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Old 12-13-2018, 09:58 AM   #1
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Default A Decade of Sexual Trauma, fear, and isolation (Retroactive Jealousy?)

Hello all.

I am a male in my late 20s. I was in a serious relationship with a woman from age 19-23. Her father was verbally and emotionally abusive, and so were her previous partners.

I loved her very much, and we both grew up in with some Catholic guilt. A lot of my identity as a writer and lover of the arts has come from my alienation with sexuality. I drove the relationship into the ground with the typical characteristics of Retroactivity Jealousy, inexperience, and naivety. The relationship became very toxic. I am not proud of that time, but I really was in over my head.

Unfortunately my first sexual experiences with her were linked to a lot of these issues. Myself being raised from a very caring tough but also gentle father instilled respect, and her father and partners did not respect her.

During certain acts she would suddenly become very insecure or say that reminded her of this or that, and I would immediately stop. That hurt me quite a bit for many years. I was and am the farthest thing from those people who did those things. I know she didn't mean to have the effect it did, and generally she was very trusting and affectionate with me, but those things stuck and haunted me for years.

It was very hard to have this be the introduction to my sexuality, lacking trust for your partner and lover eventually led me to go down the rabbit hole of insecurity and jealousy. This lead me to not being a good partner and having her after years of trying to put up with my behavior to break up with me. I was fixated with that one component and couldn't see straight or enjoy anything else.

I moved very far away and finished my education while discovering the wonders of self medicating with alcohol. Unfortunately in college culture it is hard to know who is just partying, and who really has a problem and is using the time of it being "acceptable" to really hide a much bigger problem.

My drinking was not to become more socially confident or to be able to approach new women and have sex. I never actively was looking to date, and even the small flirtations or approaches from women freaked me out. A good night for me was listening to records alone for comfort and crying myself to sleep for feeling like a complete outsider in this life.

(Even though I rationally knew my life is pretty great. I have wonderful friends and family and I like to think of myself as a pretty good all around person who has value)

Later that year I met someone else in my field who I admired very much. We had a great connection and I decided maybe it was time to give love and intimacy a second go.

This as well turned out to be, a very dysfunctional situation.

We were only intimate for a week, a week that I wasn't totally comfortable about but figured this is what dating must be like regarding casual sex, and attempting to hold what we were doing to be more than what it really was.

I like to think I am pretty self aware and good at reading people, and the first night we really had sex I sensed that she was going through some things and using sex to numb her pain. I asked her more about her life and what she was going through, I genuinely cared and was concerned only to have her end up crying deeply before we did the act.

Again more tears and more pain linked to what I know of sex.

I would later find she was sexually active with many people at that time, and had somewhat deceived me about wanting to be exclusive with me.

I closed off my mid-20s with having another woman try to kiss me and take me back to her apartment only to not be able to do the deed.

After these experiences going on ages 24-25 it was very clear to me that I was not comfortable with sex, and afraid of intimacy. I was much more interested in being closed off, focusing on my career and myself.

I beat the alcohol at age 26 upon returning home and realizing it was harder to hide from my childhood friends, as well as becoming very sick and hospitalized as well as put on bedrest at home for a year (unrelated health issues to the drinking).

At age 27 I got a new job, moved to a new area, and was doing better then ever with self improvement and image. Everything was going smoothly, until I started to fall in love with an intelligent beautiful woman while traveling between two states for work. I admitted how much I liked her after being friends for half of a year and how I'd maybe like to try being more. Because of the distance and other factors she was unsure.

Fast forward 6 months later and we are now a long distance couple who make big efforts to see each other consistently, and love each other respectfully. To say I love you was a big leap for me, as I know where it has gotten me before.

To put it bluntly, if I ever were to get married, it would probably be to this woman. The amount of love, silliness, support, and understanding she has brought into my life is something I have never experienced. She is honest, grounded, intelligent, and knows what she wants.

She is not like the others at all.

If I could accept that functional relationships should not be your "everything" or imperative to your survive, but a mutually benefitting support system of care and respect that is the cherry on top of an already individual's stable life, I'd be doing much better.

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The first time we had sex, I had some triggers, I lost my mind and went into a full panic attack and shook and cried the entire night. She held me.

I was mortified. Embarrassed. I had to drive to work the next day and figured that was the end. That I was doomed to live this pain the rest of my life. I figured she would be out the door as soon as possible, and if not, I would make every effort to get her out as soon as possible to run from this anxiety. That day I decided that I would fight this pain for both myself and the possibility of a better future for us.

Later we talked, she helped, she said I needed to get professional help. I said I would, but I didn't.

Over the last few months we have become closer than ever. Experienced so much together. Until recently I prodded at her past. She told me how much she loved a specific act with me that she never has before. It made me feel very special and happy, but I went down another road with it a day later. A cycle that is very clearly stated not to do on

It all came rushing back, the same feelings and insecurities. I spiraled. Shaked. Didn't sleep.

The fact that she had a time period in her life where she experimented with more casual sex and dating. Full well knowing that she is in love with me now in the present. Full well knowing she is so satisfied with me and loves to be intimate with me in a way she has never known before.

Fully aware that I am not trying to come off as a heteronormative man who can't deal with other men being with the woman I love like she is a possession who doesn't have her own right to her desires and life experience.

I feel so strange when I read of other men having more colorful pasts then their significant other, but still being hypocritical enough to suffer so deeply from retroactive jealousy. That is not my case. I have only slept with 2 people, and can't imagine what casual sex, kissing, cuddling is even like.

I refuse to crucify her for behavior that she is not only entitled to, but in no way was ever done to harm me or cause me anguish. We have had different life experiences, and I am aware none of this her is problem to fix or aid me in reassurance.

I recently read both "Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy" and "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life" and some of the perspectives of removing my ego and shining a different light on it was very helpful.

It also became apparent to me that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for me.

With that being said I was happier than I had been in a while, I could see a happier future for myself, I could love her without pangs of being afraid, but I still feared one thing that states can be a deal breaker, and that is common Values not aligning.

After a conversation where she basically said that she did those things, was fine with those things at the time, wanted to see what they were like, and is very stable and good with her decisions. She was coming out of her own hardships and wanting to experiment with being desired, sex without having to have the responsibility of a full time partner, and more or less described it as a passing time that came and went. Her ability to stay so calm, collective, and rational about it made me dive back into my pain.

I just can't understand that concept myself because of my own issues. I can understand it rationally on her end, but it makes me fear our values are different and that will never change. Which brings up the deeper question of why are my values this way. Religion, trauma, etc? Do they really matter now? Do I sacrifice them for a life full of happiness and love? Do I accept that people have different life experiences and in no way should that ever enter fear or holding back from the possible love of your life?

I think I can.

I just don't see me ignoring that as being healthy. Zach from states that the values thing is the one possible reason to ever consider separating as it will cause harm to both and drag out for too long.

I just really need help working out that last part..

Thanks so much for listening, and for any input.

I realize I have a pretty blessed life. I just don't want to go down this road again. My friends and family don't, I don't, and she doesn't want me to either.
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Old 12-13-2018, 02:46 PM   #2
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Hello samecycle: I noticed this is your first post here on PC. So... welcome to PsychCentral.

From what you wrote, it sounds as though you've done quite a bit of on-line research regarding your concerns. I doubt there would be much of anything I could add. I suspect, however, that there will be other members who will have thoughts they can share.

My wife & I have been married for 39 years. So one might think I would know something about what it takes to maintain a long-term romantic relationship. Unfortunately I don't know as I do. I don't think that 40 years ago we really thought relationships through the way people seem to do today. You simply met someone & the relationship either developed or it didn't. Perhaps, however, giving some consideration to what goes into creating a successful long-term romantic relationship can be of some help. So, with that thought in mind, here are links to some articles, from PsychCentral's archives, on that subject. The first 4 are by our host Dr. John Grohol, Psy.D.:

5 Secrets to a Successful Long-Term Relationship or Marriage

6 Absolute Must-Haves for Relationship Compatibility

How Do You Know that You're with the Right Person?

Forgiveness & One of the Most Important, Overlooked Things for a Relationship

Relationship Experts On True Love & Making Love Last

And then here are links to 2 articles that discuss finding the right person plus a third that consists of links to a variety of quizzes & tests on the subject of sexuality & relationships:

I hope you find PC to be of benefit.
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Old 12-13-2018, 03:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: A Decade of Sexual Trauma, fear, and isolation (Retroactive Jealousy?)

I'm so sorry you're struggling It sounds like you're going through a lot. Do you see a therapist? Maybe that could help. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this
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Old 12-13-2018, 03:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: A Decade of Sexual Trauma, fear, and isolation (Retroactive Jealousy?)

Hello, thank you for those links.

Thank for you the support and understanding.

I am reading through them all right now.

I have reached out to a few therapists today as I believe I have taken this issue as far as I can on my own. I have waited too long to do so and this is indeed the next step. I have to say that is a huge step for me. I am trying my best.

I am skeptical on them making me aware of something I don't know but I am open for both myself and future friendships, family bonds, and girlfriend.

A big trigger I am dealing with today is my girlfriend being her normal sweet loving self and I am feeling withdrawn, not a good partner, and having to fake my happiness to her so she doesn't have to know what a rough time I am having. I feel kind of manic in my behavior where I was flying high with constant love and affection the past week while working on myself and doing a lot of reading and mental exercises, but here I am again struggling.

Not something that is attractive or great for a loving relationship that should have stability.

Again she is a very grounded person who knows what she wants and knows herself. She doesn't need to be worrying about the stakes of her investment in me everyday as she works on her career and daily struggles. She could find plenty of people to value and love her very easily because of this. Not to mention we spend money to travel to see each other regularly, she could be with someone better locally.

Sometimes I am afraid that the best thing for her, is to be without me. It devastates me to think it, but at least she could get out of it sooner and wouldn't waste her time on someone hung up on something very trivial.

I want her to have a happy life, and I feel like I shouldn't of even made such a commitment to someone and been so woefully unprepared to deal with myself

In my heart I think I would probably barely be able to date again until my mid to late 30s if I could fix myself, or maybe not at all. It seems I do better that way. I just can't take this again. I would never willingly drag someone into my life to push them away again.

Also I remember reading about demisexuality a while back, and somewhat thinking that was a label I was looking for my whole life. Even if I did identify that way though, it still would make me question our value / moral compatibility.

It simply comes down to that being a deal breaker or not.

I am also super aware as I approach my 30s that everyone has a past, and that rationally and logically I would be throwing away maybe the best thing that ever happened to me out of fear.

I just don't want to hold on to anyone out of some kind of fear of being alone. I am great at being alone. I just kind of know in my heart, that if I were to remove myself from her life, or let her go, I am not sure I would ever get into a relationship again. It may seem melodramatic but I am very conscious of my own feelings, and not ever wanting to hurt anyone intentionally.

Today I sat down to do some writing, and the images of having to "fake it through day" kept coming up. As a writer and a creative I don't even know what my identity anymore is if I have to hide that part of me.

The fear of losing my sense of self, and experience as a human being to have a normal functioning relationship is foreign to me.

As I mentioned previously, I think if I can look at my partner as her own person with her own experiences leading to where we are today I can deal with it. I just fear that some of the techniques I have been reading about are just bandaids, and keeping partners at arms length and somewhat guarded to me.

I don't really want to be guarded from my partner...

On the flip side I have known a few people who have slightly similar experiences to me, but they would never make me laugh or feel loved like my current partner does.

It's such a hard balance to figure out.

She always wants to be open to talk to me, and already knows what I am working on and going through, but enough is enough on her end.
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