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How to deal with being hurt in the past so it won't ruin my relationship?

Tagged as: The ex-factor, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (5 February 2013) 3 Answers - (Newest, 6 February 2013)
A male United States age 30-35, anonymous writes:

I would like some serious advice on dealing with past trust issues.

I've been in three major relationships.

One of them ended because I broke up with her over her getting into some things I found unacceptable - drugs and self-destructive behavior. Really bad.

The other two, however, ended with the girl doing something that severely damaged my trust - and then after that dumping me.

One of my exes flirted online with lots of different guys while living with me. She even said I love you to some of them. One of them even had plans to buy a ticket to come see her. I only found out because one of the guys told his friends, one of whom was my friend. I'd already felt slightly uneasy about all her time online but I always trusted her so the thought didn't pass my mind that she might be flirting with other guys. If I did ask her, she'd say it was "friends" and sometimes she'd add that I had nothing to worry about. As soon as I found out about the other guys, and confronted her, she immediately dumped me and moved out to go be with that guy who wanted to visit her. They're still together 5 years later (somehow). She also told me at that point that I was controlling and didn't trust her. I remember thinking "you proved you didn't deserve my trust!"

My other ex cheated on me. She suddenly disappeared for a weekend - we usually always at least text messaged once a day just to say how our day was and everything. I did fully trust her, but the weekend that she didn't respond to me made me a little uneasy. I more worried something maybe happened to her. I didn't let it bother me too much, though. When she started talking again, I asked her what had happened (fair question, right?) and she told me she was just tired all weekend and that she was so sorry. I let it go and we went on with the relationship. Five months later she did it again - disappeared for a week this time. I got really worried so I called her brother - mind you this was after 7 days of sudden no contact. Her brother also hadn't heard from her. When he finally got in touch with her, she was at another guy's house (different guy than the first time.) Her brother was actually on my side - told her that what she was doing was wrong. She proceeded to dump me and stay with the other guy. Again, they're still together, and it's like 3 years later. Again, she told me that I need to grow up and learn how to trust. (WTF?)

So in both of these relationships, the deep trust I gave to the girl was broken, and the girls didn't even seem to feel guilty about it - they just dumped me and moved on to the next guy like it was no big deal. I ended up taking a 2 year break from dating, thinking it was the best thing for me to do.

So now I'm with a new girl and have been for about a year. We do have a good relationship, and I love her very much. We have our problems like all couples have. But I find, especially if we're dealing with an issue that we're facing, but also other times, that I have to consciously fight against fears that are brought up from these old trust issues.

It's like. If she spends a long time talking online to a friend, I suddenly feel that very real physical fear that she might be looking for a new guy. Or if she wants to spend the weekend with a friend, and it means she might not call me much, then I freak out and remember what my ex ended up doing.

I have gotten good at holding all of this in. I don't let her know that I have these feelings. I just worry if I do that too much it's just going to look like I'm either not trusting of her or controlling or both.

That's the thing. I have no reason to distrust her. IT's not even that I don't trust her. It's that these fears that result from being hurt so badly in the past keep coming back and getting in the way. I know logically she's a different person, she's not my exes, and my exes actions have no connection to hers. If I ask myself logically, I don't even feel that she's doing anything wrong. Logically, I have no reason to believe she'd do anything my exes did. I have no reason to distrust her.

But then that "fear" voice in me will say "if my exes could do it, so can she." I know how easy it was for them to blatantly lie for months and then when the truth does finally come out they dumped and ran and never looked back, didn't even seem to feel any remorse for being so dishonest.

And I'm frequently fighting with myself trying to tell myself to shut up and let it go and just relax. It's an effort. It's something I actually have to spend time on. I have to sit alone in my room and FORCE myself to not think about those issues. I sometimes even want to just positively visualize our relationship, but then the fear again says "Don't get your hopes up... what if..." so it's getting frustrating.

All I really want to be able to do is just give the trust to this girl that I know I have for her, without having it interfered with by all these past experiences. I feel like I have PTSD almost, like when my gf wants to talk to a guy, I have "flashbacks" of when my exes did that and dumped me for that guy. Like I said I never voice this out loud to her, because I DO trust her and I don't want to control her or keep her from any friends or anything. It's something I deal with alone. But I'm honestly getting sick of dealing with it!

I'm a successful person, I have a good life, good job, great friends and a lot of fun things to do with my life. All in all I have good self-confidence. And I really do love my girlfriend, she truly amazes me and I am so happy to have her. That's why I want to deal with this. She doesn't deserve to be faced with these demons, that never go away. I could talk to her maybe once or twice, but she'll expect it to get better too - eventually she'll think I don't trust her and she'll probably want to leave too, if I make too big of a deal out of it to her.

But sometimes when we've had an argument or when I'm just down in general because of something in life, I find myself visualizing this dark place where my gf dumps me for another guy and never looks back. I don't want to do this. I don't want to think that way. I suppose maybe it's because thinking positively in my past relationships made it so much harder when I got hurt, so maybe I even am afraid of letting myself hope and dream.

How do people actually truly DEAL with past hurts and trust issues? All I've ever been told or read is to "remember that this new person is different; just relax and take deep breaths, etc." I just don't want to be fighting against these feelings forever. Eventually I know it'll tear me apart and the relationship won't last. But I don't want it this way. I want to fully trust. Why can't I get rid of these fears?

Help greatly appreciated....

View related questions: broke up, cheated on me, drugs, flirt, I love you, moved out, my ex, text

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A female reader, llifton United States + , writes (6 February 2013):

llifton agony aunti seriously had to go back and check to make sure you were a male who had written this, because i honestly thought that somehow i had written it myself and just forgotten. lol. you have no idea how much i can relate to you on everything you're saying.

in fact, i posted a question almost word for word like this only a handful of days ago on here. unfortunately i didn't really get any feedback.

i truly do feel like i have ptsd sometimes because of the awful things that have happened with my exes. and the flashback thing happens to me all the time. and i have to do the same thing as you - FORCE myself not to act out on my fears because i realize it's not fair nor healthy to hold a new partner accountable for an old partners actions. but it's exhausting and draining trying to hold back these feelings and fears. and i just want to stop feeling this way.

i truly do believe we probably both need counseling. i've never been to counseling before, but i know i could definitely benefit from it, personally. and it sounds like you could, too. this has messed us up in a way that it seems like we are unable to fix by ourselves. it would definitely help us to work through our fears and learn how to better cope and deal with these new situations that arise. good luck, friend.

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A female reader, dumbledorf South Africa +, writes (5 February 2013):

Got some tears in my eyes lol (for real) truly know how you feel but actually from "her" perspective my boyfriend also have that fear so don't feel alone there is nothing wrong with you that's normal to love someone but also care of yourself (to not get hurt again) all humans do.

All that I can advise you is to talk about your exes with her and tell her about your fears remember this is also part of the growth of the relationship (communication) its heartbreaking to see the one you love is afraid.

I know talking about experience and if you don't stop to think of her before these thoughts or whilst having these thoughts you will forget and just think of the worst thing , yes I believe it is very sore still but you also have to learn to trust, It's like letting go of your first child when she wants to move out..

It starts with a little bit of giving way of that rope: try this for a week give her her space, let her talk to her friends don't hovver over her that's exactly when she will be cheating when you think she is then she'll just tell herself "well that's what he thinks anyway of me" I've read this inspiraion in a magazine "love is not real love when you dont give your all, love is trust, to go into a relationship and believe you won't get hurt is a big mistake"

yes believe it or not you will have to make peace with the "what ifshe does!" Untill then you will worry the whole time. in all relationships is hurt yours is in the past and will be your future if you keep on being afraid.

Always think of how this makes her feel and if you don't know ask, but don't go in attackmode..serious I didn't know why my boyfriend was so protective and always thinking I have a relationship behind his back..untill we talked so please put all your cards on the table with your gall and then listen to her...It'll take a long time but this really works. Show this message to her also before starting to talk please and remember you can't be afraid your whole life.

If she cheats then she doesn't deserve you if she doesn't your lucky, she's lucky to have you I can see you really do care for her its just the fear and you should always keep her in the loop when the fear hits you she might grow tired but if she truly loves you she will help you to trust her

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A female reader, janniepeg Canada + , writes (5 February 2013):

janniepeg agony auntThe only person you can trust is yourself, that you can handle whatever outcome and you become a stronger person in each relationship. Look at the word trust. It's a verb. What exactly are you doing when you trust? Trust is simply being. It does not mean to shut up voices in your head. It does not mean telling yourself your girlfriend is different. You can say to yourself, yes, there is a possibility that a relationship will fail, next month or next year, but I don't care and I refuse to deprive of myself happiness because of what happened to me in the past. I am going to enjoy every moment in my life. Happiness can be taken away from me any time, whether I obsess about it or not. So while I can, I choose to be happy.

When you fight thoughts, you only make the issue bigger. Just simply watch them, do not think it's right or wrong to have those thoughts. Just watch them like they are clouds passing by. From time to time you will find yourself reacting to the thoughts. Step outside of yourself and notice that it's your mind that's reacting. You are bigger and wiser than your mind.

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