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BillLCSW
BillLCSW, LCSW, MFT Treating Couples for 35 years
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 3705
Experience:  Licensed Clinical Social Worker MF Therapist
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Im in a committed relationship, and were engaged to be married.

Customer Question

I'm in a committed relationship, and we're engaged to be married. My mate very rarely ever displays any jealousy, and I never give her a reason to. And my past relationship experience is very insignificant compared to hers, which I mention just for context and not because actually bothers me.

The problem is, my fiance had a fling with the brother of one of her best friends, years before we ever met. And while it doesn't bother me that they were together in the past, because I'm fine with the past being the past, and nor do I worry there would never be any rekindling of something in future, I make it a point to avoid any situation in which the two of us would meet. I would be really uncomfortable being stuck in a social situation where I had to spend any amount of time around him. When I explain my uncomfortableness and deliberate avoidance to my partner, I get accused of being jealous and insecure. I'll certainly admit there is a bit of insecurity. But that's normal right? Should I feel guilty for deliberately avoiding running into this person? And why is it that it doesn't bother me about her other serious long term relationships. It specifically bothers me about this person probably because 1) There is a good chance I'll have to avoid this person, and live with the uncomfortable feeling of him still being involved in our future. 2) That the two of them didn't really have a solid monogamous and committed relationship, the fact that it was just an affair of convenience.

Does my partners lack of jealousy because of my, by comparison, lack of relationship experience, put her in a situation that she couldn't really understand how I feel? Currently the situation is that every time there is a social gathering where there is potential that the Ex will be there, I bring it up that I want to avoid an encounter, even if I have to not attend said social gathering. Which causes resentment on her part. Fortunately these situations haven't occurred very often.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Jen Helant replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
I think it is a great idea that you are here to get an outside opinion about the situation. I do not thing you are wrong at all. What you are feeling is normal. You are right as to the reasons this bothers you most. The fact it is her best friend's brother make it harder since you may run into him or attend social events together. The rest are just in the past and that's it with them! This is understandable.

You should not feel guilty about deliberately trying to not run into this person and avoid him. Many people would feel the same way. These are your feelings. If she agrees or not and whether they are right in some people's eyes and wrong in others they do matter because they are your feelings. She needs to listen and take this into consideration.

Your partner may not feel jealousy you are right could be due to your lack of experience in compared to her. Also, could be you show trust and she trust you mixed with her confidence, which she may be very secure. All of this causes her not to feel jealous since she may not feel she has a need to be jealous. Also, she may not be in the situation where she may run into an ex of yours from an affair. Therefore no need for jealousy. If it were the other way around she may feel a little different.

I would sit her down seriously and look her into her eyes. Let her know how much you feel for her and care about her. Let her know you do not want to hurt her feelings ever, but truly hope she can try to look at things from your view. Don't say "I don't want to see him". Let her know " it makes me very uncomfortable when I see him. I trust you and I know you do not want to be with him. I am not jealous. Its just the fact knowing you both had something together makes me extremely uncomfortable and uneasy when I am around him" I truly hope you can understand this". Sometimes just the way we say things change a persons response from being defensive to letting their guard down and being more open while we still get our point across.

If this does not work than unfortunately if the relationship is to continue you may need to either just live with it or give her an ultimatum. Hopefully the two of you can make an agreement that will work for both of you and it will not need to come to that point.

I wish you well and please let me know if I can be of further help!
Expert:  BillLCSW replied 2 years ago.
Hello-I have over 30 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families and am a Licensed Expert. I have a different opinion from that of the professional above.

If you wish to know my opinion- please respond and I will be happy to reply. Otherwise, you should continue to follow up with the the professional above.

Kind regards, Bill
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Bill, I would definitely like another opinion.

Expert:  BillLCSW replied 2 years ago.
Hello-
After reading what you have written and relying on 35 years of working with couples- it appears that this a bit deeper and the resolution a bit more complex than was expressed by the other professional.

Jealousy is one of the most powerful emotions a person can experience (next to revenge) and when it surfaces (as it does here) I am more concerned about the response of your partners accusations and response to this and the seeming indifference to your feelings (it is jealousy by the way)as this is a barometer on how she is likely to respond to other conflict's that do and will arise over the course of the relationship.

So, at issue is the lack of your mutually ability to resolve what appears to be a rather minor issue that presents a concern for me as unless there is mutual regard for the others feelings in the beginning of a relationship- it will not magically evolve over time.



In a nutshell: A healthy relationship is when two people develop a connection based on:

Mutual respect
Trust
Honesty
Support
Fairness/equality
Separate identities
Good communication
A sense of playfulness/fondness

You can look at these items and see quickly areas where there is a problem with the issue at hand: (mutual respect, trust, support,fairness, good communication)


Remember- The issue as one defines it is always going to be jaded to some degree and that is why the couple has to have something to fall back on to find the balance and bring homeostasis to the relationship.

This has nothing do to who has had more relationships.

We learn this in our everyday relationships that are healthy and when you chose a partner for a committed relationship they must contain these ingredients for their to be lasting success.

IF we have not learned this before becoming committed to a relationship- then there will be problems such as you described.

I would use the above ingredients to evaluate your relationship- think deeply about each of them. If you think it is appropriate- address them with your partner.

Most importantly be open. Never give ultimatums. Ultimatums are threats and threats are not part of a healthy relationship.

Instead, make CHOICES that are best for YOU. Offer healthy OPTIONS to get things back on track. see if your partner has or agrees to the values of a healthy relationship and if needed, get help to sort this out.
This is the way you work to resolve the conflictual aspects of a relationship.

If it presented and interpreted as a foreign language than you are going to have to make a CHOICE is the partner is right for you.

See the following link for additional in depth information on what you are looking for in a mutually lasting relationship.

http://helpguide.org/mental/how_to_dating_find_love.htm

If you have follow up questions, feel free to ask, I am happy to help.

Kindest regards ,

Bill

I APPRECIATE YOUR POSITIVE RATING SO THAT I RECEIVE CREDIT FOR MY TIME.

-Related follow up, no additional cost-

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

A lot of good, fundamental advice you've given and I certainly wouldn't disagree with any of it. I think we both strive to meet and/or exceed in this area.


 


As it pertains to this situation, I have in the past not attended a birthday party because I knew the Ex would be there. I don't always know, and have avoided social situations with the best friend because of even the slight chance. Soon, the best friend is having another party, and there is another chance the Ex will be there. I am once again faced with the decision of not attending as part of a couple, face the inevitable resentment from my fiance, and the repercussions of that. Or, attend and be upset, and resentful myself. We have been invited to attend this next party (actually its her best friends son's 3rd birthday) and my absence would be noticed. It was easier to avoid in the past when our relationship was still young, but the more we become a couple that does this sort of thing, I'm expected.


 


In the past when I do talk about my feelings on the matter, and I've been very clear about it. It's not uncommon that at the end of the conversation I'm accused of being harshly jealous and insecure, that I need to just 'get over it', and further I received many links to internet web sites discussing being jealous and insecure. My goal for coming here is to accomplish a few things 1) Determine if my insecurity and jealousy, in this situation, is outside the norm. I understand everyone can be a bit jealous and insecure at times. But am I at a point of ridiculousness? Do I really need to just 'suck it up' and deal with the uncomfortableness. Or do I have a real case to stand my ground and continue to avoid contact. 2) If I have a solid case and my level of jealousy/insecurity is nothing out of the ordinary, then I am open to advice on what to say to her about this upcoming party. My last suggestion to her was, was to talk to the best friend and tell her about how uncomfortable it makes me, and the two of them could work to help avoid the uncomfortable contact. Maybe give us a heads up if the Ex would be there, and at the same time, being let in on the issue would minimize the possible insult I give by just not attending their social gatherings with some made up excuse. My fiance didn't like that idea, and would rather not bring it up with the friend as it would embarrass her to disclose my ridiculous jealousy and insecurity.

Expert:  BillLCSW replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for response-

1) I think it is perfectly normal to feel insecure- it is not outside the norm - My concern is that your girlfriend seems to be dismiss this. This is a triangle and your is maintaining it. (unless you are doing something that you haven't written here- I do not thinks the concern you have is excessive or pathological, Rather my question is why your finance' is not being supportive of you. I don't expect you or anyone to "suck it up." If you are the priority- why is she not supportive of you and putting you through this?

2) Regarding "the case" (see how it sounds like a courtroom?) of going to the party- you have to decide what you feel comfortable with. If you do not feel comfortable going- then respectfully XXXXX XXXXX let the process unfold- you will learn how much respect your fiance' has for you and your relationship.

Many times people who have been married for years and divorced respectfully XXXXX XXXXX to common situations where they may encounter one another. If it doesn't feel right in your gut. Don't do it.

My sense is that you have more interest in this relationship that she does and when this is the case- she has the most power and that is what this is - a power struggle.

I don't like to beat around the bush. Your finance' should be your cheerleader not the person who reminds you of your faults- we all have them and we always will.

I don't know how long you have been engaged but I am getting the vibe here that pre-marital counseling is definitely indicated here.

How long have you been engaged and would you and your finance' agree to getting some pre= marital counseling?
This, I am afraid, is the tip of the iceberg and my best advice is that you have some Expert intervention before you say "I Do."

I look forward to your response. IF you need assistance with finding an Expert in your area, reply with your Zip Code- I will be happy to identify someone close to you that can help try and Nip this in the bud!

Kind regards,

Bill
BillLCSW, LCSW, MFT Treating Couples for 35 years
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 3705
Experience: Licensed Clinical Social Worker MF Therapist
BillLCSW and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We will be engaged 1 year this Dec, and plan on getting married in July. She has been a huge advocate for per-marital counseling as well, which I have agreed to do. While we've both been married before, she has had marriage counseling before, while I haven't. And actually she has already printed out a list of counselors for us to try. :) However I'd be happy to get your list as well. 92627


 


Thank you for the advice, it has been very helpful.

Expert:  BillLCSW replied 2 years ago.
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BillLCSW
BillLCSW
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Licensed Clinical Social Worker MF Therapist