I started dating a guy a few weeks ago, and yes I know, a few weeks is NOTHING, but, even in that short time some things have come up and I'm having a really hard time separating what is just me being sabotage-y and too fucking sharp, chopping shit up into julienne cuts, and what might be legitimate signs that this is not a good match, which I am overlooking because I am too busy chop chop chopping.
About four years ago, I was in a pretty terrible relationship. He was bipolar, and later on, I found out he lied about pretty much everything: He had a long-term girlfriend, and when he told me that he spent three months in a psych ward where I couldn't see him, it turns out he was actually living with her. It makes sense now. I pretty much never saw his house (he said he was living with his parents) or most of his world. It was always him in my world. The relationship eventually became abusive, to the point that I was scared for a very long time, stopped sleeping, and finally, swallowed a bottle of pills in front of him in a desperate and stupid attempt to make everything stop.
I moved far, far away, started fresh and created a great life, but it's left me with a terrible, panicky feeling that all men are hiding something harmful. I can feel myself bracing for the rug to inevitably be pulled out from underneath me.
Since then, I've had a few relationships, none of which have really triggered any of this. Until now. With my last significant relationship, we hit things off right away. He lived a ferry ride away, so he'd often come over and stay for a several days, and we'd go off on little trips and adventures. Spending that kind of time with someone felt really good; it felt really secure, and it made me so happy to fall asleep and wake up beside someone I thought the world of.
This new guy, he wants to take things slow. We've seen each other quite a bit, and now that it's been a couple weeks I want to sleep beside this guy. I am not talking about sex. I just mean having him spend the night or me stay with him. I can feel him get weird and flinchy about it, and it really fucks me up. That, and a few little things he does, have started triggering bad memories from my ex, and I am having a really hard time reconciling them. I tried explaining my past and why I am suddenly acting overly analytical and self-sabotaging even though I don't want to, and now I feel as though I wish I had never told him anything. When I told him that my ex used to force me up against a wall and hold my head while he punched the wall inches from my face, his response was that his ex punched him in the face and broke his nose, but that he's not projecting that onto me because I'm not her. I get what he's saying, but it also made me feel diminished and like some sort of fucked up trauma pissing contest was taking place. He used a similar response another time when I told him something heavy after he had asked about it—he said I blindsided him by saying stuff like that—and both times, I walked away feeling really shitty.
Polly, normally I am pretty level headed and decisive and confident in my decisions and know what I want and what I'm about. When I'm with this guy and something comes up, I feel so fucking confused and unsettled and like I should have never said anything. I'm so scared of being mind-fucked again. This guy is really smart, and really good at arguing his points, and it makes my head hurt because I don't know if I'm just messing it all up because I'm terrified, or if this guy maybe has some serious controlling tendencies because he won't stay over because he says he'll only fall asleep if we have sex, but does not want to have sex yet. He also made me feel like I should be more appreciative that he's let me come over to his house, because even his parents have only been there two or three times in ten years. Am I just spinning in my own insecurities?
This guy you're dating is bad news. He's a control freak and kind of a dick to boot. The fact that he responds to your very personal, vulnerable stories not by listening and empathizing, but by one-upping you with his own traumas and then touting his relative maturity and healthy boundaries AND THEN referring to such sharing as "blindsiding"? These are more than just red flags. They're warning signals, the way someone walking up to you and setting your hair on fire is a warning signal.
This is a guy who experiences vulnerable, expressive sharing as an assault. He's four weeks into this thing, and he's already making it crystal clear he doesn't want your feelings to come into play. He wants you to feel ashamed of sharing that stuff, so you won't be tempted to share it again. READ MORE