This Life: How can I prove to my friends and family that getting back with my ex isn't a bad thing?
Orla Barry is Social Affairs Correspondent with Newstalk 106-108FM and presents ‘The Green Room’ on Mondays from 10pm-12am
Published 25/04/2011 | 05:00
I recently started dating my ex-boyfriend again after three years apart and we are absolutely happy with the relationship. Not everyone else is though.
His family is cold towards me and his friends aren't much better. My own friends have been very quiet about the whole thing. I find it deeply upsetting as I really believe we are meant to be together.
There's been a lot of water under the bridge since our last relationship which was my first big love. We both behaved a little irresponsibly at the time. He wasn't working and was living off my wages and he became very negative. Eventually one night I was unfaithful. We decided to take a break and see what happened and then things just drifted. He started seeing someone else, a married woman, and I moved on too although I was in a slump for a long time. In my heart I always dreamt he would come back.
He returned from living abroad recently and we got back together. He's pursuing a new career and even though he is out of a job now, he's very determined about what he wants. A few weeks ago he hinted at marriage. I was thrilled but how can I even begin to be excited when no one else is sharing our joy?
My parents have always made it clear they never liked him. I haven't even told them we are dating again. I'm determined to prove them wrong.
It's not what you want to hear but I can't help feeling a bit circumspect about this relationship too.
This emotional rollercoaster you've been on must have been exhausting for everyone. I'm sure you're thrilled to have him back but are you sure you want to spend your life with this man?
People change and mature but beware that the petty jealousies and behaviours that can dog us in our youth may pop up again at any inopportune moment.
Embarking on a relationship with someone friends and family heartily disapprove of is a tough path. I wouldn't engage lightly as your future together initially will be marred by this.
Your determination is either admirable or foolish. Relationships are not fundamentally about proving anyone right or wrong.
If you were a teenager setting out to irritate your parents it wouldn't seem so out of place. At this stage in your life, it sounds inappropriate.
I wonder how it happened that the relationship was rekindled on his return. It must have been thrilling to discover he still felt deeply for you. Are you certain this isn't about trying to relive a past relationship and enjoying the fact that he is pursuing you again?
There is always something innocent yet heart-wrenching about the first big love. So much of our development into adulthood happens at this time. We are open to new experiences but equally vulnerable to hurt and disappointment.
The first heartbreak is usually the most memorable for the sheer horror of it. The rotten feeling of loneliness and longing is so unfamiliar we come up with all kinds of daft solutions to combat it. When it happens a second time you realise this is just how it feels.
It doesn't make it any easier but once you survive the first break, you know in your heart you can survive the next one.
I clearly remember desperately trying to get back with a boyfriend I had broken up with because I couldn't fathom how I could get rid of that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. We reunited for two weeks then broke up for good.
Friends and family on both sides are not happy with this reunion but you haven't explained why. What sort of things did you tell them after the split that make them see him in a different light or did they always view him suspiciously?
People don't dislike someone's partner just to make them feel bad. From your email there are a few clues to their distrust. He lived off you for a period of time. Are you really convinced that this will never happen again? He is out of work after all. And, by the way, no one drives anyone else to cheat. You made that decision yourself.
You say the relationship just drifted into a break that never ended but I wonder if it was his decision to move on that effectively ended it. The fact he moved on with a married woman also clearly bothers you as you choose to mention it.
He moved on in many ways -- a new relationship, moving abroad, pursuing a new career. What about you? What did you do in that time, aside from being unhappy?
His presence may bring a new happiness into your life but be sure that you are working to bring about your own happiness too.
You cannot place all the determinants of your future happiness on this person. After all, if something were to go wrong once again, then how quickly would your world come crashing down?
Your friends are suspicious of him or the relationship or both. You need to heed their concerns and then figure out if this relationship is worth pursuing.
It can be difficult to see friends reuniting with past exes, particularly if those friends have spent nights crying into drinks and ridiculing those former partners.
You might forget the things you said but be sure they don't.
His family may be looking at you thinking there's the girl who cheated on our son/brother, coming back again to wreak more havoc.
Maybe you do have to prove yourselves in some way to those on both sides but in the end you need to prove yourselves worthy of each other.
Keeping the relationship hidden from your parents won't get you far. I hazard that you have kept this reunion to yourself as you know you need to be on very sure footing before telling everyone. Maybe you are right and this relationship is truly meant to be. Just to be sure, don't rush into it.
You've had a tough couple of years, now embrace the fact that your life is taking a turn for the better. When those around you see that you are truly happy, it will be so much easier for them to accept this reunion.
He has suggested marriage and yet is out of work at the moment. It sounds like he needs to slow down and take things one step at a time. Give yourselves time to adjust to this new relationship and if it works out there will be plenty of people happy to celebrate with you when the time is right.
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