Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: After multiple relationships not working out because both parties were dishonest in one way or another, I decided to use a new approach to my current relationship. I am 23, met my current boyfriend (also 23) online, and decided to be COMPLETELY HONEST.
This was meant to mostly cover my feelings, as I tended to hold things in unhealthily, but I let it fold over to all aspects, including the disclosure of my sexual history. I have now learned this was a mistake.
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This man is all I’ve ever wanted in a partner, we live together, we’ve talked about getting engaged, and I’ve never had a better friend in the world. But he can’t get past what I’ve told him; he loves to throw things in my face, such as how I won’t try something with him in the bedroom that he knows I did with someone else.
How can I help him get past it? Expressing the frustration it causes me has had no effect on the way he acts or speaks about it.
– Dirty Dirty Laundry
DEAR DIRTY DIRTY LAUNDRY: He is the one who has to get past it, and it doesn’t sound as if he’s trying. If he won’t try, then I don’t see any other answer than to break up.
I can’t speak for you, but “all I’ve ever wanted in a partner” is someone who accepts me as-is. You don’t have that; he’s punishing you for who you are. Are, were, same diff, by the way.
If it helps, age might be a factor: For every decade of life, people either become more comfortable with the idea of life mileage, or suffer the consequences of sitting in judgment of it. The top three consequences: being alone; being with people who don’t have the strength to stand up to partners who judge them; being with people too inexperienced to know themselves yet.
Maybe he’s just young and stupid, and will eventually figure out your life mileage is not about him, but how many cheap shots are you prepared to take from him — in the bedroom, at your most vulnerable — while you wait for him to grow up?
When I read “he loves to throw things in my face” exactly one sentence after “I’ve never had a better friend in the world,” I just want to cry for how low you’ve set your friendship bar.
Please take better care of yourself. Until you meet someone you feel lucky to know and who feels lucky to know you, as-is, you’re not there yet.
Another way age might be relevant: I think people as they age also get more comfortable with not spelling out every gory detail, not (just) because it’s too freighted, but because it’s hard to imagine wanting to hear anyone else’s every gory detail, much less having to tell your own.
You can’t prevent someone from having mental images of you with someone else, but you can certainly prevent them from being accurately detailed, and you can hold out for someone mature enough not to be haunted or threatened by the fact that you’ve had a life.