Relationship Connection: I’m scared to commit to a new relationship

Question

I’m in a relationship that’s pretty new and things are going well, for the most part. I think I’m struggling right now because my previous boyfriend was jealous and controlling, which is why I broke up. Even though this new relationship isn’t anything like that, neither was my ex-boyfriend when we first got together. It seems like my previous relationship got worse after we became more serious. It was like I became his property and he would check my phone, ask me where I was all the time, and accuse me of cheating. I don’t want to put those fears on my new relationship, but I feel like I need to find out if it’s going to be like that before I keep going. Is there a way I can find out if he’s going to be controlling like that without accusing him and ruining things?

Answer

It sounds like your ex-boyfriend is holding your new relationship hostage, even though he’s not a part of your life anymore. This is a common reaction when you begin a new relationship full of uncertainty.

If you want to find out how safe your new relationship is, then I recommend you open up to your new boyfriend about your fears and see how he reacts. Unless there is something your current boyfriend is doing to trigger those fears, this conversation really has nothing to do with your concerns about him.

If you make this conversation about the fears you have from a previous bad experience and reassure him that nothing he’s doing is triggering these fears, he’ll be more likely to hear your true intention. Let him know you are scared of moving forward because the previous relationship was so painful you don’t want to repeat it.

Healthy partners in healthy relationships make room for fears and worries. There should be plenty of time and space for you to talk through these fears and seek reassurance from him. This is good information for him to know. If you start pulling away because of past fears, even though things are currently going well, that would be terribly unfair to him. It’s better for him to know where you have raw spots.

Keep the focus on your fears and previous experiences. Let him know you’re coming to him with this information because you don’t want to lose this relationship, but you can feel yourself becoming nervous about moving forward because of what happened previously.

We all have bad experiences in relationships that negatively influence other relationships. There is no way you can predict his future behavior, but you can watch to see how he reacts to you when you’re vulnerable. Does he become defensive? Does he talk you out of your fears? Does he criticize you for being afraid? If any of these things happen, pay attention more closely, as you need to make sure he’ll protect your vulnerability and reassure you with his compassion that you’re safe with him.

You can find out a lot about a relationship by simply being vulnerable and authentic about your fears. If you hold back, you’re already deciding he’s going to hurt you, which may not be the case. Open up and give him a chance to show what kind of a partner he really is.

Stay connected!

 

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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9 Comments

  • starboss December 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    My experience is that approaching any interpersonal concerns or issues other than candidly opens the door for an infection of conditional commitment. Any tactically or strategically planned communication is easily picked up by the type of considerate, through being observiant and sensitive to your ebbs and flows, relationship you are seeking. Strategy and tactics are, by nature, ways of acquiring or overcoming advantage or threat and they trigger defensive action on the part of the individual being analyzed because they are manipulative. It may have been such manipulative behaviors the damage or unrest caused by your ex’s previous relationships or even his developmental periods that caused his apprehension and strong need to control and protect an investment in another person. I encouraged my daughters when they reached that period of life where long-term self-esteem and boundary issues are being challenged and they had misgivings about the relationships they were involved in to ask, “Are you being so accommodating, attentive, and gracious with me because you really value our relationship or are you just trying to get in my pants?” If the other had problems with that inquiry the issue was answered.

    • Huh? December 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      What did you say? I just caught the part about asking if I wanted in your pants. Yes!

    • Craig December 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Are you off your meds again?

  • Controlled December 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Depending on what religion a woman is a member of, she probably is used to being controlled.

  • Psycho GF December 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    My ex GF used to say bs kinda things about me which caused me to believe all women as weird psycho drama queens and not want to date for a long time. Guys should beware if the chick talks psycho crap about some other dude, she’ll talk psycho crap about you and the next dude and the next and the next. They need professional counseling not another boyfriend to talk crap about. Dont fish from the sea of psycho drama cuz all you catch is a psycho drama queen.

  • Dude December 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    What guy wants to date some chick who hasn’t gotten over her last boyfriend or two? Do you really think a guy wants to hear some chick talk about former boyfriends and state verbal comparisons? Worse yet, do you think some guy wants to hang out with the chick’s friends while they talk about her former boyfriend(s)? Yeah, that’s my idea of a fun and desirable chick who if isn’t talking about her former boyfriend, she’s got other drama to dump on some guy.

  • mary December 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    And a woman doesn’t want to date a man that doesnt give a crap about anything except sex. But alot of men, in trying to get a piece, pretend to listen and care about whatever they have to in order to get to the good stuff. Maybe people shouldnt pretend to care at all. You dug your own grave on that one. If women acted like women instead of an immature girl and men acted like men instead of an immature boy, things would be alot less dramatic.

    • Dude December 5, 2013 at 8:57 am

      The women here just think about sex. Why else are they obsessed with how sexually attractive they are? It’s to attract guys to have sex. Okay, the guy will have sex with them. Maybe if the women weren’t so mentally devoid, guys would show more interest in them than as just another piece of meat.

    • Dude December 5, 2013 at 9:01 am

      You’re right about if women acted like women, instead of like teenage girls or grandmas, guys would have more interest. Their conversations are about kids, more kids, cooking, dogs, church and “the relationship”. The don’t talk about anything in depth that might take some studies and they won’t touch anything they deem unsafe such as politics in which they also have no knowledge. One might say they come across as dumb as bricks.

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