Dating married man
I've come from a somewhat traumatic childhood background. I've found it very difficult to trust anyone I come in contact with because of the fact that I was betrayed by both parents: first by my mother and several years later by my father. I've been involved in several relationships but never really felt that I could devote my life to one human being; I was tired of people in general and sick of being used by them.
Anyway, several months ago I unintentionally met a seemingly perfect man. We had been friends for three years or so and he had always been there to help me through the difficult periods of my life. I gradually came to "almost" completely trust this man (I don't think that I'll ever trust another 100%). We started going out more often and things matured from an innocent friendship to a full-fledged relationship. The one problem is that he is married, though not happily. He wants to live at home to be a father to his children, and since both of us grew up without a father, I can understand that to some extent. Everyone tells me this is all wrong...a few family members refuse to speak to me anymore and are astounded by what I have done. I've always been the good girl and now they refer to me as the "tramp."
I love this man and I feel that he too loves me. I really feel that my life would be void and miserable without him. I've never felt so passionately about another person. It almost scares me that I've allowed myself to become so close to another human being again. This man is special to me in a way no other person can understand. He has evolved to be a very important part of my life. I also know that it is unfair to all parties involved to remain in this situation...something will inevitably give eventually, and then I don't know what will come of all of it.
Are you buying any of this? No one else seems to understand...they all tell me to leave him. The bottom line is that I know I shouldn't have put myself in this type of position; however, what's done is done and he fills my life in a way no other person can and I wouldn't want to go on living without him.
We all learn through experience. A child who feels safe, secure, loved, valued and accepted, internalizes these feelings so that they become a part of his/her sense of who he/she is in the world. These good feelings become familiar and "normal" to him/her. A child who experiences violations in trust - such as abandonment, rejection and betrayal - internalizes these bad feelings as a part of who he/she is in the world. What we learn and experience, we become. (To my knowledge, the only exception to this involves psychosis, where the person "splits-off" from the violation, and from reality.) This is how we learn to trust. Our (nurtured and supported) feelings, thoughts, and senses throughout childhood build self-esteem.
My guess is that this relationship has given you a taste of what you missed out on in your childhood; you have internalized this man's concern and attention, and you feel more worthy of love than you ever have before. This relationship has helped you learn something about what you want, need and deserve. What you have also learned, apparently, is that he cannot offer you what you want, need and deserve. You would not question your involvement with him - no matter what others said - if you didn't want more. Obviously, I recommend that you get into therapy to deal with those deep-seated childhood issues, which still cause you to doubt yourself and what you really want and need.
Best of luck with everything.
Margaret "Peg" Burr, MA, MFT
This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr. She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.For more information visit: http://www.pegburr.com/