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Is it possible ...

(20 Posts)
AstrantiaMallow Tue 01-Dec-15 14:15:10

... to have a lasting happy equal relationship with the first person you date after an abusive marriage? Just that really. If so, any advice on how to handle this right, especially with children in the equation?

I'm totally falling for someone who asked me out a while ago and who I've been regularly seeing as friends for 3-4 months. I've held back, I feel worried about being abused again and or being too reliant on him during my recovery. But the attraction is there. He's not pushy, he's reliable and nice. I've analysed and analysed and I can't find anything I dislike about him or that is weird. Only that I think he sees I struggle sometimes and wants to help, and I think a little part of my attraction for him comes from that, although not only. Far from it.

I worry about rebound, the fact that he seemed so sure he wanted to go out with me from the beginning and is still so sure, despite knowing my life is complicated. That attracts me to him but really freaks me out too, like it's too good to be true.

Since splitting from my stbx (on whom I entirely depended financially) I feel I need to prove I can cope by myself and be independent. So I do that but I can't actually say it makes me happy. I cry every bloody evening at the moment because I don't know what to do. I hate the loneliness but at same time maybe I'm letting myself down by not waiting more. I managed to bounce back from every knock but by going out with this guy I feel I can't cope with anything anymore. I also feel incredibly disloyal to my kids for some reason I can't fathom, like I'm lying to them. Or being frivolous by spending time with someone else and having fun away from them.

I worry maybe I'm rushing into something when I shouldn't. That maybe I should listen to people who say take a break from relationships completely and casually date different people rather than go from one long (bad) relationship to something serious again. The idea of dating different people casually, even in a year's time, fills me with total horror so I'm not even sure why I think that. I did have a break but definitely not as long as I thought it would be when I called time on my marriage.

What's sparked this is that I went to his house for the first time this weekend, and we kissed. So the relationship is moving to more than friends now. It was lovely but I feel really scared how to handle this right. Right now I also can't afford to pay more on childcare than I already do to go to work and he's offered to pay so we can carry on spending time together once a week. I worry if he pays I'm going back on what I promised myself not to be dependent on someone ever again. I feel all over the place since the weekend, which isn't helped by the fact my stbx is continuing to be a total arse over the divorce and some of my ptsd symptoms are resurfacing, which the guy knows nothing about.

hellsbellsmelons Tue 01-Dec-15 16:24:31

Did you ever do the Freedom Programme after your abusive relationship?
When did you actually split from your Ex.
Rebound is a very real thing (personal experience)
The fact this is all making you very anxious and worry a lot, I think you need to step back.
Tell him you want to be friends for now but that you want things to move very very slowly.
Be properly independent.
Do NOT accept money from him at this stage. For me, that looks like a huge red flag right there!
If you haven't, do the Freedom Programme and take it from there.

AstrantiaMallow Tue 01-Dec-15 16:52:12

Split was a year ago.
I did the Freedom programme at the time and I still have counselling, which is where my spare money is going really.
I hadn't seen paying for the childcare as a red flag but I worry about feeling like I owe him something. He's a widower and his child's just gone to uni so he has no issues with childcare but he says I have a lot on my plate and I work part-time with children who never see their father so he feels it's unfair if I always have to pay for a sitter while he just turns up. There's a big imbalance financially between us.

AstrantiaMallow Wed 02-Dec-15 11:02:19

Thanks hellsbells I'm trying to do the right thing but failing miserably at the moment ... It really sucks.

AstrantiaMallow Thu 03-Dec-15 09:33:59

Anyone?

Also could anyone recommend good articles to read on 'rebound' please?

Apologies for bumping this again - feeling really lost and confused.

hellsbellsmelons Thu 03-Dec-15 09:45:02

If he's offering to help pay for babysitting while you 2 are out together then I think that's something different entirely.
You are entitled to happiness and a life with someone else.
As long as you aren't away from your children too often then please don't feel guilty. We all need time away.
Does your Ex pay maintenance for his kids?

RedMapleLeaf Thu 03-Dec-15 09:47:59

I've just started Getting Naked Again. So far, I heartily recommend it.

hellsbellsmelons Thu 03-Dec-15 09:56:32

Red WHAT?????

RedMapleLeaf Thu 03-Dec-15 10:19:16

It's a book recommendation as requested. It's about dating again for the first time. Don't let the title put you off!

Whythehellnot Thu 03-Dec-15 10:34:52

I definitely wouldn't accept any money from him. The first man I met after I split from ex turned from mr helpful to mr controlling during the course of a year.

He bent over backwards to do things for me, so much so that I felt indebted to him. Looking back it was convenient for him that I was struggling with looking after the dc and no help from ex.

When I finally finished with him he said he felt used!

Whythehellnot Thu 03-Dec-15 10:35:36

Apart from that it seems like you are taking it slowly.

AstrantiaMallow Thu 03-Dec-15 11:12:01

Him paying for childcare would be only when we're out which is roughly once a week. Ex pays some maintenance, eventually, but always needs chasing, and it barely covers anything. I'm really having to count pennies at the moment, until we move somewhere smaller, which ex is stalling.

Because of my past I've been very wary of this guy and we'd only just been out and about until last week, which wasn't planned actually. Going out is nice but it all adds up with babysitting. This guy doesn't know how abusive my ex was, but he knows the divorce is court-led and expensive. We've had this over meal bills or tickets, he just won't let me pay for them unless it's a coffee or unless I've booked online and already paid.

Loneliness absolutely kills me at the moment and deep down I'm desperate to be loved by someone, so yeah from that point of view I worry I'm just going to go with the flow when I shouldn't.

AstrantiaMallow Thu 03-Dec-15 11:22:24

Whythehell that's what I worry about, him expecting something in return or turning controlling. My ex was like that.
But this guy doesn't really bend over backwards. He accepts I can't see him much for now. He doesn't try to convince me to go out when I can't. We'd been meeting up in the week on my day off which was perfect but now we can't because he's off site for a few months. As a result the only time is weekends.

hellsbellsmelons Thu 03-Dec-15 11:23:53

Aha - that makes sense then. Looked very odd.

AstrantiaMallow Thu 03-Dec-15 11:34:39

Thanks for title recommendation Red - just had a peek on Amazon - all a bit daunting sounding this book ...
If he hadn't asked me out, I wouldn't be dating at all. I wasn't looking if it makes sense?

Handywoman Thu 03-Dec-15 11:40:46

I think you should step back. If there is any anxiety that's all you need to listen to. Your feelings are all that count. I think you're still very vulnerable. He may be lovely but you can't base a relationship on being financially indebted to him. It can't be equal. Think very carefully about which buttons he is pressing in you. Discuss them with your counsellor but don't get into this sort of relationship yet. If he's really all he seems he'll wait til you're back on your feet.

Handywoman Thu 03-Dec-15 12:13:53

OP I wanted to add that: I say all that as someone who has been in a long EA marriage and been in counselling and been in a relationship since, that lasted 11 months and was very much a rebound.

I thought I was ready, I was not. Or at least those same buttons that were pushed in my marriage were also 'push-able' by someone else, even though that man sincerely wanted to 'help' me.

Have a good look at what Melanie Tonia Evans says. If you can cut through the hippy-style vocabulary you will see she speaks a lot of sense.

RedMapleLeaf Thu 03-Dec-15 16:00:32

The Naked book talks about two Fears that we have around dating again, and fear of loneliness is one of them. It also has a list of healthy signs that you are ready to date again.

I'm similar to you in that I absolutely wasn't looking for anything like this yet.

(Bizarrely the book seems to suggest that Americans view Botox in the same way we view getting a new hair colour).

AstrantiaMallow Thu 03-Dec-15 22:39:59

Thanks for the name, Handywoman, I'll look her up in more detail. He may well be pressing the same buttons. I haven't worked through everything, far from it. My anxiety is mostly not due to him, but to my divorce and my ex who right now is being very difficult.

I realise I'm going to get in a tricky situation if I accept over the childcare. The kissing at the weekend doesn't help things. He didn't particularly instigate it to start with, though he didn't complain and more than reciprocated. I really don't know what possessed me actually, I'd been so good at boundaries.. He asked if I'd changed my mind about going out. I've spoken to him since but he hasn't mentioned it. I'm supposed to see him for lunch on Saturday. We'll need to talk. I hope he doesn't take it badly.

Red I wasn't looking and I was really wary (still am). I've known him about a year, he asked me out in May and I said no then. I thought that was it, but he asked again in August. I said yes to just going out as friends. Again I wasn't really convinced he'd stick around so I thought 'why not, it'll get me out'. But he has. I don't know if I would be more ready emotionally in a year's time or more. Part of me reasoned that I'd feel scared regardless.

And Red where does Botox even come into dating? confused

AstrantiaMallow Fri 04-Dec-15 13:46:23

Thanks again for your post of 12.13 yesterday Handywoman - food for thought. Have been mulling it over. It's when I started acknowledging how I felt towards him that I got more anxious. Juggling everything is quite difficult. I think maybe I've slowly started disregarding myself as an important person in this too.

The fact that I feel we communicate well and his patience have been a complete revelation. But then compared to my stbx who got angry and steamrolled me into everything it's perhaps not difficult. We're also not in the same place in life and he's older. I will see what he says tomorrow.

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