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Switch to Forum Live View How do I stop feeling inferior to my boyfriend's ex-girlfriend?
6 years ago  ::  Jun 30, 2008 - 7:02PM #1
xelda
Posts: 1
I've been dating my boyfriend for almost a year.  In the beginning, he said he was friends with his ex-girlfriend.  They were together for six years.  I started dating him knowing this and being okay with it.  I'm friends with one of my exes too.  But so much has happened since then, and the bottom line is that I'm no longer okay with it.  I'm 25, he's 26, and she's 27.

About two months into our relationship, his ex-girlfriend came back to him.  She was going through a rough time in several aspects of her life, and I guess she was used to having her be his shoulder to cry on.  It was also the anniversary of a traumatic experience years ago involving just the two of them.  I could empathize with her, knowing he was her first boyfriend and how hard it must be trying to get over him (even though she initiated the breakup).  I respected him for not turning his back on her and encouraged him to be there for her.  However, she would call and then get mad if he said he had to call her back later since he was with me.   This drama lasted for about a month.  She told him she wanted him back, and when it didn't work, she stopped answering his phone calls.  The good thing about this situation is that he made me the priority.  The bad thing is I wasn't okay with their being friends anymore after learning she still had feelings for him.  I wasn't allowed to meet her because he figured she couldn't handle it which only made the situation more uncomfortable for me.

So that was it for awhile.  Then about six months into our relationship, we had our first fight.  This was the point where we were really learning how to make our relationship work.  One thing I should point out is that he was planning to move away for school, which put an invisible strain on our relationship.  We never talked about his move, and that bothered him.  He started to have doubts about our compatibility.  He's always dated and been around outgoing, extroverted people.  Because I'm quiet like he is, he didn't know what to make of me.  We managed to resolve the situation.  The good thing is that this whole ordeal improved our communication as a couple.  I was happy that he challenged me to be more assertive, and he was happy when I could logically knock down his doubts.  However, this whole time of him trying to figure the relationship out is when he also started comparing me to his ex-girlfriend.  I know he was just thinking out loud and not being careful with what he said, but it hurt my feelings a lot.  She used to nag him constantly about what she wished she could change in him, whereas I made him feel wonderful for who he was.  Shouldn't that have been the only thing he needed to compare?  If there's one thing I'm oversensitive to, it's being compared to people.  I get so much of it from my family, my previous relationships, and from myself.  When I tried to explain how vulnerable I felt, he only compared me even more to her to justify why he did it.

At this point, he was feeling positive about our relationship, but it was my turn to have doubts.  There were days when I didn't want to see him just because I didn't want to hear about his ex-girlfriend anymore, not even an innocent mention of her.  It took me a few weeks before I started feeling better.  I rushed home from work to see him, and the first thing he said was that he spent the day hanging out with her.  This caused another fight, which made me feel bad.  I think his ex-girlfriend is the worst thing we could fight about.  This was the first time I told him I hit my limit and didn't want to hear about her at all anymore.  Every time he talks about her, I think about them being together.  So a whole month went by when he didn't talk about her. I was so happy because I felt we could both concentrate on our relationship.  But the same thing happened later.  I came home one day, heard he had spent the day hanging out with her again, and I flipped out.  From his perspective, he just wants to be upfront and honest.  From my perspective, I can't handle hearing about her anymore.

He stopped comparing me to her a long time ago.  He says I'm perfect for him.  And from all of the things he does, he really is devoted to me.  I have never been concerned that he's going to cheat on me or go back to her.  But I'm still not comfortable.  When he started comparing me to her, I started comparing myself to her too.  He stopped comparing a long time ago, but I haven't been able to.  I don't want to meet her anymore because I know I'll just feel like I'm competing with her the whole time.  I hate feeling insecure like this because I fear it will debilitate an otherwise solid relationship.  Is it reasonable for me to not want to hear about her anymore?  Or is it just a way to sweep her under the rug since I can't make her disappear?

I'm at a total loss at how to fix things.  Ultimatums are not my style, so please don't suggest that.  I just need some encouragement.  I feel like if we can get over this hurdle, we will have such a wonderful relationship.  I'm still in this relationship because I do think he's worth all the trouble.  I just want to stop hurting.  :(
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 01, 2008 - 9:18AM #2
KatherineOrthodixie
Posts: 3,689
It is reasonable to not want to hear oneself compared to exes (unless it's favorable, of course!) - he probably wouldn't like it either. What may be a tad unreasonable, if he's truly stopped comparing you to his ex, is your brooding over what's in the past. Perhaps you could stop yourself from dwelling on this using strategies similar to quitting smoking or other bad habits. After all, he is with you now, and if he's truly stopped the behavior that bothered or hurt you, then perhaps you should let it go also, right?
“The Law of the Church is to give oneself to what is given not to seek one’s own.” Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 01, 2008 - 9:18AM #3
KatherineOrthodixie
Posts: 3,689
It is reasonable to not want to hear oneself compared to exes (unless it's favorable, of course!) - he probably wouldn't like it either. What may be a tad unreasonable, if he's truly stopped comparing you to his ex, is your brooding over what's in the past. Perhaps you could stop yourself from dwelling on this using strategies similar to quitting smoking or other bad habits. After all, he is with you now, and if he's truly stopped the behavior that bothered or hurt you, then perhaps you should let it go also, right?
“The Law of the Church is to give oneself to what is given not to seek one’s own.” Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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6 years ago  ::  Jul 01, 2008 - 9:24AM #4
Hatman
Posts: 9,634
Zelda-
Have you ever read the "Desiderata"?  IIRC, it contains a line in it that says something like "And do not compare yourself with others, for there will always be those who are greater and lesser than yourself."

Easy to say, not so easy to do...but with practice, it can be done.

I can definitely guarantee you one thing; blowing up about him being honest enough to TELL you about hanging out with his ex will simply teach him NOT TO TELL YOU.  Stop that.  Be more secure in yourself, that you are the one he loves; if you continue to yell at him, complain about her to him, "blow up" at him, etc., the love his once felt for you will diminish and disappear.  Guaranteed.

Learn different coping skills, as well as different communication skills.  For the former, there's a group that ArnieBeeGut started called "Effective Interpersonal Communications" that I could turn you on to, if asked; for the latter, a good read is "What Shamu Taught Me About A Happy Marriage," whose techniques could apply equally as well to a relationship, too.

But if you want to learn to stop feeling inferior, this would require some honest soul-searching introspection combined with faith that things will get better, and affirmations can help with that.  One thing I've learned over the years is that when you speak, you vibrate every cell of your body---bone, brain, blood, everything---and that these vibrations have an effect, sometimes immediate, but always cumulative.  So watch what you say, and especially, what emotion you express along with those words...for to a large extent, our words shape our reality, for good or ill---your choice!

Warmest regards-

Hatman
"History records that the moneychangers have used every form of abuse, deceit, intrigue, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and it's issuance."
-- James Madison(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
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6 years ago  ::  May 23, 2009 - 2:07PM #5
Dory949
Posts: 2

I think that being compared unfavorably to an ex is very painful and he shouldn't do that.  I do think it is worrisome that he keeps seeing her.  It might be a little unrealistic that you could be friends with her-unless your BF keep reassuring you how wonderful you are and that he's not interested in her but seems like his comparisons are not always reassuring :).  If you were confident in yourself and secure in your relationship then maybe it wouldn't matter so much but I really think most people would have a problem with this.  You can reassure yourself that he chose you even after she asked him to get back with her.  If it were me, which it isn't, I would ask him to cut off the relationship with the ex and not see her anymore as she has tried to get him back and as such this is not just a "friendship" for her but much more.  That always holds the danger of unfaithfulness.  And of course emotional unfaithfulness is also a kind of unfaithfulness.Your BF has demonstrated emotional unfaithfulness and that doesn't feel good.  If he cannot break off with her completely I would question his commitment to you.  I think this is a very difficult situation.  I have been with a man (my ex-husband) who had a "friend" at the office and he claimed they just talked and didn't have sex.  But he was emotionally intimate with her and that took away from our relationship intimacy.  Eventually he broke up the marriage to move in with her and sleep with her.  That relationship didn't last but our marriage broke up and we ended up divorcing.  If your gut tells you this is a threat-listen to your gut.  Then decide if you want to stay with someone who is only partly committed to you and partly committed to another person.  If not you need to leave or he needs to stop seeing her.  If his seeing her even if he doesn't tell you he is comparing (he is in his head if he is seeing her whether he tells you or not) is ok with you then stay.  You have to know what you are ok with and not ok  with and then act on that.  Good luck-maybe counseling could help sort out the complexities of this situaton for you.

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6 years ago  ::  May 24, 2009 - 10:49AM #6
REteach
Posts: 15,016

I don't think it is the comparison that is bothering you, it is the hanging out with her.  I think he wants to have his cake and eat it too.  I think it may be time he makes a choice and cuts ties with one of you. 

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard was not what I meant...
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6 years ago  ::  May 24, 2009 - 2:52PM #7
DAH54
Posts: 3,318

Hmmm Anyone care to get real on this thread?


A comparison, a negative comparison to an ex girlfriend is IMHO a form of coercion. There is an implied threat. The ex failed to totally satisfy, and if you are not even as good as she was, well the future doesn't look bright....


 What is the purpose of your relationship, what is the goal? Do you really wish to *join* your life with someone who causes you to feel inferior? There is a fine line here, one can feel anyway one truly wishes to feel. Many people are afraid to commit, and so create reasons, justifications not to commit. On the other hand their are people who are simply bad for us.


Love is I believe a choice to give of myself, with out the belief I have a right to expect anything in return. When we expect to have certain prilivages in return we are no longer loving, but rather wheeling and dealing, trading if you will. Lets say my girlfriend makes negative comparisons of me to her ex boyfriends. I do not believe that I have a right to expect her not to do this. But having said this, I do believe I have a right to a girlfriend that makes me happy. How one deals with these two concepts determines how happy or unhappy one is in this world. When we decide we have a right to change who, or what our partner is, we add stress to our relationships. One can come up with an all most endless list of reasons why our partner would be better if only they did.... But all this will guarantee is your own unhappiness. If you wish to be happy figure out what you need to change in yourself to be happy with your partner as he is. If this list is too great, or unreasonable then move on. We can not force someone else to change to be what we want. At best we teach another how to hide a part of themselves from us for a time.


 


 

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6 years ago  ::  May 24, 2009 - 10:31PM #8
Anesis
Posts: 1,543

Imo, if you are in a relationship, there is an implied expectation that the love you give will be reciprocated. It is implied that you will be mentally and emotionally intimate. When people are in relationships, the expectation is there that you will be treated respectfully, and that does not include being negatively compared to an ex. Imo, you SHOULD expect your partner to treat you as though he cares for you, to the exclusion of all others. If you can't expect your partner to be intimate, respectful, and loving toward you, then why bother being in the relationship?


As for happiness, if you expect another person to make you happy, you will be sorely let down. Happiness is not dependent on another person. Fifty percent of our happiness is genetic (a predisposition), 10% is circumstantial, and 40% comes from intentional activity...that is, what you put into your life (community, relationships, activities, etc) directly determines how happy you will be as a result, to 40%.


If you are being compared unfavourably to an ex, have you considered confronting it? I mean, there is a tactful way to say something like "well, are you sure it's me you want to be with and not her?" Or maybe you could do an "I" statement like "when I am compared to your ex, I feel degraded (or whatever you feel), and that makes me want to withdraw from you."


Eventually, being compared will eat away at your self esteem and you will start to feel like you will never measure up or be good enough for him. You will start to feel like he is only settling for you, when he really wants her. It's like being constantly criticized, and it will breed resentment.


I agree with whoever it was that said he might need to make a choice....

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6 years ago  ::  May 26, 2009 - 2:58PM #9
Cesmom
Posts: 5,330

From reading your post, what I hear you saying is that, at one point, he was comparing you to his ex while continuing a friendship with her.  Currently, he has stopped doing the comparison, but still maintains a friendship with her.


First, I commend you being secure enough to accept his having a friendship with a woman he once dated.  It's clear that he's chosen you, not her.  I don't think that friendships with the opposite sex, including exes, need to be off-limits to have a successful relationship or marriage.


Second, I hope that his reason for stopping the behavior is that he saw it was disrespectful and hurtful toward you, and realized he should have never done that in the first place.  If that's the case, good for him for at least figuring out that was behavior that couldn't continue in your relationship.


I wish there was a magic answer to the insecurity you are feeling, but I think you just need to keep reminding yourself of all that you have to offer a relationship.  I do agree with the poster that suggested getting together to have lunch with the ex.  You might be surprised how much that would put you at ease.  Good luck.

Our need to learn should always outweigh our need to be right

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them.
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