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Going Through His Things

Question:

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p>I have a very unusual problem. For the past two and a half years I’ve been in a wonderful relationship with an incredibly caring, thoughtful,good man. His name is Jason and he is 40. I am 30. A few years before we met Jason was engaged to be married to a woman he had a 5 year relationship and lived with throughout most of that time. She called the wedding off, claiming they had too many differences. They shortly broke up after that.

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p>Jason hasn’t seen or heard from this woman in 5 years. He said she married someone else shortly after they broke up and has a family with her husband.

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p>My problem is that I cannot get this woman out of my head. I’ve done something terrible. I’ve completely snooped through every corner of Jason’s home looking for pictures of her. He has a box full of old photos of her during the time they lived together. Jason is a bit of a pack rat. He never throws anything away. He has old notes from her in a filing cabinet. He has birthday cards and old wedding invitations they attended together. He has some of her old books with her name written in them.

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p>I really hate myself for having this bizarre curiosity about her. I want to know everything about her . I have Goggled her name online and know things about her current life Jason doesn’t know. I can’t stop looking through Jason’s things. I can’t stop my Internet searches of this woman. It has totaled any self respect I once had for myself.

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p>I also don’t understand why Jason has all this stuff of hers all these years later. He even has a pile of papers of hers when she was planning her wedding to him. It seems like she is literally in every room in his house 5 years later. I guess she is.

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p>Jason has no idea of my snooping through his house. I cover my tracks. It would humiliate me if Jason knew what I have done.

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p>Anne why do I do this? Why am I obsessed with a ghost? I know it has to do with my own insecurities and really nothing to do with Jason. How do I stop? How do I let go of my anger at Jason for having all this old stuff of hers? How do I get back any self respect after what I have done? Please help, it just gets worse.

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Answer:

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p>I don’t see your problem as bizarre or all that unusual, actually. It’s just a run of the mill garden variety life problem. You’re feeling insecure with Jason, I’d have to suppose. There is some feeling of danger or threat to your relationship that is posed by knowing that he used to be in a relationship with this woman and still keeps this material around the house. The obvious threat here is that he’s not really done with her; might still be holding a torch for her in the recesses of his heart, and that torch might again ignite into flames if he were to run into her sometime. This could happen, I suppose, but then again, there are probably millions of guys (and women) who hold on to old things from prior significant relationships for purely sentimental reasons. People like to have a connection to their past is all; they want to be able to remember, and such objects are keys to memory. It could be a threat that he is keeping this stuff – it could be a sign that he hasn’t moved on – but there is no specific reason to think that this is the case, either.

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p>People have different styles when it comes to dealing with threatening information. Some people act like the proverbial camels and stick their heads in the sand, while others do like you do – they go about the task of gathering as much intelligence about the threat as they can so as to understand the exact nature of the threat. Sometimes this reconnaissance behavior takes on a compulsive quality, but perhaps you are a bit of a compulsive person anyway(?). You don’t say one way or another and it really doesn’t matter anyway. You are who you are.

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p>Basically, you are failing to trust Jason, a man to who you’re committed, and who you describe as committed to you, and you don’t seem to have a truly compelling reason to do so. Its not like you’ve uncovered records of him secretly telephoning his ex – these are just mementos. So this problem is in you, not the relationship. To solve this problem, you have to work on yourself. Do you have a history characterized by relationships that have failed you in some way? Maybe some fears from the past are bleeding through into the present? I can only speculate. This issue is worthy of you picking up the phone and calling a therapist with whom you can talk about this with for a few sessions. You’re not sick; there’s nothing wrong with you really, but you are disproportionately insecure and I’m sure you’ll feel better having a safe place to figure out why this is happening now and what you should do about it.

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p>Oh. One more thing. Stop with the snooping in Jason’s home and on the net. You’ve already got as much information about this thing as you need. More of it will not help.

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