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-   -   whether to try again, and how much time to wait? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27618)

DarayTala 08-30-2012 10:46 PM

whether to try again, and how much time to wait?
So one of my partners and I split up about a month ago. We had been in a romantic relationship for about nine months, and had a whole lot of issues during that time. Finally, he broke my boundries one time too many and I ended it. We also had a BDSM relationship which we tried to continue, and that ended only a week or two later, because again, boundries were broken.

Firstly, my ex suffered abuse as a child, and most of his relationships were with people who were very dishonest, and manipulative. He had to lie growing up to avoid being beaten, and learned that it was "acceptable" from all his previous relationships. With me, he lied many a time, mostly out of fear and insecurity. He cheated on me twice, though in minor ways. Both times he was exploring his newfound desire to have other relationships (he was curious about poly but never tried it before meeting me). Both times he started off making sure I was alright with everything, but then in the heat of the moment forgot our boundries and went farther than what we had agreed on. He also didnt come home on three occasions, to the point that the rest of our family was all extremely worried about his safety and whereabouts. When he did finally get in touch after many texts and calls, each time he threatened to leave, not because he wanted to, but because he had learned in the past that manipulation was the only way to get what he wanted. We both had issues with our needs not being met during the relationship. He needed more affection than I was giving, and I made many efforts to give him what he needed. A lot of the time he was unable to ask for what he needed, or didn't react when he got it or pursue it further, but then complained he wasn't getting enough. On my end, I needed honesty from him and for him to be trustworthy and able to communicate openly with me about his wants and needs. He made a lot of progress towards that during our relationship, but it was a slow and painful process. I lay down only a couple of boundries that were so important to me, that breaking them might result in me leaving. He violated those more than once, and I finally told him that if he could not handle respecting just a couple of things, no matter what the heat of the moment, that we could not be in a functioning relationship. There were also times where his behavior bordered on emotionally abusive, which is not acceptable to me and I won't stay in a situation where I am being so grossly mistreated.

So we get to now. He still lives with me and the rest of my family and we still maintain a good friendship. We are all happy with this living arrangement for the moment and it is not something we want to change. We were fighting constantly during our relationship, but now are a lot more civil towards each other and butt heads a whole lot less. When he is not working or traveling for tournaments (he plays the pro-mtg circuit) we spend happy moments together and talk through text once in a while through the day. Since the end of our relationship he has repeatedly asked for more chances and that we try again. I do still love him, but I also know that nothing has changed enough that we couldnt make things work anymore now than we could before.

So, I've told him that it is possible for us to try a relationship again, but not at this point in time. For us to do so, two things need to happen. First, I need to get past any anger and resentment I feel for the way I was treated. Second, he would need to figure out the root and cause of his behavior and do whatever necessary to become the honest and open person he wants to be but can't seem to despite the desire being there. I think he has a lot of issues to deal with because of the past abuse and other factors, and until he has dealt with those, we will continue to have the same problems. He wants to work things out in the confines of a relationship still, but I am not willing to because we tried that for months, and theres only so many times I can have my biggest needs and boundaries trampled upon and just sit there and take it while waiting for him to change.

Anyways, firstly, I'd love any input and opinions on what I should do. Would you bother trying again with someone who had that many strikes against them? Would it make a difference that they would have changed to no longer be a person who would violate the same boundaries and cause the same problems?

Second, how much time is reasonable to wait? I know that only he can see in time how long it takes for him to grow in the ways that are needed. Only I can know how long it will take for me to get over all my anger and resentment. Really, there is no right answer, since it depends on both of us as people. Still, how long would you wait for someone to get over their issues (on either side of this) before you decided it was just time to move on (meaning walk away from a relationship, pursuing other relationships during this interum is still definitely on the table for both of us).

snowmelt 08-30-2012 11:22 PM

Your thinking sounds very level headed, reasonable and intelligent. I don't think he is capable of being the honest, expressive, boundary respecting person you want him to be right now. Yes, he is the person who "knows the most" about how long his process of healing will take him, but that does not by itself mean he knows how long it will take. I would assume he does not know how long it will take him.

I think you want the answer to that question so you can decide if you are willing to wait. Genuine healing takes a long time. It is not something you want to put your life on hold to wait for. I would move on with your life. If he at some point in the future becomes the person you want him to be, I would consider that very fortunate and reconsider then - only AFTER he has genuinely demonstrated his healing through the new way he treats you. You are not looking for hopeful promises. You are looking for genuine real time "here and now" healthy new behavior.

Getting there takes a lot of time. It is not something you want to wait for him to do. If living in a platonic situation right now works for both of you, then do it. I would stay away from anything more.

DarayTala 08-30-2012 11:39 PM

Thank you very much. I agree that he really can't have a clear idea of how much time it will take. The same way, I can't be sure how long it will take me to let go of my negative feelings. I can estimate based on the progress I'm making, but thats about it.

I guess one of my worries is that he will deal with his issues first, and then will have to wait for me to deal with mine. I don't know how long is reasonable to ask him to wait.

I think that it is definitely good for us to both figure out how long it is worth waiting. I know he has said he is willing to wait years if thats what it takes, but then, I think that he also doesn't realize quite how emotionally difficult that could be. I'm not sure how long I'm willing to wait, and thats something I hope I can discover through talking about it more, with him, and on here. I don't worry about putting my life on hold though. We both have other friends, hobbies, and so on that we are pursuing. I have other partners, and we both have the potential to look for other partners. We also have some interests we share and enjoy together as friends. I think he has more work he needs to do on himself to make things work, and that might take more time from his outside life, so it might be putting his life on hold in a small way, but not completely. On my side of things, there isn't a lot of actual daily time that I need to devote just to trying to work out my negativity. I think thats something that will come with time, and with building happier memories through our friendship. Its more of a passive thing for me, I can think myself in circles trying to make it happen faster, but in the end its just a matter of having positive moments together, letting time make distance between the bad memories, and watching him change into someone more trustworthy and better at communicating.

snowmelt 08-30-2012 11:48 PM

I like your thinking. It's clear and level headed. The one thing I recommend is to let go of all your concerns about how long things will take. Do what works well now. Live your life focusing on that.

Anneintherain 08-31-2012 05:35 AM

I wouldn't worry about time at all, I think if it is right someday, you will probably know it. My ex husband and I broke up due to major agreement breaking, and although we did try to date after we broke up, it didn't work out because of course, he hadn't done the work to figure his shit out.

We stayed friends though, he saw a counselor for a bit, and did get more introspective and work on his issues - I'd say it was about 5 years before he got himself together enough that he wasn't making damaging mistakes in relationships he was in, and he crushed a few people's hearts during that time of growth, I think he's been making much better decisions for the last three years or so, while avoiding hurting people. Dating wasn't on the table for us again, but I just wanted to give you one example of how long things can take to change. I think regular therapy would've sped that up somewhat for him though.

I guess my advice is...don't wait, be friends if you enjoy each others friendship. if someday you think dating would be healthy for both of you and you both still want it, that's when I'd give it another chance.

DarayTala 08-31-2012 05:50 PM

I think then my question is, how do I help him? Right now he is extremely fixated on starting a relationship again, or doing whatever needs done to make that happen. He has stated many times that he doesn't ever want a D/s BDSM relationship with anyone else but me, though at least hes open to romantic relationships with others. I just am very worried for him, because it seems like hes hanging on to things very hard, and I don't know what will happen and how it will effect him if it takes years for him to make the changes needed. Or worse, if he can work through his issues, but then has to wait years for me to work through mine.

I guess I'm just worried this is all a very unhealthy state of things for him, even though on the surface our friendship is great. I have recommended he go to counseling, and we are working on finding a poly and kink friendly counselor in the area, though no luck so far.

snowmelt 08-31-2012 07:53 PM


Originally Posted by DarayTala (Post 151897)
I think then my question is, how do I help him?

The only thing you can do is tell him how you feel. It sounds to me like you've already done that. You've done everything you can for him. One thing you can do for yourself is learn better personal boundaries with him. You can't fix him or heal him. You can only acknowledge who he is now, and let him know you want him to be happy, and let him know he must find his own happiness through his own healing.

It sounds like he wants to get back into the same kind of relationship he had with you before, where he violated boundaries. Getting back into that relationship with him will give you the same thing you had before, and it will remove the incentive for him to become a better person.

He has work to do on himself. You can't do it for him. He has to want to do it for himself. If you are struggling watching him struggle with himself, then the new question becomes:

What is your struggle telling you about yourself?

JaneQSmythe 09-01-2012 12:33 AM

Ah - Time. So long and so short. Infinite and limited.

When I got my head out of my ass and realized that what I was "pretending" with Dude could not happen in the here and now he asked me if it was possible if we could ever have what we were envisioning. I was not optimistic - I told him to ask me again in 10 years. 6 months later we were well on the way....that was 14 months ago.

For me, giving a pessimistic answer of "10 years" was my way of saying "don't hold your breath" - there is a LOT of stuff that has to be addressed. This, I think, left me the time to get my other shit in order withOUT the pressure of "Is it time yet?" hanging over my head. There was NO guarantee that it would ever happen.

Again speaking only for myself here, being able to focus 100% on the work that needed to be done now with no expectation of outcome was instrumental in that work leading to a "wistfully-hoped-for" conclusion. The work needed to be done whether it lead to the desired outcome or not. For me, setting a closer timeframe would have been distracting - as though I was only doing the work to achieve a desired outcome, rather than because the work was needed independent of that outcome.

The "work" referenced here was repairing the damage that I had done in my relationship with my husband (although MrS didn't know it yet). THAT had to happen regardless of whether that let me resume any sort of relationship with Dude. To be perfectly honest, I gave myself an entirely different time frame once the shit hit the fan with MrS - I gave myself one year to work on our marriage - if he didn't want to be married to me after a solid year of genuine effort then I would stop fighting for "us" and agree to a divorce without a fight (which had nothing to do with Dude at that point - I assumed he was out of my life for good).

This post probably makes no sense...I have written in greater detail about these events in my blog and it STILL probably makes no sense (although it would probably help if I ever finished the tale there...I've just been so busy being happy that I never got around to finishing the story:D)

Time...it's a tricky thing.


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