At the end of my rope
Yet another negative, help-me post...but I really don't know what to do.
My partner of nearly two years has shattered my trust more than once in the last few months. He has broken agreed-upon boundaries, said he learned from it, and then turned around and did it all again.
I think he resents me, though my boundaries when it come to health and safety have always been clear and well-communicated; I feel that if he had a problem with this, he should have stated it and/or broken up with me. This last time, he was angry with me, called me and was verbally abusive and very cruel. This lasted for more than a month, when every time we communicated, he called me names and was extraordinarily cruel to me.
That has since stopped, for the most part, but more recently he received unprotected oral sex from someone who carries HSV, and then was intimate with me without warning me of it first. I feel that this is an incredible violation. I have trusted and been vulnerable to him, and this is utterly unconscionable.
Since then, he has wavered between remorse and fury when it comes to this. He has said that he understands my point of view but that it does not make his any less valid. He tells me that he "fell for" the person who he received unprotected oral sex from, and wasn't aware that HSV/cold sores and herpes were the same thing. He says that she didn't know that either (which I find incredibly difficult to believe.)
I feel like the person I've known for years (and been in a relationship with for almost two of them) has changed completely. I am feeling lost and confused and very, very sad. I'm also enraged that he would put my health at risk that way.
We haven't seen each other in weeks. We have hardly spoken since then; the last time we talked on the phone I ended up crying so much that I was incoherent and then vomiting afterward because I was so upset.
I am sad and frightened and just shocked that he is behaving this way, that he would take these sorts of risks, and behave this way toward me. I don't know who he is anymore. I can't believe that the person I have loved so much doesn't seem to exist anymore. I am still worried about him and his health and safety.
What would you do? Some of the closest people in my life have called his behavior abusive, and I am struggling with that. I just can't seem to think clearly. Tonight, I've been crying so much that I can hardly open my eyes.
I'm sorry that you are hurting. This is a difficult situation but please know that it can get better - just maybe not in the way that you would like or hope for. He may have been caught up in NRE but that is no excuse, in my opinion, to break agreed upon boundaries or to put your health at risk. I find it almost impossible to believe that someone who has been diagnosed with HSV of either variant doesn't know that it is basically the same virus. My advice is to take some time for you - worry about you - do some self care. I agree with those in your life who are calling his behavior abusive. I may not know you, but I know that you deserve better.
I'm so sorry to hear that, nobody likes to find out somebody they feel they know well is capable of acting so badly.
To be blunt, what I would do is end the relationship. In my (limited) experience, when somebody starts acting like an ass when they were a nice person before, its due to guilt, or projection (wants stuff, too cowardly to bring it up, blames you cause its easier than self examination and being proactive) neither of those situations clears up without a lot of work on that persons part, and I'd rather step away and let them get their head straight instead of suffering and trying to fix or help them if they have not expressed a desire for help...
One last thing I'll say, I'm not sure if you had an actual AGREEment to use barriers for oral sex - so I'm not sure if he broke a safe sex agreement or if its the fact there was an STI involved that is the main problem. If you didn't and he's just being really defensive cause he feels guilty, I'd just sit down rationally as possible and hash out barrier agreements, if you have an interest in maintaining the relationship. The shitty behavior for a month stretch...well you called him verbally abusive, of course your friends think he's abusive too, and it makes me assume he's being abusive! Unless that's what you want to attract more of, I'd firm up my boundaries and decide I deserved better, cause you do.
And I dunno...sit down and write the top 5 ways that this relationship enhances your life. If you get stuck at 2 or 3, that seems like a good gauge for what to do about it.
If you do want to end the relationship and do it kindly but firmly, perhaps you will come out of this with your friendship intact, and can revisit a romantic relationship sometime in the future if its still what you want.
So what I'm hearing is that you've set some boundaries for yourself (this is good) and he's agreed to them. But you suspect that he may not agree with them and only agreed to them to appease you. He describes this as having a "different point of view" which is as good as any way to put it.
Crying uncontrollably is a sign that something is very, very wrong.
Another thing that stands out to me is that this seems to be new behaviour. What's changed in his life that he's suddenly behaving this way? It sounds like it could be some kind of an addiction - the lies, the drastic behaviour, the explosive arguments. I'm just poking around here, I can't say for certain of course.
You asked what I would do, and based on his behaviour so far, I would just walk. I have a very low bullshit tolerance, and his behaviour would have already blown it out of the water.
But you are not me, so what I would do is not necessarily what's right for you.
One thing you could do is find out where he really stands on your boundaries. Agreeing to certain behaviour and actually wanting to stick to that agreement are two different things. If he's agreeing just to appease you, he's unlikely to stick with it. So you could ask him: what is his ideal arrangement? Based on his answer, you could try to gauge whether there's any realistic middle ground. Sometimes there isn't, and trying to force it will just create more heartache.
As for the whole herpes/HSV thing, none of us is in a position to say what this girl and your guy actually knew, except them. I'm continually reminded of how ignorant many people are, and I no longer find it astonishing when people don't know basic facts about their own bodies. Also, many people don't get "diagnosed" for cold sores. Especially in the US, that means spending money to see a doctor for something you can treat over the counter. That, and there are a lot of shitty doctors out there. "Yep, it's a cold sore. Here's your prescription. Call me in two weeks if there's no improvement."
I would leave. I take no form of abuse. Never will I ever allow anybody to berate me or call me anything but the name my mother and father gave me. I have a zero tolerance policy. Your situation sounds so unhealthy for so many different reasons. You acknowledge hat he is [verbally] abusive, but you still have a hard time believing your loved ones when they tell you the same. Abuse is abuse.
His behaviour is unacceptable. As I keep telling people, people can only treat you the way you allow them to. You crying and him having these explosive moments of rage is a problem. Honey, he is not worth it. He needs to be sorting out his issues, and you need to be leaving.
A lot of people do not know that they have HSV 1, but his behaviour after finding out is ridiculous. You had every right to be upset. HSV can open the door for HSV-2, which is something you can never get rid of. He was careless answer at the very least should have apologised for possibly exposing you. His lack of knowledge stems from ignorance. He claims he did not know, well dude you need to educate yourself before letting someone put their mouth on you. If he wants to play Russian Roulette with his health, let him do it on his own time when you are not in the picture.
You can establish boundaries in the next relationship. Who is to say his verbal abuse will not escalate to something physical? You can find out what is going on in the role of a friend.
Sigh. I am sorry you hurt.
You state your partner has shattered your trust, been angry/cruel/verbally abusive and violated you by putting you at health risk via unprotected sex.
Those are some big red flags.
Could not let your soft feelings for him get in the way of you preserving your LONG TERM best healths. YOU are responsible for your own well being. You are not well here.
Could end it. Walk away. Then do the self care you need to heal from this tragic experience.
You are not stupid for falling for him in the first place.
You are not terrible to want a better standard in relationships than you have been getting from him.
You have worth, dignity and value. Do not stay in the line of fire, as painful as it may feel to walk away.
Some choices in life are "this stinks and that stinks... which stinks the least?"
I think the choice of walking away could stink the least here -- then you are not heaping NEW stink on.
I am sorry you are going through this. :(
Do not stay in an abusive relationship of any kind. It's telling that he also seems to care nothing for your health and well being.
I would leave. Putting HIS health at risk is his own decision. Putting MINE at risk is unacceptable.
Thank you for your responses. I feel like I really need a more objective point of view; sometimes hearing this stuff from people who don't know you (or your partner) well can be helpful.
Anneintherain, he did break a safer-sex agreement. This is not the first time he's done so, and not the first time we've had an STI scare. But the first time, he kept saying how much he had learned from it, and how things would be different in the future. Obviously not.
SchrodingersCat, I'm pretty sure that it doesn't have anything to do with addiction, he's not really the type (then again, I have been wrong about a lot, apparently...)
I think he resents our relationship sometimes, and doesn't necessarily like the safer-sex boundaries we have agreed upon (but they were in place precisely because of situations like this...a partner NOT being informed about their own health, etc.) As I've said to him before, he is free to do as he pleases but I will need to change my behavior accordingly if he does. The fact that he was physically intimate with me after receiving unprotected oral sex from someone with HSV was one of the worst parts of it for me, worse even than being raped (when that happened, I had no reason to trust the person who did it. I trusted my partner and he violated my consent and possibly put my health at risk.)
It is complicated by the fact that when he got involved with this new person, we were having some difficulties in our relationship, and he pretty much just blew that off to spend time with her.
I am just having a very hard time with all of this. I have loved him so much and been so open and vulnerable with him and all of a sudden it's like I just don't know who he is anymore.
To me it sounds like you know exactly who he is. A guy who breaks agreements more than once.
He IS doing as he pleases.
Now you are finding you need to change your behavior accordingly.
Up to and including not hanging around with him any more because he is dangerous to your health and well being -- mental health, emotional health, physical health, and spiritual health.
Not fun. I know. :(
But do what you gotta do do keep YOU safe and preserve your long term health and well being.
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