'I've moved on from my breakup… why can't he?'10/22/2020
My long-term relationship ended in June and although the last few years were difficult because we owned a business, it ended amicably and we’re friends.
I’m now in a new relationship with a man who also experienced a breakup this year. My friends worry I’ve moved on too quickly but I grieved for my last relationship while I was in it.
My new boyfriend is mostly a breath of fresh air but I do worry about some things. He gets angry about his ex and the end of their relationship, and we don’t spend much time with his friends.
I think a conversation might be needed but I don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on us. What do you suggest?
Every relationship has its drawbacks and compromises and every new partner brings their nuances.
‘But the right partner makes you feel right regardless,’ says James McConnachie. ‘Right in yourself and right with the world. I’m not sure that you’re feeling either.’
Although you have both entered this new union with plenty of experience under your belts, you navigated your way through a break-up that involved hours of reflection, conversation and negotiation. He clearly experienced a very different severance.
‘I’m all for experience – if we learn from it,’ says Rupert Smith. ‘In your case, it sounds like you’re looking for something fresh and more in keeping with who you are now. Your new boyfriend sounds as if he’s repeating patterns of relationships without ever stepping outside his habitual behaviour to think about what might be driving him.’
Being angry at exes and avoiding friends certainly sounds like a deeply entrenched way of being, so for now be open to conversations about his family, his childhood and his relationship history.
‘The ghost of his ex is present but it doesn’t mean he wants to be back with her,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘It may also be that he has never seen much of his friends as opposed to hiding you from them, which I imagine you’re worried about.’
These conversations will soon reveal if he is simply on a different part of the emotional journey or whether he might benefit from speaking with a counsellor.
We also suggest confiding in a friend.
‘Friends aren’t just here to agree with us on everything,’ Rudkin says. ‘Alternative ways of understanding help us have a richer life.’
So try to get to the bottom of their concerns, says McConnachie, who also suggests starting an honest dialogue with yourself – one you return to regularly.
‘Is this man really the right partner for you, for this next phase of your life? Or is it a good but transitional relationship?’ he says.
Keep asking yourself these questions.
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
Rupert Smith is the author of Interlude (Turnaround)
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