadn't chosen to be with me on his own after thinking deeply about it. I couldn't handle being someones back-up plan. What seems to have been bothering me is that she was just so much prettier than me and more talented.

But you're right and I think the jealousy issues is strongly tied into the self-esteem issue. I need to find what I think I'm good at and what I think I'm good for, not because he thinks so, not because she is somehow inferior in those areas or anything like that. I'm an honest, good friend and I have a big heart. I'm smart and hard working and witty. I'm in college to become a librarian, working a job, supporting my family all at once. I have things that I am proud of and listing them here helps me a great deal.

In the end, I do believe that this relationship is worth it. If, by some chance, this happens again, I know that it was a problem with him and not one with me or my worth as a person. His loss. Unless you have something else to add or to warn me of, then I thank you for helping me. I haven't felt this good in a while. [Smile]

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Heather
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Gotcha on the details of the situation.

Looking at these posts, I feel like I can add a few more things to that list you started about yourself. I'd add compassionate, capable of handling a conflict, introspective, observative and motivated.

I'd also just make a reminder that there really is no one standard for "pretty." When you say a person was prettier than you, what you're saying is that they are based on either your standard or someone else's standard. Thing is, by this standard or that one, the roles may be reversed, or neither of you may be found to be pretty or BOTH of you may be found to be pretty. And any of those judgments may change on a whim at any time: beauty standards not only aren't universal, they also very much tend to be highly mutable, especially over time.

I'm glad you're feeling a bit better about this. If you still want to talk about any of it more, I'm around.

--------------------
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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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