Woe Is Me! “My Partner Hates Me For Having a Past. Should I Still Try to Make It Work?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I have a 1.2 years relationship with a great guy — he loves me, takes care of me, is adorable. The problem is, I had a past (the stupid kind). I am out of it now, but my teenage years were filled with doing random stuff with random boys. He HATES me for it. I have been a weird person, the kind who forms opinions about things without knowing or studying them. Once, he and I had a discussion over India becoming Pakistan because of the way we treat religious minorities. The trouble is, that he doesn’t forget or move on from everything that happened. He gets this random flashback of things about my past or my “leftist” behavior. Things have gotten really bad. We have broken up almost twice. We have stopped discussing clothes, religion, politics, history. He can’t see a future with me, and it hurts because I love him too much. The contradictory and troubling part is he says he loves the kind of person I am now. He loves all good qualities of mine but just cannot move past the “bad ones.” He wants to be with me, but he can’t stand being with me at the same time. It sometimes feels toxic, most times, it’s a dream come true. But I am tired of these constant mood swings. I feel desperate and sometimes disappointed in myself in this relationship. What do I do?”
— Living in the present
PB: If he insists on having the emotional maturity of a goose, then, by all means, my advice would be to move on and improve your quality of life. Everyone has a past they regret- your loved ones cannot constantly hold it over your head. If you’ve regretted and improved as you say you have, then he should be proud and supportive, not cynical and crass. The feeling of needing to “fix” and “hold on” to a relationship speaks of an incredibly toxic atmosphere, and I would urge you to break the chain as well as you can. Someone who understands that humans make mistakes and evolve from them. You are not the person you were, and the person you were cannot be used to define you forever.
DR: Have you ever collected the everyday trash from your house into a garbage bag and left it out to be picked up? That’s called “taking the trash out” and not “giving up” on garbage. Although, arguably, garbage can — and should be — recycled. Your boyfriend, on the other hand, seems unsalvageable. Also, I’m sorry to burst your bubble of this “great guy” you’re dating and point out that he sounds emotionally abusive based on the information you provided. I would strongly urge you to read about “trauma bonding,” and evaluate for yourself if that’s what you’re experiencing. To me, what you’re describing seems pretty apparent and formulaic — a cycle that starts with affection, then slowly moves into eroding your self-esteem bit-by-bit, proceeds to you being blown up at, and has you scrambling for that affectionate phase again, and then, the cycle restarts. Also, I don’t even know how to respond to “he says he loves the kind of person I am now.” Well, duh! He has got you exactly where he needs you to be — self-doubting and craving for his approval and “love.”
Moreover, him disliking your political views or your past sexcapades doesn’t automatically make them “bad qualities.” I’m sorry if you’ve been gaslit into believing it does. Also, your past isn’t going anywhere — neither is his desire to not just control your present worldviews, but also the person you used to be in the past. If you stay in this relationship, I worry you’ll constantly perform as a character you actually aren’t, hoping that would make him like you. Well, it won’t. In fact, you’ve been performing for a while, haven’t you? Has it changed anything other than you losing yourself in this process?
So, well, when are you doing yourself a favor and taking this living, breathing, controlling piece of trash out?
SS: Woah, it sounds like your partner is a psychiatric marvel. A man who has never had a past! Just directly born into the present and entirely moving in circles inside the present! I know some social scientists who would love to meet him! He’s got to be a “present man,” a wonder of science and anthropology. There’s no other explanation for why he would blame you for living like other human beings who have ordinary mortal things like blood, aging, and.. a past. Gasp! You must entirely donate your partner to science. It is the only way you can reconcile with learning that you are a regular, past-having, future-worrying, present-forgetting human being, like the rest of us.
RN: Please leave him immediately. I know it’s hard, it will hurt like hell, but the number of red flags in just this one paragraph is more than any relationship should ever have. He has no right to control your beliefs and, worse, make you feel bad and less worthy of love for them. You seem like you are growing into your own and developing an independent sense of self. He seems like someone who is not interested in having a conversation and growing with you. He’s only intent upon controlling you and making you feel terrible about yourself for perfectly reasonable opinions. There is no future in a relationship like this. I usually refrain from calling relationships abusive unless they really seem like it, and this is one of those situations where it does. Please don’t ever, ever undermine your own ideas and thoughts, don’t let this person turn you against yourself, and most importantly, please understand that he is the one who cannot abide an independent partner. Showering you with love for your “good” parts while “hating” you for what he considers bad is textbook emotional abuse. You deserve so much better than this. You are your own person. Continue in this any longer, and you will start to doubt even the most basic things about yourself. Also, he has no right whatsoever to have any opinion about your past and what you’ve done with whom. None whatsoever. It’s going to be hard, but the time to drop him is right now. Sending you so much strength and solidarity. And with all due respect to your boyfriend (none), he can stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.
RP: You’ve answered yourself already. Ending this is the smart thing to do. You’ve described this guy as great, the complete package, and someone who loves you and takes care of you. But he seems to only love you when you echo his opinion or hide your own. He’s made you feel dumb, stupid, and disappointed in yourself. You deserve better, no matter how much time you’ve invested in him. Getting out leaves you much more time to be appreciated and loved for exactly who you are.
A healthy relationship is one where there’s room to disagree, and the other person doesn’t judge you for it. We don’t have to share every opinion with someone we love. He seems to agree with parts of you and is asking you to change and only be those parts. That’s far from the complete package.
Life is short. Move on.