Author Topic: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly? - Update p22  (Read 13048 times)

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Kaymar

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My BF of 1.5 years has been part of a sporting community for many years but has not actively played the sport himself since before we met, although he still hangs out with those folks and goes to events.  Last night, for the first time in years, he decided to go to an open session at the sporting facility and play the sport.  He got back somewhat late so I was half-asleep and just asked him if he had fun and he said he did, and he hopped in the shower and that was about the end of the conversation.

This morning, he told me that his most recent ex happened to have shown up at the open session too.  I said, really?  Wow.  I didn't know she ever went to the facility (which is somewhat of a hangout as well as an athletic facility - I've been there before).  He said he knew she'd been in the past but didn't think she'd gone recently.  The sport is something that is a one-on-one type of deal, so I said, "You didn't play with her, did you?" ... phrased that way because I really didn't think he would have done so.  Well, yeah, he did.  I said, "Was that weird? and he said it wasn't. 

I'm realizing that since this is still on my mind a few hours later, even if it wasn't weird for him, it's weird for me.  I don't feel comfortable with him playing this sport with his ex.  But I can't articulate any concrete reason for that - our rela'ship is good, and my understanding is that she is in a rela'ship also, so I'm not worried about cheating or temptation.  It just feels really intimate to be playing a one-on-one type sport with someone that you used to be in a relationship with.  They're not friends, so him spending time with her in any capacity hasn't come up before.  I'm more of an individual sport person, so when I've tried to come up with an analogous situation for myself, it doesn't really work - if I were running a race and an ex happened to be running the same race, I'd say hello if I saw them and that would be it (the way I run, they'd most likely finish 20 minutes before I did).

My question, then, is, is it rude or unreasonable to say that I am uncomfortable with him doing this in the future, if I cannot provide a precise reason why?  I am a pretty direct communicator, so my impulse is to say pretty much that: I can't quite explain why this makes me uncomfortable, but it does.  My hope would be that we could then have a conversation about it - right now, I'd like the result of that conversation to be that he agrees not to participate in one-on-ones with her, but I'm open to the possibility that talking it through might make me feel less weird and not care.

Any thoughts?  Thanks for your help!
 
« Last Edit: December 14, 2012, 09:51:44 AM by Kaymar »

Surianne

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2012, 12:27:20 PM »
I think it would probably be better to figure it out for yourself first, and what you think your limits are and why.   

To be honest, not knowing the sport, this doesn't come off as a reasonable request to me.  Is it a particularly intimate sport, with a lot of physical contact, or anything that can be reasonably interpreted as being sexual?  (I'm thinking tango dancing, for example.)  Would another person likely have a problem with their boyfriend playing the sport with another woman, or is this something specific to you? 

If he can't play the sport with her, what else is/isn't okay to do with her -- is a conversation allowed?  Going out for drinks with her as part of the group after playing?

It seems to me this needs to be part of a bigger conversation about what you see as okay within a relationship, versus what you would consider inappropriate/cheating.

If it's a matter of knowing you're not being reasonable, and wanting him to help you get through it by assuring you that the sport isn't romantic/sexual, then I think you can approach it that way, but it sounds like you want him to stop playing the sport with her entirely, which isn't quite the same thing as hoping he'll help you through it.

MrTango

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2012, 12:29:02 PM »
I think if you're uncomfortable about it, you ought to say so.  Try to sit down with your BF and let him know that you're uncomfortable with him partaking in activities with his Ex.  Be honest that you aren't sure why you're uncomfortable about it and that you aren't accusing him of anything.  Let it be an open and honest conversation where both of you get a chance to listen to each other.

Maybe by being open with him about your feelings about this, you'll be able to figure out why it bothers you.  It's possible that by just having this conversation with him, you'll start to feel better about the situation.

Out of curiosity, what sport is it?  I'd be a bit put off if LadyTango was in a wrestling match or sparring match with one of her Exes, but if it was racquetball or tennis, it wouldn't bother me.

bah12

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2012, 12:36:53 PM »
I think you should first try to figure out what bothers you about this.  If you have a good relationship and aren't concerned about cheating, then what?  Your BF told you about it immediately, so it's not a communication thing (I think).  Are you worried about what she might do?  What others might think?  How intimate can a sport really be? (Is it wrestling?)  Is this just a personal boundary for you where you are uncomfortable with interactions of any kind with exes?

My suggestion would be to really evaluate what it is, perhaps talk with a friend or someone that may be able to figure it out and then approach your BF about it, telling him exactly what makes you uncomfortable.  You could probably even ask your BF to help you figure it out I guess...something like "For some reason hearing that you played the sport with your ex bothered me, but I can't really put my finger on why.  I'm not worried about X, Y or Z, but I'm still really uncomfortable.  Can we talk and figure this out?"

JenJay

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2012, 12:44:52 PM »
My opinion, as someone who has been happily married for nearly 20 years, is that it's always best to communicate any issues that come up, even if they seem minor or even silly. DH and I have definitely been through our share of rough patches and I absolutely believe that being able to talk openly and honestly has been the key.

I wonder if a big part of your discomfort is that you weren't aware they were going to end up hanging out so, to find out after the fact, and be asked if it's okay, was like "Umm... I don't know if I'm okay with that. I wish I'd had a chance to decide before it was sprung on me." I don't fault your guy since he couldn't have talked to you about it first, not knowing she'd be there.

I think it's fine to ask him not to play against his ex. I'm assuming there are plenty of other people they can both play with. Would it help if you were to go hang out with him the next couple of times and see what the vibe is like? That might go a long way in helping you settle on one side or the other. Maybe you'd get an even stronger uncomfortable feeling and be able to articulate it, or, the discomfort would fizzle and you'd be fine.


Kaymar

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2012, 01:17:57 PM »
Thanks, everyone - this gives me a lot to think about.  JenJay, you are absolutely right that part of my discomfort is about finding out after the fact.  It never occurred to me that she might be there, since I've never heard of her stopping by the facility and she lives some distance from here.  I didn't even know she still played this sport at all.  So I didn't have a chance to think about my reaction to such an event until it had already happened. 

I think, too, part of what bugs me (and this part is no doubt totally irrational) is that they met because of this sport, when they both used to participate actively, and were a couple and both part of this community for five years, so that makes them playing it together more meaningful in my head (even if in reality, it probably isn't).   As far as the physical / intimacy level of the sport itself, I'd put it between tennis and tango - it involves some amount of touching but equipment is also involved.  It is a small community so I don't want to get more specific than that.

I will give some more thought to what specific aspects about this scenario are bothering me.  I'm usually a pretty rational person.

TurtleDove

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2012, 02:29:59 PM »
JenJay, you are absolutely right that part of my discomfort is about finding out after the fact.  It never occurred to me that she might be there, since I've never heard of her stopping by the facility and she lives some distance from here.  I didn't even know she still played this sport at all.  So I didn't have a chance to think about my reaction to such an event until it had already happened. 

From what I understand, your BF also didn't have a chance to think about his reaction, or yours, because he similarly had no idea his ex would be there.  Yes, talk to your ex, but try to be gentle and think this through.  If my BF got upset at me because, for example, an ex of mine showed up to a yoga class I was taking and was upset that I told him I said hi, we caught up a bit, and did the class, I would be upset at my BF.  Because that's just common courtesy to talk to someone you know and do what you went to a place to do.  I confess that I was inwardly and somewhat irrationally "upset" when I learned that my BF's ex showed up to a bar where he was playing trivia and they talked and played trivia in close proximity, but what it came down to for me was the realities and logistics of the situation. What did I expect him to do?  Be rude to her? Pretend he didn't see her?  Get up and leave immediately?  Of course not.  Since I trust him (and even though I knew she wanted him back and it was not random on her part) I knew this was not something to waste time and emotion on.  He saw and spoke with someone who used to mean something to him and was an adult about it - that's actually an attractive quality to me.

Here are the questions I would ask myself if I were you:

1) Do I trust my BF?
2) Do I trust that the ex is not trying to steal my BF?
3) Do I want my BF to feel afraid of running into people from his past?
4) Do I want to be interrogated or feel afraid of how my BF will react if I run into someone from my past?

I hope you feel non-unsettled soon.

WillyNilly

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2012, 02:39:36 PM »
You are always entitled to your feelings. The key is in how you act upon those feelings.

I think you should mention to your BF exactly what you've said here - you are uncomfortable, you can't articulate exactly why, you do trust him, part of your concern is the surprise element and part is the 'it was something they specifically shared' issue and that you'd like to come to a mutual agreement between the two of you. If your BF is rational he'll be willing to discuss it all with you.  He might be having the exact same issues - he might be uncomfortable and he might have been caught off guard and thus agreed to participate together even though he didn't really ultimately want to, with her.

Kaymar

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2012, 02:54:42 PM »

From what I understand, your BF also didn't have a chance to think about his reaction, or yours, because he similarly had no idea his ex would be there.  Yes, talk to your ex, but try to be gentle and think this through.  If my BF got upset at me because, for example, an ex of mine showed up to a yoga class I was taking and was upset that I told him I said hi, we caught up a bit, and did the class, I would be upset at my BF.  Because that's just common courtesy to talk to someone you know and do what you went to a place to do.  I confess that I was inwardly and somewhat irrationally "upset" when I learned that my BF's ex showed up to a bar where he was playing trivia and they talked and played trivia in close proximity, but what it came down to for me was the realities and logistics of the situation. What did I expect him to do?  Be rude to her? Pretend he didn't see her?  Get up and leave immediately?  Of course not.  Since I trust him (and even though I knew she wanted him back and it was not random on her part) I knew this was not something to waste time and emotion on.  He saw and spoke with someone who used to mean something to him and was an adult about it - that's actually an attractive quality to me.

Oh, I am definitely not upset with him and I understand that he was totally caught off guard.  I don't mean to imply that he did anything wrong.  I'm just wondering, now that I know it is a possibility that this sort of thing could end up happening, how do I feel about it and is it something I can or should talk to him about?  If this was a matter of running into her and saying hello, I would not have thought twice about it and certainly would not be posting anywhere about it, so in that light I can answer all of your questions pretty easily.  I think perhaps I am not explaining myself very well, and I apologize for that.

Kaymar

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2012, 03:04:37 PM »
You are always entitled to your feelings. The key is in how you act upon those feelings.

I think you should mention to your BF exactly what you've said here - you are uncomfortable, you can't articulate exactly why, you do trust him, part of your concern is the surprise element and part is the 'it was something they specifically shared' issue and that you'd like to come to a mutual agreement between the two of you. If your BF is rational he'll be willing to discuss it all with you.  He might be having the exact same issues - he might be uncomfortable and he might have been caught off guard and thus agreed to participate together even though he didn't really ultimately want to, with her.

Thank you.  This is helpful.  My BF is definitely rational and I suspect he feels a little odd about the whole thing too.  He's been extra affectionate (sending messages, etc) during the day today which may be a coincidence but I doubt it.  Their whole sporting community is very intertwined and incestuous (his characterization, not mine) - I'm the first person he's dated who hasn't in some way been connected to this community, so this kind of thing wouldn't have come up for him before either.

TurtleDove

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2012, 03:04:50 PM »
Oh, I am definitely not upset with him and I understand that he was totally caught off guard.  I don't mean to imply that he did anything wrong.  I'm just wondering, now that I know it is a possibility that this sort of thing could end up happening, how do I feel about it and is it something I can or should talk to him about?  If this was a matter of running into her and saying hello, I would not have thought twice about it and certainly would not be posting anywhere about it, so in that light I can answer all of your questions pretty easily.  I think perhaps I am not explaining myself very well, and I apologize for that.

Absolutely talk with him about it!  And I don't blame you for feeling uncomfortable.  I was just listing questions that I asked myself and that helped me to not be uncomfortable with any possible encounters my BF might have with various exes or women I know what to be with him.  For me, I realized that while my discomfort was legitimate, it was unhealthy for me, and it was not an emotion or feeling I would want flipped on me were the situation reversed. 

In the situation with trivia I mentioned, I asked my BF one time whether I needed to be concerned about his ex.  His response was, "No - don't waste any time worrying about it.  I told you she was there because I wanted to be transparent with you, but you can trust me.  I have no idea what HER intentions are, but I know what MINE are."  I decided to trust my BF to handle situations appropriately, and I made the decision to not waste time worrying about it. In past relationships for various reasons this was not the case, and I cannot express enough how much happier I am in this relationship of not trying to pretend our pasts didn't exist and won't occasionally show up in our present.  The past - his or mine - does not threaten our present or future.


Hmmmmm

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2012, 03:11:34 PM »
When reading your initial post, I wondered if they used to participate in this activity as a couple when they dated.  I'm going to use fencing as an example.  Your BF and his Ex met when they were both heavily involved in fencing.  They started dating and increased their participation in fencing and most of their social network as a couple involved fencing.  It was a major part of their relationship

They broke up, your BF pulled back from participating in fencing, probably as part of distancing himself from this past relationship but he'd still occasionally socialize with them and attend fencing tournaments.  The too of you meet, begin dating, but you don't fence so it's not as big of a part of your relationship.

Your BF decides to start up fencing again and his first time out, he has a match with his Ex.  Perfectly natural for them, but maybe a little too natural for your sense of ease.  This is him and her engaging in an activity that had a lot of meaning for their relationship and one that others viewed them as a couple. 

I don't think I'd request him to not ever have another match with her, but I would ask that he not make a habit of it. 

Surianne

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2012, 03:20:38 PM »
Hmmmmmm's possible explanation makes a lot of sense -- something I didn't figure out when I posted my initial slightly baffled response.  :) I think the advice of previous posters about how to bring it up, and what questions to ask yourself, is all very wise.

rashea

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2012, 04:20:01 PM »
I think it's a good thing to communicate with him that you're uncomfortable, but make it really clear that it's about the future and that he did nothing wrong.

Then, ask yourself a few questions:
1) Is this an activity where people pair off and tend to stay in pairs for a while to practice? How do you feel about them pairing off in this way?

2) If they are doing a rotating pair-ups (each pair practices together for a short time and then rotates) how do you feel about them pairing up in that situation?

3) How do you feel about them meeting in a tournament?

4) If this group socializes after, how do you feel about them both attending in a group setting?

5) how would you feel about them going out for drinks after without a group?

6) If you had known, would you have wanted him not to go at all?

7) if you had known, would you have wanted to ask him not to pair up with her?
I think answering those questions might help you sort out exactly where the issue lies.
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KatPsych

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Re: How to say I'm uncomfortable when I can't explain why exactly?
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2012, 04:39:41 PM »
When reading your initial post, I wondered if they used to participate in this activity as a couple when they dated.  I'm going to use fencing as an example.  Your BF and his Ex met when they were both heavily involved in fencing.  They started dating and increased their participation in fencing and most of their social network as a couple involved fencing.  It was a major part of their relationship

They broke up, your BF pulled back from participating in fencing, probably as part of distancing himself from this past relationship but he'd still occasionally socialize with them and attend fencing tournaments.  The too of you meet, begin dating, but you don't fence so it's not as big of a part of your relationship.

Your BF decides to start up fencing again and his first time out, he has a match with his Ex.  Perfectly natural for them, but maybe a little too natural for your sense of ease.  This is him and her engaging in an activity that had a lot of meaning for their relationship and one that others viewed them as a couple. 

I don't think I'd request him to not ever have another match with her, but I would ask that he not make a habit of it. 

I also think this explanation makes a lot of sense, and is similar to the one I had on reading your post.  There is a sort of intimacy is sharing a common hobby, particularly one where two people have a lot of history participating together.

The fact he was upfront about it is a really, really good thing and I agree with the suggestions of others that talking to him about it in a, "I feel weird about this and I don't know exactly why" kind of way.

My now-husband and I faced a somewhat similar situation early in our dating relationship.  It was definitely different than yours (in that my DH's ex was actively trying to start problems with our relationship), but the way I explained it to him was that he had a lot of history with her that he didn't (yet) have with me.  For example, she knew his family and their issues, so talking to her about them was "easier" than talking to me and needing to give all the background, etc.  Essentially, I didn't want our new intimacy to be eroded because he started talking to her because it was "easier" than it was to build up that understanding and intimacy with me.  My situation was definitely different as it was much earlier in our relationship, but I thought that explanation of the intimacy issue might give you something to consider when trying to figure out why you might have unease.