Everyone has been hurt by someone. We have all been victims of cheaters, and if you haven't you are mighty lucky. We all have baggage and we all have insecurities. This is not unusual behavior coming from someone who has been hurt before. It seems like he wasn't aware of what he was doing and now that you have spoken to him he hasn't done it again. It shows that he respects how you feel and has taken the necessary actions to make you feel as comfortable as possible with the relationship. It is still a new relationship and you're getting to know eachother. Something that he sees as innocent may not be to you. As long as you keep up the lines of communications between you two and you are able to express your feelings than I see that this relationship has good chance of standing the test of time.
Well, he never did it again, and has been totally committed to me in this relationship. I continued the relationship because everything else has been very good before the night and afterwards. He has introduced me with pride to friends, coworkers, his boss, and his family. He's met my friends and family and passed the test. He's supportive of my goals as I am of his. We go to events and parties together and have a blast - what I am trying to say, is other than that night, our relationship has been totally great.
We both have been very badly hurt in the past. I ended a terrible and very controlling relationship last year that left me with a lot of pain, and quite honestly, I probably needed a little more time before I got involved again. He has a past hurt of being with someone who was awful to him - like Jerry Springer awful! So together, yes, we have a lot to overcome.
The thing is, I really appreciate the hope we can overcome it. Slowhealer, thank you for your words of encouragement. This is what we are talking about - moving forward while we are still healing and choosing to actively make things work.
In addition, I am not trying to downplay the fact that I need to face some issues on my own. I know this not about aknowledging, closing my eyes, and poof - its gone. I really appreciate your posts - thank you:)
I don't believe people completely overcome all of their baggage, so I agree with slow_healer that this poster can certainly attempt to have a relationship with this guy in spite of her insecurities. But I completely disagree that simply acknowledging that she has baggage and then jumping back into the relationship expecting everything to be "fine" isn't going to work. Satan on a surfboard, I've seen this scenario played out over and over in friends of mine, and it never seems to have a good outcome.
She needs to start *actively* working on her issues, or she won't move herself even 6 inches down the road towards having healthier and more intact ego boundaries. It's as simple as that. But that's my experience from what I've seen happen to numerous women friends of mine in the past. Until they got into therapy and actively worked on their issues, they were pretty much tamped down on their sh*t and it continued to hamper their progress in relationships.
I also agree with the poster after me (??venus) that, yes, this stuff runs deeper than just the current guy. I'm saying this particular guy is triggering it. I'm not saying it was never triggered in her past relationships or that it never will be again with future guys. The "injury," if you will, is buried deeply and is pretty much "waiting" to be triggered by a behavior, a certain personality characteristic, what have you, and then it rises up and presents itself and causes the conflict she's now engaged in.
Then we have a guy who says he's been hurt in the past because women openly flirted in front of him. So he turns around and does the same manipulative sh*t on his own potential partner. The place to work out this kind of conflict is in a therapist's office, not on a potential long-term relationship prospect.
So what we have here is two people who have deep-seated fears of being abandoned - both of them. Acting out their fears in two different ways. It remains to be seen whether anything workable can come out of this.
The other thing is, she barely knows the guy if she's only been seeing him a couple of months - plus this triggering incident apparently only occurred on the third date. That to me is also bad news. Typically, when people first start to date each other, they are on their best behavior. It made me think back to the first handful of dates I had with my current partner. Hell, I would have had to pay a gigolo to be more attentive than he was - attentive to my needs, attentive to everything that came out of my mouth (which is always a lot, as you can imagine), and complimentary. I mean, the guy was WORKING it.
Hell, I still remember one of our earliest dates, maybe not the third, but the fourth or fifth or somewhere around in there. It was a dinner party at another doctor's house, and my partner wanted me to join him. I was really hesitant because we really didn't know one another that well yet, but I went, and it was really obvious how much pride he had in having me there. It meant a lot to him. I certainly have no recollection of him actively or openly flirting with other women there, and if I had witnessed it, I certainly would have thought less of him than I had. Flirting is something the two partners have to work out as to what their comfort level is with the other doing it, but openly flirting in front of you when you don't know each other well enough to draw those boundaries is, at best, showing no class. And at worst, well, we can see the "at worst" situation unfolding up above here with this particular poster's experience.
Anyway, if she decides to stay with the guy, I think she's got her work cut out for her. Again, I'm not optimistic, but give it a go and see how you do.
koukla, that boundary is different for everyone. And just because there was some misfiring at the start of your relationship doesn't mean that your relationship with this person is doomed. Some people have fairly open relationships in which flirting is acceptable. Other people don't accept it at all. Plus everyone's shaped by past experiences (e.g. cheating) so that makes it more complicated.
It sounds like you're already on the right track simply talking to your partner and agreeing on what those boundaries are.
As for abandonment issues, take some time and reason through them. A lot of people have been hurt (by cheating partners), and it leaves a lot of baggage. But ultimately you don't have to let this baggage control you now, nor do you have to be 100% free of it to be happy in a relationship. My advice for you is to make a resolved decision - you can live in the memory of past hurt, or live in the present and create something new to remember. Your past will always be a part of you, but it's not the only part of you that's alive here and now.
Thank you for your comments so far! I appreciate you both taking the time to respond to my situation. I really love my boyfriend and we talk about everything - including this. Because this is such a deep issue to me, I have discussed it with him, and we have decided as a couple to talk to a third party about it (couples counseling) because we don't want to break up over this. Barnbabe, you were right when you said I have a deep fear of abandonment - not from my father, though, fortunately, he has been a wonderful dad to me. I've had some terrible, god awful break ups, and I think its hard for me to trust that a man won't hurt me again. I intend to work on this in individual counseling because I know its something I have to work on for me. Thank you for your insight - its funny because I didn't realize how obvious my fear was until you said it, and its amazing to me because you don't know me, yet you could tell this was about my fear of being abandoned.
To the second commentor, you are right as well as his flirting was not to the point where any action was taken on his or her part, but I think it crossed some boundaries and it made me feel uncomfortable. When we've discussed it, he has openly admitted it would have made him uncomfortable if I had done the same to him. I might have low self esteem based on my relationship fears, however, I don't have a low self concept (I think the two are different). I'm happy with who I am, I work out, I'm attractive, have friends, a job I enjoy... I don't feel that this is all about my lack of self confidence or my ability to feel like I am a worthwhile catch, but in saying that, you have hit it on the head that I should feel good that we are together and not insecure over some flirting. I guess the question is when does flirting crossing a boundary? Is it ok for you or your partner to show an interest in another person - I mean when is that dangerous? Thanks again, please keep the responses coming because I am reading your insights!!!
Koukla, I always thought a flirting incident at the beginning of a relationship was typical male behavior. I have seen men getting insecure about their own feelings, afraid of falling for someone, and by flirting in front of their serious partner they demonstrate their freedom once more before they give in to another degree of commitment. Once they are committed to you, they do focus on your relationship, so I would not doubt his good intentions. Of course I am generalizing here,,, The only problem with guys who are tip-toeing around commitment is that when the going gets tough, they are usually gone in the blink of an eye. And it is a personal choice if you want to put up with the one-time disrespect you experienced that night. My pride would have been hurt enough to walk away but you have already overcome this step. Keep on communicating with your partner until you understand his motives and goals, but also his fears. And sure, work on your own for this or your next relationship.
Barnbabe, I extremely respect your opions and views and consider you to be obviously well-educated, well-read, and highly intelligent. I somewhat disagree with you on this one. I don't know the extent of how this man was flirting with another woman in front of the original poster. He may have been rude. But seeing as how the poster how such deep-seated issues with low self-esteem and jealousy, I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the first time she has had these feelings towards her fiancee(?), especially with all the baggage she's carrying. I would assume she had feelings of insecurity before she saw him actively flirting with another woman. But my question is: If the contact is not lewd or lascivious in nature, is flirting wrong? Don't we all want to feel attractive to others? To the original poster: I don't know about your relationship, but I do agree that your primary focus should be on yourself. You are never going to be happy in a relationship until you have raised your self-esteem and self-worth to the level where even if your man is flirting with another woman, you know that he is yours and you are his.
Couple of things jump out at me.
So here's one opinion:
This relationship isn't going to last. You guys are off to a bad start, and both of you have issues that are intense enough to deep-six this partnership. Sorry. That's how I see it. It's clear as day to me, since I've had probably half a dozen women friends who have been in the same situations as you.
Your insecurities are not going to just "go away" on their own. You won't feel "better" because he changes his behavior. You have to understand the "why" of your responses and feelings before you can change, or effect the "how" parameters of your feelings and responses.
Why won't HIS behavior change YOUR feelings? Because your feelings are deep-rooted and go back to some earlier trauma in your life. In all likelihood, some form of emotional abandonment, probably by your father or father figure. By emotional abandonment, I mean you weren't shown enough love by that male figure in your life, verbally or emotionally. And this particular guy, your new partner, is triggering those feelings of emotional abandonment and causing you to respond in the ways you do. In other words, it's a "re-enactment," if you will, of a deeper loss you experienced at some point in your earlier life.
Getting in touch with what those earlier losses were and understanding that they had nothing to do with your worth as a person, as a woman - this is key to understanding why you respond the way you have with this man. I can't say what your particular "loss" was in your past - maybe you had a fantastic father figure, but most women didn't. Maybe there was some other loss a little later, I don't know. But you are describing a classic case of a fear of loss that is rooted in some past abandonment.
So, what would have been an appropriate response to this man? Some women wouldn't see this man again. They would have ended the evening and let him go, forgotten about him. Some women may have confronted him but in a different way, like "if you do that again, you're history!" For me personally, I would have probably done the former - I don't put up with much bullshit in relationships, especially these days. Also, any male over the age of about 15 who is actively flirting in front of you, expecting that you would notice - is either incredibly immature, confused, or just an as*hole. Take your pick. If it's any of those, do you really want anything to do with him? Clearly, your guy has his own emotional baggage - flirting with other women because of a past "wrong" - there I go again with the past hurts causing the immediate behavior - he clearly has not worked out the damage done to him in past relationships and is acting it out on you. Do you really want to be with a guy who is that much out of control of his impulses? I wouldn't.
I don't have much hope for this relationship. If I were you, I'd get with a good therapist and start rooting around in your own past and see what comes up around insecurity issues. Why it feels so scary, etc. This man is triggering feelings of abandonment. He's not the right man for you. There are men out there who won't trigger those feelings. Those men will not cause a "reenactment" of your past losses. They reinforce with their behavior - they actively show you through their behavior - that you are important, special, and worthy of being loved.
They don't go around flirting in front of you and then making b.s. excuses about past emotional damage inflicted on them that they haven't worked out on the couch.
You deserve better.
My advice? Drop the guy, find a good therapist, see what you can uncover about your own abandonment issues.