I decided to explore a question today that someone really asked me. But I do prefer to receive them from anonymous people on formspring.me/theblondexoxo so if you’ve got a question…I’ve probably got an answer!
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of months consoling a family member (Cousin) who’s going through some tough times.
Without going into too much dramatic detail, there has been coming together, falling apart, and death mixed in to give this poor person I love a really shaky beginning to 2011. I am sure that she is counting down the days until the year is half over…that way she can have a fresh start.
A lot of our conversation centers around relationships. While I am no expert (I am, after all, The Blonde), I feel that my age at least gives me some wisdom and insight that might be useful to someone seven years my junior. So, for better or worse, I’ve tossed out tiny nuggets of relationship-wisdom-goodness to her.
Most of my wisdom is average stuff, something you could probably pick up in a self help book. Just general “everyone feels like that sometimes”, “you’re worth more than that” information. Some of it sticks, some of it doesn’t.
I totally get that it doesn’t stick. Lord knows how many times someone tried to tell me what was good for me, what wasn’t good for me, what I should or shouldn’t do with a relationship. And Lord knows how many times I ignored all prior advice and forewarning and went out on my own.
The latest question came to me in the form of a statement really. I was consoling her, telling her the “oh men are such assholes sometimes” line when Cousin looked at me, through teary eyes and said “But it’s me. I’m the problem!”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that because of (my ex) , I don’t trust (my current) and so when he does something I don’t like, I do crazy things like get mad or call him too much or do something silly. Then (current) gets MAD. It’s ME. I AM THE PROBLEM.“
I sat back for a minute, to think. I mean, she has a point. How many times did I have to hear that same worry tossed around in my own head?
But the harder I thought about the times that I felt like I was the problem, the more I started to see that…sometimes that idea was just planted there by an interloper.
I recall the first time it happened, actually. The whole concept of seeing someone that wasn’t The Boyfriend was fairly new to me. I mean, I hadn’t been taken out out since I was in high school, so the very thought that someone wanted to wine me and dine me came as quite the exciting piece of information. (Here’s where you need not judge my stupidity or my heartlessness and just listen to the story!) So, with the promise that we’d be going to dinner, I arranged my whole Friday schedule so that I’d be home from class, free of The Boyfriend, and ready in time for dinner. Dinner time came, and went. And then late night drink time came…and went. The only possible explanation for this was sudden death or near-fatal accident, right? Right. So I sweetly called the Friend and checked on him.
“I totally forgot I was taking you out!”
Oh. Right. Well. I sort of sat with that explanation for about twenty minutes; I laughed it off. Forgot about me, how funny. Until that started to piss me off. So I texted him back “You didn’t forget, did you?”
“Okay, you got me. I didn’t. My dog threw up in my rental car and I had to clean it up!”
“I don’t believe that one either.”
“You don’t trust ME either, do you?”
And so began the biggest mindfuck ever propagated against me (at the time).
Every time a phone call was missed, he didn’t show up, or he was seeing someone else..every time I basically had any sort of question about the state of our ‘relationship’…
The table was turned. I was the one not giving him a fair shake. I was the one holding past grievances of another person against the new guy. I WAS THE ONE WHO DIDN’T TRUST HIM BECAUSE I WAS LYING TOO.
It was the first time of many that I would be cornered in this way. And it was the first time of many that I would give in and let it ride because..well, he had a point. I was a liar. I was insecure. And it wasn’t his fault.
Or was it?
Flash back to the conversation I had with my Cousin. She’s right about 3 things.
- She’s angry and speaks her mind or gets upset.
- He gets angry in return.
- Past relationships cannot predict your future ones
But that’s pretty much where she stops being right.
It’s true that every relationship can and should have its own history, independent and irrelevant of anything that happened in a past relationship. You cannot hold a former lover’s transgressions over the head of the current one.
But it’s not true that just because you didn’t trust your ex and it ultimately caused things to end, that you should automatically trust your current lover no matter what. This could be said for anything, really. Just because your ex hated you leaving clothes on the floor doesn’t mean you have to tolerate your current getting pissed, either (but..dude…seriously…pick up your clothes). Just because your ex was wrong doesn’t mean your current is automatically right.
So my advice? If it makes you uncomfortable, Cousin, then trust your gut. You can be upset. And you can be angry. You can not believe something he says. So long as it’s because of his actions and words and not the actions or words of a ghost. One incident is totally separate from the other. But if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck..
Then don’t let someone convince you otherwise.
Even if your previous boyfriend was a total duck.