Q. I first met my current boyfriend years ago in college, where we flirted (and more) but never officially dated. I always considered him a good friend and we kept in touch off and on after graduation. He joined the Marine Corps and I moved home.
Two years ago I dated a man who was a liar, a cheater, and emotionally abusive. He tore down my self-esteem and, looking back, I am embarrassed and horrified that I allowed myself to be treated in that manner. He changed me, creating much anxiety (and therapy).
This past fall, the Marine and I reconnected at a college reunion. He invited me to a ball in November, and shortly after asked me to be his girlfriend. Although long distance, we try to see each other once a month. I truly am in love with him. I don’t think we are ready to move in together, and I’m not sure I want to give up my life in Boston, but I do see it moving in that direction. He has just been given orders for three years to live in a different Southern state. He has given me no reason not to trust him, except that his ex-girlfriend whom he keeps in touch with, lives in the state he will be moving to. He has yet to mention this to me, only that he has “friends” in that area. (He doesn’t realize I remember them dating.) The past few weeks I’ve been aching with an anxiety that I haven’t felt since I dated my ex.
When I talk to him about us, he promises he is not wasting my time, nor would he put the effort into a long-distance relationship if he didn’t think it was worth it. But why has he not told me about her? Could they truly just be friends and my past anxiousness is slinking its way into my current relationship?
A. It’s very possible that they’re just friends. It’s also possible that he doesn’t even think of her as an ex-girlfriend.
Instead of stewing about unanswered questions, why don’t you ask him whether this woman is the person you remember him dating? He’ll probably confirm that detail and then clarify her place in his life. If it’s not a big deal to him, it shouldn’t be to you.
I understand why you’re stressed. You’ve fallen for someone who’s far away. Even without the ex issues (yours and his), you’d be upset about the distance.
Talk to your therapist about how to cope with the what-ifs, and, please, when you’re with your boyfriend, try to stay in the moment instead of obsessing about all that could go wrong. You won’t have a future together if you can’t focus on the present.
If he tells you it’s not a big deal, then maybe you should believe him. You can ask questions about her, and just say it’s for your own edification, and that you’re not jealous, just curious. But don’t harp on him about it, just talk about it calmly. Also, as a side note: Just because another guy emotionally abused you in the past doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen again. Unless you let it.
Uh, probably because he’s smart enough to know that it will open up a whole can of questions from you. Look, you’re stressing because he didn’t mention her. But if he had mentioned her to you, you’d be questioning that too — Why if this girl doesn’t mean anything to him did he take the time to bring her up? So just relax. You either trust someone or you don’t — shouldn’t matter if they live 10 minutes away or 10 states away. And if you are going to trust him, start saving up some money for flights now. That’s going to be a long 3 years.
I can’t imagine him constructing this elaborate scheme in which he gets the Marines to transfer him to the a state where he once slept with one of the residents so he could cheat on a long-distance girlfriend with that person. Asking him will go a long way.
They probably are just friends and he just doesn’t want to worry you. That said, long-distance relationships are really tough and require a bit more work than your typical relationship. I was in one for three years and I don’t think I’d do that again. Too much heartache and longing all the time. Spending the vast majority of your time alone. If you are feeling jealous already, then you might as well just forget about it.
Chill and take it a day at a time. Also, you (and your boyfriend) are going to have to learn to talk about stuff like this, so bring it up if you want. Just don’t do it in an accusatory manner.
Every relationship hits that point where you have to take a leap of faith or walk away. He sounds like a good guy. Talk to him about it and see if that helps you make your decision.
I don’t think your anxiety is necessarily tied to your past with an abusive boyfriend. Your new relationship seems to be on the upswing emotionally and his being stationed somewhere else is a real downer. So that is two forces going in opposite directions.
She lives in the same state as he will? Seriously? That’s your issue?
I know sometimes the truth hurts, and it’s hard to hear, but I’m going to say: Let him go. If anything kills this relationship, it’s NOT the distance, it will be you. You cannot handle him in the same state with an ex. You have trust issues. I understand some people can get over them, but you my dear, have not . . . and with that, you will bang that nail sooooo hard into that coffin of a relationship you have, that this will not stand the halls of time . . . give it up . . . let him go and find someone closer to home.
“But why has he not told me about her?” Reread your letter, then ask yourself that question.
Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to Meredith.Goldstein@globe.com.