Dating and Relationship Advice

Dear iris,

My bf and I have been dating for about a year now. It’s been smooth sailing until recently, when I've started feeling like I’ve been oversharing or coming onto him too strong. He’s a lovely person—patient, caring, kind, and has a very uncomplicated life (which he’s said himself). I feel like I constantly bring in unnecessary negativity and complications into his life. For context, I’ve moved around quite a bit, lost and made lots of friends, had a toxic ex, AND my parents are separated. He, however, had a relatively stable life. He’s lived in the same place his whole life, healthy family life, etc.

I’ve worked hard to avoid pouring out my problems to him, but I find myself venting a little too often because I feel so loved and comfortable around him. It seems like all I do is talk, and all he does is listen. Ultimately, it seems like I disrupt his otherwise simple life.

At this point, I’m conflicted whether I’m the toxic person in his life. Although he hasn’t complained, I feel like I’m too complicated for him. I don’t know if I should leave him and free him. I love him, but I know I need to deal with things without bringing him into it. I want him to be happy without having to worry whether or not I’ll be in a good mood for our next date.

Sincerely, Feeling Overbearing

Dear Feeling Overbearing,

My heart goes out to you. I know how it feels to be in a relationship with someone great and feel like you're somehow broken in comparison. It’s not a fun position to be in. But the good news is, you’re not broken or overbearing. The fact that you’re even aware of the stark difference between you and your boyfriend’s past and are worried about how it affects him is a great sign you’re not toxic like you think.

Everyone on this planet has trauma. Some smaller than others, but comparing baggage isn’t fair to anyone. No one sails through life without any bumps. Though you may think your boyfriend’s past was simple and easy, I’m sure there were some negative incidents that impacted him.

Maybe they didn’t feel as big of a deal to him or maybe he was able to handle them in an effective way that helped him process his feelings. Perhaps he has scars he doesn't feel comfortable sharing yet. My point is, you're not this alien creature with too much emotional baggage. You're a human being.

Plenty of people's parents are separated. Many people have lost friends and had toxic exes. While the pain you experienced is very real (and I'm sorry you were dealt such unlucky cards), it doesn’t make you a burden. Your past is what makes you who you are today. Wanting to feel like your boyfriend understands every part of you is a basic human need. Try not to make yourself feel bad for wanting to share with your boyfriend the events that shaped you.

Something that might help you is a choice I made in my own relationship. When I first started dating my boyfriend, I let him know that I had many parts of my past that I wanted to share with him. I stated that I wasn’t looking for him to feel bad for me or have any answers. I only wanted him to understand everything about me as a way for me to feel closer to him.

I let my boyfriend know that the door is always open for him to do the same, though he’s never taken up on that opportunity. Like your boyfriend, he has a very stable family life and a relatively harmless dating past. But it's important for a relationship to be balanced, so I made sure there’s room for him to share his experiences as well.

It might be helpful to talk to your boyfriend about why you share your emotions with him, and let him know that he can do the same. Right now, it sounds like you’re caught up in your mind. You’re assuming a lot about how your boyfriend must be feeling with little evidence. You’re causing yourself a lot of stress over something that’s probably nothing. And while it’s great that you worry about hurting your boyfriend, that’s most likely not what’s happening. A simple conversation would clear that air.

As long as the happy times—when you're laughing with each other during a night in or embarking on an exciting adventure—outweigh the difficult ones, your relationship is doing great. Try focusing on the good times, rather than overthinking the times you share your negative emotions with your boyfriend.

You'd be surprised how much a change in perspective can help.

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