really hard day

“Excuse me would you mind watching my things for a bit?”
“Sure, no problem.”  Thank God because I have to make.
The stranger beside me at “fourbucks” could very well make off with my laptop and wool pea coat while I’m in the bathroom, but they don’t.  I trust strangers readily with my things.

When it comes to trusting those I love, I plunge my arms through the holes of my coat, taking care to button it closed, then fold my arms in defense.  I want to run.  It’s called guarded; it’s something so deep-rooted within me.  It rarely has anything to do with the person’s behavior and everything to do with me and my very real and very painful fears. 

I’ll trust the weirdo in the wool hat and oversized sunglasses, sitting indoors, noodling with his iPod, to keep an eye on my writing, but I won’t let the naked man beside me in bed love me.  I’m more scared of love than theft.  Theft is an inconvenience; you feel violated, but eventually, you can sleep through the night again and don’t flinch at the smallest sounds.  Betrayal lasts, many years after the mess is behind you.  It keeps you awake and restless in the night, afraid it will happen again, now that you’re in love.  I’m scared of being lied to, of discovering even the smallest withholding of truth, lies by omission.  I’m scared of what I’m so scared of. 

When a MID mentions he’s decided, out of the blue, to make plans with a woman with whom he used to be intimate, an ex, I become anxious.  I know he doesn’t define their relationship that way; he doesn’t see her as someone with whom he was intimate.  He sees her as a friend, someone who enhances his life.  Knowing that doesn’t make me feel better.  He could invite me to join; that doesn’t help either.  All I can think is “She wants him,” “They woke up beside one another.”  Then it goes to, “and why now does he all of a sudden have to be her friend again?  They haven’t spoken for months, and now he wants us to all be friends?"  Okay, breathe, Stephanie.  He loves you.  He’d never do anything to ruin this.  Yeah, still not helping.  “They broke up for a reason,” I chant in my head.  Nope.  I’m still anxious.  Why does he want or need to be friends with her?!? 

Then I look at my own life.  I’m friendly with men with whom I’ve been intimate, and I don’t keep them around thinking, “just incase.”  I’m not their friend because they stroke my ego.  I’m their friend because of what they add to my life, their humor and perspective, their companionship and the delight they add to my life.  Just like any of my female friends.  So I have to assume the MID feels the same way about his exes.  But I can’t.  It’s called immature maybe.  Irrational.  Definitely insecure.

I don’t want my man to spend time with anyone who knows him as I do, knows the way he smells or tastes, feels up against her in the morning.  I can’t stop my brain from going there.  It makes me a hypocrite because I KNOW nothing would ever happen with me and any of my exes, and I know nothing would ever happen between him and his.  Yet there it is, a knot of anxiety, pitting against me.  It’s insecurity.

I fear she’ll delight him in a way I won’t.  Even if she’s ugly with little teeth and a mouthful of gums, I’d still worry.  It’s not about how good I look compared to her (though if she were beautiful, I’d feel worse).  It’s that once upon a time, she was beautiful to him, or smart, or talented.  I hate the idea that she has seen that part of him, the kind nurturing thoughtful him, the him I want for myself. I worry that he’ll change his mind and grow close to her.  I can’t be afraid of that though.  It’s something I can’t control.  If that does happen, we aren’t meant to be.  I don’t want to be friends with a woman who has awoken beside him come morning.  I just don’t.  I don’t want to share that, to have that in common.  That’s mine, ours, and I don’t want to be reminded that it wasn’t always the case.  That’s what hurts maybe.  I know he chooses me now, but knowing he hasn’t always chosen me hurts. 

Why does he keep the ties open?  Why do I?  Is it because I know these men still adore me?  No.  Many of them are in new relationships.  That’s the thing.  If he were to say, she’s my friend now.  She is an ex, but that was ages ago.  She’s happily married now, then I wouldn’t care.  It’s the idea that there’s a chance they might rekindle something that makes me anxious.      

It’s not her of course.  It’s not him either.  It’s ME!  I’d be upset if he made a new female friend he wanted to spend time with alone.  Breathe.  Why am I like this?  Why is this so deep-rooted through me?  It’s insecurity.  Deep inside, part of me has to question why he’s with me because if I really knew it, through me, emotionally, it wouldn’t bother me.  Intellectually, I know my worth, know 100% that he’d never cheat, know how much he loves me and us, but this isn’t about him.  Emotionally, I’m wary.  I’m waiting to be disappointed, to detective the shit out of our relationship, to prove myself right, to reveal hidden half-truths.  And once I do that, it’s all over.  It’s no way to live, to be distrustful.  I’m doing it to myself, and I want to stop.

Bottom line: I shouldn’t be friends with anyone who would either be uncomfortable being around me with my significant other, or with anyone I’d feel uncomfortable being around with my significant other.  The question is, should I be friends with someone who makes my significant other uncomfortable?

I could understand and respect if the MID had a problem with my spending time with anyone who either wants to sleep with me or has in the past.  It’s not about his not trusting me because if someone is going to cheat, they’ll cheat.  In all likelihood, it won’t be with the ex you’re obsessing over. 

I still can’t deal with my man choosing to hang out with an ex, which means I shouldn’t either.  I’d rather cut all ties than be anxious when he calls to say, “Oh yeah, I’m having dinner with her tonight.  You can totally join if you want.”  I’ve said that before too, then prayed he wouldn’t say, “okay.” 

I just think we bring enough of our past to the relationship without an actual embodiment of it.  We bring them in our current irrational behavior and fears.  Why add to it in the flesh?   I have a hard enough time confronting my fears without having to worry about when he’ll speak to her next.  I’m busy beating myself up because I NEED therapy, because I feel so emotionally beat up.

Intellectually, of course I know I’m wonderful, creative, talented, and worthy of love. Emotionally, I feel so damaged, like I have so far to go.  I can tell myself, "Hey, I’m desirable to the opposite sex.  I have so much to offer someone, so if he doesn’t choose me, then that’s his loss.  Because I am awesome.  I can’t make him love me.  So he will or he won’t, so why bother worrying about it until something happens?"  I can say all of it, but it’s so hard to fully believe in it.  To completely believe he’ll never be tempted because my last relationship didn’t exactly end because he went off to war.  So now, by being in a loving relationship (which is very much what I want), I’m forced to face and deal with things that fcuking rip me up.  And I hate this feeling.  I HATE that I need help.  I HATE that I need a therapist. I don’t want to be this way.  And I am SOOOOO hard on myself, which I really can’t help but do.  It’s funny because in my past, I was much worse.  I dealt with it by running to an ex to make me feel better.  Like, I’d feel insecure and upset with myself, and I’d run to an ex who would tell me how amazing I am, how I’m too hard on myself, how he should love me just as I am, and I’d feel better.  I know now that’s temporary; that it doesn’t only not solve anything, but it makes everything worse.  And that’s how I feel today, at my worst because I still have so far to go.



  1. Wow, Steph, I can truly relate to this post! Even though we live different 'lifestyles'.

    First of all, you said, "Even if she’s ugly with little teeth and a mouthful of gums, I’d still worry."

    I think you mentioned one of my exes right there!…

    Right now, I live with my girlfriend/partner, and we're happy. (Whatever that means)… Now, my ex, from two years ago, that I haven't spoken to, has recently popped into my life.

    She is now living with her new girlfriend. Happy. (Whatever that means)

    I tell my ex, "Oh we're going to Provincetown, MA on vacation in October."
    "We're going too! But in September."

    What does she do? She makes plans on the SAME dates as my girlfriend and me.

    Awkward? Yes.

    She thinks that this happy reunion on vacation is going to be pleasant for all four of us involved. Mind you- this is a woman who I really never 'recovered' from, ….and from what she tells me…she has never fully recovered from me either.

    My final decision was, to change vacation plans and head to Rehoboth Beach, DE… (Another gay community)

    Anyway, this isn't quite like your situation, BUT—-it still applies to that awkward feeling, regardless if there are ~sparks~ or old feelings involved with the parties that were once together.

    If the shoe were on the other foot, I really don't think I would be that understanding, as my partner was with me. She was willing to have my ex at my home, she was willing to let me go out with my ex for a drink and basically just being a complete angel about it all.

    Loved this post! You hit home with this one!

  2. What about somebody who was always just a friend to you, even though you know they always wanted to date you, but you didn't feel the same? I have a friend like that and it drives my boyfriend crazy. There's nothing I can tell him to make him feel more secure. All he can think is that this guy has feelings for me, even though he knows I'll never feel the same.

  3. This is no way to live. Your insecurities will be the destructive force to any relationship, which you obviously already know. What I don't get is where it all stems from. Was it really just from your husband's betrayal or were you insecure before him?

    You seem to know your worth in other settings – your academic abilities, your writing, etc., but not in relationships. Generally, these self-images are formed much earlier in life than during a first marriage. However, everyone is different.

    You shouldn't be so hard on yourself, though. At least you are getting therapy. There are lots of women and men out there just as insecure and scared as you who never address any of it.

  4. Whoa man! Very good thing you're in therapy. Way too many issues, especially if I were a guy.

  5. I second what Justin posted, but I'm not clear if you are in therapy at the moment. I am a psychotherapist/transplanted NYer living in LA. I know some fantastic therapists in NYC (and even below 14th St) just in case you are ever interested. You can work through all of this, and it sounds like you are ready to. If you are already in therapy, you may want to bring your love in a few times, or consider seeing someone else for a few sessions together.
    just some thoughts that I hope are helpful.
    take care, and hope that tomorrow is an easier day.

  6. be single for awhile (if you are in fact talking about your own current situation). obviously, you don't trust him. you should never be in a relationship with someone you don't trust. i've learned that.

    i've been with boyfriends who were good friends with exes. the not-so-great boyfriends made me feel insecure and i didn't fully trust them. i trusted the better ones. my current boyfriend can spend time with any ex if he wants; it wouldn't bother me because i trust him.

    and relax. focus on your career and your own stuff. make that the #1 priority in your life. i've also learned that.

    good luck.

  7. I know it is hard when the shoe is on the other foot. But try looking at it like this: each relationship we have had in the past has made us who we are in the present. It is very difficult for people who feel things deeply to cut people out of their lives once they have been intimate – not just physically, but emotionally intimate. Would you really want someone who is the opposite – someone shallow who can turn it on and then completely turn it off once it is over? I don't think you would relate well to a person like that – they would not care enough and would not be careful enough with you. I share a lot of your insecurity, and realized once I met my husband that I am fragile, and it takes a special person to deal with that. I love that he accepts me as I am, that he is sensitive, that he cries with our kids over their disappointments. But this comes with other connections — those this wonderful, caring man made before he decided to care for me. I used to feel slighted because of the friendships he has with 2 of his exes, but I don't anymore. I realize that he is an important person in their lives as well, and for all of the care and love I receive from him in our life together, they can have his friendship. I hope this helps.

  8. One of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog, Stephanie, is that we are so similiar in nature. Perhaps it's because we're both Libras. You touched upon one of those with this post. I can trust a perfect stranger with everything and anything without much thought, but I have extreme difficulty trusting the ones I love. I've long been struggling to correct this.

    My girlfriend and I have been together for quite some time now. Because of my nature (and because of some things that she has done in the past, which I won't go into detail about here in a comment section), it took me a very long time to finally trust her wholeheartedly. I celebrated the day when I beat back my fears and anxieties and allowed the trust to flow from me, unabated. Filing those trust issues away bettered our relationship immeasurably.

    A few weeks ago, one of my girlfiriend's coworkers approached me and said that my girlfriend had sent an email to a friend of hers in New York basically saying: 'hey, I'm in Philly for the next couple of weeks. We should meet up, get liquored up and have great sex.' (my girlfriend has been in Philly for the last five weeks for an internship. We both live on the West Coast)

    I was skeptical of this coworker at first. How would this person know about emails my girlfriend sends? So I decided to sneak in and check my girlfriend's email (I know this is awful, but since I set up the email account for her I know the password. I would never do this unless I really had to. This seemed like one of those times where I had to). I sifted through her old mail, and found the illicit email. Sure enough, the coworker was right. "…you can take the train down. We can get boozed up and have fantastic sex under the William Penn statue," was what she infact wrote to her friend in NY. That friend is actually a former coworker of my girlfriend who moved to NY a few months ago.

    Needless to say, those trust issues have returned. She comes home this weekend, and I'm still thinking of the best way to approach her with this. I want to scream at her and throw shite around the room, but I just turned 3-0 so I need to act a little more rational and mature than that. Not let anger dictate my actions so much.

    For you and I, Stephanie, our trust issues may dampen our relationships somewhat, but it's our self-defense. We're Libras so we're both struggling to find that balance between trust and self-defense. I went from one extreme — distrust — to the other — full-trust — and now I'm emotionally exposed and weakend. There wasn't a self-defense mechanism in place to soften the blow of this email, and the possiblility that I'll lose my girlfriend of eight years.

  9. Patrick, I hear your plight and it sucks. It really does. Your comment isn't helpful though. What you wrote feeds off the Stephanie's fears while not addressing the real cause.

    Your trust issues are founded. Are real. Are based in past of your girlfriend. Are brought about by a coworker.

  10. I think we've all been there. I would freak if my husband was seeking out a friendship with an ex, though it's perfectly ok for me to hang out with my ex. According to me! But I don't because it does hurt. I've lost contact with some people throughout the years because it would be hard to explain it to him. I don't want love or sex from them, maybe adoration is what I seek. I say I trust him, he says he trusts me – but rational or not, these feelings are out there and real. It's hard to be so open to hurt, and it's taken us so many years to get to this point! I think sometimes he sees me typing on the computer and wonders about my blog and who I'm talking to out here!? The most serious relationships I have with the opposite sex (other than my husband) is with men on the internet. And these guys are all in relationships and I feel I've connected with them on all sorts of levels. But not sex and love. And whether or not I'm hiding it from him, I don't feel it hurts us. Geez, now you have me thinking.

  11. "I just think we bring enough of our past to the relationship without an actual embodiment of it."
    Great line and so true.

    How can anyone be friends with an ex? I have never even considered it and they all haven't been bad break-ups, more like its over lets leave it at that.
    I've been with my boyfriend for over 3 years. He always tells me how great I am when it comes to him hanging with his friends and telling him to do whatever he wants…yet and still I don't know how I would react to him wanting to hang with an ex. Hope I never have to find out.

  12. You have so deftly painted a moment– a jabbing pang in the stomach and the aftershocks of doubt that follow–into a thousand words. I don't get the feeling that you need therapy, so much as this "introspection" IS your therapy. You've put your finger on it. The choice of what to do about it is yours. I get the feeling you'll be just fine, Red One.

  13. Love your blog, Stephanie. I think that you will sabotage this relationship if you don't stop your behavior. Maybe you should be single for a few years until you get this stuff worked out? Focus on what Stephanie wants, needs, and likes … and not about what others think of you. Once you figure yourself out, you will be ready to let other people fully in your life in a trusting way.

  14. As usual, you write the exact struggle I'm dealing with today, and in the precise way (although far more eloquently) than I would describe it. Wow. Thank you for the much-needed reminder that I'm not alone. Like Leigh, I'd love the antidote if you find it.

  15. Stephanie,
    I just want to give you a HUGE hug and tell you I know how you feel. I actually started going to therapy a couple of weeks ago for this exact insecurity. And all of the thoughts you feel is EXACTLY what goes through my mind. I can't make him love me… and if he falls for someone else, then it wasn't meant to be. Why is it so hard to accept?? I wish I knew the answer. Which is why I believe that it is also my own insecurity. I just don't want it anymore… I too want a happy, healthy relationship. I am very happy, but I do things to fcuk is up. I self-sabotage. Ugghhhh! Why is accepting yourself and letting someone else love and accept you so hard?

    Let me know if you make any progress!

  16. After giving this more thought, I actually don't think it's okay to be friends with someone I've been romantically involved with, unless they're happily married. I'd be willing to stop seeing every single man I've ever had anything intimate with if he would. It's not about control, it's about compassion to one another's sensitivities. I'd have no problem saying good-bye because I have a relationship hierarchy and know my man is at the top of it. In my mind, I'd be willing to say good-bye to these men because, as wonderful as any of them are, it ended. Doors should remain closed. Especially if the person I'm involved with becomes anxious about any of it. It's just not worth it to upset him because he's my priority.

  17. "Detective the shit out of our relationshp."

    I know it's not mine, but I just wanted to rewrite it and pretend that it is. Brilliant.

  18. Sometimes when we are afraid, it's the best time to proactively "dive in" to a situation. Put yourself out there, like you do with strangers. Unfold your arms, relax your stance, (deep breath in, deep breath out) force yourself to meet the ex, experiment by attempting to embrace the circumstance. You may be surprised by how you feel after that. Ask yourself: What's the worst thing that could happen? By challenging your comfort zone, you will become stronger and the fear will lessen. Just my two cents.

  19. Great suggestion, Dru! It's very possible that Stephanie and the "other" will actually like each other. They do have one great thing in common already.

  20. Thanks Deanna. It's a scary thing to do, however, and takes lots of guts! What do you think about the suggestion, Steph?

  21. You know what? I actually think you're right to be upset. There should be a moratorium on new relationships with members of the opposite sex in a relationship. Pre-existing platonic friends? Fine. Ex-girlfriends who they are not already non-romantic friends with count as new relationships. I mean, fine, have coffee with her, get closure and everything, but that's it. Done.

  22. I think, no way in hell. It's not about what a fantastic woman she is. I'm sure she is, all of them. The point is, I don't want to be friends with a woman who has been romantically involved with him (and by him, I mean any man I'm ever with or have been with) while I'm still with him. I'm sure she's delightful and that I'd adore her. But I don't want to go there because it makes me feel uncomfortable to be with someone who knows him intimately, unless she's happily married. Then, I'd be fine with it. There's no right or wrong here, either. It's how we compromise and are sensitive and respectful of each other's feelings.

  23. I do understand your not wanting to go there, it would be hard. But really though, how would you know if she was truly happily married or not?

  24. I'm with you, Steph. I know it's the trendy thing to do these days — meeting your boyfriend's ex — but I think for some women, it's just a very uncomfortable concept. For me, I don't care how down-to-earth and non-catty she is, it's just that I don't want to be introduced to that part of his life (I don't even want to hear about her).

    It's difficult to be friends with a man I've been intimate with: because I've given a part of myself to him that I don't give to my friends. And when our relationship ends, the privilges (as partners) both he and I shared dissolves.

    For some women, it's incredibly easy to maintain a post-relationship friendship. But for the rest of us, it's a territory best left unchartered.

    In my opinion, of course.

  25. Like you and Patrick, I too am a true-blue Libra. And I have the hardest time in the world trusting. 13 years of marriage – and the total destruction of my heart and world 6 years ago, has left me in an insular place. Self-preservation and preservation of my children's universe are my highest priorities. My solution is the every other weekend lover who understands that this isn't a lose yourself in love thing, nor the relinquishment of either of us, but a human touch/connection that fulfills our basic human needs. I can't tell you how much I enjoy him – thoroughly and completely – 2 weekends a month. Then I return to my perfect world – unharmed but satisfied. No soul exposed, no raw nerves, no drama and no trauma.

    That being said, I appreciate your soul-baring honesty – you're a brave woman. I'm totally aware that I've taken the chicken/safe way out.

  26. Hang in there, girlie. Call your best friend and tell her you need a hug. Drink a pumpkin spice latte from fourbucks. If she doesn't answer, I have one here in Texas waiting for you. It takes time to learn how to be loved.

  27. I really feel for you, this is one of the most difficult aspects of relationships. God knows how debilitating it can be to feel in competition with the past. You saw Little Black Book (I assume you hated it because of the way it ended, right? Me too.).

    But do I have this right? Your problem is that you cannot handle the reality of your man's past relationships. You cannot handle people from his past being present in your relationship. Fair enough. But here's how this looks objectively:

    People who are hurt/uncomfortable: Stephanie
    People who are happy and getting joy out of having wonderful people in their lives: your man, his exes, your exes

    Your solution to your problem is that neither you nor your man should be allowed to see exes, unless the ex happens to be "happily married." The result of this being:

    People who are hurt/uncomfortable: your man, his exes, your exes (all of whom are, by your own admittance, blameless in terms of why there's a problem in the first place).
    People who are happy: Stephanie

    I don't see how that's the best solution.

    You are absolutely right, that it's all about compassion and another's sensitivities. Has he asked you to give up your friendships with exes? Is he as bothered as you are by the idea of you spending time with someone from your past? If so, then maybe your solution is the best. But if not, I would reconsider your motives in deciding upon the "no more exes" rule.

    You say things like: "the him I want for myself", and "It’s the idea that there’s a chance they might rekindle something that makes me anxious." That is 100% about control. No, you can't "make" him love you, but you can manipulate the circumstances to be as much in your favor as possible by restricting his friendships/interactions. Control.

    I don't mean to say that he SHOULD continue to see his ex. All I'm saying is that it is absolutely his decision, not yours. You should talk about it, make clear your feelings, make clear his feelings, come to an understanding of each other's perspectives. And make a decision that will work for both of your needs.

    As a side note, why does the ex being "happily married" make things better? You of all people know that being married does not make someone 100% off the market. If your man loves you, no amount of coffee with his ex is going to change that.

    Good luck. I hope you work it out.

  28. HA! That would be my first reaction as well is someone gave me that suggestion! But it isn't about what a fantastic woman she may be at all. It's about you confronting your fears regarding her – or others like her. But if you don't feel comfortable with that, it's definitely a personal choice. It's just something that has helped me in the past. And, I agree with you that it's very important to be sensitive and respectful of your significant other's tender points. I wish you all the best! (Forgive me if I double posted, my computer is acting funky…)

  29. It's tragic how those trust issues linger. I don't know if they ever really go away. Caught my last serious boyfriend making out with my best friend. The hurt and distrust I felt toward them both has naturally spilled over into every other relationship I've had since.

    I'm trying whole-heartedly to get over it & with time it has gotten easier, but insecurity still rears it's ugly head when I least expect it…

    If you figure out how to get over these insecurities, clue me in.

  30. As far as why we keep exes around us, I think that once the passion dissolves, what drew you to (and kept you with) that significant other still remains, even if the other stuff does not — even if the significant other IS ugly, HAS little teeth and a mouthful of gums. If he or she lied to the other, that betrayal is what's left behind. It doesn't fade; it scars, and even if the scar is grown over, it's still there. Been there, done that. I'd just as soon not have the scar or the memories, except they're good reminders of how good I have it now as to how shitty it once was.

    Oh, and inasmuch as I thought the concluding paragraph of the post was excellent, I think we all think that to some degree. But love isn't a rationale thing; on paper, these are the pros, these are the cons, and there's a big, dark line separating the two sides. Column A can be compared with Column B, just like Moo Shoo Pork and Chow Fun.

    But it's never that simple. If it were, it wouldn't be worthwhile, and it wouldn't be torturous, angst-ridden, difficult, wonderful, incredible, amazing and the stuff that keeps us going, or going crazy.

  31. "It's how we compromise and are sensitive and respectful of each other's feelings."

    Absolutely true. And how each of us defines respect and sensitivity is unique in every relationship.

    However, if I had a lover who said that I wasn't being respectful because I continued to be friends with someone I slept with… yikes. At best I'd tell him we agree to disagree, at worst I'd tell him to fcuk off. Placing restrictions on another's friendships in the name of love (or friendship) is, for me, one big-ass red flag.

    I also know of people who do not feel this way. They'd agree that it fell under the category of respect. But I really can't imagine convincing them to my POV, or me to theirs.

    (BTW, when I say friends, I mean friends. I have no patience for people who exhibit creepily inappropriate behavior in the name of friendship and then defend themselves with, "Oh, we're just friends!")

  32. I'd be furious if my boyfriend hung out with as ex, as he would be with me. Its such a far fetched thing to do that we even tease each other about making plans with an ex, as in "I'm going to get a drink with X. hahaha."

  33. "It's not about control, it's about compassion to one another's sensitivities."

    I agree and I don't think you're being unreasonable. It's not like you're asking him to give up a life-long best friend of the opposite sex. Or even someone he's particularly close with. And I'm sure that there are situations where you'd be fine with your MID developing a female friendship. Like… he has a female coworker, who is in a relationship – and you guys all start hanging out as two couples. Or whatever. In any event, he should respect your wishes and cancel the get-together.

  34. I hope that the man you are with is able to separate himself enough from the situation to understand that this is not about him. I hope that since you are owning up to this and willing to work through it he will see the mutual benefit of him not seeing his exes for awhile. It doesn't have to be forever, just long enough for you to feel grounded again. I don't think that is too much to ask.

  35. I know how you feel Stephanie. I've so gone thru that, but it was in my first ever major relationship, so i've already hit those speed bumps, and know that i could hit them again. i don't see my exes at all; but i did sleep with my best friend a couple times. there is no way we'd be in a relationship tho. he lives way far away so it's not like i see him too often. i guess i'm trying to stop my fears i might get with a new person before i start a new relationship; but who knows.
    2 of my dearest friends are really interesting: the guy is married, my other friend is really really hot (like Maxim mag hot). i don't even know how the wife would let him hang out with me and my hot friend, by himself. (she can't go out usually cuz she's underage) there is no way he'd do anything, but still, i have no idea how the wife handles it. i just worry about bringing any guy i'm interested in to meet her!

  36. The same thoughts are stuck in my head. Stuck. I have no idea how to trust. The question is how do we get to that vulnerable place in our heart and our head.

  37. I think you're too hard on yourself (I'm like that too.) Your fears are probably well-founded – not that he is doing anything with his ex, because maybe he's not, but why do they feel the need to be friends, still?

    I'd be out of my head hurt about it.

    A few months ago I got an email from an ex whom I hadn't heard from in 7 years. Somehow he tracked down my email and dropped me a note. I told my husband about it and asked how he'd feel if I responded. My husband said he didn't like the idea, but I could do what I wanted.

    Now I really wanted to write back; when we dated, my ex was an aspiring sculptor and I saw that he had become very successful with it. I want more artists in my life, I wanted to see how he's doing.

    But I love my husband even more, and I know how I would've felt if the situation were reversed. I deleted the ex's email.

    Listen to your intuition and trust it.

  38. Sometimes I think what you expect out of a relationship is slightly unrealistic. But expecting your boyfriend not to hang out with an ex is totally normal. You shouldn't blame your worry on your own insecurities. I really don't know how anyone would be ok with a boyfriend who hangs out with their exes.

  39. A lot of time when people re-initiate a friendship with an ex, it's because they have something to show off. My bet is that things are going so well in his life right now that he feels in a place where he's comfortable enough to simply talk to his ex on a strictly platonic level? Now that he loves you and is undoubtedly committed, he is in a place that makes it possible for him to say "hey, I'm feeling great right now, and I don't need you. but we can have coffee nonetheless."

    Hmmm… just a thought. I am no relationship expert, but I know that on the simply psychological level, we are unable to delve into past pain until we've recovered ourselves as whole, present people who are happy with our "now" selves.

    Good luck, Stephanie. I can't wait to one day read about your full submission to love. I will have a toast…

  40. You are really sad…it's all in the mind which explain whay the therapists are making big bucks…focus on the sunrise NOT sunset!!

  41. Awww baby, it'll be okay.

    Listen to Tom Cruise and take vitamins and get some exercise.

    No I'm kidding, I believe in therapy, if you need it, get it.

    You actually help me understand my husband a bit. He wants nothing to do with any of my ex's nor does he want me to have any contact with any of them. I try to avoid ex's because I don't want to make my husband uncomfortable, I have plenty of friends, I don't need the ex's.

    However one of my ex's married a relative and we make an exeption to be friendly to him.

  42. great post. i identify completely. but i'm still trying to be rational n not get affected by such things….
    its painful but we have to learn to live with this.

  43. "Kim"–you wrote:

    "him not seeing his exes for awhile. It doesn't have to be forever, just long enough for you to feel grounded again."

    NO–that's not the point. The point is, neither of us should be keeping that door open, at all. It should be closed. It's not about "for a while;" it's about forever. Not keeping the door slightly ajar. Shutting it closed so we can move on together, without looking back.

  44. hey, dont u think we are expecting someone else to change his life n plans etc for us? i mea , if i feel bad n hurt about something shouldn't i be the one responsible to get over it? why should he change himself for me? what do u say? is it fair to ask him to stop seeing the poeple he wants to see coz i dont like it..?

  45. stephanie, with everything you have gone through and experienced and hurt about, it's totally understandable where you have so many insecurities. isn't it your way of protecting yourself a bit?

    patching up those holes takes a long long time, when you are ready, you will come to a point where you will either trust the man completely or find someone who won't do it if he knows how it makes you feel. love yourself.

  46. stephanie –

    i have actually been thinking a lot about this post and reflecting on others comments and also how i deal with this situation in my own life.

    please know that i respect your decision, whichever way you go with this. i am sure this is not the first or last time you will deal with this situation/these feelings.

    i do want to add that in my expereince/my life i know i would be heartbroken if my current guy asked my to give up all my past guys. much like you, i still keep them around. BUT regardless of how intimate we were in the past, it has all sort of washed away and evolved into a beautiful meaningful completely plutonic adult relationship. i know that i could never give up my guys. ex or not, they are my rocks. could you seriously let them all go and watch your past/present/future with them slowly dissolve beyond repair (what IF things don't work out with current mr.wonderful? – nothings guaranteed.) friends are forever though. they are your BOYS!

    i know it is hard and uncomfortable, but will mr. current, mr. now ever forgive you if you make him give up his girls/friends – his rocks?

    i truly think this problem is within you. your insecurities are going to wreak havoc on this relationship.

    he loves YOU, babe. let this battle go – or you may lose him and your rocks.

    good luck, ms.klein – love is never easy*

  47. I really like your blog: it's beautiful and full of life, and the photos remind me of why I love New York (where I grew up but don't currently live.)

    I want to weigh in with a perspective as someone who is a therapist in training (a psychiatry resident at a major academic hospital, not in NYC). I see patients in an outpatient setting and help them deal with some of the issues you are talking about.

    You can pursue therapy if you feel it helps you in general, in life, but I disagree with the posts that connect therapy with some preparation or "getting ready for" a relationship. There is no way to "learn" how to be in a loving relationship except by taking a deep breath and doing it. Therapy can help you have a place to quietly and privately reflect on your thoughts and worries, rather than spontaneously venting them regardless of consequence with someone you don't want to either burn out or drive away.

    However: I think when someone is focusing energy on maintaining ties wiht people they once dated, etc. it means a real ambivalence about the level of commitment that person has to their current partner. It means he wants to keep his options open. It doesn't mean a lack of love, but it means he doesn't want to send the clear message: You are the most important person in my life and that's all I really care about.

    I think it could be useful for you (either with your therapist, if he or she is good at this, or by yourself, maybe not in the public space of a blog that your partner could read) to sit down and think about your own level of commitment. Do you live in separate apartments? Does that mean you can both see other people if you choose to right now — ie you are dating, and not engaged, and not married? What does that mean for you? is there someone else you are drawn to and want to also (maybe non-sexually) be close to or explore with?

    If not, and that seems like a terrible idea, to think of anyone else — maybe it means you really are ready for a serious commitment and you need to figure out how long you want to wait before he is. If you're engaged and he's talking about keeping up ties with ex girlfriends, then it could be about a more understandable ambivalence ("I'm marrying you, but I'm still a free man"). Then it's something to just ride out by focusing on making your own life as busy, rich, full and satisfying as possible and not worrying about what he does. But making sure you are doing all the things you want to with him, so that whatever time he does invest in maintaining these other relationships doesn't cut into your important time together.

    In other cultures, it's a given that a married man is not friends with any woman he was ever intimate with or could be intimate with. It's just a given. This is a very newish American thing, this whole "let's all be friends" thing, and is very post sexual revolution (and I think, not the best thing to have come out of it.) Because in practical terms (and maybe even in evolutionary terms), we need to be able to relax with our partner, to know that we are each other's number one and that we can invest everything in that one person, to build a nest together, to make a family. It's too stressful and exhausting to have to worry about the threat of infidelity all the time, as a practical fear and something that we see embodied in real people our partner is associating with. Eventually it would make partnership just too tiring and not even make evolutionary sense.

    That's just my two cents. I think the basic issue to sort out is not really your sense of being "insecure", but your gut intuition that there is something potentially ambivalent about the person you want to settle down with (it sounds like) making an active effort to have ex girlfriends in his life in some capacity. It sounds like, more than putting some burden on yourself to "sort yourself" out, you should clarify in your own mind what you want and whether/ how he can give you that (and vice versa). FYI I am saying this as a very happily married woman who took a while to follow this advice for myself (and in doing so, definitely experienced some heartache with two or three men who were frustratingly ambivalent. Of course dealing with them was worth it to get to my husband, a hottie with a heart of gold.)

    Good luck with everything. You are smart, I think you know the deal.

  48. I have something sort of similar going on. I was madly in love with a man and we dated for a year. We broke up in June. He's always been friends with his Ex-gf's, and I never had a problem with it. Why? Because I was so secure knowing that I was his true love. (As an aside, these Ex-gf's had nothing to do with our breakup). Anyways, he contacted me a few weeks ago, just checking in. I think he wants to be friends. I don't see the point, though. I think he's a wonderful guy, but it just didn't work out. And seeing him would probably bring up old emotions. But do I want to be friends again? Is there a point to being friends with an Ex?? Please advise!

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