I am brand new to this site, and found it quite useful, but there is still some advice I would like.
I'm a young male, age 17, and I am currently engaged to another 17 year old woman/girl (I don't know what section to classify her in). I know it is early but it is something we planned for a while now. My issues are bot with her though.
I have been having periodic remembrances of past relationships. I have been cheated on multiple times and they decide to bump into my head at inconvenient times. I have actually caught myself looking for reasons that my current fiancé would cheat on me. Deep down I know she wouldn't, but that doesn't keep the thoughts from arising. She had to move away for a few months and I have been having the issues more and more as time goes on while we are apart. Any advice on how to relax and rid myself of the anxiety would help.
The goal of this website is to give support to people who are facing problems in their relationship related to cheating, abuse and narcissism. I am living in Europe and English is not my native language, I wish you will excuse me if I make some grammatical errors. I decided to write in English because I wish to reach as many people as I can around the world.
Thank you for your email. I am glad you found this website and decided to write to me. It is very natural to fear getting hurt after being cheated on in your past relationships. I am glad that instead of allowing your past experiences influence your life in a negative way, you are instead trying to understand and cope with your emotions, aiming to learn how to deal with them. This shows you are very smart and mature, and hence not too young at all to be engaged. There are many people who are much older than you and who are unable to cope as well as you with similar situation (being cheated on in the past and then forced to spend time apart from their partner). I am glad that instead of waiting to see what happens, you decided to act before your negative feelings might cause some damage to your relationship.
First of all let me say this: It is perfectly normal to have periodic remembrances related to your past relationships. In fact it would be quite strange if you did not have such feelings. You said that your current girlfriend does not strike you as the kind of a person who would betray your trust, and yet you are unable to trust her fully. It is good that you are able to distinguish between the emotions that are caused by your girlfriends personality and the emotions that are caused by your past experiences.
You did not mention if your girlfriend is aware of your past negative experiences. If you have a trusting relationship with her, I recommend you to share your feelings with her instead of letting emotions build up in your mind (perhaps you have already discussed this matter with her). If you decide to discuss with your girlfriend, try to present the case in such a way that she does not get the feeling that you see her as the type of a person who could cheat (because obviously you do not see her that way; however it is easy to give a wrong impression in this kind of a delicate matter and if your girlfriend gets a feeling that you see her as someone who is capable of cheating, she might feel quite sad and even insulted).
So be sure that your girlfriend understands that your feelings have nothing to do with her, but that they are caused by your past negative experiences and the reason you wanted to let her know about them is because you do not want those feelings to complicate your relationship with her. It is very important that if you choose to discuss this matter with her, you make it absolutely clear to her that you do not perceive her as the type of a person who could cheat. You said in your letter that you know deep down that she is not that type, so make sure she knows this.
I know the anxious feeling you are experiencing when you think about the possibility of your girlfriend cheating on you. That feeling is partially caused by the fear of losing your girlfriend and getting hurt again. The main thing is not to allow the neuronal networks in your brain that are related to these fearful thoughts become too strong. Please read more about this topic from here: Controlling the Emotions. You might also find this article helpful: Recovering from anxiety and depression after experiencing traumatic events in a relationship.
Consider the following example: If your girlfriend cheats on you with a man who has a certain kind of a car and you find out about the betrayal, whenever you see a similar car you feel a sting of pain, because the car reminds you of your girlfriend's betrayal. You feel the pain, because in your brain those two things are "associated" (this is a form of conditioning).
In similar fashion, your past negative experiences related to betrayal have lowered your "tolerance threshold" to certain kind of stimuli that would otherwise not make you feel uncomfortable at all. Your girlfriend is away and when you think about possible scenarios that can lead to her betraying you, you feel anxious. It helps you to relax if you tell yourself that what you are feeling is a physiological reaction to a certain kind of a situation, in similar way as you feel pain if you hit your toe.
Try to observe your anxious feeling as an outsider, instead of allowing it to consume you. Try to locate the source of the feeling: Is it the strongest in your stomach, your chest, your head? What happens if you breath in deeply when the feeling comes: Does the feeling remain the same, does it become more intense, or perhaps weakens just a bit? If you observe the feeling like this as an outsider, you learn to recognize different aspects of it and eventually you learn to control it.
If the unlikely scenario takes place and your girlfriend ends up cheating on you, you know that it did not happen because of anything that you did; you could not have done anything differently. Do not blame yourself for what happened in your previous relationships. You did not deserve to be betrayed, you simply were unlucky to end up together with wrong people.
You said you are now 17 years old. Based on this, I imagine that the girls you have dated before have been quite young when you were together with them. Teenage years are often stormy time and emotional states can change fast, and for this reason faithfulness is not always self-evident in teenage relationships. The targets of attraction can change rapidly and in the middle of emotional storm teens are not always able to take other people's emotions into account (as most parents of teenagers with temper know). When teens grow up they often become more responsible and are able to take the emotions of people around them better into account.
Do not think that you were betrayed in your past relationships because you did something wrong. Your girlfriends were most likely just slightly immature and not ready for a committed relationship. You are now together with a girl who has not cheated on you and who cares for you enough to be engaged to marry you. You also said that deep down you know she is not the kind of a person who would cheat on you. Trust your gut feeling, it is most likely correct.
If you feel anxious, remind yourself how well things are in your life; many people wish to be engaged to someone they love and to be able to plan a future together. You have found that special person and she clearly feels the same way about you, otherwise she would not be engaged to you. If you feel anxious, remind yourself of these precious things and the points mentioned in these two articles: Controlling the emotions and Recovering from anxiety and depression after experiencing traumatic events in a relationship. As time goes by and you see that your girlfriend does not do anything to betray your trust, the negative memories will start to fade to the background and you are eventually able to trust her fully without worries.
Please feel free to write to me anytime you wish.
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