How do I make things right?
First, a little bit of background. When I was 14, I started dating this girl, and we dated for 7 years, I was 21 when we broke up. I think for the most part, it was a high school relationship that just lasted too long because we were too afraid to try new things. I was much more driven by my education, I transferred to a big university about 80 miles away. I lived in the dorms, but I never actually met anyone, because I’d go home every single weekend to spend time with her and work. She would get jealous when I would do something with people once in awhile. Anyway, this is so long ago. She broke up with me over the phone one day because she got into a hobby that she really liked, and she started to really like this guy.
Anyway, I was totally broken and lost and alone blah blah blah you’ve heard this before. I met this friend right about the time we broke up who was a freshman (at the time I was a senior). I was taking a lot of lower level classes because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to major in, and I started studying with this guy. At some point, this guy invited me to come over (he lived in the dorms) to hang out, and I just said what the hell do I have to lose I have no other friends. So, I was a 21 year old guy hanging out in the dorms, which I really only did a couple of times. I need to mention, I failed two semesters of school because I was drinking a lot and couldn’t keep up with school, and got dropped from the university. I really didn’t drink in my life until I got dumped.
Anyway, I ended up going on a spring break trip with this guy and two other friends of his the same year, about 6 months after the breakup. It was great, we just drank beer, shot guns, went fishing, lit fireworks… it was like the first time in my life I wasn’t with that that girl and it really was therapeutic. Anyway, these two girls that were in the area that were also friends with this guy, and they came up to the cabin for like 2 days during the trip. Internally, I was really frustrated, because I really was enjoying the time with these guys without any girls around.
Anyway, it was just a really big drunken fest at the cabin those two days, but I started to really like one of the girls (these people were all freshmen). She had all these hopes of getting involved in the mountaineering club, camping, going on adventures etc. This was all stuff I never got to do in high school when I was with the first girl, I just felt really inspired to try new things and find my thing. After we went back home to real life, I realized, I never asked for this girl’s phone number. I asked my friend if he could give it to me, and he’s like you should go to the mountaineering meeting, she’ll be there. At this point, I was not over the pain of the previous breakup, but I was at a point where I was happy for my ex that she was happy, and I was okay letting it go. Anyway, I went to this meeting, asked for her number, we ended up going for a walk, and I kissed her that night. I would often go to the dorm (which I was really uncomfortable doing as a senior), and just taking her for walks around campus. Sometimes, we didn’t want to leave each other, we would stay up until 3 am just walking and talking. I just felt so comfortable with her, and she felt the same.
I did so many new things with this girl, backcountry camping, rock climbing became our hobby, we did a spring break trip together to go spelunking out of state, road trips, etc. I did two internships out of state, two times we did distance for a summer, and she always supported me through it all. The last year of college, we actually lived together, and it was great. I had my guy friend still, I lived with my girlfriend, her best friend, and mine. It was flawless and I couldn’t be happier.
The only problem we had was that she always thought I wanted to get back with my ex. I don’t think I ever wanted my ex back, but I’ll admit, the pain was still there. I probably did not become completely vulnerable to the new girl, I was probably protecting myself from experiencing that again. Afterall, I was dating a girl three years younger than me in college. And I forgot to mention, I ended up appealing my dropped status, and got back in to college, and finished in another two years, the whole time I was dating this new girl.
So, I graduated a year earlier than her, and the real world hit me, hard. I’ve always been an introvert, meeting people is hard for me, but I’m not a standoffish person, it just takes me time to develop relationships with people. I tried so hard to meet people at work and network. I joined all the sports, did all the social events, etc. I started trying to separate my college life from my work life, that I started to push my girlfriend away. It’s almost like I had two lives. Work and after work were ways for me to try to become my own person. I loved my girlfriend, but I started to get tired of coming home and having her ask how my day was, sometimes it was really stressful and didn’t want to talk about it. I felt so disconnected from her, like she didn’t know what I was going through. I had another friend (girl) who was going through a lot too. It just felt like everyone was moving away and I honestly never liked hanging out with people from work because I liked keeping it separate, I didn’t want all my friends to work with me too. Anyway, this friend was an international student having a hard time finding a job. I started to become really sensitive to her situation because I could relate to someone who wasn’t always positive, like my girlfriend always seemed to be like. She had recently gone through a breakup and was worried about finding a job before she got deported.
Anyway, my friend ended up getting a job, in another state, and I couldn’t have been happier for her, she got to stay in the country and was making strides to improve her career. I stopped talking to her for a bit, but my girlfriend never liked me talking to or about her, but dealt with it because she loved me and didn’t want to hold me back from having meaningful relationships with others. So, one weekend, I decided to go visit my friend, nobody else could come with, just to see how she was, because she had helped me through a lot. I was a little on edge with my girlfriend, but we were still together. Long story short, I spent the whole weekend with this girl, and we got drunk with her friends, and I ended up sleeping with her. I was at a pretty fragile point with my girlfriend, but I still loved her and knew she meant so much to me. I was weak and gave into temptation. I told my friend that my girlfriend and I broke up (this is a lie). She knew I still lived with my girlfriend, so when I got back home, I was really standoffish, because I didn’t know what I was feeling. Over the course of the next month or so, I kept talking to this girl, and ended up breaking up with my girlfriend – this was extremely hard. I knew this girl loved me and we just worked so well up until that point, but I gave up, because with this new girl, I didn’t have to face any type of problems that would make me feel vulnerable, because she was the vulnerable one.
I told the girl I lived with that I cheated on her, and she was willing to give me another chance. I wanted it so badly, but I couldn’t help thinking, now there’s this other girl that is extremely vulnerable and I don’t want to hurt her, because she has helped me out so much lately, and I don’t want to lose her (and it would be easier). So, the lies began, I guess to buy time. And I also need to mention I lived with random people including my brother so I wasn’t living with my ex. This was one of the most stressful periods of my life. I dug myself a hole so deep, a year later, I’m still buried. I was hoping, well, maybe I can date this new girl out of state, and still talk to my ex enough to keep her around. I just couldn’t make a decision. I became this fucking asshole I didn’t even know I was capable of becoming. Many, many times I tried to break up with this new girl, but I couldn’t. She was so insecure in her life, and I felt like, if I can fix her, I’ll feel better about what I did. I don’t think I was doing her any favors, I was just trying to feel better about myself. I dated her about 6 months, and she consumed me. Oh, and I never told my college ex that I was dating this girl during this time. I would still go rock climbing with her during the week and she’d wonder where I was on the weekend. Keep in mind, I went with the international girl to her home country and I’m scheduled to go again at the end of Sept, talk about a fast moving relationship. I’d say, I’m not going to come visit you this weekend (It was a 7 hour drive) because I want to see my friends/family. She would say, ok then I’ll just come to your city and not hang out with you. I just gave into it. It was awful, but once again, I held back and wore a shield because I didn’t want to get hurt again, I never let her fully trust me.
So, we broke up. I told her we needed time apart to find ourselves (sounds cliché but that’s exactly what we needed). I started talking to my college girlfriend again, I apologized to her for the way I treated her, and told her I just liked having her in my life because she was always there for me. She was mad, but said she liked hanging out with me and may be willing to take me back someday if I could show I cared about her, as I was so selfish before. Everything was going so well, and I felt like, maybe I can do this and finally be a good boyfriend to her. Then, one day, I was overwhelmed with guilt because of the international girl. I was so upset what I did to her, so I decided to break the silence and talk to her, just to get the closure. She had heard (from my roommate who had a crush on her) that my college girl slept over a couple of times (this time was supposed to be for me to get to know myself, right?), so she became infuriated and started sleeping around, and even with my roommate, just to make me mad. She even started dating someone.
Obviously, me being insecure, I went into a frenzy and had to get her back. She didn’t take me back right away, but I must have said the right things, because she started letting me back in her life. She had done so many new things with her life, and really grew and seemed completely different than before. I had to have her. She seemed really stressed out about me being in her life again, like she was making a compromise, but she admitted that she didn’t like dating around, and she liked how I rounded out her life. We decided to let all the pain from the past go and just move on, because if we can get through this, we can get through anything. We have now been together for about a month.
My college girlfriend found out about this, and just said, I’m done, it’s totally over. It was a really refreshing feeling at first, knowing that decision had now been made for me, I didn’t have to make it. Now, the guilt has returned, and I realized I only wanted the international girl back because I couldn’t stand the idea of her being with someone else. So, I’m poised to go to her home country again in Sept because she had booked the tickets 6 months ago when we were happy. She means so much to me, and we’ve been through so much together, but over the course of this year, I’ve realized that I really don’t know if we are right for each other. She’s a big city international girl, and I like rock climbing and soccer and I’m not well dressed at all. She wants to come with me to these things that I love, but once again, I’m standoffish because I know what people are thinking when we are together.
So a few more things I need to mention. The college girlfriend now works with me, it’s a big company, but she still is connected with people I know, and it gets around. I met my roommate through a guy at work, and since he and my ex hooked up, someone at work knows about that and they were keeping that info from me. One of the international girl’s ex boyfriends also works at the same company as me. He’s totally fine and mature, but him and his friends know my girlfriend and I just hate how everyone is connected and I can’t get this separation from work and personal life that I so desperately wanted before this all even happened. Also, my best friend that I mentioned before is constantly mad at me because I don’t spend enough time with him and he’s sick of me blowing him off. Same for my family.
So, obviously I need help/advice. I’m not even afraid of getting hurt anymore because I have hurt myself so much. I’m not worried about how I am going to feel anymore. What I am concerned with now is I am in a committed relationship with a girl that really loves me, but I have so much baggage. I love her too, but I just don’t feel like a whole person. Breaking up with her will make things so hard for her to get over, and I’ll never see her again, but do I let her go because I don’t feel like I can give her what she deserves? Even with the pain, I believe she is better off without me. But I just can’t say it to her because she keeps supporting me through all this shit, and I can’t justify giving up a good thing. I’ve been doing stuff I love, it’s not like I’ve stopped doing things for myself or shut people out anymore.
In the meantime, I really do believe my college girlfriend was the love of my life and I just took her for granted, I’ll keep comparing girls to her. She is the perfect complement to my life, I’ve been broken up with her for almost a year, and rock climbing and outdoor stuff are still my hobbies, I wasn’t just doing it just because she did. We have the same views on money, kids, marriage, religion, it’s great.
I feel like I need to be single, I haven’t been my entire life. I’ve hurt too many people, but I can’t stand the idea of losing two people who have been with me through so much. I don’t want to be single, I want to love someone, but they both deserve better than me. I can’t keep bouncing around like this, it’s driving me insane. I need to be alone, really alone, and to dig deep to find out what I really want.
But enough about how I feel. I’m trying to think of what the best thing for the international girl is. We don’t have the same religious views, she’s spoiled (spends all of her money, she’s bulimic on and off, is so worried about what other people think). If I break up with her again, her friends will lose respect for her, since they’re already weirded out that she got back with me. She’s going to doubt every relationship in the future (this is what happened to me from getting dumped after 7 years). Also, I won’t go back to her country with her, which will be embarrassing for her for me to turn her down for (it’s a different culture). Or, I could try to put my past behind me and really give her everything I have and finally let a girl into my deepest feelings like I've never had since my first girlfriend. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t been through a lot together, and I do care about her. What can I possibly tell her so that she doesn’t doubt every guy for the rest of her life because I was an asshole? I want her to be happy, and if we break up, I want her to find someone.
At some point, I need to grow up and learn how to make big decisions and stop throwing people under the bus. But it’s like I have no gut feeling and have no sense of right and wrong. If I could do it all over again, I’d face my problems with my college girlfriend and work through it with her, because she was always worth it. None of this would have happened, and I’d still be friends with the international girl. Unfortunately, I fucked up the situation past being able to fix it. Neither of these girls deserve my shit, but I want them to be happy, even if I’m miserable, I did that to myself. How can I do this so that neither becomes insecure about the future? What do you think is the best possible situation for both of them? What can I do to make this as right as it can be? Any advice at all would be great, I can't put it off anymore.
You seem like a fairly mature guy, but it seems to me like you're getting deeper and deeper into this rabbit-hole.
Maybe I can't fully relate. But I get the impression that you gave up on a lot of these relationships too easily, or else you didn't take them seriously enough. With your first relationship, you just kind of let things grow apart and lost interest it seems. With the second girlfriend you had a lot in common, but the moment you finished college you got tired of waiting around for her and wanted to find someone in your situation - someone who could make you feel like the stronger person, maybe? And it sounds like, and this is going based mostly off of what you wrote - you don't really love your third girlfriend quite as much as you did your second girlfriend.
You would really feel more comfortable not having your coworkers know your personal business. Obviously, that is something you'd really like to maintain. I can relate, I think mixing work with your personal life too much isn't always a good thing. At the same time you and all of these other people work at the same place, and what happened, happened. As long as you remain with this company, at least, everything that has happened up until now is probably fair game. This is one door you've stepped through that may take a long time to return through - some of your options are to leave and find work elsewhere away from these people, to just deal with what has transpired so far and not worry what the others say about you, or else wait things out (if you really like this job) until most of these people leave the workplace and fresh faces populate the environment.
My solution to you is, to break up with this international girl, and try to think about what you want to do with your life right now. Stay single, think about what it is that you really want. Because quite honestly, it seems like your baggage is driving you nuts, but you are just kind of putting yourself into this relationship mostly to attempt to try to keep your girlfriend happy... And that isn't real happiness, because it is not mutual.
Staying together with this girl longer will not be beneficial for either of you, if you aren't sure that you're in love with her. You will really just be wasting her time, and you guys really aren't getting any younger. Her friends, if they are good friends, will hopefully not stop talking to her because you broke up with her again. Hopefully they will be there for her. And you have to admit, they must have at least been partially right about you, though I'm sure you're not a bad person.
I will say that I don't think couples necessarily need to be into the same exact things or come from the same backgrounds to get on well. If you are feeling insecure because you like playing sports and doing physical activities, while she likes being in the city, then maybe you could both try hanging out and doing what the other likes and see if that works. You could discover whole new sides of each other, learn a lot more about each other. But again, only if you still love this girl. And I still am under the impression that you don't - you really just don't want to imagine her with someone else.
Your old buddy wants to hang out, and honestly I think you could use some friends yourself. Especially if he is removed from all of this gossip, or at least the workplace environment. You're still young yet, there will be another woman. But maybe you are spending too much of your time just trying to focus on relationships right now. So I'll leave you with a bit of advice that someone gave me a while ago, which still seems to hold true for me. You'll find love, when you aren't looking for it - when you least expect it. So for now, just relax, hang out with some of your bros, have a couple of cold ones, and who knows? Maybe your buddy will throw another awesome party one day, and you'll meet another awesome girl this way? Or something. Maybe you'll run out of toilet paper, and bump into the woman of your dreams while buying a few new rolls at the store.
"But enough about how I feel."
Oh - I think it's ALL been about how you feel.
You have left a string of heartbreak in your wake. And now want do-overs.
How about not using other people right now and just spend some time developing your social and emotional skills?