Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Your Partner, His Other Girl, and Your Boundaries

When it comes to relationships, I am not good at them.  I will admit that I usually end up dating some of the worst guys imaginable while ruining the good relationships.  I have to laugh sometimes because I am not crazy, I am broken.  I realized just how broken I was about a year ago after another breakup with a toxic, draining, and mentally abusive man.  So, you can imagine how cautious I am now in my new relationship.  But the longer I stay in this relationship, I find the more boundaries I have to fortify.  I won't bore you with all the details of my past, however, this introduces us to this topic of the boyfriend and his other girl.

I have heard about this scenario before; a man can't get this girl out of his life.  He has mementos of their relationship all over his home, he enjoys hearing from her, takes her phone calls, answers her texts and Facebook messages, and even hangs out with her.  If you are screeching by now, you are one of many who can't believe a person could be such an asshole!  But it is very common.  In fact, believe it or not, most men keep a #2 on the side.  Movie stars, politicians, and most every other man in America; this is the girl he is secretly enamored with, the girl he might fantasize about, the girl he would pursue if things go south with you.  I look back through all of my relationships and most of the men I had been with had an obvious #2 girl somewhere in the mix. I just wasn't looking for the signs.  I trusted too easily and honored too quickly.

What are the signs of the #2 girl?  The obvious signs are he has a female friend who he keeps in touch with someway.  Sometimes it is an old lover, an ex who dumped him, a girl he just couldn't win her heart, an old friend, or one of your friends.  Originally, this was going to be about the ex, but I discovered that the ex is only one girl out of the #2 girl scenario.  Generally speaking, men who have another woman in his life, other than a close relative, view them as the second choice and wouldn't hesitate to be with her the moment your relationship hits the rocky shore.  Shockingly, most men keep them closer than you can imagine.

Again, I write this not as an expert on this topic, but as an experienced victim with advice. All but several guys I have worked with had #2 and even #3 side girls besides their wives or girlfriends.  Some of my guy friends have a #2 girl they hang out with regularly but hide it from their spouse or girlfriend.  I know I am the #2 girl for several of my guy friends. And I can't count how many of my boyfriends cheated on me with his #2 girl.  Most of the time I was blind sided, but several times there was a huge neon sign pointing to that path. So it didn't surprise me when my current boyfriend was still hanging out with his ex girlfriend.  Yes, his platonic ex girlfriend is his #2 girl; it is alright if you roll your eyes because I do every time I hear her calling.  Well, at least he was nice enough to make it blatantly obvious he is a typical asshole instead of being a sneaky jerk.  She calls him frequently, is right there for him when we fight, takes him out often, and asks him for huge favors which he proudly jumps on.  It is a huge red flag with blinking, neon lights surrounding it.  Being wiser and more experienced now, I understand that if our relationship goes south, he will be in her arms faster than an earring slips down a drain. 

What to do?  I finally learned, after fifteen years of boyfriends and husbands, that you can't change a man.  He will do whatever he wants to do when he wants to do it.  The more you squawk and complain about his shenanigans with his #2 girl, the more apt he is to be with her over you.  However, if you ignore it, or miss the signs completely, he can easily get very close to his #2 girl and unwanted things could end up happening.  In the end you have three options to choose from, and they all depend on what you are willing to go through.  It is also important to always respect yourself and never show fear or insecurity in this matter.  Insecurity always feeds the flame.

Option 1) Realize today that your man has not valued or respected you, or your boundaries for that matter, and now you must leave him.  No ultimatums, because men don't respond well to ultimatums, and no beating around the bush.  The fact that he has a #2 girl glistening in the background means that he doesn't hold you on the pedestal you should be on and that you are discounted merchandise to him.  Here is the moment where you need to pull up your big girl britches and say, "Honey, I know we have had an amazing time together but I feel like I don't truly matter to you and it is time for me to move on."  Now if he cares for you, this is the moment he starts clambering back and wanting to fix it.  It is alright if he fixes it, but he must do that on his own because he will never fix it if you are in the picture.  Tell him, "I am not the only woman in your life and I cannot be with someone who has a side girl," and then walk away.  Cry it out at another friend's house over ice cream, or even better, work it out at the gym!  If he is willing to change, he will show commitment to change.  But you cannot force him or manipulate him to change and you should not expect him to change or crawl back a changed man.  This is just a way of establishing your values, your love for yourself, and strengthening your boundaries for hopes of finding a man who will cherish you.

Option 2) Set your boundaries in stone and find your passion.  If you think this is just a bump in the road and he can let her go, then this might be the option for you.  Tell him with a loving tone, "I really appreciate you and your ability to make me happy but I am very sad to know that "__(her name)____" has entered your life again."  Then listen to what he has to say which is something like, "Babe, there's nothing going on, blah blah blah...."  Expect him to try to convince you, and himself, that it is just a platonic relationship (it's not by the way, he would tap that in a heart beat if he could) and that he will try to see/call/text/message her less.  Hold your temper for after you are out of earshot because seeing you in a rage will make him want to run into her arms.  This is where your boundaries need to be firm and set in stone!  Slip in the sentence somewhere in his hogwash that, "I need to know you are there for me and committed only to me and I need you to show that to me.  Do you think you can do that?"  Now just know that his friendship with #2 might go incognito.  This is where you find a hobby or craft you love and establish a separate life from him.  If you are married or in a joint relationship, it is time to slowly pull away, and you also need a stockpile of money somewhere in case you do find out his #2 is now his #1.5 or better.  Give him a chance, but be on guard.  If he is anything like my ex husband, it will hit you like a bomb when you least expect it.

Option 3) Equality and respect goes hand-in-hand/foot-in-mouth.  This method also works for other matters like strip clubs, porn, and other offenses.  This option is only available if you are willing to tolerate bad behaviors and realize the potential for the relationship to crumble.  It is also important to stockpile bail out money if the ship starts sinking.  First is pull back.  Do absolutely nothing to kindle or grow the relationship.  Miss his birthday, miss his holiday, stop cleaning and cooking.  Find yourself reasons to always be gone or out.  If you have kids, enroll them in evening activities or take them to the park or mall.  Be a ghost.  If your man is still in love with you, then he will chase you to the ends of the earth to keep you.  If he is no longer interested in you, then he will let you slip through the cracks like sand on a grate.  Pulling back lets you know immediately where he is in the relationship and what he is willing to do to keep you.  The next step is to set equality limits.  If he can Facebook his ex at 2am in the morning, so can you.  And I would definitely pull some old "friends" out of the morgue just for that reason.  If he takes her out for dinner, by all means so can you.  Ultimately, whatever he can do, you can do too.  It sounds like a messy situation waiting to happen, and most likely he will be the first one to explode when you receive a phone call at 4pm in the afternoon from an ex.  That's when you calmly say, "I don't see anything wrong with talking to my ex, do you?"  And be ready to walk.  Stay calm, cool, and collected.  What he sees you do (in his mind) is a direct reflection of how he sees his relationship with his ex.  Now you will know how intimate and close he was with his ex as he tries to tell you not to be so close with your ex, all while trying to convince you that his relationship with her is different.  And you can also determine if there was truly intimate relations with his ex or not and make the autonomous decision to walk right then and there.  It shouldn't hurt too bad since you have bail out money and now a "friend" you can turn to if you do decide to walk.  This is also the moment where his mistake slaps him in the face.  Hopefully for him it was not too late and his platonic relationship stayed platonic with evidence of such.  But, there are those situations where a platonic relationship turns into an intimate one and unfortunately you had to find out the hard way.  In any way, you remain true to your self, and walk away with your head held high, with him graveling at your heels or running to his #2.  Again, you can't change him, you just loved yourself enough not to put yourself in a situation where he can stab you in the back while ripping your heart out.

Some other quick points.  Your close friends know you and can see things in your partner which may not be good for you.  Listen to your friends.  Also, it is time to start wearing a condom again, if you haven't been.  Your man is obviously enamored with another woman and at any time he may stray.  Men view love and sex as two completely different topics and are triggered in two completely different areas of the brain.  I have a running joke among friends that he can screw a dead goat on the side of the road and bring you flowers all in the same day.  As crass as this sounds, studies have shown that a man's brain is wired differently and their view of things is completely backwards to how we view it.  Hence the reason why he thinks it is perfectly okay to have a #2 girl on call even though he knows it hurts you and that it is definitely not okay!  Stay strong and set those boundaries right now.  Lastly, always remember there is another man more capable of loving you than what you have at this current moment.  So don't be afraid of letting go.