Friday, 11 October 2013

Coping with Jealousy

Today I am running around like mad, so I thought I would just let you girls talk. Today's topic is for the girlfriends, fiancees and wives among the readers. (By the way, married women are not Eavesdroppers. Only men are Eavesdroppers. Married women have full Seraphic Singles privileges as long as you behave and don't sound smug. Sheila is ideal because she says it like it is, apple sauce in her hair and all.)

The topic is, "How can a gal cope with the grief that her boyfriend, fiance or husband was not as super-chaste as her (or if she weren't super-chaste, that she was not his one-and-only love}?"

Some women chew their livers because of this. No matter how badly they want to let go, they can't. So what can they do? What do you think?

Obviously you will all want to be Anonymous today. I recommend signing on as "Married Lady 1" and "Fiancee 3", etc.

This is not a very Single-y question, I realize. But Singles keep on getting boyfriends and fiances and then writing to me. Here are the five stages of readership:

Super-Single: I'm lonely.
In love: I'm almost overwhelmed by sexual temptation!
Engaged: The stress is killing me!
Married: Ooh. So glad I didn't settle.
Married with Kids: There is apple-sauce in my hair and I don't have time to get it out.


Girlfriend 1 said...

The best way I have found to deal with these feelings of jealousy is to work on my own self esteem. Most of these feelings for me arise when I am not feeling good enough. When I am in a place where I am feeling confident and sure of myself jealousy does not rear its ugly head and I don't care who my boyfriend has loved before, I am just happy that now he loves me. So ladies, my advice is to keep reminding yourself that you are a beautiful child of God made in His image. And if your man doesn't build you up and doesn't seem pleased as punch that he has managed to catch you up and doesn't keep asking how come you were not snatched up long ago, maybe he is not the man for you, or you the girl for him.

Discerning Dater said...

May I humbly suggest an in-between stage of readership, which is my name today: Discerning Dater: are you my NCBfriend? I'm doing the 1950s thing--going on chaste dates with men and when I figure out which one is right, intend to commit to a more intentional relationship, without leading any of the guys on by extending the dating phase unnecessarily long. Falling for friends has either left me or the guy burned, and going from 5 to 60 mph with a guy from a group is actually not prudent for me.

To the topic of the day: I as a discerning dater would like support in coping with the grief that is realizing a man's history can affect how he initiates relationships. Because twice it has impeded possible growth and had nothing to do with my feelings on the matter:

Guy 1: He was new to dating NCGs and for some reason thought I needed to know his general status, as if mere status would be a deal breaker. I informed him the real deal-breaker was if he treated me other than an NCG or found he couldn't handle not having a more physical relationship. I didn't get sad or jealous because he was treating me well. Two months later he dumps me, citing he wasn't feeling as he thought he should by the 3-month mark. That's fair, I've done it too, but a special component was of course he didn't feel like he had in previous situations, because in those, higher levels of intimacy were involved, and he had no frame of reference for more authentic feelings with an NCG and didn't want to try to be open to the new, different experience.

Guy #2: We were friends with mutual interest discussing if we should become a couple. So I had to have a version of The Speech to see if he understood what was not allowed and gauge his comfort level. He vaguely intimated some experience but assured me he would "follow the rules." I was actually a little pouty that there was that history to him, but again, his treatment of me and my eagerness to forgive kept me from full-out wailing. We never made it to couple status because 1 month later in his far away living situation starts dating someone else. My take is that confronted with the future, he balked and ran and did the complete opposite.

I guess my point is that at the scary side of 25, I am realistic that men I date my age may have had experience, a lot of them due to poor formation/catechesis/moral modeling that is not necessarily their fault. I am currently upset that this means I have to be on guard for how they will interact and deal with the early getting-to-know-you stage, so I'm trying to be extra discriminating in who I crush on or reply to with the online matching service. I will probably feel disappointed if Future Husband didn't wait. But if the Potentials are now treating me like gold, penitent, and demonstrate proper formation, it is not so hard to keep from wailing. But if I ever had to meet the woman or learned it was someone I knew...I would seriously have to pray for grace.

Different Perspective said...

I lived this, except my (virgin) boyfriend was jealous of my past sexual experience (and maybe the ex-boyfriend, but that never came up in conversation).

My sexual sins were very bitter, and led to my realizing that Catholic Church teaching is TRUE. Before, I could correctly answer questions on a test. After, I BELIEVED. And that belief led me to reform my life.

I wanted my jealous boyfriend to see that many of the qualities he loved about me were the good that God brought out of that great evil. I certainly wish I'd never done those things, and I had/have no desire to go back to the guy. Honestly, that relationship was doomed from the start, but it took us forever to finally end it because of all the sexual drama.

I know men & women experience this differently, but I do think it would help to acknowledge that God does bring good out of evil...maybe there are qualities you love about a person that wouldn't be there except for lessons painfully learned from that repented sin.

Girlfriend 2 said...

I think the key is to realize that while sins carry scars and such things, the formal aspect of chastity can be restored via confession, even if the material aspect can't. Also, remember that people can love multiple people. Many times, disordered as it was, people engage in pre-martital sex because they in some way did love that partner. Now they might have loved them wrongly. They might have loved them in the wrong time, but there was some reason there besides pure hedonism. Few people are pure hedonists (and if they have a St. Augustine like conversion, don't immediately write them off. Unless they become a priest.) However, sometimes in Catholic circles, there is this tendency to think of only having "so much love" to give- the flower petal analogy. I don't think that's right. I think you can love someone, and then love someone else and marry the second one. Humans have that ability. As for how intimate they may have been- remember that often times they are already beating themselves up for it. Who you should love is the person before you now- not who they were.

Some practical advice I have:
1) If you can only ever possibly marry an absolute virgin, don't lead on a NCB on who may have a past that he has taken to confession. NCB who have pasts still have feelings that can get hurt. Also, don't make him apologize the rest of his life. It happened. If you want to marry him/are married to him, you have to let confessed sins lie.
2) If your person has a past, don't ask for details: the less you imagine, the easier it is to fade it out.
3) If he has been active- ask for an STI test. You do not want to get an STI, or to find that out a week before the wedding that he has one. Also, realize that you should get pap smears regularly (like every 6 months) if you do marry him, because some astronomical statistic of sexually active adults have HPV and that can lead to cervical cancer. Ladies, cervical cancer HPV does not have a test. You need to get pap smears. I know we aren't supposed to talk about STIs as Catholics, because we should all be chaste, but when the person you marry has a past, you need to be responsible enough to give the family the two of you are building a future. Note- this does not mean use condoms. Obviously birth control is not something NCGs use.

Hope these thoughts help. And remember- Christ can bring a lot of changes to a person. If He has given you the grace to love another fallen, flawed, redeemed human being- consider that it might not be a bad thing.

Married #1 said...

Like "different perspective," my husband's dedication to the Church, to waiting to see what God had for him rather than seek it out himself, and to waiting for a good woman came from his past sexual sins. Before, he wanted to get married and be a father enough that he was willing to date "sweet" girls- girls who have a sweet demeanor but in the end are really rather selfish and manipulative (i.e., "you don't really care for me since I can't spend the night... nothing is going to happen if I do spend the night, we'll just cuddle"). After that (which of course was not just cuddling in the end), he was willing to be single for awhile, to trust that God had something for him rather than to create it himself.

I understand this about my husband, the good that has come out of that evil. Still, it hurts sometimes. I don't know what to do about that. Maybe it will hurt, vaguely, for a long time. I would love some advice on this.

What I have realized that is helpful is that I have forgiven him, despite the fact that it still hurts. I had begun to forgive him when we first started dating- I had suspected a much worse past than was actually the case, and I had already decided I could forgive him that. I am not sure when the forgiveness was complete, because for awhile I equated the still-present pain with an absence of forgiveness. This made it worse, since I beat myself up about not having forgiven him, even though he is such a good man, that he is really the one that stopped us from sexual sin when we were dating, that his actual past wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought, that he had refused girls throwing themselves at him multiple times, etc, etc. Realizing that the pain did NOT mean I hadn't forgiven him was VERY helpful, then.

Although I am still working through this, prayer is, of course, very important. If there is a lack of forgiveness, confession. Talking with him about it occasionally (NOT often) is, too- it's important to hear that things between us are still special and different. And then cutting off the imagination when it starts to get going- that can make you sick.

I hope others post. It is something that is very painful at times but hard to talk about because you don't want to betray your husband (or fiancé, or boyfriend).

Girlfriend 3 said...

Jealousy is a very significant problem for me, and has been for the past two years. I do like what you said, Married 1, about not beating yourself up for experiencing pain, and to distinguish pain from forgiveness. At the same time, though, it's hard for me because I'm still so jealous/hurt over a crush (not even a relationship!) he had on a young woman right before we started dating. It feels like I have no good reason to feel the way I do, and the truth is I don't. I handled the situation very badly. I basically forbade him to have any contact whatsoever with her and her family, and he agreed. It hasn't been a good solution, though, for either of us I think. My jealousy problem makes me wonder if I really love this person, or if I just don't want to lose the attention/support/admiration he provides.

Anonymous said...

Single-No-Prospects, commenting all the same...

I guess it's because I don't currently have a boyfriend, but I'm feeling pretty forgiving at this point in time. I don't even really understand the jealousy aspect right now. Maybe if I was actually engaged to someone right now and they told me about their past and it was less than ideal, I'd be sad to hear about it. But I definitely haven't lived a sinless life myself and I know it's a case of 'there but for the grace of God go I'. Sure, I haven't done that but I have my own baggage and hangups and mistakes.

Wife #2 said...

Honestly, I can handle my husband's rather "interesting" past because it was what made him the Right Man For Me. He had a rather messed up family, and friends from similarly dysfunctional backgrounds, so it never occurred to him that sleeping around was a bad idea, until he did and was burnt in the process more than once. But it was all this experience that brought him to a place where he decided that he really wanted to be a better person, and that he wanted a stable, emotionally sane relationship, and that he was totally OK with waiting. He now says there is absolutely no comparison - that is, that waiting for and being with the person he married is incomparably better. We like to joke that his past means he's immune from having a mid-life crisis, because he already knows that it's not actually that great. I don't know if this will help any of you, but that's how I see it.

Anonymous said...

I am a single Catholic woman way over 30. i hardly expect to marry a virgin male. I do expect someone who has put his wild youth behind him if he had a wild youth. I expect maturity and fidelity now. I also would absolutely expect to have proof that one is free from sexually transmitted diseases/infections/rashes/gross things.

I agree with the person who said a solid self-esteem is a good prevention against a man's past. What kind of sexual relationship did the man have in the past? Serious, long-term? Or does he just love them and leave them? What if he was married before and she died? If you're 22, perhaps my comments aren't meant for you.

Emily said...

Married, non-Catholic lady here (does that make me an eavesdropper? If so, apologies). I just wanted to pipe up to add that this is not a problem that only Catholic women struggle with. I had a big issue letting go of my husband's past, which was not particularly sordid, but did not involve ME. I tortured myself with this and eventually went and talked to a therapist at my university about it, and she told me that often, in relationships, we feel as if we want to OWN our partner's past, which of course is impossible and unhealthy. Once you can let go of the fact that the person you're with lived a life before you, it makes it easier, but you have to work at it. At this point, after almost six years together, I never even think about the women my husband was involved with before me. The importance of it faded and then eventually disappeared as time went on.We're committed to each other and that's what's important. Hope that's helpful.

haters said...

Jealousy has no holiday; it keeps the person busy and simmering. It is gift of the devil that has the jealousy with mankind.