I just wanted some advice about my boyfriend. I met him from a friend of mine and we really hit it off great. We’ve been dating for 4 months and he talks about how he wants to marry me and how he wants to have a future together. He put a ring on my finger, but about three weeks ago we got in a huge fight and I didn’t call him or respond to his calls. I saw a side of him that scared me, but I love him so much and I didn’t want to lose him. So, I sat there and talked to him about it and sorted it out. I know he really loves me and wants to be in my life, but last week he told me that we moved forward too quickly and that we should take a step back because he feels like things have changed after that fight — that we don’t have the same vibe.
So, I took off the ring and I’ve been acting the same. The thing is, he thinks that if we take a step back, it’ll save our relationship. But I am afraid of it getting to another stage and us splitting apart. Plus, his sister doesn’t really like me and I don’t know if the rest of the family does — so I am afraid that if they don’t really want me in his life they will do something to jeopardize our relationship. I can’t imagine life without him and I truly do love and trust him, but since I’ve had bad relationships in the past, I feel like he will fall for someone else or think about leaving me even though he says he wouldn’t do such a thing. I don’t know what to do and I am very confused.
Do you think things will be ok and how should I act?
Linda in Pasadena
You need to calm down, my friend! The strongest emotion I’m picking up from you is panic. That is not going to do you, or this relationship, any good. It is a very destructive form of energy that can create quite a bit of chaos. So do your best to regain control of your emotions in order to approach your relationship with clarity rather than emotional over-reaction.
I know you’ve had bad relationships in the past, but just as every relationship is different, so is every man. What you need to focus on, especially when there is tension in your current relationship, is that this man is not the men of the past. Yes, he will make his own set of mistakes, but he not responsible for any of the experiences you had prior to him. Just because so-and-so did this or reacted like that doesn’t mean your current boyfriend will do the same.
When you had that fight, neither one of you initially handled it in the best possible way. Each of you did discover some things about the other that you may have preferred to not know. But sooner is better than later, especially when the plans include the future and marriage.
A very dear and exceptionally wise friend of mine shared something quite profound with me recently: Before you decide to marry someone, you should first consider what it would be like to divorce them. While I cannot recall her exact words which were much more elegant than my own, the meaning is still there. And as one who has been through the whole divorce process with clients as well as my personal experience, I’ve got to hand it to my friend. She has a very valid point. This little tidbit puts a whole new perspective into play. Not that many people get married expecting it to end in divorce, but considering the possibility and how your partner would handle that situation can be scarily revealing. As horrible as the fight was between you and your boyfriend, can you even begin to imagine if you had saved that experience until after vows were exchanged?
There’s a much bigger issue going on here than just this relationship, Linda. I know you’ve been put through the wringer in the past, and sometimes those lingering hurts and fears not only shape us, but dictate us. If you really want to keep this relationship intact, the first step is more about you than the relationship. In terms of any relationship, it should be about who you actually are, not how you should or shouldn’t act. A good relationship is built on love, honesty, and trust – not the creation of some illusion.
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