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I have a new boyfriend and things are awesome, but there’s a problem. Let me preface this by saying I tend to be the problem in my relationships because even though I’ve never been cheated on or truly hurt, I still have a problem trusting guys for some reason.
With this new guy, he’s never really done anything physical with women before because he believes in waiting until marriage, and he’s never said ‘I love you’ before me. We haven’t been dating that long but we’re getting pretty serious already and he’s professes to be in love with me and wants to marry me. We’re also getting physical. So, it seems like he’s crazy about me but there’s one thing that keeps bugging me: he never talks about his exes. The only one he’s ever mentioned is now married to one of his friends. I asked him why he’s so secretive about his exes when I’m open about mine and he says “they’re not worth talking about” and “I still talk to some of them and I don’t want you to hate them.”
Is this something I should be worried about? I love him and trust him not to cheat on me, but I’d hate to be someone he settles for while being hung up on an ex he can no longer have. It could be my usual paranoia but I want to get some outside advice to make sure this isn’t a legitimate problem and I refuse to unload all my neuroses on him. Please help!!!!
-Trying not to fixate
Dear Trying not to fixate
Yes. You’re fixating. Yes. You’re paranoid. However, maybe – just maybe – you should be afraid, very afraid.
There is a point in almost every relationship where you feel like there’s something to prove to the other person. What do you do? What has he done for you to prove his feelings? He’s never told someone that he loves them, but he said the three little words to you (and he’s not even in a life or death situation like Chuck Bartowski). He’s saving himself for marriage, but he’s pushing the boundaries of chastity with you. Isn’t this enough? Must he complete 12 mythical labors to alleviate your fears and earn your trust (Heracles beat the crap out of Death to free Alcestis, make him drag race in a Prius).
What gives weight to your worries is the subject matter: The exes. Comparing exes can be like swapping war stories. You open up your shirts to see whose scar is bigger or drop your pants to see who’s got the most shrapnel wounds. Then you laugh, you kiss, and you promise you’ll never hurt the other person like those damn Vi-ex Cong did (you mean it in the moment, at least). Here you are, stripping down for him but wait, why won’t he meet you half way?
The issue is that there’s an emotional boundary he won’t let go of. Why? Because he might have some unresolved issues with the ghosts of girlfriends past (do NOT see that Matthew McConaughey movie). If the past truly has nothing to threaten you with, odds are he’d be willing to open up about it.
I understand you’re not jealous of an ex since you can’t be. Jealousy is person to person. He hasn’t even given you a name to start plotting acts of terrorism against. What he’s done instead is made you distrustful of his commitment to you and the relationship.
We must return to the mantra that resolves all unknowns: communication is key. Talk it out! You have to keep asking him to open up the ex-files. If he won’t then he’s withholding out of fear. Fear of what exactly? Could be he’s still involved with one or more of his exes. Could be because he’s hurt and bitter at the way things ended with the others. Could be because he’s afraid you’ll compare yourself to them and is worried you’ll start hating them for no reason. Could be because he’s an idiot. All you can do is explain that what you need is for him to be as open with you as you are with him.
Everyone is coming to get me,