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I have read many of Dr Harley's writings and I have seen him speak in person. His concepts have been very helpful to me, but there is one area I need help with that I have not been able to find in his books or online.

I have a serious problem being jealous and possessive. This has been a recurring problem in every relationship I've had, and now it threatens my current relationship.

My fiancé is a very honest man; I have no reason to believe he would ever be unfaithful. He meets my top 5 emotional needs consistently, seemingly without effort on his part.

We dated seriously many years ago but broke up without getting married. At that time I did not know about Dr Harley's principles, but looking back there were love busters eating at our relationship.

We reunited about 3 months ago and have been working toward marriage using Dr Harley's principles, setting a tentative date for 2 years from now.

He was in a long term relationship with another woman while we were apart, though they never married and he claims he never wanted to marry her. He describes her as very clingy and needy, and dysfunctional in many other ways. After they broke up she continued to call him and try to pull him back into her life, even thought she had a new boyfriend. When we reunited, he was still getting calls from her several times a week.

At first he would sometimes call me by her name accidentally, and I could laugh it off. When it happened during an intimate moment I could not laugh it off and I told him he had to stop calling me by her name or it would damage the relationship.

After that he called her and told her what had happened, which I thought was very inappropriate. He told me that the reason he told her was so she would understand why he couldn't continue a relationship with her. He said he told her he was in love with me and wanted to marry me. He told her he couldn't be friends with her anymore if it threatened his relationship with me. She tried to call him one more time but he told her again to stop and she hasn't called again.

About 2 weeks ago we were cuddling on his couch. I was feeling very content and loving, and I told him how happy I was to have him back in my life. His response seemed very cold to me. He said my timing was good (I initiated our reunion by calling him) because if I had called before his former girlfriend found a new boyfriend he never would have responded.

Since he claims he did not care for her and only stayed with her as long as he did out of pity, I was very hurt by this comment and told him so. To me it sounded like he was only with me because he couldn't have her. It took a couple of days for us to talk through this and get to a point where I felt better about it.

Since then I feel very off balance however, and very insecure about his past with her. We spent the past weekend at his cabin, and on the drive up he mentioned something about how many other people have slept in his bed up there. Though he claims he was describing the communal nature of a family cabin, I immediately thought of his former girlfriend and couldn't hold back the tears. This initiated another round of serious talks. I told him I feel like he keeps throwing his past relationship in my face. We were both in tears at different points in the discussion.

When we got to the cabin he swapped mattresses with the guest room so I wouldn't have to sleep on the same mattress he shared with her. He also removed the comforter she gave him and put that in the guest room. The rest of the weekend went fairly well until the time came to drive home. He asked me if I wanted him to take the comforter along so he could give it to the Goodwill and I said yes. So he stuffs it in the back seat on top of my things. We were in a hurry to get to a graduation so I didn't say anything. I was hoping we would get rid of it after the graduation and before the long drive home.

But we didn't, and the presence of the comforter in the back seat - on top of my things and positioned so that I couldn't get to the cooler or even my purse without rummaging past the it - was making me so upset I became physically ill. I asked him to move the comforter to the trunk but he said he didn't want it to get dirty. I asked him why he cared if it got dirty and he said he was thinking of the next owner and trying to be considerate of them.

He saw how ill I was getting and asked if there was anything he could do, so I said "yes, put those blankets in the trunk" so he finally did. I felt better for the rest of the drive, but he thinks my reaction was extreme and now he says he can't think about marrying me.

So we have been having long intense talks since then, working at honest communication without demands or judgments. He says he will get rid of any item from his past that upsets me, and I have said I will try to get help dealing with my jealousy.

I can't find anything in Harley's writings about unfounded jealousy. Jealousy, suspicion, and anger are a natural response to infidelity so Harley doesn't really talk about it being a problem. But I am reacting as if my fiancé had an affair when it was really just a past girlfriend.

So how do I work on this? Constructive advice will be much appreciated.

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IMO it's his problem, not yours.

Harley says do not be the cause of your spouse's unhappiness. The comforter was making you unhappy. You were Emotionally Honest with your BF.
Um - if he doesn't care about your feelings - that's valuable information for you.

Harley also says it's easier for a spouse to meet the other's needs than for the spouse with the need to stop wanting it.

I think the same applies to feelings - it's easier for your BF to accommodate your feelings than for you to wish the feeling away.

Apologising for and hating your own feelings is a slippery slope and can lead you to a a relationship where you feel oppressed, always on the back foot, the 'junior partner'. At least that was my experience.

I suggest you ask yourself why you find yourself questioning your own feelings, and carefully consider if the man you are with is right for you.

Edited to add - your BF is guitly of a nasty DJ - 'your feelings are wrong'.

Last edited by 5outof6aintbad; 05/13/09 02:58 AM.

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I think you both have some growing up to do. He needs to understand what it means to commit yourself to someone. He is not in love with you, or these things wouldn't be happening. He does seem to want to be. It seems like he tried pretty hard to fix things once he found out what was wrong. It seems like he just isn't in tune with a female point of view, but once you show him he takes steps to fix it.

Now, I think you have a lot more work ahead of you than he does. First, I hope you realize that jealousy and possessiveness is nothing more than your low self-esteem turning into desperation. Nothing is going to improve until YOU go to counseling of some sort to learn to like yourself.

And because of it, you are choosing the same guy over and over again - the one who yanks your chain - on purpose or unwittingly - to keep you in limbo. Which ruins your relationship (like is happening now).

None of this will repair itself. YOU have to fix your own insecurity issues. Getting physically ill because a blanket of a former girlfriend is sitting on your stuff? Really?

I'm sorry, but that IS over the top. It is all in your head, and you keep instigating such issues. Too many more and he's just going to give up on you.

Which is why you need to go to counseling to learn to like yourself.

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Jealousy, suspicion, and anger are a natural response to infidelity
In your case, they are a symptom of your low self-worth, nothing more.

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I don't believe that he never cared for her, but that doesn't mean he doesn't care for you. Why would you ask him that? You are setting yourself up for hurt, stop questioning him about the relationship. He definitely should not be talking to her and sharing intimate details!! I would be very angry about that myself. At the same time try not to make him feel guilty about dating during your break up, it is not as if he cheated on you with her. I am sure you dated during your many years apart, is he questioning you about your previous relationship? Try to concentrate on building your relationship. The slip ups on name can be an honest mistake, if he came straight out of that relationship to this one. Just make sure that he isn't trying to just find a replacement. It sounds like you haven't known each other in years and after 3 short months have rushed into an engagement. I hope you are not making him feel as if he has to prove his love for you. It is good you are having a long engagement so you can work on all of this.

Are you very controlling? Sounds like that is just as big of an issue as the jealousy. IE - you were determined he would do as you wished (moving blanket) to the point of making yourself ill. That is very serious issue, if you don't work on controlling behavior he could end up resenting you.

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Litha, welcome to Marriage Builders...

I'm impressed you're here, though not married yet...

and you don't say if you were married during the years apart from now fiance...

please let us know...it's important...

Please keep your promise to yourself and seek a counselor for this very important issue...recurring...lifelong...time to deal with it squarely...nothing wrong with you...sure can feel as if there were...

Next, permit yourself to move the comforter/blanket. The controlling part, making yourself physically ill, was HIM not doing it...

that part isn't just low-self-esteem...it's manipulative and criminal to self. You had the power to do it for yourself, and your partner. You chose not to...your choices are unhealthy..you, however, are not.

You're about to make different choices. That's what changes our lives.

This is just what Natalie and Cat have said...and I agree with them. You betray yourself (putting upon others what you won't do for yourself tells self it's helpless, worthless, less than)...you're going to feel betrayed...

Now...how do you know communication with exGF ceased? Are you saying to check the phone records? Sporadically doublecheck emails?

Back when you first initiated the reunion, were you ending a marriage or long-term relationship? Was he still living with xGF, though it was "over"?

Are there any children as result of either of your previous relationships/marriages?

Seems reasonable to me that you would mourn the years you did not have together...when you're focused on that...for you cannot get them back...and it will take years for you both to have real intimacy, understanding and acceptance of what you cannot regain...if you do not honor that what they had was real, most likely knowing real selves...and in three months, you've hardly brushed the surface...then you won't be able to honor what you will have in your future years together.

You aren't powerful enough (none of us are) to create this relationship, nor be the sole end of it.

You can't drive him away, drive him nuts...however, you sure can reinforce your self-hatred, harm and devastation...

please don't. Change your choices...you can do this.

He isn't perfect, isn't comparable to anyone else you've loved...he's him and you are you. Knowing your stuff and sharing your stuff IS intimacy...and you are only half of every relationship on this earth.

Same for all of us...learn the balance...what you want most...between all or nothing...Envy is when you want something you see someone else have...

jealousy is when you want what someone else has and for them not to have it.

Not all mine and not mine...two partners, one union...built on continuing acts of respect, love, healthy boundaries and true intimacy...

whether you feel like it or not.

smile

Feelings follow actions.

Welcome.

LA

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Litha Offline OP
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Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply.

5outof6, thank you for being supportive of my feelings. I agree with most of what you’ve said. The problem here is that my extreme emotional response is becoming a love buster for him, so we needed to invoke the policy of joint agreement. He will do his best to respect and accommodate my feelings, but I have also agreed to work on getting healthier emotionally. I think this agreement is respectful of us both.

Catperson, I appreciate your advice, and I will try to find a good counselor.

3natalie3, Thank you for your thoughtful and fair reply. I have never questioned him about his past relationship. Frankly I would rather not know many of the things he has told me and wish he would just stop dumping that information on me. He is also not questioning me about my relationships, but I would not dump information on him. I feel that it is not courteous of your current lover to blab on about past intimacies, probably because of my own sensitivity. I have been tempted to start throwing my past experiences in his face as retaliation, but thankfully have not sunk that low yet.

I made myself sick by not stating my feelings. I held in my feelings because I knew they were “over the top” as catperson has said. I was making an effort to control myself, not to control him. But as 5outof6 said, you can’t wish those overwhelming feelings away, you only make them worse by repressing them.

LovingAnyway, what a great screen name you have! I was married and divorced before I met my fiancé. My son from that marriage was a preschooler back then; he is a senior in college now. I am 52 years old. I have dated and got serious with a couple of men in between. My current fiancé is truly the only man I’ve ever felt such a strong connection to, and he says it is the same for him.

I know that the communication with exgf has ceased because he told he it has, and I have never known him to be deceitful. He has offered me free rein to check his phone and email but I don’t feel it is necessary.

After I posted here I went to the bookstore and picked up “If this is Love, Why do I Feel So Insecure?” by Carl G Hindy , J Conrad Schwarz, and Archie Brodsky. I can’t say I would recommend the book wholeheartedly. It is written in a scholarly style, more like a textbook for a psych class than a handbook for self help. I did find it helpful enough though. They offer a step approach that does not conflict with Harley’s principles:

1. Identify and articulate feelings precisely
2. Discover the roots of both partners reactions in the past
3. Engage the partner’s capacity to empathize
4. Negotiate agreements
5. Explore the function served by persistent disagreements
6. Last resorts: separate, accommodate, or seek professional help.

I did try this and we both found it helpful. Steps 2 and 5 would be even more helpful if my bf would examine his own reactions and explore what function it serves him to keep me off balance in the relationship. I feel as though I am taking responsibility for my negative contributions, but I truly think he has a part in it too. I think he has some insecurity too, and compensates by keeping me insecure.

I think that will come though. I believe he is working as hard as I am at this.

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Hello again

I am so glad you gave your age as well as more backround. I don't know why but in your original post, you came off as being very young and maybe a bit naive. Now that I have the whole picture I feel a bit differently. You have very strong feelings for this man obviously and have been separated for a very long time. It sounds like you were always in love with him and this is perhaps one reason why your marriage didn't work (not saying the only reason, but one). Now that you have him again you must be overjoyed! I think the jealousy and control issues are stemming from this. Anotherwords you were deeply in love and then separated, yet never forgot him. You may be subconsciously fearful that this could happen away. It may be your way of holding strong and not letting him slip away this time, instinctually trying to protect your love. I think you just need to reassure yourself that he is with you because he loves you. He proposed marriage to you because he loves you, he wants to share the rest of his life with you. That is a beautiful love story. So just remember that and try to let yourself relax, and remember that you have him now and that is what matters. I would suggest spending time doing relaxing things and reassuring yourself that he is in love with you, hence the proposal. This should get easier as you go. Make sure you work on it though, if not it could cause some resentment in the future.

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You should also remember that guys are not as sentimental as women. Women tend to look at it differently - that is a blanket SHE gave him, it has meaning -or- that is the mattress they slept on together. Where in a mans eyes it is probably just a blanket and just a mattress. He may not have even thought about it or remembered until you brought up these issues. Men are so darned blind about this stuff sometimes, lol

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Quote:
would be even more helpful if my bf would examine his own reactions and explore what function it serves him to keep me off balance in the relationship.
In what way do you think he tries to keep you off balance? Do you think he is doing this purposely? Why do you think he does this?

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I can understand why my first post seemed young and naive, since this is an aspect of my personality that seems not to have "grown up." The rest of my has gotten old and wrinkly however smile

You misunderstood - my marriage and divorce was long over before I met my current bf so he had nothing to do with that.

You are correct that I have never stopped loving him through the years though. I ran into him with his ex gf several years back, after I realized that he was "the one" that I should have held onto. We had a friendly exchange, but it was a very sad moment for me, realizing the mistake I had made and watching him walk away with another woman. Working through that book I mentioned helped me to realize that the memory of this moment is a key to the problem. I shared this revelation with him and it helped him understand. We had a beautiful talk last night that left me feeling very cherished, so I feel optimistic about working through it.

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The first time around, I broke up with him. I was still healing from my divorce and not really healthy enough for a new relationship at that time. We parted on friendly terms, but it was clear I broke his heart back then.

I think part of his motivation, conscious or not, is anger that I left him back then and fear that I may do the same now. Also my career is more lucrative than his, my income is almost double what he makes. That can be an uncomfortable position for a man, and he will occasionally ask why I am even interested in him.

Plus we are both middle aged now, no longer the lithe attractive people we once were laugh. That's enough to make anyone insecure as heck.

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Litha,

Thank you for answering our questions for clarity.

Would you consider if this is your belief, that you held onto this man throughout your previous marriage, in your mind, as an intimacy blocker, that part of your jealousy may be you fearing he's doing that with xGF now?

And when we have practiced blocking true intimacy for a really long time, we've got automatics nearly to our bones...so it seems reasonable to me to have deep, surprising and seemingly shattered feelings erupt...you're going against, essentially, what you've trained yourself into...

knowing doesn't change...helps you change...and since you don't have someone else to compare him to, distract yourself from your relationship now, seems reasonable to make him have the person who's going to be used to block intimacy in the relationship (as long as it gets this far and no further sort of thinking).

Taking someone's word, in general, is reasonable. Not checking reality for yourself in regards to the person who has asked to be your life partner to the end of your days...

unreasonable.

As you said, this is the aspect of you which hasn't caught up with the other aspects...please examine this one belief...that people are honest until proven dishonest. People lie, fib, fabricate and withhold. You know this. Doesn't have a thing to do with you.

However, when it is your life, commitment, on the line, it IS your job to verify the truth. It's an act of respect...for blind trust will end marriages and relationships...for it's an act of disrespect.

You will experience deeper gratitude for his O&H with his phone records and email passwords because you do fulfill your responsibility to know the truth (of actions), than if you don't.

May lesson your fear of him being in charge of breaking your heart...at any moment...as well. When we don't mind our own responsibilities, usually, we're are not seeing where we are shoving them down someone else's throat.

LA

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Originally Posted By: Litha
The first time around, I broke up with him. I was still healing from my divorce and not really healthy enough for a new relationship at that time. We parted on friendly terms, but it was clear I broke his heart back then.

I think part of his motivation, conscious or not, is anger that I left him back then and fear that I may do the same now. Also my career is more lucrative than his, my income is almost double what he makes. That can be an uncomfortable position for a man, and he will occasionally ask why I am even interested in him.

Plus we are both middle aged now, no longer the lithe attractive people we once were laugh. That's enough to make anyone insecure as heck.
What does that have to do with him keeping you 'off balance?' Are you saying he is trying to hurt you in any way? What does 'off balance' mean to you? Maybe I'm misunderstanding.

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LovingAnyway, you misunderstood - my marriage and divorce was long over before I met my current bf so he had nothing to do with that.

My memories of him did affect my subsequent dating relationships however. The time I spent with him years ago raised the bar on my expectations of love. He is truly the most honest, affectionate, and caring man I've ever been involved with.

I could check his phone and email at any time, he has left those options wide open for me. He also encourages me to talk with his family and friends, who are all deeply relieved that he has finally escaped the clutches of his dysfunctional exgf and reunited with me. His sister has told me how difficult it was for her, watching her brother get more and more depressed while she felt powerless to help him.

catperson is correct when she says this is all about my insecurities. There really is no rational reason for me to be so emotionally upset.

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Originally Posted By: catperson
What does that have to do with him keeping you 'off balance?' Are you saying he is trying to hurt you in any way? What does 'off balance' mean to you? Maybe I'm misunderstanding.


When someone does something that triggers my insecurity and makes me feel off balance, I become irrationally jealous. I don't do it intentionally or with malice, but it can hurt those close to me anyway. It is a knee-jerk reaction that is difficult for me to control.

When someone does something that triggers his insecurities and makes him feel off balance, he pushes back and tries to make the other person feel insecure and off balance. I don't believe it is intentional or malicious, but it can hurt those close to him anyway. It is is a knee-jerk reaction that is difficult for him to control.

We both need to work on healthier ways of dealing with insecurity. We both need to control our reactions so we don't hurt the other.

The good news is, we both are smile After he saw how hard I was working on controlling my own love busters, he went to work on his. The result of facing this conflict with honesty and respect has been a deepening of our love and commitment.

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Here's a great first place for you to start working on those issues:
Quote:
When someone does something that triggers my insecurity and makes me feel off balance
No one makes you feel. YOU feel. YOU choose to react (yes, you do).

The secret to this is to stop being the victim, stop thinking that anyone has any power to make you feel anything. They don't. They just do what they do; YOU react.

Now, if someone always does things that you don't like, stop being around them! But don't make the mistake of thinking you can change them.

Victim mentality is nothing more than giving away your responsibility. Sure, it's comforting to be able to say 'it's not my fault!' but, in the end, who are you hurting by doing that?

I know you know this; I'm just putting it out there so you can remember it more easily. wink

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Thank you for telling me that I misunderstand.

To clarify, I was referring to your first marriage, not your current BF...that for tne years you used a different person, another human being in your mind, to block intimacy in your first marriage.

Not this one.

Reason enough for you to see your BF now doing this, what you did for so long, even if he's not. Or if he is...to suspect, be prepared, to react to him as if he is (and maybe he is, don't know) because you no longer want to block intimacy with fiction.

Reasonable fear. You did it to someone for a decade. Understandable to me that you would look for someone, somewhere, to reach into your relationship and take BF away...because that's what you did to someone.

Because you think of a loved one as "clutches" for he loved her, you understand that...labelling her dysfunctional hurts your relationship...same for clutches...and believing he wasn't choosing her, daily, throughout their long-term relationship...is dysfunctional, correct?

Because they you'll see yourself in that light, as well...human to human...in our design...how we work...and when he seems displeased, hurt...you might look at your hands and see clutches, too.

The family will say the same thing about you as BF gets more and more depressed, frustrated, angry at your distrust, your jealousy...and it won't be true then...

as it isn't now of the woman he didn't marry before you.

Get to understand that his family sees him in need of rescuing...which means he's not strong, smart, able or capable enough to rescue himself...that he puts his choices onto others...and you're an other...which is blame-shifting...and in infatuation, is joy-shifting--"Oh, you are the one who makes me so very happy" is the flip side to "How you drive me insane, ruin my life the way you hurt me."

Same coin, Litha.

Understand now, after all you've experienced, that your jealousy is about you...not him...not him doing. You know it's odd and kinda crazy...and you know reality is that he is not cheating per se...he has the potential to cheat. No blind trust (healthy). No trust at all (unhealthy).

If you stop belittling his previous GF (you share a lot of the same stuff, undoubtedly, even as you share your experience of him, as well), I believe your jealousy and fear will fall into reasonable...won't flare up...

And I hope you will also consider it's use, jealousy, as an intimacy blocker as well...and by sharing what you're going through with him, you are breaking that pattern.

May not be rational...may still be your time to heal inside...do amends...choose your life...and what you really want now.

LA


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