Need some advice, please. (long)

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2003
Need some advice, please. (long)
Mon, 04-21-2003 - 11:01am
I don't really have anyone to talk to about my concerns, so I thought it might be helpful to post them here. I've been dating this guy, and it's hard for me to say exactly when we became an official couple (I think it happened in *his* mind before it happened in mine), but we've been romantically involved for 6 months. I feel we've only really been an exclusive couple for about 3 of those months.

I honestly don't have a lot of experience with dating. I've always valued quality over quantity, and I'm rather picky about the men I choose to be with. I've only allowed a select few into my little world, and at the age of 26, I can really only say that I've had one really defining relationship. Sure, I've dated, but I would find something wrong with the guy after the 2nd or 3rd date, and it would end right then and there. My last relationship lasted 3 years. A ton of emotion was invested (not to mention time), and in the end, we were engaged. I broke that off not long after the engagement began due to emotional and verbal abuse that would surely have turned physical at some point. I believe it was just a matter of time.

My problem is that I think I am highly insecure when it comes to dating, and I find myself worrying about things that probably would never happen -- but I can't help it. I think some of it is based on the abusive relationship I was in (where I was told I wasn't good enough, didn't compare well to other women -- and was even told that if I didn't change my looks, my personality, etc, I would be cheated on because it would be my fault for not being exactly what my boyfriend desired at the time. I think those words cut deep -- and they definitely did something to my self-image and esteem.)

Currently, the guy I am with has a history of being 'a player'. I was told so by a mutual friend of ours, and I've even heard stories from my guy himself about how he once dated 5 women at a time without any of them finding out about it. He ended his story with comments about what a jerk he was to do that to them -- and there have been other comments from him about his past behavior that tells me he's changed and values a monogamous relationship over the way he's conducted himself in the past.

My concern is this: We are all capable of recognizing a need for change, and we *do* change throughout our lives. Everyone has a wild streak at some point, and yet we find ways and reasons to calm down as we get older and find ourselves with different priorities. He and I have agreed to be exclusive, but can a leopard really change his spots? I'm someone who invests very heavily in relationships -- I give it my best -- 110%. I'm also very genuine. I would never do anything to jeopardize what I have with this guy -- but would he do the same for me? He's had a ton of dating experience, and old flames come up on occassion in our conversations -- and he'll always say that they still keep in touch via email or whatever, but what about the people he's currently around? He bartends a few nights a week, and before we started dating, he made a comment about one of the waitresses who makes a ton of tips because she just stands there and looks pretty. He said "And she's good at it, too!" So, case in point, he's attracted to this waitress. The other night he stayed at work and got wasted (after I turned down an invitation to hang out with him at his house when he got off work at 12:30am), and I can't help but think that his drunkeness may have led him to make advances on this girl. Granted, for all I know, she's married, has a boyfriend she's very committed to, etc, but what if he did? If he could snake around on women in his past, then what makes *me* so special that he wouldn't do it to *me*?

I'm probably making myself upset for nothing, but I guess the bottom line is that we haven't built that trust. Or am I just self-imposing fears for no reason whatsoever? Am I overreacting? Am I wrong?

He likes to tell stories about girls from his past or wild things he did in college, and I don't know why he'd share that stuff with me. I'm not one of his guy friends, and I don't want to hear every detail about his past with these women, either. But I also know that he must really like me or he wouldn't call so often wanting to spend time with me and be with me. I have to admit that I try to be cautious and protect myself -- considering my past relationship. I think I'd be a fool to just blindly date him and be completely open emotionally, etc. I don't want to repeat past mistakes, and I think it's wise to look out for myself and not be naive as I was before.

Note: the reason I turned down his invitation Sat. night deals with the fact that he recently moved to a very unsafe part of town, and I've yet to become comfortable with going over there at night and jeopardizing my car, etc, in a high-crime area. That's a whole other issue to tackle with him, but for now, I'm side-stepping it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2003
Mon, 04-21-2003 - 3:20pm

Thank you for your post. I have to admit that reading it really kicked me in the a$$ -- in a positive way. I think you're right -- all the worry in the world isn't going to help this relationship. If anything, it's simply going to ruin what could be a perfectly good time with someone new and exciting.

I shouldn't allow myself to continue to suffer for past experiences, and I shouldn't make him suffer for them, either. I'm actually pretty embarrassed right now about having blown everything so out of proportion. I just need to learn to ease up and allow myself the freedom to enjoy those little moments we can share with each other. Even if it all falls apart in the end, I can say that I tried. I would hate myself if I constantly held back and fretted over every little thing and then things ended for us. I'd kick myself for not making the most of the opportunity I was given to get to know someone new in my life and take the chance that it might work out for us. You never know until you try, right?

I think I need to learn to forgive myself -- to not take myself (or this relationship) too seriously. That will put nails in the coffin for sure.

Thanks for your frank insight and helpful words. I will try my hardest to change my attitude and just go for it. Afterall, worry accomplishes nothing -- and it robs the innocent of the trust they deserve.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 04-21-2003 - 1:02pm
I will try to be as gentle as I can. Sometimes the truth doesn't feel that way.

You need to trust him - or you need to walk away. You can't drive yourself nuts worrying about him making moves on woman at work, etc. As you become more emotionally invested, you will start to become worse. Calling him and then questioning later where he was...trying to account for every minute of his day so you can be sure he isn't cheating.

His stories are NOT helping. Clearly tell him that you appreciate his openness and are flattered he would share - BUT - you are not at the proper trust level to deal with this! Its inappropriate for him to be sharing the notches on his belt with you. The fact that he feels the need to relive them is probably why you are feeling so insecure! Ask him how he thinks those stories makes you feel? Chances are, he thinks it makes you closer. By sharing the stories with you, he is bonding with you. But if you don't want to hear it - then you have every right to express your needs.

I was in an abusive r/ship as well. When the person twists your words around and manipulates you, you begin to stop expressing yourself. You can't voice your needs/wants as in a normal, healthy r/ship. If you want a healthy r/ship, you are going to have to overcome this. I know I have but its taken me alot of time and work. I started voicing my needs in other r/ships - asking the boss for a raise, telling my cousin that if his teasing me is his way of showing love (his excuse when he hurts me) then he can shove his love! Now I have a raise and my family tells him to shut up when he gets out of line :)

Good luck and welcome to the board!