Ask Dr. Annie K: Breaking The Cycle
I lack trust in my boyfriend of 7 months. This has been caused by his total and complete honesty of his past relationships, which honesty is a good thing, but it has triggered my insecurities, fear of being hurt and that bad feeling in my stomach. When he brings up his past flings in causal conversation or accidentally calls me by his exes name, is still friends with the opposite sex that he has had history with…it is testing my insecurities. As of recent, his ex girlfriend reached out and I wanted to know the extent of the message she sent him so I went through his phone. This lead me to finding promiscuous photos of other past exes (none of which were sent during our time together) and several pictures of other woman that look like screenshots from social media. He was single for three years prior to our relationship so I am unsure and feel weird about what I found. Everything outside of this is good. We have a lot in common and care about each other very much. And he is not in the wrong for having a history before me. I am just not sure what to do and how to address why I feel this way about our relationship. It probably has something to do with things I need to fix about myself, but want to make sure I am not missing any signs.
Also, I have come to realize that I have a vindictive side of me. Ive been reflecting on past situations and I know it comes out full force when I feel bad/disrespected because I think something is happening to me. I hold grudges, punish people for past situations, I resent them without communicating how I feel. I need to stop doing this or I will lose and push away everything and everyone near and dear to me. I resent my family, I resort to acting like them – defensive, passive aggressive, non-commutative, selfish. It’s not right and makes me feel horrible. I need to communicate better and use the “I feel” method with all my relationships. I think I am ready to put in the work to fix myself so I don’t resort to how I was taught to deal with conflict. I think I can do this, I want to be better, to do better. I know I have a good heart and have a lot of love to give. I just need to let the resentment go that I’m holding onto with my family so there’s room for growth, peace and happiness. Is this fix something I do when another situation happens and I hold my actions accountable or is there something else I can do so I can be better?
Thank you for listening and possibly any guidance you might have.
Someone who wants to break the cycle
Dear Someone who wants to break the cycle,
Thank you for reading loveandmedicine and for reaching out.
Both of your questions address relationships. Let’s start with your new boyfriend.
Being in a mutually caring relationship is a wondrous thing. Things are good.
Whomever we meet will have a past. He is being painfully honest about his, which is stirring up feelings of insecurity in you. These feelings are so strong they led to invasion of his privacy in a big way. Doubt and anxiety are setting in.
Your feelings are entirely normal in this situation. It is not easy to hear about old girlfriends and imagine him with anyone else. He has been in other relationships – they are over. The fact is he has chosen you. These are the early stages – try to keep the focus on trusting your feelings when you are with him. As long as he is monogamous now, then these thoughts are based on irrational fears. Focus on the positives in your relationship. As you gain confidence in him and in the relationship, you’ll have less of a need to snoop around. It is hard to build a relationship based on trust when you are, at the same time, violating that trust.
Flow with it. Try to focus more on the present, rather than the past or the future. Practice gratitude every day.
Regarding the family conflict, your desire to repair it means that it matters to you. You don’t want to lose them. I can see you have insight into your challenges and that is half the battle. You also have the tools to follow through with your plans to repair it.
The common thread to both questions is insecurity. This makes you doubt your partner and family. It leads to ineffective communication which then leads to grudges. Holding grudges are a manifestation of suppressed communication.
You may benefit from one to one personal attention to break this pattern. Bouncing things off a caring friend or professional can offer other perspectives. You are insightful and intuitive. That is on the cerebral level. Practicing mindfulness, self trust and gratitude should be part of the plan also.
You are on a new journey that can be scary but is also exciting. You are brave enough to reach out for help. Trust yourself.
Dr. Annie K