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New Partner Baggage- whats ok and whats not?

(39 Posts)
joblot Mon 28-Oct-13 21:52:54

Ive been seeing someone for 3 months and today she told me about- a) having feelings for a recent ex, which she has just sorted- since meeting me- she was telling me it had been unfinished business and was now almost sorted; b) she has had sex 3 times with a married friend of 20 years who is also her boss (remotely), last time a year ago. She talks about him reverently; he sounds like a twat to me.

She has talked extensively before about exes and her life, which I at first found uncomfortable but then saw as potentially quite liberating- ie being upfront about baggage at the outset, rather than it slipping out over time. we are late 40s and both have numerous relationships under our belts. And gay- well, shes bisexual. She wanted to be non-exclusive initially and I said I didn't want that, after much thought and reading round. She said- a few weeks ago, she was happy with this.

we have fun. We like one another. she has made me think hard about my behaviour, my past relationships etc. at 48 i seriously want to do things differently- my usual relationship approach doesnt work, quite clearly. But todays revelations have winded me and I don't know what to do. Saw 2 mates tonight and gave them a brief outline- one said- shes bad news; the other- don't overthink it.

Any thoughts please? I'm not sure I've explained well but I'm trying to be brief. ish

cleopatrathegreat Mon 28-Oct-13 22:36:48

I would say there are several red flags here. The fact that she was still harbouring feelings for an ex while she has been seeing you and that she wanted a more casual/non exclusive relationship suggests that she perhaps sees you as a bit of a rebound opportunity. Personally I wouldn't embark on any relationship with someone if I was still dealing with a break up with someone else and would expect the same from a partner. The fact that she would sleep with a married man would also be a big no no for me. If she has been friends with him for 20 years, perhaps she knows his wife too and the whole situation sounds a bit too dysfunctional to me. It suggests something about her character.

In terms of what baggage is acceptable, I think I would consider past relationships of a partner to be in the PAST. I would not tolerate someone still dealing with a relationship breakdown or even talking "reverently" about someone they shagged a year ago. I would want as much of a clean slate as possible.

mrscynical Mon 28-Oct-13 22:39:40

She's a player. But then it sounds like you want a bit of drama so if that's your bag go for it.

AnyFuckerforanamechange Tue 29-Oct-13 07:47:34

She might be a player. But I think it depends on the context of the discussions you've had with her.

I don't think it's unusual to want non-exclusivity at the beginning of dating.

I think there can be a time if, having decided there's a future, for two people to tell each other stuff that they feel comfortable telling and hearing - but that requires some sort of preamble first IMO and a good deal of trust that the information isn't going to be used later as a weapon.

No one at 'middle age' comes to a new relationship without having fucked-up in one way or another. But as I've said, context is everything.

Only you know that though, you know her in ways that we can't.

JumpingJackSprat Tue 29-Oct-13 08:07:55

I would put the brakes on with anyone who wants non exclusivity. If you're with me, you're with me only.

CogitoEerilySpooky Tue 29-Oct-13 08:30:01

I think if your instinctive response was 'winded' then you shouldn't proceed. Your previous approach to relationships might not have worked out but if your ideas are reasonably traditional the 'anything goes' model is going to leave you feeling compromised and that could affect your self-esteem. I'm afraid I don't see it as liberating when someone dumps their full love-life history on a new partner, and I don't think it's ever a good sign when someone confesses to having feelings for an ex. I suspect her motives.

joblot Tue 29-Oct-13 09:07:12

Thanks for the responses. I'm not after drama, I want stability and have it generally, just not relationship wise.

People have a right to want whatever type of relationship suits them, I have no problem with that. She's not forcing me into polyamory, we've agreed to monogamy and to reviewing it after 6 months which seems sensible. All part of trying to do it differently/better.

Of course we've discussed all sorts, we both are talkers. So yes it's hard to convey all here. I was feeling hopeful and pretty good til yesterday. And yes my self esteem wobbled too, she seems usually attracted to high flyers and I'm not, I don't mean that pejoratively, but I'm not flash.

And re feelings for exes, I'm not impressed but honesty is good, isn't it? And I like the fact there will be fewer surprises, potentially, further down the line. But it's a bit of a burden nevertheless.

Ah shit I'm torn. I think I will continue but tell her how uneasy I feel and slow it all down. It's been an interesting ride so far. But I suppose if I want stability this may not be the right thing. I appreciate this opportunity to think it all through with objective input, so any thoughts are helpful, thanks.

CogitoEerilySpooky Tue 29-Oct-13 09:18:21

Honesty is not necessarily good. It depends on the motives and I'm sorry but 'I have feelings for an ex' is very often code for 'better sharpen your act up love because I have other options...'

Look at the language you're using. Wobbly self-esteem, the mild inferiority to her usual high flyers, 'burden', 'torn', 'uneasy'. At just 3 months in, you should be feeling none of those things. No need to compromise who you are for the sake of a roll in the hay.

Anniegetyourgun Tue 29-Oct-13 09:19:50

She sounds like a fascinating person to know, and as you say, potentially liberating. I think it's good to look at things from a different perspective once in a while, challenge your own preconceptions, see how someone else does things quite differently to how you would, whether that works for them and whether it could work for you (er, bar the married boss thing, which I wouldn't recommend). If you only hang out with people like yourself you'll never learn anything new. However, she doesn't really sound like someone you could reliably plan to share a retirement flat with. So if you're along for the ride, great, have fun for as long as it lasts. But if you're looking for someone who'll be in it for the long haul, them red flags is a-wavin'.

joblot Tue 29-Oct-13 09:24:50

Ha thanks. No, the retirement flat is looking unlikely. Good points about short and long term expectations, that makes complete sense. And angst is rubbish though I'm a past master at it, it can seem normal.

I'll see what happens this week and if I can adjust my expectations

FolkGirl Tue 29-Oct-13 13:02:57

Well joblot I wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her! wink

This is the point at which I would just end it.

Good luck x

joblot Tue 29-Oct-13 13:12:09

But truly is there a person late 40s without some unpleasant past behaviours? If you've been in a number of relationships I think it's inevitable. I've behaved badly on occasion, which I regret and won't repeat. And I think it's likely some of my exes would express that more strongly, and also there are some who are good friends. So benefit of doubt is important to me, 'do as you would be done by' kind of outlook

CogitoEerilySpooky Tue 29-Oct-13 13:18:55

I'm late 40s & I've 'lived' IYKWIM. But I would be selective about how much I'd tell a new boyfriend, discreet until I'd got to know someone a lot better & I certainly wouldn't be batting my eyes at other people or saying I still had a thing for an old flame.... that's just offensive. You regret stuff and you wouldn't repeat it... that's called 'personal growth' and it's normal. There's no need to hash up all your mistakes for the next partner because they're largely irrelevant.

FolkGirl Tue 29-Oct-13 13:22:09

What cogito said.

Everyone knows that their new partner has had a past. There's one thing being open and honest and another thing rubbing someone's face in it. But I know that if someone told me they still had a thing for someone else, I wouldn't be able to cope with that, so I'd end it.

joblot Tue 29-Oct-13 13:54:10

Yes the oversharing is not my idea of fun. She says she is over the ex she had a thing for, I will take her at her word, theres bugger all else I can do. Except of course talk about boundaries and the discomfort I'm feeling. Re the married man, that is a real concern but I didn't say much when she told me yesterday, I needed to process it and get some other views.

We will be speaking by phone later. I have a list.

joblot Wed 30-Oct-13 06:40:11

Well we spoke. It was fairly torrid. I tried to be open and upfront about my mixed feelings. She basically thinks I'm judgemental and unfair. She can't understand why I'm so affected by what's been said. Her other exes haven't reacted the way I.did. And she feels judged generally by me. I said I couldn't hear stories and not react, and I was being honest about my worries, which may or may not be reasonable. I'm not a therapist, I can't absorb and not express my feelings. Maybe I've been too judgemental. I can't see straight.

I guess we see the world and relationships very differently. We are very different. I don't know if I've been too harsh, she was upset and I feel responsible. It wasn't angry or insulting at any time, just sad. And it was hard. So I think it's over though I've said I'd like the dust to settle and then for us to see how we feel. I have strong feelings for her. I just don't know if we're compatible enough.

HissyFucker Wed 30-Oct-13 06:58:41

Oh sweety, you? I only saw your name half way through (blurry morning eyes)

This is a re-run of the last person you were with! Without the abuse!

Yet.

She's not listening to your concerns, she doesn't care about your feelings or what you think about.

So she's shagged her married boss, is still kinda hung up on her ex, and didn't want to commit to you until you put your foot down.

This woman doesn't have baggage love, she has shitty morals! It all screams of insecurity and general fuckedupness.

Given your history. This is not right for you, you need someone truly wonderful that you deserve!

You are SUCH a kind and caring person (shines through on all that you post here) you don't need to be scratching around with people that'll screw anything for a buzz!

Move on. She's out of your league!

Have you done any therapy since your nasty controlling abusive ex?

HissyFucker Wed 30-Oct-13 06:59:44

Sorry, YOU are out of HER league!

Told you it was early! Sorry! smile

Branleuse Wed 30-Oct-13 07:01:56

shes bad news. So now youve upset her by being upset??

akaWisey Wed 30-Oct-13 07:09:00

Well if I try and imagine how I'd feel if it were me, I might feel judged but it depends why she wanted to tell you these things - maybe she wanted everything to be upfront at the start rather than perhaps coming out at a later stage and then things going awry for you both?

I'm not condoning the sleeping with the married boss, or holding a candle for other man, btw. However if you'd ever asked her (and it's not unusual for couples to have these conversations) would you rather she'd lied, or been economical with the truth? Would you have told her about your own past conduct (or did you?).

It does sound like you're quite different, but whether that means incompatible is another matter. Based entirely on your respective pasts yes you might have been - but you're in the here and now.

CogitoEerilySpooky Wed 30-Oct-13 07:11:20

That part about 'other exes haven't reacted this way' is a big red flag, I'm afraid. It makes you out to be inferior to these other men simply for expressing yourself and that's a deliberate manipulation designed to get you to STFU. If you've been in an abusive relationship in the past your judgement may be off about people... but not on this occasion.

Lweji Wed 30-Oct-13 07:11:49

And she's comparing you with the exes. What, the married boss and polyamorous partners?

My issue here is not her baggage, but how she carries it.
I wouldn't have liked it in a man.

CogitoEerilySpooky Wed 30-Oct-13 07:14:49

@akaWisey. It is completely acceptable to not tell a new boyfriend/girlfriend chapter and verse of a past sex-life. It's dating, not security clearance. It is never acceptable to tell a new partner that you still have feelings for the old one.... that's just damn rude.

TiredDog Wed 30-Oct-13 07:31:47

Any behaviour is acceptable if both people are happy with it. The thing is you were not...so therefore it was unacceptable (to you). That is what matters. You

She can be as upset as she likes. Your opinion matters and you've been honest just as she was honest. Doesn't make either of you wrong just not compatible on this point.

FWIW at this early stage in a relationship it should not be quite such hard work is my opinion.

Finola1step Wed 30-Oct-13 07:46:12

Sounds like she is trying to minimise your feelings. Big red flag waving high in the sky.

akaWisey Wed 30-Oct-13 07:50:32

I don't disagree with that, I don't do a big reveal and don't want my dating partner to do that either.

Having said that no-one but OP and the woman were there for these discussions - so for me the context is missing and that could shed a different light on how come they were having these discussions in the first place. Or maybe not.

Lazyjaney Wed 30-Oct-13 08:03:34

Don't take her at her word, take her at her actions.

She's not into monogamy, and will be a wild ride until the wheels fall off. If you want out of your comfort zone go for it, but be aware of what you're getting into.

CogitoEerilySpooky Wed 30-Oct-13 09:18:26

I think the context is less important than the way the OP feels as a result. Whether it was malicious, accidental or some kind of cards on the table honesty sessions is immaterial. 'Winded' was his word...

joblot Wed 30-Oct-13 11:13:36

Thanks for all the insights. A range is good.

Hello again hissy. Yes had counselling but I need something tougher. Can't find a local therapist, will look again. However I feel alright. I've handled this ok- it's hard but I'm pleased we can talk about crappy stuff and I've not bent myself out of shape to fit this relationship.

Wisey- she has pressed for the ex discussions, from early on, but I've done it willingly, if a little uneasily. As I said upthread, we agreed we would talk and be open re past and emotions. This has happened hence this week's revelations. It's been quite a journey but maybe this latest stuff has tipped me into wondering whether. we are actually compatible. Anyway, likely to all be academic now. I think she's been quite shocked by my reactions and comments and will not want to continue, which is fine as it would mean the openness was actually conditional. Which isn't what I want.

I'm on my phone so sorry I've missed some bits, will return later.

I'm a woman by the way, sorry if that wasn't clear in 1st post.

akaWisey Wed 30-Oct-13 13:42:48

Well i guess when there's an 'agreement' to be open there's always a risk that you might feel forced to say and hear things you wouldn't want to.

I'm sorry you felt pressed into something OP, and apologies for getting the gender wrong.

HissyFucker Wed 30-Oct-13 14:26:40

Yes I agree, you are handling this well and you're recognising that this is something that'd benefit from some outside perspective, as it's not sitting right for you.

Have you contacted BACP (ithink) to find out where you'd be able to find the therapy that'd help best?

Keep talking here in the meantime, it'll help you see outside the immediate situation.

Upshot is, when a supposed romantic partner tells you that they've been shagging their boss/ex and have been hung up on them during your actual relationship, you walk away. Fast.

It's not good enough love.

MistressDeeCee Wed 30-Oct-13 15:21:56

I cant be bothered with people who want to talk and offload on me about their exes, particularly in early stages when there are far, far better and nicer things you can be doing to establish a loving, fun, respectful relationship. Id get rid. It'll be emotional woes and gaslighting next - Ive been there, many years ago. Never again. I cant even think now why I even wasted my time.

joblot Wed 30-Oct-13 20:06:04

Yep I know. I'm taking some time to sort it all through. I've been on bacp, very little in my area. Will ask around at work as I prefer a personal recommendation.

So am I being naive about the ex discussions as air and way clearers? Is it not best to get the dirty washing done at the outset and then enjoy the ride? It has been enjoyable inbetween ex talk.

HissyFucker Wed 30-Oct-13 20:18:52

She's setting the scène for you to be one of many and not treasured. She wants you to compare yourself and live that silly unbalanced life. It's started already.

Why would anyone want to compare the person they want to be with with people who they are no longer with?

And worse she got irritated?

No, this is not right. Learn the lesson that she has shown you here, and move on.

She is another Ms transition, she is not Ms Forever.

joblot Wed 30-Oct-13 22:31:21

Hm being compared, yes quite possibly. I certainly felt that on Monday but as I'm prone to self doubt I wasn't at all sure it was entirely of her making.

Another ms transition/take eh? I'm clocking them up.

joblot Wed 30-Oct-13 22:46:02

Lweji- just rereading, that's a good point about the way she carries it.

Tireddog- you're spot on. I think she's pretty used to calling shots and she's absolutely not seeing my side. I've tried to say put yourself in my place but it seems futile at least for now. Maybe this will change, the breath isn't held. But we see it all quite differently, that much is clear.

Finola- yes she's not accepting my feelings but I suppose when you feel judged/attacked it's more difficult to empathize. I suppose I'm saying to her that I question her morals and behaviour. If she's not thought deeply about that then it must seem threatening. And what right do I have to query her past?

Lweji Wed 30-Oct-13 23:12:04

You seem to have different morals. So, you have to question if she is the person for you.
If you are not on the same page regarding morals, it's quite difficult to maintain a good relationship.

She doesn't feel she is being attacked, but she shouldn't feel judged by you, nor you should change your values for her if it's not who you are.

It's one of those situations where it's difficult to find a middle ground. Either you want exclusivity or you don't. She has no problems sleeping with a married man because she doesn't believed in sexual faithfulness (presumably). You do and you have trouble accepting someone who is not repentant about sleeping with a married man.

Neither point of view is necessarily wrong, but you should both think carefully where you want to go. It doesn't feel like it should be together.

joblot Thu 31-Oct-13 07:00:17

Perhaps that's why I was so shocked about the mm, I hadn't clocked that. Ie that it suggests an easy acceptance of cheating. She says she doesn't/ hasn't cheated. Except for with him and he's a very important person in her life. She cant see why I'm upset and not seeing the sex as a minor issue as she does, the rest of their relationship is what matters.

No neither of us will change on our morals. That's the crux. Problem is she seems morally ok otherwise (I don't see polyamory as amoral just not my thing)

joblot Sun 08-Dec-13 14:02:31

Thought I'd update as I've reread this thread as a reminder of what was wrong with ex and the relationship.

We carried on seeing one another but it didn't improve really, well how could it? You can't unknow what you know.

I ended it, well we both agreed not to continue, when she said she would have sex with mm again at some point, though not whilst with me. Which was supposed to be reassuring. I realized it wasn't ok even for the short term. However I think loneliness and hope were getting in the way and clouding my judgement. And today we were due to meet and talk and I didn't want to. Well I did, but not probably for the right reasons. It's shit being single at xmas.

So rereading has strengthened my resolve. And offered much needed distraction as I'm fed up and at risk of doing the wrong thing. I've started therapy so hopefully won't be dating too many unsuitables in future... Thanks again for the support

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