Dear Dr. Love,Hi. I’m Mary. . .and I’m 15. I hope you please answer this question in your column. . .it’s very important to me.About a year and 3 months ago – I met my first love over the internet. We were very, very close. He’s 17 now. Our relationship seemed like it was unbreakable. . .until I mentioned that I had kissed someone else – before even meeting him. He thought this made me tainted.. .used. . .And he couldn’t deal with that. Since January. . we’ve been trying to deal with this problem. It’s consumed our entire lives. He went into a deep depression, was kicked out of school, put on medication, and arrested. Right now he’s on trial. . .facing up to 8 years in jail. He blames the entire thing on me. . .and my mistake. Personally, I don’t think I did anything wrong. But he won’t see it my way. Now, we’re trying to be ‘just friends’. . .but I can’t live without him. He’s my life.I know losing your first love is probably the hardest. . .But this feels different. I’m not complete without him. . .I feel like I’m dying. All of my dreams are gone. I want him back – but the only way to get my wish – is to fix this problem. How do I change my past – so that the kiss was nothing? And it doesn’t taint me? Please help. . .I need him. . .Love, Mary
You are correct that you did nothing wrong. But, your boyfriend is very psychologically fragile and he experienced your previous attachment as a betrayal. Never mind that his reaction is illogical. Feelings are rarely logical.It sounds to me like your friend was very damaged early in his life, and your comments about having cared for another, ripped open an old abandonment wound of his. If I had to guess I would say that he never received the message that he needed from his mother. That he was her one and only love. You see, all of us need to receive that feeling, at least when we are infants in arms. And, if we don’t receive that wanted, loved feeling, we go searching for it in adulthood. The problem being, that we can never find a lover that will love us the way our mothers did (or should have).So, when you told him you had another, his unconscious mind translated your words into ‘I’m not her one and only love.’Now, the question is, what can we do to help repair the wound. Realize that he needs to be in therapy. He needs to establish a therapeutic connection with someone who can give him the emotional connection that he lacked from childhood.So, keep in mind, whatever I suggest that you do, will only be plugging a leaky ship. He needs a total emotional overhaul, that you can’t give.That being said, we need to try to give him the feeling that he is your one and only love now. But first, before he can take in your love, I think you will need to talk with him about his hurt feelings. Don’t try to argue or justify your words. Don’t try to tell him that he is wrong to interpret your words as he did. Just listen and understand.To start that conversation rolling, you might say, ‘I don’t think I did a good enough job in trying to understand why my words hurt you so much.'( Realize you are not indicting yourself, you are just saying you want to understand him. How you see the matter has no bearing on the conversation, for when you are dealing with the other person’s hurt feelings, all that counts is his feelings and your trying to identify with his pain.)When he tells you how it hurt him, ask questions and repeat back what you have understood him to say. For example: If he says, ‘You made me feel betrayed,’ you might say, ‘So, when I said that I kissed someone else, you felt that I was cheating on you?’ If he says, that you are correct in your understanding. Then, you could continue. ‘So, how did that make you feel?’ And, then he’ll tell you. Then, you continue reflecting back what you hear and asking if you understand him.Finally, you will probably need to accept responsibility that your words hurt him (again this doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, it just means that you accept that your words landed wrong with him). You could for example, say, ‘Given how you heard my words, I can see why you were so hurt.’Then, you might ask him if he feel more resolved. If he says yes, then you can move into telling him why you care for him. Why he is special to you.This guy will need a lot of words of love, encouragement and reminders that he is your only love.I am not here to tell you who you should be involved with. You say you love him and want him in your life.You just need to know that you are going to be in for an exhausting and bumpy ride with this guy. No matter how loving you are, he will regularly take offense, feel rejected and bruised and you will need to repair his feelings like I described above. So, make sure you know what you are getting before you jump in.And, insist that he enter treatment.Best of luck to you.