How can I stop feeling jealous of my girlfriend because of her experiences?
First, some background. I met this girl, let’s call her F, in October via a mutual friend. She is American, and was visiting said friend in the major European city in which both the friend and I live. We hit it off really well and were both struck by how good our chemistry was, and ended up in bed together (though we didn’t have sex). She was scheduled to leave to an exotic location (in another European country) the next day, and asked if I wanted to come - having nothing better to do, I said yes. We ended up spending a week together, which might have been the most intense and amazing week of my life. When she went back home, we were both sad that this whirlwind romance had to come to an end, but made tentative plans of going to another European exotic location sometime in the spring.
We kept in touch with long e-mails and Skype chats, and confessed the strong feelings we had for each other. Both felt there was a lot of potential for a relationship. I was planning on going back to university next fall, and she suggested I come study at her local school, starting the Spring semester, living with her. After some thought, I decided to jump on the opportunity, but just as I’m about to apply, she says she can’t do it, that it would be too crazy. I was gutted, but could understand her concerns.
After some days of thinking, I proposed a compromise: I would come over in January, but only stay for one to three months on the visa waiver program. Depending on how that went, I would come back for a further couple of months, and we could take it from there. This was early November. After a month of wavering, she finally tells me that she just can’t do it. One of the main reasons was that she still had some feelings for her ex-boyfriend of six years, L; they broke up in August. She told me that she would compare us, and that she didn’t think it would be fair to me nor to herself to start a relationship at this point, since she didn’t feel like she was ready for it. Again, I was incredibly saddened to hear this, but at least felt that I could understand her reasons behind it.
Some days before Christmas, though, she has a change of mind, and we make plans for me to come over for New Years and stay two months. She tells me that she had been sleeping together with a co-worker, B, since her break-up in August, and that she was pregnant, but having an abortion (she wanted to keep it, but B did not want to contribute at all).
Seeing her again was amazing, and we had a great time together. We decide we want to try and make it work long-term.
In mid-February, she tells me that she has been having some pretty bad suicidal thoughts, and, having decided to die, had written a long e-mail to L, who had called her and made her tell certain close friends plus me. (The thoughts started when she went on an anti-depressant, and stopped when she went off it.) I tried my best to be supportive, telling her how devastated I would be if she were to die. I also told her that I wish she had come to me with this first, and she said she was afraid that I would be angry or upset at her. In the end I straight up asked her if she still had feelings for L, and she said that she did, but that they were growing weaker every day, as her feelings for me grew stronger.
I leave, and we make plans for me to come back in mid-April. Some days after, she e-mails me, confessing that she and L actually hadn’t broken up before in the beginning of December, though things had been going downhill since early August when he refused to make a commitment (either proposing or making serious plans to move to the same city). She said something inside her had snapped, and she started sleeping with B, and then did everything described above with me. I was incredibly upset that she not only had been lying to me all this time, but also that she had been using me to cheat on her then-boyfriend, but decided to forgive her. She makes me so happy, and the chemistry and compatibility we share is incredible. We also agree on a lot of big issues in life. I love her, and want to make this work, and she is of the same opinion. She was hugely relieved when I forgave her, and knows that she has to spend time regaining my trust. Which leads me to my first questions:
1) How can she regain my trust? How do I get to the point where I can truly feel that I trust her again? Is time the only thing that helps?
2) Am I making the right choice in forgiving her and moving on, trying to make this work? I do believe her when she says that she understands how terrible her actions were, and that she will never do anything like it again.
My “real” question feels pretty silly in comparison to what I have written above, but I feel that the need for advice on it matters more. F is 27 years old, and I am 23. The age difference has never been a big issue. However, she has experienced so much. She has lived for a year in Japan, teaching English, traveled around in Asia, and she has lived in several locations in the US. Whenever she talks about her experiences, or if she mentions an ex, I feel…jealous. Not really the right term, but it is kind of a mix of jealousy, envy and what I’d call nostalgia by proxy. I wish that I could have experienced these things together with her; I almost yearn for those years. Part of the reason might be because I feel naïve/inexperienced in comparison with her. I have one previous sexual partner, she has six; I haven’t kissed anyone but those two, she has made out with a lot more people. And that’s fine. I don’t have any problem with this, rationally – other people have sex and the occasional drunken make-out session, and I don’t take issue with it. This feeling, however, bothers me more than it should (which is to say at all), and it bothers me that it does. It’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about either, but it occasionally surfaces.
So, how can I stop this feeling (or at least recognize it and trivialize it when it occurs)? And what is it, anyway? I want to be able to listen to F tell me stories from her life without feeling this way. She deserves better than that, of course. Any suggestions or thoughts about this would be most welcome.