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How do you have a good relationship?(14 Posts)
I left a DA/DV marriage nearly a year ago. I've been having psychotherapy to get over that, and been doing a lot of 'working on myself' etc, so I now feel like I'm in a place where I'm ready to have a relationship. Aside from lockdown changing things slightly, I've got a good circle of strong friends, close family support, a good relationship with my kids and am coming to terms with the new co-parenting relationship, I have hobbies and interests, a job that I enjoy. I'm happy, content with life although I still have lots of ambition. So I feel like all round I'm in a good place to let someone else in.
But I'm finding it really hard to know how to do a 'healthy' relationship after so many years of unhealthy ones?!
I've met someone who is really special - kind, funny, says nice things about me but not in a suffocating way, makes me laugh, is very open about his feelings in that he wants to see me again and enjoys my company so I don't feel there's any game playing. Obviously with lockdown we've not done anything physical yet but I think that's really helped us get to know each other properly. We message every day but not to excess, and speak on the phone between dates but not every day.
It's only been a few weeks but everyone always says take things slow - how do you know when it's slow enough? I have strong feelings for him already (I definitely don't love him yet but I think it has potential for that further down the line - I've not told him this) and I worry that I'm going too fast. On another thread people were discussing that over sharing is a red flag, but we've both been Open about certain things in our lives - my solicitor called about my divorce when he was round for coffee so he heard quite a bit and I felt so comfortable with him that I didn't mind. Is this a red flag? What's the line between being open and over sharing? How do you know whether this is genuine feelings for someone or whether this is still me being a bit fucked up from previous relationships?? People say not to give up your life for a man - he offered to rearrange a commitment so we could see each other as it was the only time I was free. I refused and told him it was important to keep his hobbies and it's meant a week between dates which I'm fine with - but is offering to rearrange a red flag? Or is that showing me he's keen to spend time with me? I'm finding this all so confusing!
My gut instinct says this is someone really special, I've never felt like this about anyone before. I can see he's not perfect and has flaws but I like him despite of them, and don't really see them as an issue, but I am fairly objective I think. He's shown me nothing but positive behaviour.
But I can't help but wonder if I'm once again making a bad decision....??
Unfortunately there are no guarantees that a relationship will stay good forever. I do believe in being upfront and open and always raise an issue with what bothers you as soon as it happens. Ex: after a while of dating husband, he made a comment that made me realised he was kinda homophobic, not a raging one, but still not ok for me. I immediately said this is not ok for me, even though at that point I was really falling for him. He was open to discussion, for him it was more of something that he grew up with, saw in his friends etc. It's worth saying, our country of origin is still pretty closed minded about stuff like this. Anyway, he worked on it. The point is, even though is was falling for him, for me it was not something I would put up with for life and just pretend not to be bothered if he made a homophobic joke just because he had other qualities. I notice even here on Mn, that alot of people will come and ask about smth the partner said or did, without having actually said anything to them when it happened. I don't get it. I get it if you did raise the problem with partner and can't reach a compromise, solution, ro ask for outside advice. But you saying nothing when it obviously bothered you enough to write to strangers, I don't get it. What bothers you, might be ok for me, it's your limits, opinions your partner should respect.
TLDR: be open about your expectations and what you have to offer. There are no guarantees for life with any relationship.
That's a really good point - my husband had beliefs that I really disagreed with and I didn't pull him up on it at first. Well into our marriage I did and it became clear he was never going to see my perspective. I don't want another relationship with someone who is a bit racist, a lot sexist, a bit homophobic. I'll definitely do some investigating with the new date. Such an important point, thank you!!
Guess also dont expect perfection, we're all flawed. We can joke about my ocd tendencie or his tendency to procrastinate, as we noticed or were open about these from the get go and decided we can live with each other's flaws. Pls don't get me wrong, we have by no means a perfect relationship, we had/still have our issues, one of them involved violence, so I am no expert. We just love eachother and work at it.
What does your body tell you and what does your head tell you? We often feel our gut reaction and when we ignore it it can cause problems either we've talked ourself out of a good situation or ignored the feelings of a bad one. The thing I find most important after DA is consistency. Does he treat you with respect consistently? Does he listen to your views consistently? Does he respect your boundaries consistently? Does anything ever feel off?
@ThePathToHealing my body tells me that he's great and it's a god relationship as far as it can be in lockdown. My head tells me nothing can be this good.
He is very consistently kind, respectful, so far no boundaries even slightly crossed and listens to my views (if sometimes a bit nervous about disagreeing - I find a healthy debate absolutely necessary and can be opinionated so I need to make sure he doesn't stop putting his opinion across.) So far no red flags from him, the only kind of red flag is how much I like him just a matter of weeks in. I'm trying to take it slow but every time I speak to him or see him I'm glowing. It's a lovely feeling but I get the impression that feeling like this early on isn't ok and if it was the other way round I'd be told to run?
Eh to some degree you can't really control your feelings(be it positive or negative), rather 'control' how you manifest them. You seem like a sensible woman from your writing, you should be able to show you are really into him without coming on to strong.
Just remember that any decisions you make regarding him should be changeable. What I mean is, never stop watching out for red flags. Always maintain your boundaries with regards to what is and isn't acceptable.
A few weeks in...you dont even really know him yet. So whilst a strong crush is possible, bare in mind that that's all it is right now. Until you know him.
Taking things slow isnt just about sex stuff. It's about sense stuff.
I think it's prudent to be cautious at the beginning as tmi about previous relationships can be used against you in future by some people. This is just while you are sussing them out. I think covid has caused a slowing down of relationship developments, which can only be a good thing. It's when things get physical that deep attachment can stop you from seeing the wood for the trees.
It so far sounds like you have found a good one, relax and enjoy, you will know if he starts using your past against you to manipulate, I think things seen fine for now.
Good of him to offer to change, even better that you encouraged him not to, you will get more respect for that most likely in time. If he ignored your wishes and insisted on seeing you anyway, that could of been a red flag, but he hasn't, so all good
Reading your description has made me smile. It's natural to have good feelings in a relationship. We'd never get into any if we didn't!
Keep asking your body and your mind. It's also natural to be cautious. When I feel secure it can make me ask myself "what am I not seeing?" But that doesn't mean there's anything to see. If anything at anytime doesn't feel right or you leave questioning why or something is 'not like him', make a note. If these things that make you feel uneasy increase or strengthen then step back and reassess. That doesn't necessarily mean run a mile but it could be having a conversation with him about it. How he reacts to that, if it happens, will tell you all you need to know, about how he values your opinion, the relationship, how he resolves conflict and how much effort he is willing to form an 'us' and you will have a gut reaction, trust it. If something doesn't seem sincere or genuine deep down you will know.
He seems lovely but remember it's ok to have high expectations for your partner. Don't settle for better than the last one, or better than my family, settle on the exact kind of partner you deserve.
I have been with my partner for 9 years and he's the kind of person I always hoped to find. 🙂 It's possible.
The previous posters all have valid points but equally, don’t spend your life looking over your shoulder for wrongdoing or presuming it will all go wrong. Who wants to live life in such a negative way, just because you’ve been hurt before. By doing that and allowing future relationships to be tainted, you never truly move on.
Know what you want in a man and if he meets that and makes you happy, just enjoy it and see what happens.
The only advice I can give having left a nasty relationship is the following :
Don't assume the worse or assume the new man will do the same. At the start of my new relationship I had a little voice that kept saying to me 'new man will shout at me if I ask to see friends tonight'. That is what my ex would have done. New man laughs at the idea I ask permission to do things.
Don't sweat the small stuff - I spent so much of my last relationship in arguments I just can't do it again. He leaves his socks by the bed it's not the end of the world. Neither of us pick fights for the sake of it.
Lastly - I don't know how to explain this but it took a while to for me to stop over apologising as I had got used to this - so again had to unlearn old habits.
Hope that helps
Thanks everyone. These are all such helpful comments. I think it's easy to get sucked into MN threads/friends' opinions etc where people often look for the negatives and it can be hard to just accept the good things.
I saw him again last night, he makes me so immensely happy. He's funny, kind, I have told him a few boundaries that I don't want crossed and he's been completely accepting of them and not questioned, I'm going through a divorce and have 2 young kids and he's accepting and non judgemental, never any pressure about anything. But at the same time he's interesting and challenges me.
For now I'm going with my gut and saying he's a good egg. Thank you all for giving me the confidence to trust that guy after many years of ignoring it and all the red flags...
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