About 5ish years ago I was in a mentally abusive relationship. There was also some cases of rape but I didn’t realize that’s what it was until after being out of the relationship (stupid I know). The part that affects me the most though was that while I was in that relationship (I was 16 at the time), I became pregnant. I was terrified but also going to do anything I could for my child. But then about a couple of months into that pregnancy I misscarried. I know it wasn’t my time to become a mom but it’s still something that greatly affects me to this day. That and all the relationship issues I had. Fast forward a bit, I decided to start dating again and I have been in a relationship with a guy for 3 years. We care about each other a lot but we do have moments where things can be very hard. It always comes down to, he’s in the mood but I’m not usually in it I think mostly because of what I’ve been through. It definitely causes strain on our relationship. I try to explain that it is definitely hard for me to do things at times because of what I’ve been through and while he understands that, it definitely hurts him too. He tells me that at times he feels unwanted and that of course makes me feel horrible. I love him very much, I feel horrible that even cuddling and touching can be sometimes hard for me. He respects when I say no or not right now but I can understand that he thinks I’m pushing him away. I’m not trying to, I am just really struggling. Sometimes he says he feels like hes living in the shadow of that relationship. I don’t know what to do. I really care about him. He does really care about me and respects when I say no. I don’t want him to feel like he’s being pushed away. I need help
Hey Boots! Thanks for coming here and sharing with us I hope even just that has helped you feel a little bit lighter.
First of all I just need you to know that there’s nothing stupid at all about anything you’ve said. Especially about not being aware how bad things were until you left that old relationship. That’s relatable! I promise you, it’s not because you’re stupid. Intelligence doesn’t have much to do with it, people who abuse others tend to be pretty skilled manipulators and even exceptionally smart people can be victims. And even if smarts had anything to do with it, the truth is that there’s nothing you did or didn’t do that made you deserve to be hurt by this person.
But back in the present, I’m so glad that you’re in a relationship that’s loving and respectful! You talk to each other about how you’re going and how things are affecting you and it sounds like you really listen. I think that’s really great.
I could be wrong, only you will know, but it sounds like you’re carrying around a lot of really heavy stuff from your past – and I want you to know that’s okay, and you can something about it. Being pregnant for months and having a miscarriage is a huge event, it can be really deeply traumatising. But then on top of that, being in a mentally and physically abusive relationship will tear up everything you think you know about who you are, how people see you, and how you deserve to be treated. It’s horrible. On paper at least, it sounds like a hell of a lot to deal with at once! No wonder it can affect your intimacy!
But no matter what, it’s okay to not be in the mood whether your partner is or not, it’s okay to need some more physical distance sometimes, it’s also okay to not know why or for how long, but just to ask for space because it’s what you need right now. Nobody’s pleasure is worth your pain, and a good partner will understand that.
It’s hard to deal with things like this when you can see them taking a toll on your loved ones too. I’m glad you’ve been strong and told him how you feel and what happened in your past. It would’ve been scary.
If you aren’t already, I’d really encourage you to talk to someone professionally about what you’re feeling and what you want to change. That’s what they’re there for, after all! They have the skills and training to help you put down anything you’re carrying with you, and make the things you can’t put down easier to handle. If you’d like help looking for resources I’d be happy to help you find them. I just don’t want you to struggle with this more than you need to, when there are people who can help.
As for your partner, it’s tricky. The two things this made me think of are…
Firstly, sometimes he seems to be misinterpreting your needs, maybe not through fault of his own. Maybe he doesn’t quite understand that when you are dealing with these things it isn’t related to how you feel about him and it’s not because he’s not good enough. When he says that he feels like he’s living in the shadow of your old relationship, I see what he is trying to say but I don’t really like how he’s saying it. You’re the one living in the shadow of your past, and you’re in this impossible situation where you have to protect yourself and also be there for him. It’s hard! I think you’re doing your best.
And secondly, I understand what it’s like to not be able to express love how you want to. Sometimes when you’re dealing with these things it makes it impossible to express ourselves how we’re used to. You shouldn’t have to touch if you don’t feel comfortable with it, so instead, there might be other ways to show him that you want him. You know your partner best, so it’s up to you whether you try expressing with words or looks or selfless, giving acts or whatever works! Maybe it’ll sound silly, but that’s okay too! Silly is a start. You can build on silly. Even a quick “thankyouIloveyou” can make a difference.
These are just my thoughts though, the most important thing is that you know that there’s nothing wrong with you and that we see you and care. You’re doing well! If you want to talk more I and a bunch of other lovely people are here, but there’s no obligation to reply either.
Welcome to Heart Support! Good luck!
Hey. Thank you so much for sharing.
I understand why you’re current significant other may be feeling the way they do. It sounds like, for the most part, they are being respectful of your trauma but that can still take a toll on your significant other no matter how respectful they’re trying to be. It’s not your fault either. What happened to you is not your fault. You are not intentionally trying to push him away but I think it’s important that you two communicate with one another about everything. Possibly with a therapist. Because you indicated that you have recently come to the realization that you were in a previously abusive relationship and that can be a lot to work through without the help of specialist. Be kind to yourself, my friend. You are loved.