My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year now, but it has been a trying endeavor for me for much of the time. At the beginning of the relationship, he was very aloof and while he would continue to make plans with me, he never really seemed that excited about the prospect of a new relationship with me. I took this very personally, and I attempted to end the relationship for this reason on a couple of occasions.
The night before Valentines Day, when it was obvious that he was not excited about taking me out to celebrate, I finally broke it off with him. During this conversation I learned more about an ex girlfriend of his from college:
They were in school together, and she was his first girlfriend, his first kiss and his first sexual partner. He told me that he thought that they were going to be together forever. After he told her he loved her, he said that things started going downhill, and she eventually broke up with him. He was devastated, and worse, blamed himself for scaring her off. This happened when he was 21.
He and I started dating when he was 29. Something about the way he talked about her really upset me. It seemed as though he was still hurt about the experience and to me it meant that he might still be in love with her. Soon after this I became very curious about this girl. I was very upset to learn (from facebook) that she was beautiful and successful and smart. I started suffering from severe feelings of inferiority.
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Today, we have gotten back together, and he has become much more dedicated to the relationship. However, I still suffer from severe plagues of self doubt and feel like I can never compare to what this girl was to him. I am in a very demanding graduate program, and I cannot spend any more of my life looking at pictures of her on the internet and feeling bad about myself. I am considering breaking it off with him, but am not sure if this will just make me feel worse about myself for letting something like this get to me so much. I know I should be more confident in his feelings for me (and in myself alone!) but for whatever reason, I cannot stop being obsessed with this ex.
What should I do?
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I tend to follow the principle that people should be guided by their “inner voice,” or by their instincts. Seemingly, you have as many doubts about this boyfriend as you do about yourself. However, the decision to break up with him is complicated for you and I will explain why.
For some reason, you torture yourself by viewing his ex girlfriend’s pictures on Facebook. Why? Why do you submit yourself to torture?
By the time people are well into their twenties they have experienced a number of relationships, some of them serious but failed. That is not unusual. The fact that he and his first girlfriend did not work out is not at all unusual. What is unusual is that he evidently beat himself up for several years afterwards. Now, you are doing to yourself what he did to himself. After all, he was 21 at the time and that was eight years ago. Isn’t time for both him and you to put an end to an ancient and failed relationship?
Also, you ask if he will love you as much as he loved her? How can anyone quantify love? How does one measure “as much?” You will never be his First love. So what?
You have been in this relationship with him for one year and if you continue to find him to be aloof and emotionally distant, then, he will not make a good partner for you. If he is still this way after one year, then, its time for you to move on. However, only you can decide this for yourself.
It seems to me that it might be a good idea for you to think about psychotherapy for yourself. Understanding yourself better and what you want out of a relationship could help you make a clearer decision.
I have no way of knowing so, I will venture a comment based on no real evidence. It is this:
Perhaps each of you is fearful of commitment and use the ex as a way to avoid a real connection with each other??? A good question for psychotherapy.