She doesn't want to talk about her past; I feel it's relevant to our relationship. Most of her close friends are ex-FWBs and flirt incessantly/proposition her for sex, she's secretive about things. I don't know what to do or what to say.
posted by the milky bar kid to human relations (59 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I've been dating my girlfriend for 6 months now, and it's been more or less great. However, there's one big issue that I feel I need to talk to her about and I simply don't know how to go about it.
A bit of background: my girlfriend had a fairly traumatic upbringing and her father abandoned her at a young age. Both of these led her to go off the rails in her adolescence -- she slept with random guys, flirted with everybody, had FWBs with almost all of her male friends, sent nudes around the internet and generally was not OK.
Once she got out of high school, she started to get back on the right track and now seems to be in a better place. Recently she said to me that she finally feels like she's in a the place she wants to be and has her life on track.
Now, I've tried to bring up her past a couple times, but only ever gently. She's ashamed of the stuff she did and doesn't like talking about it.
Here's where the problems are:
Firstly, I don't know what to do about such a big shroud of secrecy lying over events that were clearly so important in her development. She really won't talk about things more than about three years ago. This normally wouldn't be an issue -- people have pasts, and the past is the past; it's not a big deal if it has no relevance to the present, and people need time to get over things. Cool.
However, this is a bit of a weird situation, because many of the people she slept with, specifically the FWBs, and people she used to flirt with / send nude pictures to are still great friends of hers. This normally wouldn't be an issue, but they flirt with her endlessly, and not in a playful, friendly way, but in an intensely sexual and (I would say) inappropriate way. Just the other night, after visiting friends, one of these guys started texting her, telling her he wished she was in his bed and so on (it kept going for about 20 minutes until she told him to stop because we were trying to sleep).
Another close friend of hers frequently shares sexual links with her and talks about how he misses her / how adorable/sexy she is and so on. And this isn't just a few guys, it's a pretty huge chunk of her friend circle.
Annoyingly, she'll often text these people back while they're flirting with her, ostensibly telling them to go away in a "nice" way (she doesn't want to hurt anyone, apparently).
When I brought up that I'd like to know in advance if a close friend was a former FWB (especially if we were going to meet him together, since it puts me in an awkward spot if I don't know, imo), she got defensive and told me she just didn't understand why I had to know, which seems to be her attitude to her past in general.
She gets male attention all the time, which is to be expected as she's very attractive.
I don't have a problem with this per se, but she has quite a few acquaintances (a cop, for example, who used to grab food with her as she works in a dive bar in a dangerous area); she's told me nothing happened with this guy, but he frequently propositions her for sex, straight-up. I told her I didn't want her to hang around with the guy any more and she agreed, but just last week she got a text from him again after a month or so of nothing; she admitted she'd gone to see him to ask him about something or other going down near her work (it's something only a cop would know, but still) and he'd (apparently, judging by the text) misinterpreted her casual, platonic questions as an advance.
Although I don't think she's cheating on me or putting the wheels in motion (when she tells me she loves me, I believe it; she seems very sincere in most of her actions and is going out of her way to support me at the moment), something about the situation makes me really uneasy and I feel like there's this secrecy that's becoming the elephant in the room. I don't know if she just surrounds herself with creepers, or if she's actively flirting in order to get attention from other guys (this is my guess).
I should not that my last relationship ended after being cheated on, so I'm perhaps a little more sensitive than I might usually be to all of this; I haven't had a chance to really hang out with a lot of these people just yet and see how they interact, but from the small glimpses I've seen of online conversations and text messages (she occasionally shares these with me; sometimes I inadvertently see) it looks pretty blatant.
These guys really don't have her best interests in mind. I'm worried that when we fall out, she's gonna run to one of her male friends for support and he's going to use the situation against us, since he doesn't give two shits about her relationship or about me.
Additionally, although I'm not sure if it's reasonable for me to feel this way, it's pretty upsetting to me that she keeps these guys around, as I feel both disrespected and also that she's putting our relationship in unnecessarily risky territory. I also feel that, really, my attention should be enough for her.
Before you think I'm the archetypal jealous boyfriend for saying that, I don't mind her being flirted with / hit on; I just don't think it's acceptable for her to be going out specifically to garner such attention, especially when it becomes so serious so quickly, to say nothing of the drama -- we've had a fair bit already with a couple of guys becoming pretty upset that she chose me over them, despite the offer never being on the table.
Bottom line is, I love her, but it's an issue. I don't really know how to bring it up.
She's told me multiple times that I have absolutely nothing to worry about and I don't want to come across as jealous / psycho and end up having her become MORE secretive about her behaviour to avoid conflict, but I'm not sure how long I can put up with it.
For those of you who say "just talk about it", it's one of those things that's sort of hard to drop into every day conversation -- and I want to do this as diplomatically as possible, which is why I need a bit of advice as to what I should do and what I should say to make things as drama-less as possible.
So, MeFi, What do I do? What do I say?