Dear Harry and Louise:
I have a great new girlfriend. We get along well. The problem is more about how we got together. She had a boyfriend when we met. In fact, it was a boyfriend she had broken up with after they were together for a couple years and then gotten back together with. They had been reunited for six weeks, and then I came along. Once she and I met, we knew we wanted to be together. So she broke up with the boyfriend for the second time and has been with me ever since.
We have talked about it. She’s told me she realized as soon as they reunited that it was a mistake. She’s admitted she should not have looked for reasons to reunite, and that she should have just let it go.
But I have this nagging feeling that keeps resurfacing that maybe I can’t trust her. Do I keep bringing this up with her until I feel better? Or do I drop it?
Trying to Be Trusting
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Don’t keep bringing it up in conversation with your girlfriend, but I’m afraid you must keep the matter in mind. No need to hector her about her vacillation over the last man in her life. That might become annoying and nip your new romance in the bud. But to totally ignore the way you got together is to invite heartbreak.
In a perfect world, your girlfriend would have been out of a relationship and on her own when you met. You could have gotten together as equals. But love rarely begins at the perfect place and time. A skeptic would chalk up your relationship to a rebound—perhaps a double rebound, since she was with the guy twice. I prefer to play the optimist and hope that love can grow, regardless of how it began.
But having been left by more than one lady, I don’t want you to play the fool, either by losing her to another man or, worse, to the boyfriend once again. So take it slow. Don’t give her your heart right off the bat. Don’t risk it all until you have the time to build trust. Over time, that nagging feeling of mistrust can subside. But if it won’t go away after several months—let’s say six—you will have to air your concerns with her.
In the end, with matters of trust, trust yourself.
• • •
She’s great. You get along well. Right now, that is all you need to know. You are at the beginning of what could be a beautiful romance. Or one day she might leave you. Or you might wake up one morning and not feel the same. There is very little you can control, except how and how often you broach the topic of her former relationship.
Your new girl was willing to talk about her recent romance, and she may be more than happy to discuss it in more detail. If you think that will ease your mind, then ask away—I’d say for about an hour over burgers and a whole lot of fries. And then drop it and enjoy your fledging romance for all the joy it may bring.
I don’t believe we always learn valuable lessons from each connection we make, which we are then able to apply to our own lives. We sometimes make mistakes over and over again, and each new connection is a brand new dynamic that may alter us in ways that surprise us. Your relationship with your girlfriend is a brand new dynamic, which may have absolutely nothing to do with either of your previous relationships. So give your girl the benefit of the doubt (after you have that chat over burgers). Let your doubts rest until you need to call them to action because of the difficulties you create anew between just the two of you. They will arise eventually. Remember the control issue: You can’t control the doubts creeping in, but you can control how you respond to them.
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So naive, my partner. A woman who so easily ends a relationship with a man—twice—might do it again and again. She broke the previous guy’s heart two times. Protect yours.
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Where is this land of perfectly realized men and women who have nothing but amicable past relationships? Does it reveal itself every few decades, like Brigadoon? Save protecting yourself for matters of bodily harm. Take a leap of faith with your great new girlfriend. It is a risk every single time, but one that may expand your psyche and emotional capacity. Why protect yourself from that?