Posted by: alphafemme | August 20, 2009

I don’t want to hurt her, I just want to love her and be loved

…and I’m back! It was brilliantly glorious to be without internet and cellphone service for three days. The first day I was going through an anxious withdrawal, feeling very cut off and absolutely sure that something horrible was going to happen that I wouldn’t know about because I was so cruelly cut off from the world. The second day, I was basking in the serenity of knowing no one could reach me. I didn’t have to be available! For anyone! I could shower without worrying that my phone would ring. I could go to sleep without the wary alertness that I might receive a text message from mi’lady. It was positively LIBERATING. And then going back to the fully wired reality… it was welcome, but not needed. I think I need to take technology vacations every once in a while. And perhaps relax a bit on the idea of needing to be constantly available.


Since I’ve been back, I’ve been working through some weirdness. It sprang up seemingly out of the blue. Mi’lady and I were tangled up in her bed, post-sex, marvelling about how we’ve been together almost nine months and it seems both much shorter than that (we haven’t settled into taking each other for granted! joy!) and much longer (how could we possibly have learned each other so well in such a short amount of time?). “You’re quickly moving into the rank of Second Longest Relationship!” she said, “as long as we stay together another month and a half, you’ll beat B.” I laughed, and said “my goal is to be your longest relationship, and then some!” “Well you’re… let’s see… 3/8ths of the way there…” she said. (Funnily enough, she’s 3/8ths of the way towards becoming my longest relationship too. We’ve both been in significant 2-year relationships previously.)

And then she got quiet and pensive. The problem is, I feel like there’s this standard that her ex-girlfriend has set (the Longest Relationship girlfriend, that is).  She still feels all kinds of pain about this break-up, which is now over two years ago. She feels bitter that her ex says she learned through their relationship that she could be loved, while mi’lady learned only that she could be broken. She says it was like all that work, all that energy, all that love, all that time, all for nothing. And she still gets hurt when her ex does things like untag herself from pictures on Facebook that they’re both in. Mi’lady says it feels like her ex is trying to erase her from her life. “What was the point?” she says.

Sometimes I’m afraid that forever and ever, despite anyone else who comes after, no matter how much she loves them, she will never quite love the same. She loves me, for sure, but somehow she’s endowed her ex with all this power, this ability to cause her pain like no one else ever had and ever will have. Obviously I don’t want to cause her that much pain. I don’t even want her to give me the capacity to cause her that much pain.

But what I do want is for her to realize that it’s not her ex that hurt her that much, it’s she who let herself be hurt. My belief is that she needs to let go of her, take away the power she’s given her to hurt her. She put all of herself into that relationship, every last little bit. So when she lost it, she lost herself too. The reason I know this is because I understand it all too well. I did the exact same thing with my Longest Relationship, and I lost myself when she broke up with me, too. But then I took myself back. I’m still struggling with keeping myself, and not give myself away entirely to mi’lady, as I tend to do. But I want to find that balance, of how much of myself to give in order to have a strong, sustaining, loving relationship. And I want her to find that balance too.

I don’t want her ex to have this mythic status. The one who broke her heart. Is that crazy? Is that unreasonable? Do I need to just let it go?



  1. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting her to stop suffering, and wanting this evil person who screwed her over to stop casting a pall over the relationship. It doesn’t make you a control freak, it makes you a person in love who cares about the well-being of Yr’lady and who does want to “be wholly loved by her” — which is ok and normal and happy. Yeah.

    I think exes invariably fade over time, they really do.

    Even from long-ago exes, there’s sometimes still a twinge — a moment of thinking “gee, that was actually a nice relationship in lots of ways… I wish I hadn’t fucked it up the way I did” — but the twinges are very rare and very mild, especially from the longer-ago ones. And exes never really compare to current relationships.

    For me, I’ve always noticed that the longest effect of exes is actually aversive. I think we’re all sort of scarred by them a little bit in that way — we shy away from situations that resemble situations involving exes that led to disaster. I can think of so so sosososo many incidents of irrational “oh my god, she’s like X. That horrible person who screwed me over is like X. RUN AWAY!” thinking on my own part. I’ve also been on the receiving end of that sort of thing from others — the budding romance that has gone nuked because I resemble, in some irrelevant or relevant-but-ought-not-to-be-determinative way, some evil ex. (Sucks to be there.) Since you obviously don’t have this effect working against you, I say be optimistic!

    It does help to just cauterize the wound a little — I’m really not into keeping in contact with exes after ugly breakups, because at the time, it just causes pain, and then later, why bother? We (if I may generalize some more) invariably find that the ex isn’t nearly as fabulous as we thought at the time. Maybe Yr’lady could get rid of the facebook contact herself to make the break cleaner?

    (Abbreviated version of this comment: “ramble ramble ramble.”)

    (Also, I would like pithiness praise for “Yr’lady.” Thank you.)

    • Yr’lady!! I love it!!! I’m going to tell her about that. :)

      And you’re right. Time. Of course if we were to break up now, Longest Relationship would still be that, would still have that power and that significance, and would still be The One Who Destroyed Her. But if we don’t (which we’re not), if we’re together for another year, or more, and beyond, then… well then Longest Relationship will (a) lose that title, and (b) lose significance. There’s absolutely no use worrying *now* about that. Hopefully she’ll learn, being with me, that she can love wholly and actually be *loved back* wholly too. And then that will be most significant.

      Though it’s not about competition with any of her exes. It’s about… can I trust her with my heart? Because if a part of her still belongs to her ex, then it’s hard to know how long I should wait around for her to take it back.

      BUT. I certainly don’t want to pre-determine that she won’t ever love me wholly. Because, as you put it, it sucks to be on that end of it. I really ought to just close my eyes and dive in, no? Worst case scenario, I lose her eventually. But if I don’t close my eyes and dive in, I’ll lose her too. Through fault of my own.

      And I repeat: HELP! THERAPIST!

      • Hahaha — you don’t need a therapist, you already know the answer! Though, perhaps, therapists are good for getting us to do things that we already know we ought to do but don’t want to do. (In which case, chronic procrastinator me should have a small army of shrinks at his beck and call.) The “just close [your] eyes and dive in” plan is, as far as I can tell, always right. Like, always. Yet it’s easy to give that advice to others, or even to recognize that it’s right for oneself, but it’s so much harder to actually do it — we always have a litany of excuses, of ways in which “this situation is different“…

        edit: Yes, that’s EXACTLY what I use my therapist for. Thanks for the comments :) –alphafemme

  2. My advice would be to just let her feel what she feels, it belongs to her. Try not to bring it up too much and eventually it should fade as you two grow to become something much bigger.

    • You’re so right — it belongs to her. That’s such a good way of putting it. I can’t force her or even really help her process those particular emotions in the particular way *I* would ideally want her to. And maybe the way she ends up processing them is different from the way I did (and still do).

      In the meantime, I don’t bring it up — there’s not really any good that comes of talking about it, and there’s a whole lot of bad, so I avoid it. And blog about it instead :)

  3. […] I don’t want to hurt her, I just want to love her and be loved […]

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