Do I have reason to be worried??

Mommy - posted on 06/04/2013 ( 3 moms have responded )

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It's necessary first to explain the kind of person my boyfriend is.
I have two toddler daughters from a previous relationship, and we live with my boyfriend and his family. I've known him for 5 years- longer than my ex (the dad), but we only just made things official after I left my ex, not before because as much as I wanted to be more with him at the time, he just wasn't ready. My boyfriend is considered strange to a lot of people, even his family. He prefers to be alone, doesn't talk much, is very difficult to provoke, and mostly non-confrontational. He's quiet and reserved and hides his sentimental emotions- about 90% of them. But, he's got a very kind heart. He's a very hard worker. He's motivated and listens. And he if put in a situation with family here at the house, say- a barbeque- he really does open up more, regardless of his preference to be alone.
He's the type that doesn't care to go out or be social. He'd rather stay at home and watch the soccer game, or work outside in the garden or the plants. Therefore he's never had a serious relationship before. I'm his first one. He's had girls he's liked, but he never pursued them, he's just not like that. It's even come to the topic of how many women he's slept with, and his total is only 4- which includes me. It's a relief to me, of course to know it's such a small number, and I believe him because of the reasons above. He's just not adamant about getting out there and trying.
Which brings me to my question of if I should be worried...
Before I knew him, quite a few years before, he worked at a place called Baja Fresh as one of the food preps. There was an Asian girl that worked there with him... from the only bit of information I've learned from our mutual friends that knew him then, and what his family has been able to tell me (from the little they know), he supposedly really loved her... or at least liked her, A LOT. Something happened and she moved back to Vietnam. They weren't ever a couple... and there's a lot of questions surrounding this issue for me... if they weren't a couple, then what were they exactly? Was it physical, but he still loved her? What!?
Apparently it broke his heart.. we have a mutual friend, and he once confided in me that that's the reason he's the way he is- always alone, staying at home, etc. He started drinking heavily after she left, too.
Before she left, she gave him a 4x6in frame with a colorful note inside she wrote to him, addressing him with her nickname she had for him at the time. It said: "I'll miss you, Yo-Yo. Remember me always. I'll be sure to do the same." Then she glued a cut out photo of herself in it and drew a little stick figure image of him next to her labeled "You". According to his sisters and one of his brothers, when he came down to his hometown after that happened, he brought that frame and showed them. He was distraught and his sister said he cut a picture of himself out and glued it over the stick figure next to hers. He ended up leaving the photo there before going back. So they kept it. They didn't have many photos of him because of doesn't like pictures of himself, so they displayed it on a 3-tiered glass stand in their living room. His sister told me she remembered it, the girl was pretty and petite... and I tried to stifle my own vomit at my self-image. Nothing of his preference. He has a thing for Asian girls, and small and petite women. I'm not any of that. That feeling along with the many mysteries that surrounds whatever happened between them and how he felt about her always would eat at me. But I put it behind me and focused on us now that we were finally together as a couple. I'm expecting our first baby together, too- a girl.
His sister told me they eventually moved back to their old house and somewhere in the move the picture got lost or thrown out. It has been months since I've thought about any of it. I really was getting over the whole issue... The last time it was a problem for me was one night me, him, his youngest sister and one his brothers went to the taco truck and brought food home. We got onto some discussion about why men prefer certain races to others, and I was mentioning how I don't understand the whole Asian-girl obsession (part of my resentment towards her). And him, having had a few beers, muttered loudly for us all to hear (directed at me) "Hey.. don't you say nothing about her..." I immediately got fired up and yelled at him for bringing her up and to my face and in such a defensive way. Not to mention in front of his family. He was mad at me for yelling, that was all. I didn't care though. I never forgot that night. That was one sign I saw he still had unresolved feelings for her.... STILL.
So we're sitting on the couch here the other day in his family's living room, everyone having gone to Mexico on vacation to visit family for two weeks, and he gets up to go in the kitchen. For whatever reason, now of all moments, my eyes landed on the mahogany cabinet right next to the couch. There was a frame on the top shelf. I've looked at that cabinet many times since we've lived here for a year, and I never noticed the frame.... I saw two images cut out at the bottom of it, and one resembled him from the distance I was at- and I was about to ask him if it was him, but my words got stuck in my throat when realization hit me. I got up slowly and moved over to the cabinet. And there it was. The frame with her inside and the note. And a picture of his glued in next to her.... My heartrate picked up so fast... the kind that thumps to hard you can hear it in your ears.... I felt tears prick my eyes... my brain was thick with confusion... I couldn't understand why his mom was still displaying it, even after I came here... and she's moved the room around a few times since I've been here, she had to have seen it when she put everything back. Yet there it stands for anyone to see.
I don't think any woman would feel comfortable in that situation, being at your in-laws house and seeing them display a photo or more of someone your man was in love with before... and might even have feelings for still.
It's not something I've had to deal with ever, and it's confusing and hurtful. And hard to take in. I was seeing her face for the first time, my fears confirmed. She is very beautiful, or at least WAS ten years ago. Thin, petite, beautiful smile... It makes me sick... even her nickname for him, Yo-Yo... My kids watch Baby TV and one of the cartoons has a character named Yo-Yo. When he heard it one day, the other character say "Yo-Yo?", he looked up and said "What?" Then acted all goofy like it was funny... but I had no idea at the time what that was about. Now I do.
I guess the saying is true- you never forget your first love. And some don't let go of their feelings for them, no matter who they end up with. Which I think can destroy something even better you have later with someone else. Because if you can't let go and be honest about it all, be open about your past and history with that person with who you are with now, then how are you supposed to have trust with each other?? How are you supposed to be okay with that? You can't. Before I would ask him what her name was, and he wouldn't even tell me that. He'd say he didn't remember. That's bullsh*t. I don't believe that. He just doesn't want to talk about her. If you don't want to talk about someone in your past that you loved, and to your new significant other, what does that say? That says you still have unresolved feelings for that person, and it's too much to talk about or remember. There's no other reason he can't be open with me about it. I just want to know about his past. But because of how he acts about her, so quiet and reserved and pretending like he doesn't know, that makes me upset about it all and worried... I wouldn't be at all if he could just talk about it. I once told him if he asked me anything about my past or previous relationships, I'd tell him anything cause I have nothing to hide or be secretive about. That why couldn't he do the same.
So I showed him the photo that day after taking it out of the cabinet and reading her note to him. His face barely showed it, but I saw it there... something passed over his features when he realized what it was I was holding. But he's good at hiding that stuff. I still saw it though, I know him too well. He hasn't seen her photo in years. He didn't even know it was up there. It's sort of hidden behind this tall fake tree. He told me to throw it away if I wanted to. I said right back, "It's not mine to throw away." He didn't say anything, just walked back out into the garage and didn't come in for awhile. I had to sit. I cried... but tried to hold it in as best as I could.
When he came in to show me something he had been working on that morning, he looked concerned when he saw my face, asking me what was wrong. I said it was nothing and that I was fine. I just wasn't ready to talk about it... still kind of in shock. I couldn't decide what I was more upset about- the fact that his mom still had it out or that I had seen it...
He just stared at me for a minute, then turned to go back outside, shaking his head with this look on his face. No sympathy or feeling at all for what it was doing to me. Nothing at all. It made me finally let it out and cry when he left. I couldn't believe that it didn't affect him at all that it hurt me so much.
Later, after I'd had time to think about it all, I came out to him in the garage and confronted him. I told him in the most mature and nicest way possible that I respected his past and whatever happened between them (as he's looking at me like I'm weird to think something did happen between them... as if I'm an idiot), and that I know he had feelings for her (he shakes his head more)... but that I wanted him to get rid of it. There was no point for him to keep it since it's in the past, ten YEARS in the past, and that it bothered me to see it because I'm with him and I want to leave it in the past since we're starting a family now.
His response: "But like you said, it's in the past, so why you need to get rid of it?"
.................... um.. why do you want to keep it?
He was making an excuse because I wanted to throw it away. I tried to be honest with him that it bothered me, and it mostly bothers me because he won't tell me anything from then. If he could just be honest and open with me about her, it wouldn't be so hard for me to deal with.
So two days later, and here we are. It's still up there in the cabinet. He still has not thought to throw it out. And as he's at work most of the day, I'm out here with the two girls, completely uncomfortable because I can't help but see it and dwell on all my questions which are really harsh for me to think about now....
It's upsetting to see... really upsetting. I tell myself, stop worrying about it. He's not with her, he's with you. You have something she never will have- you're carrying his baby. But that all won't matter if he's not on board with me, too. If he still has feelings for this chick, then he needs to tell me, but he won't.
Do I have reason to be worried about his reaction and not throwing it out? Or the fact that even though it was so long ago, he still has recently brought her up to my face and in front of his family???

3 Comments

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~♥Little Miss - posted on 06/04/2013

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Don't make him throw out a picture of someone or something that clearly has sentimental value. It may turn around and bite you.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 06/04/2013

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For what ever reason you have to be jealous of this women, you need to stop. I am sorry but you should not dictate his feelings, and feel privy to them simply because you are with him now. He does not want to talk about the past relationship with this girl for whatever reason. You pushing him or trying to force him to talk about it will just drive him further into silence. It seems to me that HE is not dwelling in the past, YOU are. Why should you care so much that he has her picture? I think it is sweet that they had such a special bond, but you and HIM also have a special bond. They may not be the same bond, and they shouldn't be, you are 2 different people. It almost sounds to me like this women is ruining this man for you, when i can read through it and see you are ruining him for yourself.

Just because you are willing to share anything about your past relationships with him does not mean he is obligated to do the same. He just isn't that person, so don't force him to be something he isn't. Create a new life with him, and enjoy it. Dwelling on his past is not going to make this relationship move forward.

Denikka - posted on 06/04/2013

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I think you DO have something to be worried about. You're own insecurities, not him.

It's 10 years in the past. It may have been his first love, but they were never actually together. It's not uncommon for people to continue to love someone from a previous relationship.
I still love my first ex very deeply. We were only together for a very short time, just over 8 years ago, but we've remained in touch throughout that time. I've had multiple other boyfriends since then and have been with my current partner for over 5 years (and we have 2 children and I'm due shortly with our third). But I still care very deeply for my ex.
That doesn't mean that even given the opportunity that I would leave my partner to be with my ex, I wouldn't. And it doesn't take anything away from my partner that I still care about my ex.
As for not wanting to talk about it, he has every right to not want to talk about it, and you have no right to push it. It doesn't mean that he's hiding something or keeping secrets from you. He may just not be prepared to talk about it, or feels he would be unable to handle your reaction.
It would be no different from a person refusing to talk about a parents or friends death, beyond *this person died*, if there were traumatic events surrounding that death. No one knows what happened with this girl except for him and her. If he hasn't told his closest family members anything about it in the past 10 years, then obviously it's something he doesn't want to talk about, with anyone. It's not like it's JUST you.
As for the picture, I think you're being petty about that. Would you be just as jealous if it was a picture of any other female friend? I would honestly be pretty pissed off if my partner demanded I throw out a picture of someone I was close to. It's not like it was out *for the world to see* as you described it. You said yourself that it was pretty much hidden behind other items. You didn't even notice it until very recently. Especially if his mother has very few pictures of him, she has every right to display whatever pictures she chooses in her home. It would be one thing if HE requested that she take it down, but it's another thing when you demand that it not only be taken down, but thrown away.

This may actually be partially caused by your pregnancy. I know that I tend to overreact to things that bother me when I'm pregnant. Even though I may have every right to be mildly ticked off or whatever, I tend to take it to an extreme and go off the deep end with something that should be relatively minor. You may be doing the same thing. Nothing that you've described would really bother me to the extreme it seems to be bothering you.
Honestly, in your situation, I would sit him down, let him know that it's bothering you to have her picture around because it makes you feel insecure. You feel like you don't measure up and any reference to her is causing those twinges of jealousy because you don't know what, if anything, happened between them or if he still cares about her. You'd feel a lot better if you know, if he would open up, but you need to understand if he doesn't want to. And he doesn't need to give you a reason for not wanting to either.
This is about YOUR insecurities, not any of his behaviors. Remember that.

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