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Saved 1/06/13 to Group Therapy

To what degree should I ignore past behavior?


I'm in a new relationship with an amazing guy. We are very well matched and for the first time, I feel like this could be the person I spend the rest of my life with. However, I've also found out about some pretty huge red flags and I'm worried that if I overlook his past, I might be setting myself up for a terrible relationship. Just for background, I'm in my very early 20's and he's 4 years older than me.I found out from him that when he was 18, he began a relationship with a girl that lasted about 2 years. She lived with him and his family, she got pregnant by him at least twice while they were together (one time ended with an abortion, the other was a miscarriage), and he proposed to her at one point. The relationshp ended because she cheated on him. I don't know any more details, but I wish he hadn't told me this. I can't get over the fact that he had this type of relationship with someone, even if it was years ago. It sounds like she was just a really troubled girl, but obviously my boyfriend had a role to play in this too. He claims he was young and stupid and regrets it, but the fact is that 4 years ago when this happened he was the age that I am now, and I would NEVER make decisions like that. When I think about the fact that he felt ready to commit to this girl (and presumably have a kid with her if she hadn't miscarried) it cheapens his feelings for me. 

I would love to have these things with him some day: living together, marriage, kids. But when I think about the fact that he's already pursued these with someone else, and especially in such a tumultuous way, it makes me so unsure of his feelings for me. The things that I value in him - his loving, caring nature, his natural inclination to care for others, his stability - are probably what put him in a positon where he wanted to commit to this girl in the first place. I guess I don't fully trust his judgment, but I'm not sure if that's valid considering that if I didn't know these things about his past, I would trust his judgment 100%. I'm struggling to reconcile who he was in the past with who he is now, because they seem like totally different people and I don't want to place too much or too little weight on these potential red flags. AHH! What do you guys think?

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Takoma-Papa Takoma-Papa 1 year 31 weeks
The best way to find a boyfriend who has no history is to find a boyfriend who is content to not make history with you. But if you want a boyfriend who can't keep his hands off of you, and you're older than 14, you pretty much have to assume those hands have been somewhere before you. What you know for sure about this guy is that you can't rely on him to handle the birth control, but I hope you weren't going to count on ANY guy for that, although, truth be told, he was more than a little clueless to be counting on Girl #1 for that, particularly after failure #1. Bottom line: unless you marry and stay married to the first boy you ever kiss, you're going to have ex's and he's going to have ex's. Concentrate on the oohhhhs and you'll do fine.
tinkerbell4 tinkerbell4 1 year 34 weeks
I sincerely don't know how to say this, but OP, this sounds too familiar to me, if you know what I mean. Here is something he did not tell you: he was troubled and she did not cheat, he did not propose either. He cheated, to be honest, it does not make sense for a guy to date a troubled girl like that and not to have some trouble himself. You're in your early 20's OP, a lot of things can change. The longer you are with him, the more stuff start to change for both of you. It doesn't look like you have been with this guy for long, so you really don't need to start jumping the gun.
meb563 meb563 1 year 36 weeks
Henna offers some really great advice. You don't say it, but I'm guessing this is your first really serious relationship? I've had very similar feelings in my current relationship and they almost destroyed it. It was my first truly serious one, where as he had been engaged before. He was honest about his past from the get-go, and while it gave me pause momentarily at the start, I appreciated his honesty and focused on the present and on the great relationship that was developing. I don't know what happened, but one day I woke up and it hit my like a ton of bricks. All of the things we had been talking about and I loved imagining with him - living together, marriage, kids - he had already imagined with someone else. It tore me apart, and it did make me feel like those feelings he had for me were cheapened and that it meant less somehow. I over analyzed everything I knew about his past and why things had gone wrong, worried about the same things happening to us, how I could prevent them. I questioned if he loved me as much as he had loved her. He had done some things in that old relationship that I would have never been ok with – did that mean he wasn't who I thought he really was? It drove myself absolutely insane! We began fighting more, weekends once spent blissfully happy became stressful and angst filled. It got to the point where I just didn't see how the relationship would end in anything other than heartbreak, so I broke up with him. I quickly realized what an absolute idiot I was being, and how much the idea of losing him, and losing us, terrified me. So much more than the fear or things eventually, possibly, maybe, would go wrong in our relationship. Because we had a great relationship. I was lucky enough to get a second chance. I can't say that those negative thoughts, fears, insecurities, anxieties,- whatever you want to call them – never bubble up. They do, and they will continue to do so. But guess what? They are my thoughts. They are based on fears that I have in my own head – not on things he has done. You need to learn to distinguish between your thoughts and reality. You need to learn to trust yourself enough to know that if something is wrong, you will know it. If the relationship goes bad, you will have the strength to leave it. The things in his past have zero to do with his feeling for you. Zip, zero, nada. Let that sink in, because it's the truth. He has made mistakes in the past, he will make them in the future – and so will you. It's part of life and part of growing and maturing. That's not even to say his past relationship was a mistake – sure, things happen that maybe he would not do again and his current self would not repeat them, but it doesn't mean he should wish the relationship never happened. He is the man you love today because of the things that have happened to him in the past. Accept that, be grateful for it, and try and focus on the positive in your relationship instead of the negative. I'd also suggest looking into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, even just reading about tips and tricks helped me a lot! Good luck girl :)
henna-red henna-red 1 year 36 weeks
sorry for poor editing :(
henna-red henna-red 1 year 36 weeks
I have a couple of impressions. The first thing that strike me is that he told you about his past, himself. That's important. He wants you to know who he is, he wants you to have all of the information. That's honest and respectful of the current relationship and, I think, shows a sincere attempt at sharing his past so that you can make an informed decision about your choices. I like that. Second, it strikes me that you say you can't get over the fact that he had a committed, involved, serious relationship in his past. You feel that cheapens his feelings for you now. I couldn't disagree with you more. People have pasts. No one comes to you without a history, and the fact that his history includes commitment usually means that his present and future can contain commitment. Did you think that any man you fell for would never have had a serious relationship in his past? Did you think that you would be the only love of a man's life? I find that very unrealistic....very much a cinderella, fairy tale kind of expectation. If you feel uneasy about the details of the breakup of his previous, serious relationship, then ask him about it. He says she cheated on him...that's a pretty good reason to leave a relationship. If you're concerns center around the abortion, and the fact that they agreed to that within their relationship, and that you're moral compass is different, then talk about that. You day that you're concerned that he would have had a kid with this lady.....well, he didn't. They didn't. And although I don't know what caused the miscarriage (miscarriage is very common, particularly early in a pregnancy, and is nature's way of dealing with an unviable fetus), if this baby was developed and if they were anticipating being parents together, the loss of this child could have stressed the relationship terribly. It's four years later, and you have many great things to say about this man. We grow, we learn from our past choices, and hopefully they teach us how better to manage our present choices. Is there some reason for you to suspect that he hasn't learned from his past? I also have to say that you're wish not to have know about his history speaks to me of a fairy tale expectation that some man will come to you with no history, no baggage. That's just not likely. No one you meet is going to emerge from some vacuum to fall in love with you, and carry you away to a marriage without some social history of dating. The way we learn to be in relationships, is to be in relationships. Has he spoken to you of living together, marriage and kids? Is this something the two of you have discussed? Is this you projecting, having found someone who meets your hopes and desires? Learning to trust someone's judgement takes time. The time to watch the choices he makes. If you can't reconcile who he was with who he is, then you're never going to have a successfull relationship with him. You can say the same for every man you meet in your life.Every man you meet is going to come with a past, just as you also will bring your past to every relationship in your life. And so far as I know, every one of us makes choices in our youth that we would not necessarily repeat...but it's those life lessons that teach us and allow us to learn to make better choices as we mature. (and I do mean mature, and not age, because there are certainly some folks who choose not to mature as they age). Take some time, get to really know this man. I don't know if he has spoken of marriage and kids to you, if you have spoken together of these things, or if you are projecting your hoped for future onto this fellow, because of your feelings for him. I don't know how long you've been dating, or how far into the process of partnering you've gone. But the process of marriage is a process...the learning to trust each other takes time. There aren't any short cuts, and real fairy tales don't always have a happy, Disney ending. Real fairy tales require the hero or heroine to sacrifice, to learn, to take risks.....Forget Disney, forget romantic movies where you don't see how much work it takes for the shining armor to stay shiny or to see just how rusty and disfunctional that armor gets without constant attention.....learn to have realistic expectations around real people. The older we all get, the more history and baggage we all come with....that's life. Beware the man who doesn't want to share his history with you....that's a much bigger red flag than a man's honesty about his past involvements. Other than that, give yourself the time to be sure that this man is the man and that you can trust his judgement, and your own. take care, and best of luck