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Please help me decide what to do.


Bell
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Hi, I am brand new and i hope I'm posting this in the correct area.

 

It's a little bit of a long story but I will sum it up the best I can. It is about friends but to explain properly I have to add relationship details.

 

7 years ago I started a long distance relationship with a guy, I will call him Jacob. Around the same time I began to speak with an old friend from middle school again, I will call him Richard. Richard and I hadn't talked in years previous to this, Jacob and I had just recently met online, I did not know him previously.

 

Skipping a lot of minute details, I was not very happy in my long distance relationship with Jacob and I was afraid to be alone so we ended up breaking up and getting together multiple times over the years, including the first year, but I deeply cared about Jacob. Richard had pretty much always flirted with me in some form, which is was not grandly fond of but was afraid to make boundaries on it. eventually early on when the breakups, with Jacob, began to be more frequent and the arguments got worse, I started to think more positively of Richard because he and I could laugh and enjoy our time together, unlike Jacob and I at the time, who was now accusing me of cheating and fighting with me almost constantly (because his past gf's did.) During this time in my family life, my mother was sick with cancer, I was helping to nurse her while this all went on.

 

Richard was very...forward.. during this time, usually always wanting to drink when we would hang out, he was not in the habit to ask if something was ok before he did it and I was fearful of saying stop or making boundaries with everyone, needles to say this went very badly for me. I will not go too far into detail but it was not once and I always felt like it was wrong, to be there, doing what we were doing. I have explained in detail to some of my friends and they agree it was, at minimum, boarderline rape. I do think a lot of it was my fault for not finding my voice to stop it.

 

So at this point I had definitely cheated on Jacob a hand full of times, it began with Richard when Jacob and I were not dating but it did not stop. Richard and I would meet randomly, it could have been 1,2, 3 or 4 months or weeks between, I could probably count all of our encounters on my fingers. Jacob came to visit me some time between these times. My mother passed and After being so upset with myself for a long while and trying to distance myself from Richard, eventually I learned how to set boundaries but the guilt got to me so badly I had to tell Jacob, who agreed it was at least half, if not all my fault, for not stopping Richard. Jacob insisted I visit him, so I did.

 

Jacob and I fought for some time, insisted I never talk to Richard again and he would forgive me. So I decided to end my friendship with Richard and try to move on with Jacob, because I cared deeply for him. A short while after, Jacob insisted I had been acting depressed since I deleted Richard and then decided, against my protest, to message him to be my friend again. When Richard messaged me again Jacob decided he and I were not going to talk anymore because he assumed I liked Richard more. So I talked to Richard again.

 

Jacob and I proceeded to fight for the next 3 years, on for short times and off for multiple months at a time. Around this time I confronted Richard about what happened in previous years and how I felt about it. He apologized, which I never thought was enough, I have never trusted him since. We are still friends to this day and he has been more respectful of my boundaries since I confronted him. Meanwhile Jacob is majorly depressed, blames Richard and I for his life being in shambles, continously obsess about Richard talking to me and still wishes to fix the broken relationship between him and I. Jacob is still insistent on Richard and I no longer talking as the condition for his friendship with me. I think this could be a perfectly reasonable condition, looking at my behavior.

 

The reason I have not stopped friendship with Richard is because I am conflicted. I do not want to cause harm to either of them, although I feel as though I have never forgiven Richard and I am causing Jacob distress through not doing anything at all. Some part of me does want to keep Richard as a friend but I am unsure why, maybe it is our long history of knowing each other. I am also unsure if I would ever want to try and salvage my relationship with Jacob, I have seen a lot of toxic behavior from him over the years, but the guilt of the things I put him through and how I am choosing to keep talking to the guy who basically forced himself on me, is getting to me.

 

I am really unsure what to do, I have considered many possibilities but decided on none, I feel like it would give relief to Jacob and possibly me ( because what happened still bothers me to this day), if Richard and I were not friends anymore, but I also feel bad for breaking our friendship for some reason.

 

I appreciate any feedback on this as I am afraid to ask my friends, they have heard more than enough of it through the years.

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  • Digital Mentor

Hey there. Thanks for coming to us for support. We are here to help you through this.

 

It sounds like you’ve really been through a tough time, especially with losing your mum. How are you feeling now about everything?

 

I am sorry to hear what happened in that Richard was not asking if he could do things and instead did them anyway. You are not to blame for this because you did not find your voice. If you feel you were sexually assaulted, I encourage you to seek advice from the police as this is serious.

 

Regarding the other issue about continuing relationships, I think this is a difficult position for anyone to be in and I understand why you are feeling conflicted about it. I think if I was in your situation, I would be thinking about what matters to me the most. Do you think that you can successfully maintain a friendship with both? I guess more importantly, do you want to do that? I think that I would also be wondering whether I think it’s reasonable for one of my friends to put a condition on the friendship continuing. Above it all, the best piece of advice I can give to you is to do what makes you happy and is right for you.

 

I hope you find this helpful. I'm conscious that it may come across as vague, but I believe that when people are in such tricky situations, in most cases, the individual has already made their mind up about what they want to do, but because of the delicate nature of the situation, they want to seek an outside opinion. Do you think that there's a chance you might have already decided? This might be something to think about as well.

 

I hope to hear back from you soon. Keep me updated.

 

- Monsoon

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Monsoon,

 

Thanks for the reply, I truly have not decided what to do as far as I think, I do have trouble making the right choice sometimes and a lot of the time I do not know what I actually want. I thought maybe I should try breaking contact with both parties for a while to see how I feel, so I started messaging Richard my thoughts on the matter to talk it out. He has been willing to talk about it but he is attempting to apologize for his behavior and find reasons to convince me I should not stop talking to him, including saying self deprecating things that make me feel guilty. I realized that he may be venting and this might not be to make me feel guilty but it feels a little inappropriate in the conversation we are having.

 

I have attempted to explain what and how I am feeling about the past and he has also expressed that he saw times when he should have stopped but chose not to, he also attempts to change the subject matter multiple times. I feel like we are talking and he is trying to understand but we end up back at the same place, with us talking like nothing is wrong and me feeling like I don't know what to do.

 

I do feel sad to leave a friend I get along with and have known for so long. He has also been telling me how much he appreciates me as a person and I'm not sure the point in that, other than maybe trying to make me feel guilty for trying to leave? I obviously have issues fully trusting him because I think everything he says is to manipulate me somehow.

 

Do you think it is a bad choice or too much to ask for me to separate myself from both parties for a while to see how I feel? I'm not sure what the outcome would be (if I will miss talking to Richard or if I begin talking to Jacob for any reason again) or how long I would need.

 

I am trying to visualize what it would be like if that happens but I am having a hard time doing so. I just feel very angry at myself for picking Richard's side in the end, because he was the guy who helped me cheat on my boyfriend at the time, when I could have picked no side. I have all these memories of the things Jacob did for me while we were together and some of them are not trivial but very significant, I want to make something right here but I can't tell if this is the right way or if there is any way to do that now.

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  • Digital Mentor

Hey Bell,

 

Thanks for getting back to me :)

 

I think it's unfair for him to make you feel guilty for wanting some space. You should be able to assert your needs and not feel guilty for it. Have you spoken to him since? You could have a conversation with him about this and see how he responds.

 

Nevertheless, I think it's perfectly reasonable for you to distance yourself from both of them for a while. This will probably give you the space you need to make a decision. It's so hard to know what the right thing to do in this kind of situation is, but I would say this is a good first step. Hope this helps!

 

- Monsoon

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  • 1 year later...

Hey Monsoon,

You'll be happy to know that I ditched that abusive guy I was dating, halted talking to my friend as much, and joined a dating site soon after my last post. At first I met a lot of scummy people, a few nice ones, and in the end I found an amazing guy who treats me right.

Being stuck in the loop of a mentally abusive relationship for so long is hard, (my journey was 7 long years)  but I'm glad that I found the man that I'm currently with. He and I just celebrated our one year anniversary last week. My sister and friends are always saying we are everyone's "couple goals". 😆

Thank you for your advice, hope you're doing well. 

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  • Digital Mentor

Hey Bell,

It's lovely to hear from you again. It sounds like you're in a much better place now, and I'm really pleased to hear that it's going really well - you must be so pleased. Remember that we are always here if you'd like more support.

Take care. 

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