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Did I Get Myself into Another Unhealthy Relationship?

From the U.S.: I divorced several years ago after 18 years in an abusive marriage.  I have been dating an old friend from college for over 1 year.  This man is very gentle and kind, and does a lot of nice things for me.  He spends most of his free time with me when possible, but he lives an hour away.  He always makes the drive to see me, and comes 2-3 times a week to do things or hang out with me.

However, he is very stubborn and as the relationship has progressed, I have found him to be unwavering on issues that are important to me.  For example, he does not recognize our relationship on Facebook.  He is very active on social media in an anonymous way.  He doesn’t post anything about his personal life.  I am certain that he is not a “player”and has no other women in his life.  However, I have expressed a desire to tag him in posts, but he will not let me.  He does not want me to post anything about him or his/our photos.  I have complied with his wishes.

In addition, he will not let me come inside his house that he owns.  He says it is too messy for me to see. I have also expressed to him how troubling this is to me, but he still refuses to let me go inside.  He seems to be concerned when I get upset and wants to know why, but when I tell him these reasons he only gets irritated at me.  He even said he was going to delete his Facebook account, so I’d let it go.

It troubles me that he doesn’t seem to be concerned about how much these 2 issues bother me. He wants me to be happy, but not enough to compromise on these issues or even discuss them. I am sad a lot about these things and that I might be making a mistake staying with him.  I truly am in love with him, but I am very confused. I don’t know if I am being unreasonable or if he is. I was always mistreated in my marriage, but didn’t accept it until I sought counseling. I do not want to make excuses for another man that is going to take advantage of me again.  I would appreciate any advice available.

Navigating a new relationship after such a long history of feeling abused is difficult indeed. I suspect the reason your gentleman friend guards his privacy so strongly isn’t about you, but about his own history. Like you, he may have been very hurt in the past. He’s taking it slow in letting you into his life (and his house) and in the timing for making your relationship public. That may be what he needs to feel safe as your relationship develops.

It won’t help to argue with him about it. It might move your relationship forward if you tried to have a compassionate conversation about the hurts you each bring to the relationship and how you can best support each other in daring to try again to find love.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie



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