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Old 09-22-2008, 02:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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helping my boyfriend understand

Does anyone have any tips or methods of helping communicate how i am the way that i am, as an ACoA to my boyfriend so that he can better understand. I am taking the necessary steps to heal myself (or re-program my brain) so that we have have a happy, healthy relationship.

Thank you,
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Old 09-22-2008, 03:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hey, I just replied to your other post, but want to add a few thoughts here. Your boyfriend can learn to empathize, but he'll never 100% understand. So you'll have to learn how to deal with the slip-ups and obstacles in a healthy constructive way. He needs to know that you need him to be patient, above all else. You could even explain that when it comes to relationships, you were raised on a different planet altogether (unlike any woman he's previously known) and so you'll need his help to guide you into it.

My father was also an alcoholic, and though I thought I escaped "normal", I was a rigid, in-control, "independent" woman <--- *insert flashing ACoA lights here* I somehow managed to meet a nice functional man and the relationship smoothly progressed, but it also ran into some roadblocks. He was certainly turned off by certain behaviors and called me on it. I couldn't even begin to explain myself, but I did tell him about my family. On specific issues we could pinpoint, I tried to explain why I was reacting in a certain way (e.g. I'm a control freak because there was no control in my life - I had to provide it). I had also just come through some humbling life crises which forced me to admit that my life strategy was not 100% effective, so I was also ready to swallow my pride and take in some constructive criticism.

How it played out was that I told him the general issue so that he's aware that I grew up with an alcoholic parent, then I've told him in bits and pieces the details as they've come up. For someone who hasn't come from a dysfunctional background, it's really hard for them to imagine or even take it all in. But I feel a great sense of empathy from my boyfriend because over time we've been able to pinpoint and "correct" certain little things. He knows that if I've done or reacted to something oddly, that to take a moment and consider that I just don't know how to respond appropriately. He'll call me on it, and because I've learned to trust him, I can take in the criticism without feeling attacked. Also he's met my parents and can see firsthand with my own point-of-view perspective what it must have been like to grow up with them. So I'd say understanding doesn't come all at once. It'll be a revealing truth that comes with time.

There are still times when my boyfriend can't relate at all, e.g. WHY would you ever put up with that? I just plainly tell him that if that's all you've known, it can be really hard to understand that there's another choice or another way of dealing with it. Your boyfriend will see that you've clearly an intelligent and reflective person, capable of handling things in a calm adult manner. So don't be immediately scared of what he has to say or that he's going to go running. He definitely needs to be ready to have lots of patience, and know that he can bring up something that's bothering him. Communication and patience will be the main keys to getting past this hurdle, but know that it also won't be a hurdle that lasts forever. You're literally learning new skills here, and once you master them, they won't be an issue like they are now. Hang in there!
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Old 09-24-2008, 09:13 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you VERY much dothi. I sent my boyfriend the "characteristics" of ACoA the other day. I had to email them to him as he works 5 hours away six days at a time. He wrote back and basically said "WOW, I had no idea that you went through that and it is alot for me to take in." I think it helped him understand me a bit better. He said that he would not judge me or my father (our families have become very close) because of my past/family habits. We have both committed to working on our communication and me - my affection and ways of reacting to certain things.

That all said and done, now I have irrational fears that he IS going to run. Or cheat. Those fears about him cheating have really started making me crazy for the past few months, we have been together jsut over a year. I realize WHY I am having these thoughts, and I know that they are irrational, but they are going to ruin me and him. How do I make them go AWAY!!!
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Old 09-24-2008, 09:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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You have to look at it like this.......there is nothing you can do. If he is going to cheat well then.......that's just what will happen. Life will still go on.
Be the best you can be for yourself and stop thinking about the what ifs.
When you get a thought like that in your head then tell yourself.......so? So what? I can not do a dang thing about another persons actions.
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Old 09-24-2008, 09:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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thanks, i know i can't do a thing about it. and i know that i can deal with it should it happen. it just bugs me that i have those irrational thoughts and feelings in the first place. i want to have healthy, secure, loving thoughts.
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Old 09-24-2008, 09:41 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crystalprincess View Post
thanks, i know i can't do a thing about it. and i know that i can deal with it should it happen. it just bugs me that i have those irrational thoughts and feelings in the first place. i want to have healthy, secure, loving thoughts.
You're human.
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Old 09-24-2008, 07:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by crystalprincess View Post
thanks, i know i can't do a thing about it. and i know that i can deal with it should it happen. it just bugs me that i have those irrational thoughts and feelings in the first place. i want to have healthy, secure, loving thoughts.
Sometimes, cp, there are small things that others do that trigger our suspicions. Not to say that he's cheating or isn't or would or wouldn't -- that's up to him and how much integrity he has -- but sometimes when someone is dishonest in other areas, for example, it's easy to translate that to being dishonest with us. If they tell little white lies. Or doesn't choose to tell you certain things. Or if someone speaks badly of a loved one behind their back, it's a good bet they do the same when we're not there. Not saying he does ANY of these things, but there may be things you're observing that are subconsciously triggering your feelings.

Two paths you might want to consider are these: Grow your self-love and self-confidence (outside your relationship with your BF) so you're strong enough and wise enough to survive anything. And keep the channels of communication open...be happy and honest and loving with each other as much as you can, for as long as you can.

You can't stop another person from taking a dishonest path...that's their choice and their burden to carry. But you can love yourself enough to quickly grieve, then get over a dishonest person....life is too short for that.

This from someone who suffered from the same thoughts for many, many years!

I think you'll be fine
GL
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