My first relationship question! Oh, joy!
September 11, 2012 6:54 AM   Subscribe

How do I minimize worry and jealousy over new boyfriend's trip for 1.5 weeks?

My very new boyfriend is away for two weeks and in a social situation that may lead to sexually tempting situations. Before he left, I asked him what I could reasonably expect in terms of other women and me while he was on his trip. He swore he wouldn’t sleep with (nay, touch) another woman, and said he wanted the boyfriend/girlfriend label. Our relationship has moved pretty fast since we’ve been just plain crazy about each other. I am hearing from him every other day by email, and nothing but lovely words, but nonetheless without the context of knowing him for a long time (so I can hang my hat on pattern of behavior), I’m being nagged by worry and jealousy.

Rationally, I believe that it’s going to be fine, that he’s been sincere, and that we’ll pick right up where we left off when he gets back. I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of his stated intentions. Emotionally, I worry that we’ll lose our special connection (more precisely, that he’ll kind of just forget about me, emotionally) because, even though the connection was incredible, unlike anything either of us had ever experienced, it was so, so new when he left.

Complicating factor that I don’t want to go too far into: There is a woman in his group who has always been very sexually aggressive with him and, even though he says he never felt a strong romantic connection with her, he has had a sexual relationship with her in the past. And they are going to have a ton of time alone together. So I’m not just being totally loony. But he told me, before he left, that he did not want to put us on hold and that he was ready to commit fully. I believe he meant it.

I would like advice on how to pass the next 1.5 weeks and try to stay in a positive mindset, psyched about the potential of a future with someone who I have a crazy connection with, and not be dominated by worry/jealousy.

I’m a professional in my early 30s. My current plan is to work a lot, work out a lot, and take a little Diazepam when I need it. And that I’ll email him about as often as he emails me, or a little more since he’s not around internet too much, and just stay warm and positive in the emails. Kind of hold my breath until he’s back on the grid and we can move on with our lives.

Do you, MeFites with the varied experience in relationships, have any thoughts or suggestions on just getting through the next week and a half without driving myself a little nuts? We’re going to have plenty of time to get to know each other when he returns, we just connected at kind of an unfortunate moment, and I need to get through this one little thing.

Thanks so much for your thoughts and help.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Emotionally, I worry that we’ll lose our special connection

This relationship is really young, isn't it?
Consider that if you did lose your connection so early in a relationship, after such a short separation, that maybe it wasn't meant to be...and it's good you found out so early. Right?
posted by vivid postcard at 6:58 AM on September 11, 2012 [14 favorites]

At first I thought this was 1.5 years and could understand your concern, but 1.5 weeks is nothing.

If he's going to cheat because he's away for 1.5 weeks, he's going to cheat regardless. It sounds like he wants to be monogamous, sounds like you believed him, so take him at his word.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:07 AM on September 11, 2012 [21 favorites]

There is nothing that anyone can honestly say to reassure you that the relationship will work out. But a week and a half is not at all a long time, and if there really is something special between the two of you, it will not be affected by this BRIEF separation.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 7:08 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Listen to his words. Listen to his actions. It doesn't matter how sexually aggressive the woman he'll be spending time with acts. It takes two willing parties to get down. If he is committed to you and doesn't want to mess around with this other woman, he won't. Respect him enough to see that he is in full control of his actions and choices, and all his words and behaviour indicate he has chosen you.

More generally, your anxiety around the situation stems from the fact that in falling for each other so fast, you have made yourself incredibly emotionally vulnerable to him. Presumably part of the reason you've done so is because your trust him. Early in relationships, one of the ways we deal with that vulnerability is to stay as close to our new SO as much as possible. A) it feels so good and we want to soak up as much of that feeling as possible. B) it feels like as long as we're with them, external factors can't threaten us when we're feeling so vulnerable. Sure there's trust, but the vulnerability is still scary (and yes, exhilarating!). Only time and an established pattern of trustworthy behaviour makes lessens the anxiety of the vulnerability.

You'll be fine.
posted by dry white toast at 7:09 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Well, it's not like he's given you any actual reason to doubt him. But then, I assume that no cheating will happen unless I'm given reason to think so. The presence of an ex-flame might not be a delightful thought to me, but I wouldn't extrapolate from past to future.

But since you don't really know him very well from the sounds of it, there is nothing you can do except observe how he behaves over time. Until he gives you a reason not to trust him, trust him.
posted by tel3path at 7:09 AM on September 11, 2012

Nthing aboves. The one thing you can do to absolutely poison this relationship right now is prod him constantly about what he's doing and make it obvious that you believe he's going to sleep with this woman. Conversely, there is nothing you can do to stop him. Let it alone, keep it light, and trust that he's as into you as you're into him.
posted by Etrigan at 7:12 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

You trust him or you don't. You believe him or you don't.

Someone else being sexually forward is a total red herring, he's an adult capable of declining sex.

My advice is to stay busy, extra busy. Don't let yourself wait for someone be it an afternoon or a week. Waiting can poison the well with worry and negative anticipation. Plan an awesome 10 days for yourself.
posted by French Fry at 7:26 AM on September 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

Instead of just work and working out, why not go out and have some fun for yourself? Whenever I have been in a relationship and my partner takes off for a little while, I use the time to spend with friends that I might not get to see often. Call up your girlfriends and go get some drinks or do whatever makes you relax. If you are sitting around not having fun while your BF is off having fun, it's naturally going to make you a little jealous and over-curious about what he's into.
And yeah, what Etrigan said above.
posted by greta simone at 7:27 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Do you, MeFites with the varied experience in relationships, have any thoughts or suggestions on just getting through the next week and a half without driving myself a little nuts? We’re going to have plenty of time to get to know each other when he returns, we just connected at kind of an unfortunate moment, and I need to get through this one little thing.

It's 10 days and you can't really do anything to adjust the outcome. This may make you feel anxious, but bear with me, this is actually freeing.

At the end of this trip, you'll have a better understanding of whether this guy is trustworthy, dependable and honest. This is a relationship test and when he passes, you will have more evidence to suggest that he's a good guy to date. These tests are what separate relationships that last from those that don't, and you're going to need to go through them might as well be now, when you're in limerance but not love.

In the meantime, I would schedule a little time with your close friends to talk about how you feel and stay busy with fun things to do. Take these 10 days to explore yourself, your own happiness, and soon enough you'll be back together again.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 7:35 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your heart will not be at peace. Just your very question is evidence of the sensitive tenor of your current mindset.

I would suggest you request to join him there, be as physically close to him as possible. 1.5 weeks can be a long time in your current state.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:51 AM on September 11, 2012

I used to be you. The thing you need to remember is that there's nothing you can do. All of the anxiety and worrying and self-doubt will not make him cheat or not-cheat; it'll just make you feel terrible. It sucks to feel like you're just waiting for him to return, so try to enjoy the anticipation (missing someone can be kind of beautiful) instead of constantly worrying who he's with. Distraction is key. And again, keep reminding yourself that whatever will be, will be.
posted by chowflap at 7:57 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

People who are going to cheat generally don't tell their significant others that they're going to have the chance to cheat and that someone there is DTF.

But whatever will be will be. If he cheats on you, then this wasn't what you thought it was. Mourn it and learn. If he doesn't, then that's what he should have done. No reward except the continuance of your relationship.
posted by inturnaround at 7:57 AM on September 11, 2012

This is a great opportunity to undo unhealthy jealous thinking. Maybe add the serenity prayer to your daily routine for a while?

God, grant me:
the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things that I can, and
the wisdom to know the difference.
posted by jph at 8:01 AM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

If he had wanted to have any kind of serious relationship with that other woman, he would have already done that by now. Clearly he's not that interested in her.

As for whether he would have sex with her, well there's nothing you can do about it, and if you express too much anxiety about it, it's just going to be a turn off to him because you will come across as someone who is insecure and lacks confidence. So I think the best thing you can do is be confident and positive about yourself and your relationship with him, not dwell on thoughts about this other woman, and he'll probably be even more crazy for you when he returns.
posted by Dansaman at 8:08 AM on September 11, 2012

I think you're on the right track/have the right mindset.

You won't lose the special connection - the forced separation might even make it a little better when you reunite.

It's a leap of faith to trust right now, but I say do it in these circumstances - a crazy awesome connection is not a common thing. Obviously trust your instincts and if something seems off then question it, but start from a place of trust. Don't stress about that girl - really. She's old news, he talked to you about her, and he said before he left that he wants to be bf/gf - all signs are good!

(and congrats!)
posted by mrs. taters at 8:43 AM on September 11, 2012

Either he will or he won't. You have no control over it.

You can't worry about it because worry never gets you anywhere.

You can control how you act and react, so my suggestion is that you chill out and find lots of things to do while he's away.

Connect with your friends, clean out closets, catch up on boring work projects. Etc. Activity will keep you from dwelling.

You're insecure because you have nothing to be secure about. You're in a very new relationship and it's just possible that your new boyfriend may be with outher people. If you have a great connection and if he's the kind of guy who does what he says, then you're good. If not, not.

You're just going to have to trust him for now and see what happens when he gets back.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:18 AM on September 11, 2012

I’m a professional in my early 30s. My current plan is to work a lot, work out a lot, and take a little Diazepam when I need it.

I think the issue is more with you than with him. To have to self-medicate because your boyfriend is away for under two weeks is in no way healthy. What are you going to do if - by some miracle - this relationship works, and he or you have to be apart on business trips? Or have to go on an extended trip to visit a sick family member somewhere else?

When the time is right perhaps you ought to consider couples counselling, or just therapy for yourself. If you have such deep-seated trust issues already, you need to work on them properly, not just try and bury them for 10 days while he's away.
posted by modernnomad at 9:42 AM on September 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think the issue is more with you than with him.
QFT. Frankly, some parts of your response to his trip have me a bit concerned.

However, I have two anecdotes for you. No real advice, just sharing.

I met a guy and we had a great connection, made it official, and the relationship was goin at kind of a breakneck speed... and almost two months into it he left the country for 10 days. We broke up about a week after he came back.

Months later, I met a different guy, we had a great connection (even better than the first guy), but about two weeks into it (we weren't official bf/gf as we had just begun dating) he left the country for 12 days.

We're still together.

I really wish I had spent less time worrying about the intense connection fading with Guy A, especially considering that we fizzled like a wet firecracker right after he came back and I believe that it was not a sustainable relationship - not so much because it was moving so fast but because there was too much weight placed on something very fragile and new. The second time around, I didn't get so wrapped up and invested in maintaining the "spark". Luckily, it naturally evolved and our connection became deeper while he was on the trip, and I really believe it's because I didn't put so much danged pressure on it.

Not to mention that had it ended, I would not have had a second go-round of "ack, how much time I wasted thinking about that guy when I could have been doing ____."
posted by sm1tten at 10:53 AM on September 11, 2012

I would suggest you request to join him there, be as physically close to him as possible. 1.5 weeks can be a long time in your current state.

Please, please, do not do this. My immediate reaction if a brand-new interest expressed the desire to chaperone my life apart from her, ignoring my reassurances and assuming I'm incapable or unwilling to behave in a trustworthy way, would be to RUN FOR THE HILLS and dodge the precedent-setting violations of boundaries that would surely come in the course of the relationship. Perhaps your relationship is different, but if you're not 100% sure, resist the urge to manage the situation and him.
posted by itstheclamsname at 11:14 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

There is something unhealthy going on on your end of things. It's only 10 days. I can see being 16 and having 10 days seem like a lifetime, but if you are in your 30s and this is going on, it might be something you need help with (therapy not self-medicating). Your attachment doesn't seem as healthy as it could be.
posted by Vaike at 11:57 AM on September 11, 2012

If he wants to sleep with other women/woman you cannot stop him. No amount of worrying or assurance from his part is going to change that. So stop worrying. Btw this also seems like a trust issue and you need to ask yourself whether you trust him?. You cannot let another person be your center of focus to the point that your stability and sense of security is shaken based on his actions, that is just unhealthy. People do what they want to do and if he wants to sleep with another woman he will. You should give your relationship time to learn whether he is the kind of person you can trust. So slow down, relax and let things fall as they may.
posted by pakora1 at 1:35 PM on September 11, 2012

« Older Identify a sci-fi book?   |   I'm not trying to be cheap, but our resources are... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.