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Please give me your insights on my relationship (long post)
My boyfriend (let's call him Matt) and I have a relationship that I am quite sure is not the typical boyfriend story. We've each been through a lot together and before I go into it all, let me say I am very happy with where things stand now. But I do wonder if, because it's such an unusual story, our relationship will always be unusual.

And now, the story...

So I met this guy online last year. We decided to meet up in real life but neither of us said anything about being gay or wanting to date or anything. As far as I knew it was just going to be two friends hanging out. He took me to a club and we had a good time chatting and whatnot, and at one point he gave me a little peck on the cheek. I don't even remember how I reacted but it really caught me off guard. He apologized. As a footnote, before this night if anyone asked me my sexual orientation, I would have said "100% straight." I had never even heard of words like "bi-curious" and even though I knew deep down I was gay I had already decided I would never entertain the idea. That is, until a guy actually kissed me. My first kiss ever from anyone, any gender, actually. So I surprised myself and told him it was okay to kiss me. He kissed me a couple more times like that, and then later on gave me a huge open-mouth kiss in front of the entire club full of people. I remember one group of people even taking pictures. At the end of the night we took a cab back to his place and all of the sudden, 23 years of repressed hormones, desires, fantasies, etc, came gushing out. He walked me to the subway the next morning so I could go to work and I spent the rest of the day floating on a cloud, albeit also extremely confused. I would find out several months later that the place he took me to was not actually his place; it was his boyfriend's. With that revelation I would also find out that evening was at the apex of a heated argument he and his boyfriend were having. And that is where the story takes a turn.

We started going out a lot. I began to have a lot of feelings for him, feelings I had never had for anybody, feelings I didn't even know existed. He never offered to go back to "his place" again (it wasn't until much later than I found out why), but we did go to my place a few times. I had a very strict roommate at the time so privacy was a hot commodity. We fooled around, hand stuff mostly, which to me was far more than enough. Just him touching me down there for a minute or so was usually enough to get me off and I had to learn how to control it. We'd go on romantic dates, walk out along the river, etc, but whenever I tried to say anything overly mushy he'd shun me. He would degrade what we did in the bedroom, saying it was "nothing," the kind of stuff that platonic friends do all the time. He belittled me every time I tried to ask if we were in a relationship, if I could call him my boyfriend, etc. I also asked about his apartment and he said he was just renting it for a month and no longer lived there, and his actual residence was a state away.

At some point, he started inviting this other "friend" of his when we went out. Him going back home with me at the end of the night was not exactly common before, but now it was becoming an extreme rarity. He would always say that he was going to drop off this friend of his and then go spend the night at another friend's house. I'd offer to go with them to make sure he made it back to his friend's house, but he always told me no. One time in particular, he insisted that I walk to a different subway station than him and his friend, which forced me to walk five blocks away by myself in an area I wasn't really familiar with, at 3 in the morning. He called me "retarded" for wanting to go to the same subway as him.

Eventually, through Matt's friends who were also becoming my friends, I found out this guy was his "ex" and he was very abusive. Matt has permanent physical scars because of this guy. He had a penchant for kicking Matt out on the street in the middle of the night with nowhere to go. When I found out they had such a crazy past, I started growing more resentful every time we had to hang out with this creep. And the fact that Matt always went away with him at the end of the night made me assume they were actually going back to have sex. Of course Matt always told me he was just dropping this guy off and then going somewhere else to sleep.

But then Matt started texting me about how he didn't feel well. One time he said he caught his penis in a zipper and it caused it to bleed and everything. I saw him limping for several days. I happened to mention the incident to his "ex" and he said "I know; I felt bad and offered to put cream on it or something." Matt had told me this happened at someone else's house, so the fact that the ex told me he was there when it happened, hit me. He probably caused this injury, whether intentional or not. Then one time, Matt called me at 4 AM in the middle of winter, saying he was wandering outside without any money. He wouldn't even tell me why but I knew it was because his "ex" kicked him out of the house. I picked him up, he was shivering and despondent. I took him to my place but he wouldn't even talk about it. I'd often receive random phone calls from him during the week where he'd sound so distraught and so depressed, and ask me for guidance, but then he refused to tell me what was wrong. Whenever things started to get intimate at all between us, he'd find something about me to insult or ridicule. He started playing games with me. He once told me he had to spend the night on the streets because his friend kicked him out, and he was lying out by the river like a homeless person. I managed to leave work early and scoured every inch of the riverside, walking up to countless people covered up in coats or towels, without finding him. I eventually called him and he laughingly admitted he was out having lunch with a friend and made up the story. He said I was stupid for believing him.

Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I knew what was really going on but he kept refusing to tell me the truth. In what was the angriest text I ever sent anyone, I called him a "conniving slut" that was using me, lying to me, and treating me like garbage. Instead of any semblance of an apology he said I was delusional. So we "broke up" even though we were never actually a couple. I started dating another guy, and after all the madness before I felt tempted to go really fast. We were using the word "boyfriend" after one date; a couple weeks into things and we already told each other "I love you." But then things crashed and burned there. This new guy broke up with me not even a month into our relationship. I turned to people for solace, including, yes, Matt. He was actually for the first time ever, really there for me. But he did it in a way that wasn't mushy or anything. His matter-of-fact guidance helped me get over the break-up. I found out that he and his "ex" were now officially done. There was irreparable harm done between them, through one major incident that I still don't really know much about.

Anyway, Matt and I actually started dating again, and this time there was far less drama between us. He now always willingly came back to my place at the end of the night. He'd leave clothes, buy cooking supplies, and it kind of became "our place." I was happy. But after everything, I was now so afraid to use words like "relationship," "boyfriend," or "love."

Finally, several months ago, I asked him if we could actually be boyfriends and he said yes. And then a few months later, in a romantically random moment, I said "I love you." He didn't reciprocate but he didn't shun me either. He did eventually say "I love you" to me as well.

So that's where we are now.........However, he is still very light on all the mushy stuff. I tell him all the time how much I like being with him, how every moment with him is magical. But I can't even remember the last time he said anything like that to me. I know he loves me; after all we've been through I know he does. But he says that I go "ballistic" any time he ever says or does anything sweet to me. I argue that's because it's so rare. But maybe he's just not the type to greet me with a rose and a card, like I do for him. Maybe he's not the type to wake me up with a love-filled good morning text, again as I do for him.

I can't help but wonder if he sees me as his knight in shining armor, the one who was there for him during his darkest times (even though I did eventually have to walk away, but I'm pretty sure I did more for him than any of his other bfs). And of course, for me, he was my first, the one I will forever associate with "coming out." There's rose-colored glasses on both of us.

So it's anything but a normal relationship, and I worry that it never will be. I know this has been an extraordinarily long message, and even if no one actually reads it I'll still be glad that I actually got to get all of this off my chest, that I was actually able to "tell" someone all that I've gone through. But if anyone does find themselves with a lot of spare time and wants to share their insights, I would really appreciate it.

Thank you for sharing your story. I read through every single word of it and feel very emotional about that. Feel like, every single of us has a complicated life of our own. If I collect all of that stories and make in to a movie, I would be a millionaire lol Big Grin

First of all, I don't know what to advise you about Matt. My head tells me that you should not end everything with him. Trust is something very important in any form of relationship. Without trust, everything is just to fragile and obviously, in your situation, he does not trust you and you don't trust him enough to share your life. You will very likely to get hurt in the end.
However, my heart tells me that you should be with him, risk it. In every single life, there will be only one Mr. Right, if we don't risk, we may let him walk away and be regret to the rest of our life. I feel like you love him a lot, and I think he loves you too. Just stay with him, love him more, and time will answer all of your questions. You can not force anyone tells you " I love you", but one day when he finds out that you deserve it, he does more for you than just saying it.

Whatever the result is, in the end you will not regret because you have tried. If it does not work, then he is just not your Mr. Right and he does not deserve you. But I hope it will be ok in the end.

I wish you luck.

Thank you so much for reading and replying Smile He does show me that he loves me, but it's always in very muted gestures. I guess it's just that I'm a real romantic and he isn't, but he likes it when I am romantic to him. It feels one-sided sometimes. But I do know that even during the worst moments we really enjoyed each other's company. There's undeniable chemistry, I just wish there were more things I could look back on as examples where he was a real sweetheart.

outandabout Wrote:Thank you so much for reading and replying Smile He does show me that he loves me, but it's always in very muted gestures. I guess it's just that I'm a real romantic and he isn't, but he likes it when I am romantic to him. It feels one-sided sometimes. But I do know that even during the worst moments we really enjoyed each other's company. There's undeniable chemistry, I just wish there were more things I could look back on as examples where he was a real sweetheart.
Isn't it enough?
Many people would trade everything to get what you are having. So keep fighting for it and good luck Big Grin

Yeah, you're right Smile I used to dream about him actually willing to becoming my boyfriend so I should be grateful for that.

That's quite a story!

Do we ever really know what another person's life has been like? His previous relationship must have left Matt with scars that go far deeper than the physical ones. It will undoubtedly take him a long time to deal with all that and he's going to have to find his own way of doing it, much as you would probably like to help him.

I, too, have a little experience of being in an abusive relationship and I will admit it took me longer than it did my present partner to begin to feel comfortable making intimate gestures and speaking those so important intimate words. However, his love and patience over several years has been the closest thing I can describe to a "blessing" that has helped the healing process.

Thanks, Marshlander, for your personal insights! I think you're right - he's just afraid to be too emotional because of the scars he had to endure from his last relationship. I know for certain he isn't seeing anyone else, that he loves me, and we both are happier when we're with each other. That's all you can ask for, right? Smile

outandabout Wrote:... That's all you can ask for, right? Smile
Not necessarily. But asking for more before he has the capacity to give it could jeopardise the relationship. It sounds as though you are sensitive to that, but don't lose sight of your own needs altogether Wink

Matt is a 'child of abuse'.

I'm sorry but you picked yourself a 'broken toy'. He is going to require more love, more patience and more understanding than a person who never was abused requires.

Do start pushing him towards therapy, counseling - gently and not too hard, if he balks let it rest, then try again in 1-2 months. Eventually he is going to need to face the emotions that abuse causes. If he doesn't deal with those emotions they can turn into self destructive activities, alcoholism, drug abuse, cutting, and even 'mining' the relationship you two have for failure.

YOU need to get into therapy yourself - might as well do it now, there are going to be 'strange' things happening, mixed signals, perhaps even what appears to be your relationship going down the toilet. If you want to be with Matt and if you really love him, then you need to get a therapist who can listen to you and your side of what 'goes on' and hopefully the therapist can tell you a little of what may be going on in Matt's head and heart so you can see a little more clearly if its the past abuse that is the problem or a present relationship issue.

The fact is, Matt is a broken toy now, and he will never, ever be totally fixed. Even after decades of therapy, he will not be 'normal' in the sense that you are, unless you are a child of abuse yourself then you really don't need to hear anything I have to say.

Your anger, although justified, will not go down well with your relationship. Do not call him a conniving slut or any other 'ill tempered words'. Most likely The Ex used similar words, and when you use them all you will do is put Matt right back in the past at the height of the abuse.

"Truth" for victims of abuse is a slippery thing. They will tell lies to prevent more pain, or to stop potential abuse. The lies are self preservation, and will often not make much sense. However he 'needs' these until he can understand what happened to him and understand how the abuse is still affecting him in every aspect of his life.

Guilt plays a huge roll in the victim's actions and reactions. That guilt will no doubt be misplaced by a normal persons point of view, but it is very real for him and it will cause all manner of 'weird' reactions that you might not understand.

Just because he has moved in with you does not mean things are OK. Unresolved issues of abuse have a tendency of 'echoing' in a person's mind. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but eventually he will start having nightmares, perhaps even start screaming in his sleep and not even knowing he is doing it. 'Triggers' will set him off, events, scents, sounds will cause him to 'flash back' to a particularly 'bad event'. This will eventually manifest as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If it hasn't already started to manifest.

With physical abuse leaving scars, Matt will forever be reminded of that abuse. Each time he sees the scar his brain will whisper in his ear the words he heard when the injury took place, he will see the event play back again. He may not say anything, he may not react in any manner you can notice, but it will be there.

While he may (most likely) be in love or falling in love with you, he is most likely terrified that if he commits he is opening himself up for more abuse.

Do not be at all surprise if he physically pulls away when you start showing affection, do not be surprised if he can't say 'I love you'. Don't be too shocked if everything seems perfectly find one night, then the next night he wants nothing to do with you and shudders or shuns you. These types of behavior are typical for people who are abused.

As your relationship deepens and you spend more time together, expect periods where it seems like he doesn't' want to be with you. No its not you, its what the ex did. And asking Matt 'Am I doing something wrong' could get any answer but the right one.

Yes, most likely he does see you as his Knight in Shining Armor. However you need to be vigilant and point out every scratch, ding and rust spot on that armor. He must be made to face the reality that no matter how sweet and kind you are you are a human being and are prone to the errors that all humans are prone too.

Does he have a job or an income of his own? If not you may want to have him get at least a part time job.

The reason being is that his ex most likely didn't allow him to work. Yeah the Ex might have said 'I'll take care of you baby' but the real motive was to get Matt totally dependent on him, to where Matt couldn't afford to 'run away'.

Matt will need to have the financial freedom to run - this will build up a lot more trust than all of the I Love Yous you can say. Letting him have a job, and his own bank account will give him a sense of ability to bug out if you turn out to be another 'The Ex'.

Victims of abuse are always - ALWAYS terrified that the abuse will happen again, no matter who they are with. Thus establishing patterns that are opposite of the typical abuse situation empowers the abused and gives them assurances that they are safe.

Matt will most likely measure everything you do against what his ex did. He may not say it, but he is thinking about it. This is NOT a reflection on you, it is a reflection of what he has been through.

Living with a person who has been abused, either as a child or as an adult is not easy.

If that person is not seeking professional help, it is even less easy.

I know through my own personal experiences. I am a broken toy myself.

However I am in a long term relationship, we are pushing 20 years pretty hard now. During those 20 years I have had to work pretty hard to get my past under MY control, it wasn't easy, and I was reluctant for the first part of my adult life.

It has grown easier, yet I still have flash backs, I still 'take it out' on my domestic partner. I am blessed to be with a man who is able to take the extra time to 'try' to understand me in my 'moments'. While it tears him up when I wake up screaming at night, he has learned how to 'deal with it. While he pretty much shrugs it all off and will smile and say 'its all good', I know it hasn't been easy for him.

My point is that this relationship of yours is possible to be a long term one, and even a life long one. however it will require a bit more work and you most likely will have to pick Matt up and carry him a few years until he is ready and able to start dealing with 'the crap' he has been through.

Quite a story!

It sounds like things are progressing along. At the same time thougn, I would feel inclined to cease with the games right away, and this is on the understanding he was in an abusive relationship.

But then, my own past dictates my own burns and everything, so I have been of the ilk of being extremely careful with my heart these days.

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