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Old 05-19-2010, 05:01 PM   #1
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In a relationship but think about old boyfriend

Hi! I'm new here, but I was hoping to get some opinions on my situation. I really appreciate any and all responses, so thanks in advance for your time. I'll be as brief as I can, but my question is somewhat multi-faceted.

First, some important background:
I'm in my late 20s, and I have a good education and job.

Back in college, I met a guy while I was in a long distance relationship with someone else. We had a great friendship. Obviously the LD thing didn't work out, and then I decided to date this guy at college. This guy always made it clear that he wanted to be with me even when we were just friends - and unfortunately, my reluctance to be with him due to my prior LD relationship at the time caused some issues for us when we actually did start dating (surely, he felt like he was the second choice guy for me). But we had a fantastic emotional, intellectual connection. He really understood me, respected and supported my interests and was just generally a caring person. I ended up breaking up with him after a couple of years for some salient issues: he would get jealous of my male friends, he had major insecurities about his own future and would often put his self-worth on me and our relationship, plus I had my own growing to do at the time and felt I would best figure out my path on my own.

Years later, we're both living in the same city - but I'm about to move out of town for a job. We meet a few days before I'm moving just to catch up and say hello. Our wonderful connection hadn't vanished at all, it was like time and distance didn't matter at all. I should add that he overcame a lot of the hurdles he had faced in terms of his professional well-being and more, and really emerged as a better, stronger person. Our lasting connection was very unexpected. But I was moving. So I decided to come down and visit in the ensuing months, to see where things might go. Things were good, but in the end, I realized that in order to make a new life for myself in my new location, I needed to let go and not hold on to the city and the people there. So I never fully pursued it.

Then, at least a half year later, I met someone new in my new town. We started dating - and we're still dating. We've been together for 2.5 years. At first it was wonderful, we were so in love. After a while, I moved into his house (he bought a house before I knew him and has a good job and is very secure in his life; I should mention that I insist on paying "rent" to help with his mortgage and bills, so we still keep our finances separate), things were great. But then I brought up the idea of marriage (after a year of living together) -- and very unexpectedly, he hadn't really thought about it and was unsure about it. Basically, he didn't want to get married yet and when I pressed for a reason, he didn't have one - just that he didn't think that he or we were ready.

This caused me to have some doubts about us -- I really figured that the person I would marry someday would feel the same about me. And I've never been the type of girl to plan my wedding or really seek out marriage -- I really just thought about marriage because I thought he was great. Plus, we were starting to think/make plans for a possible move to a new city, etc., and he didn't think about making any kind of commitment before asking me to move to be with him, which seemed odd. It was out of character for him, especially since he's been pretty forthcoming about the fact that his life goals include marriage and children, etc. Plus, he's in a very stable place, and our relationship was a dream for both of us. Even his mother predicted to him that we would get married, and his good friends adored me - so I know I'm not the only person who felt like the relationship was moving in that direction.

Anyway, I started to pull away because I felt rejected. And things have very slowly and steadily declined between us since.

Then, months later and out of nowhere, I started having dreams about the guy from college who I reconnected with before moving to my current location. And I couldn't get him out of my mind. I just kept thinking that this guy from college really wanted to be with me -- he very openly made it clear to me that he wanted to marry me someday (though, that was in college, which was way to soon for me to think about marriage). Anyway, I had these thoughts that maybe we would have worked out if we had been older, more mature, more stable in our lives. Everything else was always there.

So I ended up breaking up with my current boyfriend months later and went to see this guy, thinking I would try to get him back. But then I started having all these doubts. What if all the problems I used to have with the college boyfriend hadn't actually been resolved with time? Maybe we'd have the same issues all over again. What if I end up missing my current boyfriend once I'm with this old flame? And maybe I was the reason for the decline of what was great relationship, since I pulled away after he wasn't sure about marriage. Maybe I should have had more patience with him about marriage and a future. But maybe not! Maybe the fact that my current boyfriend and I weren't on the same page was a major red flag. Not to mention that my current boyfriend -- while wonderful and supportive, etc. -- really never "got me" the way this other guy did. We just come from such different backgrounds and experiences that he often has a difficult time really understanding me.

Well, I ended up going back to the current boyfriend after about a week. Maybe out of fear, maybe because I wasn't strong enough to leave. Maybe because I hate thinking that I caused the break up with my pulling away and thought that I should at least give it a real shot instead of being distant. Plus, we talked during the time I broke up with him and he said things I wanted to hear: he wanted marriage eventually, and he even finally gave me a reason for his indecision, saying that the reason he didn't want marriage when we talked about it six months ago didn't have anything to do with me. He was just scared of marriage, for some reason. So, OK -- I went back to give it a second chance.

But now I don't want to marry him. Not at all. The idea of marriage makes me cringe now. And we're not in love anymore, like we used to. We're not intimate anymore, we've both pulled away from the relationship. And we've talked about it - and whenever we talk about it, we agree to be more affectionate and to try harder. But nothing really changes.

It may not have changed, in part, because I still think about this other guy. A lot. I keep it to myself, and I'm not in contact with him at all. There's nothing going on there, except some feeling about him that hasn't gone away after all these years.

I think I probably have to break up with my current boyfriend, one way or another. No matter how great the relationship was, we're just not in a good place anymore - and I'm not doing either of us favors by thinking of another person.

But every time I think about the old college boyfriend, I get really scared about that too. I know that there are issues there - I worry he'll always have some insecurities with himself and/or us, and that he may have some jealousy issues still. Maybe no one's perfect and that I can deal with those things to be with someone who really cares about me and understands me (who I understand as well). But maybe they'll just lead to us breaking up again. Things get very serious with us very quickly, from past experience with him, and there always feel like there's a lot at stake. I know if we were to break up again, it would hurt us both very badly. In which case, if there's still a good possibility that we might end up breaking up over time, I might want to think about forgetting about him and really giving my current boyfriend and me a fair shot at something real.

If anyone has any thoughts on this, I would really appreciate it. I feel a bit trapped right now, each possible path has similar and equal risks. Maybe there's a clear path here that I'm just not seeing being so emotionally involved. Thanks!

Last edited by anniego; 05-19-2010 at 05:12 PM.

 
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Old 05-20-2010, 12:18 AM   #2
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Re: In a relationship but think about old boyfriend

I think there is a third path, as you said yourself..and that is to leave your present relationship (that is a cooked goose now, you will never have both feet in there again) and get your life as a single person happening. You can get in touch with the old college BF, just to check that you are both still available and communicate LD to establish a connection. This will give you space to test the waters and does not use your present relationship as a sort of safety net (very unfair to the current BF). Move on with no more unfinished business, that is what you are dealing with now. Cheers, Sera.

 
Old 05-20-2010, 05:55 AM   #3
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Re: In a relationship but think about old boyfriend

Quote:
Maybe no one's perfect and that I can deal with those things to be with someone who really cares about me and understands me (who I understand as well).
This is true. No one is perfect.

Reading your post, I kept thinking that you're looking for something which may not exist--flawless compatibility. Perhaps you're over-analyzing some of the issues. Successful long-lasting relationships, and marriage, do not come without any work. Everyone hits bumps; everyone experiences differences. The infatuation from the first months, and years, calms down. But what develops is a deep bond that (for me) is akin to the very strongest friend/familial connection. That bond can overcome anything.

So, I don't know the answer for you--whether old guy, current guy, or some other guy is the right one. But, whoever you end up dating, just relax and let love run its course. When you know that the person at your side is someone who you could not possibly live without, then you have found the one.

 
Old 05-20-2010, 02:58 PM   #4
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Re: In a relationship but think about old boyfriend

I think if you're having trouble deciding between two people, you shouldn't be with either one of them.

 
Old 05-20-2010, 08:18 PM   #5
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Re: In a relationship but think about old boyfriend

Quote:
Originally Posted by digmusic View Post
I think if you're having trouble deciding between two people, you shouldn't be with either one of them.
I completely agree. If the old boyfriend is right for you, it should be fairly obvious at this point since you've dated him and knew him for many years. If you have a unique and one-of-a-kind connection with someone, you shouldn't have to debate it in your mind continuously, you would just "know". The fact that you have so many doubts about these men is a really big red flag.

Plus, you don't even know if this guy is single. And people change and grow over time, especially in their late teens and throughout their twenties. This guy probably isn't the same person as who you knew years ago. I'm assuming that you aren't either (As I'm hoping you have developed intellectually and matured mentally over the years).

I think the relationship with your current boyfriend has run it's course. And you say that he doesn't understand you. You should not be with someone if they don't "get'" you.

Like I said, I don't believe either one of these men are right for you.

 
Old 05-20-2010, 09:42 PM   #6
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Re: In a relationship but think about old boyfriend

Thanks everyone for your responses.

I'm in agreement with all of your posts. It definitely makes sense that if I can't choose between these two guys, that neither of them are probably completely right for me.

But I should clear up a couple of misconceptions from justkeeppraying. I have known the old boyfriend for many years, but we really haven't spent any large amount of time together since we broke up back in college - that was 2004, I think. I saw him, in total, for about for or five days combined when we reconnected before/when I moved. And then I saw him for one day during the holidays this past December. It's very difficult to make a decision about someone based on a total of six days together. Those days were all great, but it doesn't really tell me how we're going to be in a long term relationship.

We both have changed, much for the better from my initial impressions. That's another reason why I thought that a relationship now might have a lot of potential. You're right that I don't know if he is still single -- he was when I spoke to him in December/January. But time has passed and it's absolutely possible he has found someone new since then. But on the other hand, I don't think I can stress how strong of a bond we have.

It's the kind of thing where I don't have a lot of doubt that he'd get back together with me, if not immediately, then eventually. Of course I could be wrong, but he has always thought that I was the one for him, even if I've been wishywashy about it. We seem to really understand the way each other thinks. We have very similar backgrounds and family - which was never important to me back in college, but seems to be more important to me the older I get and the more I think about who I want to spend the rest of my life with. We're both really goal oriented people. We don't do the same things, career-wise or even hobby-wise, but our interests kind of come from similar places -- we both love writing, music, arts, etc. We just have different ways of connecting to those things, which is good -- we're not so different that it's difficult to understand each other, but we have enough individuality that we both expand the horizons of the other person.

But I do worry about self-esteem issues that he's had in the past. I worry about the jealousy issues that had been there. I worry that we've had so much back and forth in the past few years that it will be hard for him to get over some of the hurt feelings I've caused him because of it, even if he wants to try.

Another important point worth mentioning might be that I had been on the verge of breaking up with my current boyfriend a couple times before this prior relationship came back into my mind and dreams. It would be easy to say that I'm just using an old flame as a reason to pull away after he didn't want marriage, but I had pulled away sooner. And it wasn't that I had simply considered it but did nothing -- I actually had discussions with my boyfriend about breaking up, telling him I wasn't sure about our relationship since we obviously weren't on the same page about our future. I spend a couple days openly considering it. I didn't end up breaking up with him, but even my boyfriend knows that we've been close to it many times. And when I did break up with him shortly in December, I told him everything - I told him that, in addition to my doubts about us, I had been reconsidering a past relationship that never had closure.

So despite my inability to make a clear decision, I have been very open and honest with all parties about my thoughts. With one exception: Since my boyfriend and I got back together, I haven't mentioned the other guy at all. I haven't told him that I still think about the other guy. I've just been doing my best to try to forget about the other guy, but it's been very difficult to do.

I've mentioned all the good things about my past boyfriend, but there are many great things about my current one. What makes this so difficult is that both guys are really good, kind men who have treated me exceptionally well. My current boyfriend is stable as a rock, which I've always thought was really good for someone like me, who is artsy and creative. While he's surely interested in these things, it's not really what he does at all. He's into science and technology. It can be a good to have such varying interests where you can really learn from each other, but I find it's often hard for us to understand each other. I mean, without being overly specific, what I do for a career sometimes puts him to sleep! That's hard to handle.

Plus, he's not a very social person. I'm not an overly social person either, but I do value my friends, and know the importance of having and cultivating friendships. He has friends from college, but he only sees them a couple times per year. Otherwise, his family is his main form of communication outside our relationship. He definitely has a different kind of relationship with his family than I do with mine. He idolizes his parents and siblings. I've had a very rocky relationship with my family, and my parents are divorced. When I've tried to talk to him a bit about the dynamics of my family, he openly admits that he doesn't really understand it, and that he's not really that comfortable with it. Divorce, in general, is something he's just not comfortable with. So that's another tough thing -- I can't really share with him my life, or vent to him about any issues I'm having with my parents. He just doesn't know how to respond.

But he is very conscientious. He does care about me and makes an effort to go the extra mile for me. We don't argue very much, we're very good about talking through things, even if we don't nearly talk enough about some of our issues.

I find it very difficult to do a side-by-side comparison of these two guys. I don't really care who is better on paper. I just want to be with someone caring and sweet who feels the same big way for me as I do for them.

So maybe neither is the right guy for me. But I would really hate to break up with my current boyfriend and then remember how wonderful he was as soon as I've blown it with him. And I would hate to get back with the other guy, for it to not work out and for us to really hurt each other.

Third option is definitely to break up and not go back to the old guy and just hope something new and better comes along. I definitely don't think that I'll never have another relationship again, or that I'll be alone for the rest of my life. I just, I don't know, I feel like I've really lucked out having great relationships and I just don't understand fully why they can't work out. Maybe I'm just holding on too much and need to let go.

 
Old 05-20-2010, 10:18 PM   #7
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Re: In a relationship but think about old boyfriend

Sorry for the misunderstanding . Sometimes people can interpret statements different from what the writer intends.

I really feel you. I wish there was some kind of relationship crystal ball that we could shake and it would tell us all the answers to who is right for us. I know what it's like to be 'afraid' that you'll make the wrong choice, only to realize later that you should have chosen differently. That's life though.

You can worry about having regrets of ending it with your current boyfriend, and how 'wonderful' he was/is. But you have to remind yourself of the biggest problem of all with this guy; he does not wish to get married (yet). It doesn't matter how sweet or cute or caring or financially stable this guy is. Do you really want to stay with this guy in the hopes that he will one day change his mind based on when he said "eventually" (that is if you actually still want to marry him and want him to change his mind ). That's a huge risk if you ask me, the fact that you guys are on different pages.

Another thing, he told you, "he was scared of marriage, for some reason". What is the reason? Did he ever tell you what it was? Why would he even be scared of marriage? If his parents are still together, then it's not like he had to experience some horrific family divorce that since has left him traumatized. His answer really rubs me the wrong way. Something with it just seems off, but maybe it's just me.

I think I can say with almost complete accuracy, that if you don't contact the old boyfriend to find out if there is still a strong bond, if there are lingering 'hard feelings' from the past- you'll always wonder what might/could have happened, the "what-ifs". One way or another, if you have those what-if thoughts, you have to get rid of them. They'll be devastating when you get to your next relationship. Even if this guy is over his jealousy/self-esteem issues, the history you have with him might bring you guys down anyway (not trying to be pessimistic, just honest). Yes, you had a great connection, but he felt like you were "the one" and you were kinda uncertain; that must have been a pretty big blow for him. Just a thought.

I still think you should take the third path and leave them both alone.

Last edited by justkeeppraying; 05-20-2010 at 11:04 PM.

 
Old 05-20-2010, 10:49 PM   #8
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Re: In a relationship but think about old boyfriend

No worries at all. It's difficult to put all the details in a condensed explanation, or often to know which details are the most important.

The whole marriage thing rubs me the wrong way too! I did experience a very traumatizing divorce between my parents, and I've sworn to myself that I wouldn't do that to my kids! He hasn't had that at all. His parents definitely don't have the perfect relationship and there are some odd dynamics there too, but basically, they're functional and committed to staying together. He's never experienced just how ugly divorce can be.

When he said he was scared of marriage, he said it was because it's such a huge commitment - it's for life, and that's what he wants. But so do I. That's what I wanted when I thought about marrying him. After what I've been through, I won't marry without being 100% sure about it.

Another thing that's rubbing me in the wrong direction lately is that, obviously, for us to even think about marriage again, we/he wants to to be back in love again. But - as he said - he wants things to be even better than they were before. I just don't know how that's possible! Things were so great with us, and for quite a while! The fact that whatever we were wasn't good enough for marriage really makes me feel like he'll never really want it.

Also, at the time we discussed marriage, he brought up an argument we had recently had. It was a pretty stupid argument, one in which I still feel he was being pretty unfair to me (I took a wrong turn driving and he just couldn't accept that it was a human mistake and that I wasn't trying to "not listen to him" - we rarely argue about this kind of stuff, but I think he was just a little edgy that day. It wasn't even like he made a strong case to me about taking the other direction. In fact, we both thought we were going the right way at first!). He decided that maybe we'd be ready for marriage when I can resolve our issues better! It was kind of like saying, "if you're on good behavior, I'll marry you." All he needed was to have a dash of patience with me and all would have been OK. I do listen, and I've never held back from saying I'm sorry about anything. I make mistakes sometimes - and yes, I absolutely made a wrong turn. But still, I just didn't think he treated me fairly with this, and then was using it as a reason why we're not ready for marriage (putting that blame on me).

So a lot of things feel really off about it.

But I'll never know, really, because I can't find it in myself to feel for him the way I used to. Maybe it's my own past of being a child of divorce, but as soon as he had doubts about marriage, I was ready to get the hell out. The last thing I want to do is marry someone who doesn't feel the same about me!

After experiencing this, however, it could be why I all of a sudden have feelings for this other guy I used to date. He always made it clear that I was the one he wanted to be with forever. In college, I just wasn't ready for that. But now, I could be. I just don't want to get back together with him because he'll give me the security I don't have in my current relationship. That's not enough. I need to know that I will feel the same for him in return, and I just don't know if I will yet. I have a feeling that I won't know until I give it a shot. But maybe my hesitations are telling.

 
Old 05-20-2010, 11:21 PM   #9
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Re: In a relationship but think about old boyfriend

Quote:
Originally Posted by justkeeppraying View Post

I think I can say with almost complete accuracy, that if you don't contact the old boyfriend to find out if there is still a strong bond, if there are lingering 'hard feelings' from the past- you'll always wonder what might/could have happened, the "what-ifs". One way or another, if you have those what-if thoughts, you have to get rid of them. They'll be devastating when you get to your next relationship. Even if this guy is over his jealousy/self-esteem issues, the history you have with him might bring you guys down anyway (not trying to be pessimistic, just honest). Yes, you had a great connection, but he felt like you were "the one" and you were kinda uncertain; that must have been a pretty big blow for him. Just a thought.

I still think you should take the third path and leave them both alone.
Thank you for your honesty. I've had similar thoughts about it too. I'm sure it was a big blow to my ex-boyfriend that I was uncertain. I know it hurt him deeply. I also know it would hurt him deeply again if I were to get back together with him, and then leave him again. So perhaps I should just leave him alone and let him find someone who does feel the same about him. He deserves that.

 
Old 05-20-2010, 11:37 PM   #10
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Re: In a relationship but think about old boyfriend

Yes he does deserve that. You both deserve to be happy. I'm glad you are level-headed and not basing all this on your emotions. You really are doing what is best.

The only way to know for sure if it would work anyway, would be to contact him and actually try to start something with him. That really is playing with fire though. Just because two people have an amazing connection to each other and have alot in common, doesn't mean it's meant to be. I've known tons of couples that fit that description, everyone thought they were perfect for one another, but they did not end up together for various reasons. I do not know if the same issues are there with this college guy. Maybe he is no longer suffering from his self-esteem/jealousy issues. Maybe he has changed. But as a result of this change, maybe there are other, new, different issues that would come up. All relationships have issues, so it's certain that there would be something indeed. You're doing the right thing.

Blessings to you.

Last edited by justkeeppraying; 05-20-2010 at 11:43 PM.

 
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