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Not sure where to go from here

(31 Posts)
Nameswitcheroo Mon 09-Oct-17 17:50:37

Just looking for opinions really. Feeling pretty low about it all so would appreciate it if people tried not to be too harsh. I'm a regular user but have name changed as DP knows my usual username. It's long too so thanks in advance if you stick it out!

I have been with DP romantically since early this year but I've known him for years. Prior to being together he was with somebody else. There was no great argument behind their break up, just that they'd met young and after 3 years wanted different things so he called it off. He is younger than me (mid twenties, I am late twenties) and that was his first major relationship. It was also hers (possibly relevant). They decided it was important to both of them to remain friends. I was aware of all this and understand the reason he wants to remain friends with her.

However, we had difficulties early on because it seemed to me they had no boundaries (she messaged all the time and would turn up at his house - he once responded to a message halfway through having sex 😒). He was very secretive about seeing her/speaking to her and after a couple of months of it we had a big falling out about it. I said either he wasn't over her or he was leading her on making her think she had a chance. I posted here for advice at the time and got some really good advice which I took on board and things have been great ever since.

He hasn't seen her since then which I appreciate but recently I've noticed that the amount they message one another is creeping up again and he is still secretive about it. I'd said to him before that if he needed to turn his phone away from me to send a message then not to do it when he was with me. He's started doing this again. He also is seeing her for a landmark birthday. I knew about this but didn't realise it entailed a day out together with her family which I think is inappropriate and disrespectful to me. She also lives a fair distance away and when I asked how he was getting there and back he was quite vague and said he was possibly being picked up and probably getting public transport back which makes me concerned he's planning on staying there which would be a deal breaker for me.

I got really quite upset about how secretive he'd been (the only reason this came out is because I specifically asked what they had planned) and how disrespectful I perceive it to be. He still won't be open with her about the fact we're together (apparently it hasn't come up) but I presume she is aware as he is very open with it otherwise family wise/colleagues/friends etc. I told him that I would never be able to understand it because it's just not something I would do to him. I asked him whether he envisaged their friendship staying on this intense a level and the only answer he would give is that he hadn't looked at it from my point of view and he wouldn't be secretive anymore but they both still wanted to be in each other's lives. He also said he would always love her because she was his first big love and that's just normal. I should point out that she is openly still in love with him and regularly says things like "when we get back together/when you've realised you're mistake/when we're married" etc etc. He's told her that won't be happening but I think while he's still replying to her messages at all hours and acting the way he is, it doesn't matter what he actually says, his actions will make her think she has a shot.

At that point I got more upset and said I thought that was a romantic notion I don't agree with. I don't still love my first love or even the father of my DS. I don't believe you do if you're truly over someone and I said it made me feel inadequate and second best that although he loved me he also had feelings for somebody else. He then said he'd used the wrong word and he meant he still felt fondly of her.

This is painting a bad picture of him. Outside of this we have no problems. We get on, he makes me really happy and is very loving and otherwise thoughtful. He is great with DS and he regularly talks about our future together. He has pointed out (quite rightly) that if he wanted to be with her he could and would be but he isn't because he wants to be with me, not her. This is the only issue we've had and the only argument we've had was the first one - even this more recent one was a discussion rather than an argument.

But the secrecy around this all makes me paranoid. I'm not a jealous person usually - I don't have an issue with him being friends with his other exes (because they're more appropriate friendships) but because he isn't honest with me about this every time he goes home or goes quiet I presume he's with her/talking to her even when he's not. And I hate feeling like that.

He has promised no more secrecy. But I am now stuck wondering if I want to pursue a future with someone who has openly admitted they still have feelings, however minimal, for somebody else. I'd been looking at the possibility of asking him to move in after the new year since he's here a lot anyway but this coming up has pushed me right back. I am accepting that that should not be on the cards for a while longer but I don't know whether to give it more time or just cut my losses.

For what it's worth, I 100% trust he wouldn't do anything physical with her while he's with me and I believe that he loves me. I just feel like it's a lot to ask for me to be ok with the fact that he's admitted to not being completely over his ex and then expecting me to be ok with them spending time together doing what I perceive to be couple type activities.

I also don't know if it's fair to him to carry this on because I don't think there's anything he could do to put my mind at rest other than either cut her off or completely minimise contact with her and be very upfront with her about me. And I think it would be controlling and not my place to insist upon that. I think the world is made up of all sorts of people and this is probably more of my issue than his.

So after that essay (sorry) my two questions are:
1. Is this doomed?
2. Do you believe in always retaining some feelings towards your first love? Opinion seems pretty split on this with the people I know in RL.

Snoopysimaginaryfriend Mon 09-Oct-17 18:08:59

Honestly? Leave him.

He isn't over her and, even if she were just a friend, do you really want to be with a man who texts his 'friends' whilst having sex? That's so disrespectful.

beesandknees Mon 09-Oct-17 18:17:48

Whether he is right or wrong to feel and do as he does is really immaterial.

It's how you feel about what he's plainly telling you that is the really issue.

He's telling you clearly and honestly that he wants her in his life. It's you who has to accept that, or move on.

Understand that it's your not accepting that's driving him to be secretive and to dissimulate. He knows you aren't ok with his choice and feelings - so he's concealing them, but carrying on because so far you've shown him, by not ending things, that you'll tolerate it.

He's learned from you that he can keep you, while also keeping her. He has no motivation to change his approach, and in any case, as he has told you he doesn't want to.

As long as you are with him, he will keep her concealed. They are a package deal. Accept the deal, or don't, it's up to you.

BrownJenkins Mon 09-Oct-17 18:18:27

Sorry but one of us would be out the door. Totally unacceptable behaviour on his part.

AlternativeTentacle Mon 09-Oct-17 18:26:00

For what it's worth, I 100% trust he wouldn't do anything physical with her while he's with me and I believe that he loves me.

Yeah, no men have ever had sex with exes behind their new partners' backs. Fact.

Oh hang on...

Nameswitcheroo Mon 09-Oct-17 18:53:54

Snoopy that was a particularly low example from right at the start but you're right, it was completely unacceptable.

Bees you raise a good point about me having shown him this was acceptable. I have been cheated on numerous times in the last so I know that it's my issue and my sensitivity about it most likely stems from that.

Alternative OK I take your point and I probably shouldn't have said 100% but I am pretty sure. He is very anti cheating, has been cheated on previously. He's raised good points as to why they aren't together and why he doesn't want to be with her. Plus he hasn't seen her in months (they both live at home so don't have much of an opportunity and when he sees her for her birthday he's going on a family day out, not much opportunity to get up to much. My concern isn't so much over the possibility of anything physical happening because, IME, that always surfaces and there would be no question, I would just go. My concern is that I don't think he's as over her as he thinks he is and I think all of you have shown me I'm probably right. Nice guy or not, I don't want to be the rebound.

Thank you for your opinions everyone and for getting through the extortionately long OP blush

PNGirl Mon 09-Oct-17 19:03:57

I think he probably likes having his ego stroked by constant contact with someone who is still in love with him. I don't think he'd be half as keen if she wanted him to come hang out with her and her (hypothetical) new boyfriend for her birthday as a "friend" might.

I couldn't do this. I'm not jealous but this level of emotional attachment to someone he is/has been sexually attracted to would be too much for me.

Also, no, I don't love my first boyfriend. I look back in puzzlement - what was I thinking!

Gimmeareason Mon 09-Oct-17 19:34:29

This is tricky. I love and am in love with my boyfriend and want to build my future with him.

However I have one ex who is in fact also my best friend.

The question for me isnt the level of contact or time spent together, but the dynamic.

In ither words, if he's going down the pub with her and getting pissed and cackling away, going to the theatre, doing sport or fun activities and stuff and theyre having a laugh and chatting away about all sorts, aka having a deep and affectionate yet platonic friendship - cool.

If he's lying in the grass gazing up at the stars or going for long lingering drinks where they stare meaningfully into each others eyes rehashing their old relationship and tearfully contemplating qhat could have been - not cool.

What is the energy of their relationship? Have you found out?

Beware whatvi call "crisis ex": you know, the type of woman qho is always texting her ex about some horrible thing that has happened or some victim like state shes in, drunk, feeling really down etc - that always ends in sex.

Sparky888 Mon 09-Oct-17 19:45:46

I don't still love my first love. I stayed friends with him for years, after I'd met my now husband. I think it depends on the activities and also the level of emotional connection - it doesn't have to be physical for me to feel that it crosses the boundary. With my ex, we mostly hung out with others, met up for the odd drink (not getting drunk) to catch up, or played squash, and in group events I invited my current boyfriend too so they became friendly. After a while it stopped, when we had less in common.

I didn't hang out with him AND his family. I did meet his mum separately a few times, and that fizzled put too after a year. If I'd hung out with him and his family, I'd have felt just like when I was his girlfriend. We didn't text each other frequently - I think I would have a serious problem with that.

Personally, in the past, I have said what I don't think is acceptable eg staying out late 1:1 and getting drunk. Now, I'd say frequent text contact too. But you'd have to be prepared to leave if he won't agree. Good luck, it's a tough one.

Nameswitcheroo Mon 09-Oct-17 20:26:26

PNGirl I think you've much more succinctly nailed how I feel about it. I have said to him previously that I think it's either an OTT people pleasing thing (he is a massive people pleaser and part of me thinks he does it so as not to upset her) or an ego stroking thing. Also you raise a good point, I wish I'd read that before speaking to him yesterday because I bet the answer would be no she wouldn't ask him to if she had a boyfriend and if she did ask then he wouldn't want to!

Gimme she is 100% a crisis ex. Every time they did meet when me and him first got together it was because of some drama that she had 'no one else' to turn to about 🙄

Also, if this was a group thing and he invited her to our group outings and me to ones she was at I'd have less of a problem with it. But he is very careful to keep us apart. In fairness, she's never liked me much. I met her briefly a couple of years back and was friendly to her but she had a real issue with me.

Sparky I did say to him yesterday that, to me, it's like they still have a relationship just without the sex. There's also no chance he would spend the day with either of my parents, because he feels too awkward apparently. I have no idea what they talk about because he's so secretive about it. He said it absolutely was not the case and he hadn't seen her in months. He also said he was secretive because he knew I found it odd but now I'd spoken to him about it openly he wouldn't be anymore because he doesn't want to upset me.

To be honest, if a friend was coming to me saying this, I'd say they weren't over their ex. I don't think he is, whether he acts on it or not is probably irrelevant. I do think he loves me too and I don't think he'd go back to her if we did break up. They want very different things out of life. I do think that's a horrible way to break up because it's not like you suddenly hate each other, I have always said that sometimes love isn't enough and I think those situations are really sad. It's not that I don't have sympathy for them. I just don't think that should make me a doormat about it. I know how hard it is to make a long term relationship work. My thoughts are if you're not in it a million and one per cent at the beginning then it's probably not going to make it. He says he is and, as I said, in every other way, he's pretty much perfect. But, if he won't even admit that this level of contact is inappropriate then I'm just not sure.

Also, to clarify, I'm not against being on friendly terms with exes. If I bump into mine I don't think there's any I wouldn't be willing to say a friendly hello to or whatever and, as I've said, he's friends with other exes and that's not an issue. But I think talking to them every single day multiple times without fail is probably too much. It's just a bizarre concept to me, I've never known anyone do it when there's no children or pets or financials or anything binding them together. On top of that, when I know she still openly says she's in love with him and he says he still has 'fond feelings' towards her, that sets alarm bells ringing.

To me, if two people hang out platonically with no romantic feelings then that's a friendship. If two people do the same activity but have feelings towards each other, that's basically a date in my eyes. That's how I'm seeing this and why I find it so hurtful. I don't think many people would be comfortable with their SO effectively dating someone else. And I don't really see what's different about this (before someone points out the obvious difference of when you date it's often with the aim of it leading somewhere physically).

I should also point out that last time she asked him on a family trip (which was just after we got together) her terminally ill relative came along and they didn't want to upset him by telling him they'd broken up so her and her parents tried to emotionally blackmail him into 'acting as a couple' and he ended up walking off for a while because it made him so cross that she kept trying to hold his hand or put her arm around him.

To me that is crossing so many lines and it doesn't make me feel overly comfortable that more family trips are happening!

He is right, if he wanted to be with her he could be. She has made it perfectly clear that she would take him back in a heartbeat no questions asked. She also is very public and open online and wouldn't stand for being one of two so I think I'd have heard from her by now if anything had happened. Which is why I think I'd let it drop if he wasn't so shifty about it. But then I wonder if it's my past making me see problems where there aren't any. I also wonder if it's a pride thing getting in the way. My friend said that him continuing to do this stuff with her clearly makes her think she has one over on me that she can still say jump and he'll say how high and that just makes my blood boil. I'm sure a bigger person than me would just laugh it off and let it go. Eugh. It's just a bit of a headfuck to be honest!

PNGirl Tue 10-Oct-17 18:10:31

I just think... It is weird to continue to be a woman's plus one on a family trip out when everyone is aware that said woman is still in love with him. Plus, not being upfront with her that you are now a couple is sort of cruel to her in a way. It may lead her to think you're not serious.

Nameswitcheroo Thu 12-Oct-17 09:45:28

I spoke to him yesterday about everything. I asked him why he hadn't told her about us; first off he said that he had but when pushed he said she still thinks it's just very light hearted dating. She has no idea that we've been official and exclusive and all that bollocks since march or how serious it is. I asked him why he felt he couldn't tell her and he said it's because she hates me and he knows she'll go off the deep end about it and he doesn't want to lose a friend that has meant so much to him. He said she was dating for a while and he encouraged it because he was hoping one would stick and then he could tell her about us. But then she stopped dating and hasn't since and won't explain to him why.

I told him that it was really cruel to us both. That if he really wanted to be her friend he'd let her move on by being honest with her and accept that she'd probably be upset and need some space but if she was serious about wanting him in her life as a friend, she'd be back in touch.

He went to the landmark birthday day and was 4 hours later home than he said he would be. He didn't message me to let me know despite the fact he knew I'd be panicking. I'm torn on whether this is me being controlling expecting a message or not.

I've told him that either he's honest with her and soon or I can't do this anymore and to think about it and let me know. He spiralled massively following that and is now very upset and says he doesn't know what he wants. I think the fact he's having to think about it at all shows me which way it's probably going to go and I feel like absolute shit about it.

I've barely slept all night and I can't eat. I feel physically sick and humiliated (we work together and facing everyone at work after this is going to be crap). And then I just feel pathetic for it bothering me so much. I so wish I was one of those women who could just stand up and unwaveringly say if I'm not enough then it's your loss but I am just clearly not. This morning I'm kicking myself for saying anything at all and wishing I'd just kept my big mouth shut despite the fact logically I know it needed to be said. I also feel sick to my stomach that I let him into DS' (who's 7) life. He already knew him from when we were friends so I let him meet him as my partner earlier than I normally would have done. He's the first man post ds' dad I have ever introduced to him and DS loves him to pieces and now it looks like I'm going to let him down too. This is just shit.

Aperolspritzer123 Thu 12-Oct-17 12:08:10

OP it's shit, but I think it's really important for you to take back control of this situation using all the self respect that you can possibly muster - you know the truth deep down - however hurtful this is and I can imagine you feel really betrayed.
Don't be someone's second best - because however much he is saying you're not he is treating you like you are. Words mean shit.
Gather up your strength and dignity and leave them both to whatever this messed up situation really is and walk away on YOUR TERMS.

Aperolspritzer123 Thu 12-Oct-17 12:11:39

Also, fuck all this 'let me know what you want' bollocks. What about what YOU WANT? Seriously, end it now before your self esteem with this prick really hits rock bottom. Feeling like this chips away at you til you will feel absolutely worthless and obsessed with her. Take a deep breath and think about what is good for you, this is NOT.

Sparky888 Thu 12-Oct-17 12:33:43

Sorry to hear it's not going how you would want it to. But, on the plus side, surely it's always better to know: if he's not really committed to you, it's better to find out now, rather than in a years time etc. He may have been avoiding a decision until now, but actually you will be better off knowing his real position (even if it hurst to begin with).
You haven't let your DS down - you can only do what you do, and hope for the best!

PNGirl Thu 12-Oct-17 12:37:07

I'm so sorry. What this comes down to is this (I say this a lot!) - you as his partner are meant to be his favourite person. I don't think he is in this 100% with you because deep down I think he likes the positive feedback she gives him.

GreenFingersWouldBeHandy Thu 12-Oct-17 12:41:13

I told him that it was really cruel to us both

^ This. Very sorry OP but I think he is treating you appallingly and leading his ex on at the same time. It was at the bit where you said he hadn't even told her that you were in a relationship, that a bit message flashed up in my head, 'That's it, LTB."

Finish with him now and get some control back, then phone a friend. flowers

RunRabbitRunRabbit Thu 12-Oct-17 12:43:07

He has not told her you and he are in a serious relationship.

He goes to her big landmark events without bringing you as his plus one.

He refuses to tell her you two are an item because of how she would react.

You don't have to worry about her becoming his OW because you are the OW. You are the side chick.

Of course she hates you and doesn't invite you to things. She is in a relationship with him and she suspects he is seeing you on the side. He has probably told her you are chasing him! Like he told you about her.

Find your self respect, take off your reality distorting specs and get rid.

cakecakecheese Thu 12-Oct-17 12:56:41

Erk it's like being the Emily in a Ross and Rachel scenario.

I know this is hard and whatever happens it's not going to be easy for you but he's not 100% invested in his relationship with you and you deserve someone who is.

hellsbellsmelons Thu 12-Oct-17 13:12:22

he once responded to a message halfway through having sex
I got to here and stopped!
You carried on seeing him after that!
Jeez you have a very low relationship bar.
If someone did that to me - they would be out the door right then and there and would never cross the threshold again.

Nameswitcheroo Thu 12-Oct-17 13:39:25

You're all completely right. If any of my friends came to me I'd be giving the same advice you all are, why do we find it so difficult to follow our own advice sometimes?! I've pulled myself together a bit now.

Runrabbit I understand why you're saying that but it isn't the case. I have met and regularly see his family, he was the one that wanted to tell everyone at work and I have met all his other friends outside of work. Before her birthday he hadn't seen her in months. His closest friend is also a mutual close friend of mine and he would know if that was a lie as he lives in the same street and he would have told me. She is also aware we are dating and I know that's true, she just thinks it's very light hearted and has no idea it's serious.

It's interesting you say that though because that is exactly what I said to him I felt like. It doesn't really matter that it's only one person he's keeping me from, I don't want to be his dirty secret from anybody. It feels cheap and on some level I feel like I deserve more than that.

Hells bells yes, I do have a low bar for relationships. I spent a few years single prior to this because I'd realised that. I have form for once I commit, I fully commit. And I forgive unforgiveable things (and have forgiven much much worse than that in the past which is probably why I didn't class this as a LTB incident) and it doesn't do me any favours. I'd hoped I'd recognised it and it had changed but I think this whole thing has taught me that I have not. I think I just need to remember that I was perfectly content on my own prior to this, count myself lucky I'm not financially tied to him in anyway and spend time raising my bar a lot little and working on my self esteem before I even attempt getting involved with anyone again.

Aperol I think it helps that, as pathetic as I sound from all this, I am an outwardly quite proud person. So I will suck it up at work and to him and then just drown my sorrows in ice cream in private.

Thank you for the advice everyone, I appreciate it.

Aperolspritzer123 Thu 12-Oct-17 13:54:32

You don't sound pathetic. Believe me I have found myself in situations that later I've thought 'wtf was I thinking!??' It's difficult to see straight when you're right in the middle of it and are a genuinely nice person.
Let us know what you decide. You'll get lots of support on here. Mumsnet helped me get rid of my abusive ex after 'only' wasting 20 years of my life on the fucker.

Onecall Thu 12-Oct-17 14:02:56

He doesn't know what he wants? Well that tells you all you need to know doesn't it.

OttilieKnackered Thu 12-Oct-17 14:08:35

OP I could have written this post almost word for word. We've been going back and forth for two years with me hoping he'd see the light and cut her off and fully commit.

He hasn't. We're just about to have 'the talk' which I think will inevitably be the end.

There's only one way this will go, I'm afraid. Just don't feel humiliated. I totally understand it, but giving someone time and being understanding is nothing to be ashamed of. Being a gutless little egotist is. And that's what these men are.

NewDaddie Thu 12-Oct-17 14:22:34

I'm all for compromise and trust in a relationship but this sounds completely unacceptable.

His behaviour towards both of you (yes even his ex) is NOT love. He doesn't need to be a recluse to still make you a priority. When she texts him he needs to be clear he's with you and he'll call/text back later. Him being immediately available to her and not you makes his ex the priority in his life, not you, that's not fair on you. Keeping her on the 'subs bench' is not fair on her either.

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