I am so insecure in my current relationship, but in reality, I know that I am being irrational and ridiculous. I am just getting divorced after a three year marriage from someone that didn't treat me like anything special. My new boyfriend has never done anything to make me doubt him or the way he feels about me and I believe him when he tells me he loves me.
Lately I learned from friends of ours that he was a serial cheater in his last relationship. They all claim that I am "different" and that he's never been this way with a woman before, but I worry that if he was once a dog, he always will be! I just haven't dated in so long, and I don't have it in me to be let down and devastated again. What do you think? --Fragile Frances
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Dear Fragile Frances --
I'm proud that you've broken away from a painful relationship where you weren't treated well or lovingly. Being with someone who doesn't honor how you are special is no way to live or to love. Good for you, Fragile Frances. I can't tell by your note how long you've known or been dating your new boyfriend. Many of us can feel shaky when we begin dating again, most especially after any relationship where our self-worth has taken a blow or our feelings have been exploited. It's also very common for people to struggle with fears of infidelity and jealousy; it requires much effort and self-scrutiny to distinguish between our private demons and our partner's trustworthiness.
We shouldn't presume that people can't change or grow; however, we also don't want to deny facts or patterns when they appear. I'm not sure how irrational or ridiculous it is to feel insecure in your new relationship, especially if it's very new. The information about your boyfriend is troubling; there's no way around that, Frances. I encourage you to go slowly, to pay attention, and to listen to yourself.
A man isn't faithful because a woman is different. A man is faithful, in part, because he has courage, self-respect, self-control, values his word, and can properly imagine the feelings of others. His choices were his own, and not the result of anything about his partner. If his partner mistreated him, he had the choice to leave her, without practicing deceit.
Still, I'm very glad to hear your boyfriend has been treating you well and with love. That said, you are taking a calculated risk here, Frances, and it's important for you to think of it that way. You'll need to manage your anxiety while you get to know him better and until you know he's matured into a man who can tell the truth to himself and to others. If he is that man, he should be applauded. That kind of change is indeed significant and hard-won. No matter what may come, Frances, hold fast to the knowledge that you are different and you are special in your own right. Please respect that truth until the person arrives who can both honor you and honor his commitments.