<p>Dear Dr. Love,</p>
<p>I've been with my boyfriend for 2 1/2 years but known him for 7 years. We were friends at first and when I had a crush on him he was in a relationship. My crush then turned into strong feelings for him and I later on fell in love. I confessed my love for him and he did as well for me, all while he was in a relationship. His ex at the time was a horrible girlfriend, I was with him all the time and she would never be with him. They had a 4 year relationship. Fast forward they broke up and he immediately started dating me. I love him to death but I recently went through his phone and saw that he is texting her. She was asking him to come visit her new apartment, have some drinks with her and the way he answered it seem like he was telling her yes. To make matters worse she later on asked him if she was still loved and he answered of course she is. Dr. Love I was so upset. I love this man and I stopped talking to my ex and most of my male friends because I didnt want there to be any chance of conflict. I havent told him I read the texts because Im waiting to see more than get him. What should I do?</p>
You’re in an awful bind because reading his texts is violating his privacy, and if you tell him that you did so the focus will be turned back onto you, and you’re wrongdoing, rather than onto him and what is going on for him.
One thing that’s clear to me is that he has a serious unfinished business and Old Scars that have not been healed. My clue is the fact that his ex was a horrible girlfriend, and yet he stayed in the relationship with her for four entire years! And, a further sign that he's in the grips of this unfinished business is the fact that he is drawn to the mistreatment, which is why he continues to have contact with her.
This means one thing and one thing only. Your boyfriend is more invested in pursuing a destructive relationship than a healthy one. The only reason why he would be drawn in this way is precisely because he’s dealing with an Old Scar from childhood. In a nutshell, people are drawn to partners who repeat the emotional traumas of childhood because: 1) we are drawn to familiar pain; and 2) we are driven to try to heal our childhood wounds. For this reason, we choose partners who emotionally resemble the parent who let us down in an effort to achieve a Happy Ending to the original wound. Because the compulsion to heal our Old Scars is so strong, a person will resist giving up on a destructive relationship or partner; giving up feels like abandoning the hope of ever healing. So we stay in destructive relationships or return to them, hoping that this time around we will finally succeed in achieving that Happy Ending. Read my archived articles on Unfinished Business and Repetition Compulsion to understand more.
The bottom line is you are in a very precarious situation. Your boyfriend is already sniffing around the barn. It won’t be long before he wants to go back so that he can, once again, replay his Old Scar and try, once again, to fix it.
Now you understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. Now the question is what can you do.
You don’t need to reveal that you read his texts. You can simply talk to him about what you sense is going on. He won’t wonder why you are suspicious because he, himself, knows what he’s been up to. He’ll just figure that you picked up a vibe from him.
So you could start by telling him that you sense he’s pulling away. Or you could you say that you have the sense that he’s still attached to his ex.
He’ll probably jump at the chance to unburden his guilty conscience.
When he admits that he does have feelings, now’s your chance to come in with a major wake-up call. Explain to him what I said about Repetition Compulsion and Unfinished Business.
Explain to him that he’s attempting to heal his unfinished business by returning to a terrible ex.
Then explain to him that he’s never going to get his Happy Ending with her because she’s as limited and/or damaged as was the parent who let him down and harmed him. This means he’s never going to get any more or any better treatment from her than he got from his parent. In fact, all he’s going to get is a repetition of the pain of the past, which will drive his wound even deeper into his psyche rather than heal it.
Encourage him to read my book Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First), which thoroughly explains the compulsion to repeat childhood trauma in an effort to heal and explains how he can use your relationship and you, his partner, to help him heal the Old Scar once and for all.
You would also do well to read the book, because I suspect you are battling an Old Scar of your own. The fact that you’re chasing after a boyfriend who isn’t there for you must be a repeat performance of what you suffered having grown up with a parent who wasn’t 100% there for you.
Read my book ASAP and you’ll both be healed sooner than you can imagine. When the healing is complete, he’ll no longer have any interest in anyone who mistreats him!
Let me hear how you do.