“Hi! I wanted to go to you for advice although I’m sure you get it all the time. I’ve been with my boyfriend for about a year and a half now and I can’t even find the words to say how perfect of a fit he is in my life and vice versa. Here’s the sitch though. Before me he was with his college sweetheart and he bought a ring. Was just weeks from proposing and she dumps him. All of the break up drama and details and reasoning aside (seemed like a natural “they grew apart” thing and one person realized that the other person didn’t actually have future ‘wants’ that were in sync with theirs, it’s natural), I am having a hard time processing my emotions around knowing just how very serious he was with someone before me. But let me remind you, there is not a singular doubt in my mind that this is the man for me but HOW do I confront my difficult feelings for this absolute non-issue? I have no idea how to even broach this subject with him.”
My Dearest Bad Biddie,
In the words of Nike: Just do it. There are likely many reasons why it didn’t work out between your boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend and you may or may not ever know all of those reasons, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that your boyfriend’s past is undermining your ability to be fully present with him in your relationship right now, and the only thing that will help you move past his past is your ability to talk to him about it. You can have a thousand conversations with him in your head, but none of them will lead you to any sort of clarity as a real conversation will.
I don’t know your boyfriend, but my sense is that he’ll judge you far less (or not at all) for talking to him about his almost-engagement than you are judging yourself right now. Everyone has a past, but most of the time, the past is in the past for a reason, and as much I can say that to you in a million different ways, I think it’ll be much more helpful for you to hear that from him.
There is no right or wrong way to broach the subject, there is only your way. The question here is not how you broach the subject, but how to get over your feelings that you shouldn’t broach the subject. You mentioned that it’s an “absolute non-issue,” but my bad biddie, it is an issue, and that’s why we’re talking about it. If this man is, indeed, your life-long partner, you will, as a couple, face many issues, big and small, together. We have to get comfortable talking about the small issues, the inconsequential issues, or the issues we feel we shouldn’t feel are issues at all, because not talking about the small issues leads to bigger issues down the line.
The other day I got mad at my husband for buying work socks that were too similarly colored in varying shades of black and navy, because trying to figure out which sock is black and which sock is navy on laundry day is the bane of my existence. I proposed that he buy new work socks, where the black socks would be in solid black, and the navy socks would have a subtle print on them. He declined my proposal, and said to leave his work socks in a pile on the bed every week so that he could match the socks himself. I tell you this, not to just show you how I’m easily frustrated by mundane things on occasion, but to show you that if I can feel comfortable discussing my negative feelings towards socks with my husband, that you should feel more than comfortable discussing issues that are much larger than socks with your boyfriend.
Your internet hype woman
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