Have I Been Dumped?

Question: I’ve always heard that communication is so important in relationships but now I’m not so sure. I shared every detail of my last relationship with my current boyfriend because I thought he needed to know. Everything was fine and we were even discussing marriage until he told me he wouldn’t marry any woman who wasn’t a virgin before him. Then he started drinking because he’s so upset.

I’m very confused by his behavior. I’m not sure if I’ve actually been dumped or if there’s a chance I can save my relationship with him. What can I do? I’m having trouble getting through my day because every moment is consumed by thoughts of him.

Answer: Relationships are very difficult to manage because they are constantly changing. As such, perhaps it might be a good idea for you to step back a moment and decide whether this is a relationship that is healthy for you because I see several problems.

First, while there is some information that new partners need to know about previous relationships, it is usually wise to keep “every detail” to yourself. If you do not, you run the risk of the new partner becoming jealous, feeling like they are not measuring up or misunderstanding aspects of the former relationship. Only the two people involved in a relationship know what it is truly like; everyone else just has to guess. Consequently, while your new partner needs to know the number of previous sex partners (for health concerns) and the reasons for the breakup, other details you may want to keep to yourself.

Second, you didn’t mention how long you’ve been with the new guy, but I’m guessing that the fact that you slept with your former love was not new information for him. Consequently, I have to wonder why he’s objecting to your sexual history at this stage of the game. If that was a problem for him, why not mention it before when it might have been easier for everyone to walk away? Moreover, if he himself is not a virgin, then it’s hypocritical for him to make that a stipulation for marriage.

Third, it sounds like he has started to drink (or just increased his drinking?) in order to manage his stress. That’s not a good idea at all. Drinking or using drugs in order to combat difficult emotions is a path that can lead to addiction. And if you think you have relationship troubles now, just wait until you find yourself married to an active alcoholic! Even if your current love decides he wants to be with you, if he cannot develop better coping skills, then I would seriously re-evaluate the possibility of a future with him.

Finally, while I understand the misery and anxiety of a possible or actual break-up, it is very problematic to have every moment of your life consumed by thoughts of him. In order to have a well-rounded life, it is best to surround yourself with a variety of interests and relationships (e.g., friends, family, coworkers). That way, if one relationship or interest ends, you have a number of other people and places to occupy your thoughts. It’s like the old saying goes: Don’t put all your eggs into one basket. If you don’t have those other people and things in your life, you may want to start developing them. That will certainly help you think about something else other than your relationship.

I can certainly understand your confusion about whether or not you’ve been dumped. He seems to be setting conditions for marriage you can’t fit but his high level of distress also suggests a lack of resolve. Thus, there might be hope for a continued relationship. However, you may want to take this opportunity to think about what you want in a romantic relationship and what you don’t. Given the level of chaos this has caused, the relationship certainly seems to encourage some reflection.

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