-- Question for John --
After living together with my girlfriend for 2 years we started to have problems. I ended up moving out. That was a year ago. About 6 months later we ended up breaking off the relationship. During this time she ended up meeting another guy. About 2 months later we ended up talking things out and getting back together. Then I found out about that guy.
I eventually cleared him from my mind and we got back to being incredibly happy. This past weekend I asked her to marry me and she accepted. It was one of the happiest days of our lives. Well, I moved into her place this week and everything was going great until last night when I answered the telephone and saw the caller ID said California. It was this other guy and I had answered the phone. My fiance was right there and as I was saying hello, I showed her. He asked to speak to her and I asked who it was. When he verified that it was who I thought it was, I told him never to call back again. Of course I did happen to use a few more words and a lot more force considering that I was incredibly mad by this point. My fiance grabbed the phone and hung it up.
She assures me that she doesn’t want to have anything else to do with him and that I am the only one that she loves but I have found that I am very insecure with these events. I know that I can trust her and that she would never do anything unfaithful. But never the less I feel paranoid that if he does come back here to visit, that he is going to show up on the doorstep, regardless of whether or not she wants him to be there. The other main thing that is bothering me is that whenever we are lying down in bed, all I can think of is him being there in the same spot with his arms around my fiance. I can’t ever seem to stop thinking about it. I feel paranoid all the time. I can’t stand the thought that someone else has slept in our bed with her, has kissed her, has held her, and has had sex with her.
I try so hard not to let it bother me because I know it is just me being insecure. I know that she loves me, and nothing that I do, or she does or anyone can do can change what has happened. I just feel like even though deep down I know that I can trust her, I am always paranoid about it anyway. We tried talking about it last night, but those thought in my head stopped me from being able to have a productive conversation about it. She just seemed like she was defending him by saying that I shouldn’t be mad at him because we weren’t together at the time. I know that this is true, but things just don’t work like that. I can’t just turn all of these feelings off, as much as I would love to. I don’t get mad at her over this, because I know it isn’t her fault. She thought that we were done with.
My main question is, as if it is not apparent, how can I get over this? I just want to love her and be happy. Sometimes I feel like she is going to find someone else better than me and I am going to lose her. I know that what I am saying is crazy and that it just sounds delusional, but I can’t help it.
I know that I am insecure, and it is not only killing her and I, but it is killing our relationship. I need help getting over this. How can I clean all of these thoughts out of my head? Please help me.
-- Answer from John --
It is good that you see that these insecure, paranoid feelings are all yours — and it is mature that you are not blaming her for them. It is also great that you realize that these feelings really point to an underlying fear that you have anyway, that you will lose her and your children. It is commendable that you also realize the degree to which these unresolved feelings truly put your relationship in jeopardy. You need to do something to change this, I agree.
I appreciate the degree to which you are taking responsibility for your own feelings here. I endorse how you see the need to deal with them and to transform them.
I will tell you the things that have little chance of changing these feelings:
(1) verbally talking them out with her (which you are wisely avoiding); and
(2) just trying to ignore the feelings (you already did that, but look how they came rushing back with a phone call).
It is important for you to heal the underlying sources of insecurity and fear over losing her that run more deeply within you. In general, you might look into ways to heal emotional patterns that utilize somatic psychology. There are many such approaches. I write about them in my books, where you can get to the roots of your emotional insecurities as they live deep inside you.
The result of this process is also a significant upgrade to your ability to work through all kinds of emotional challenges that come up in love. This, ultimately, gives you the tools to make your love a longterm success. For it is the emotional challenges that people cannot manage to handle that kill off love.