Triggered by him sharing way too much information. How can I keep myself safe and communicate my feelings

lil_fighter

Confident
I dated a guy around four years ago, I was really into him and he was really into me. I was falling for him but got scared because that same year I came face to face with the person who sexually assaulted me a few years before. The trauma I had suppressed for years resurfaced and I just couldn't handle being in a relationship. I didn't tell him my reasons, I just made up an excuse and left him. It was the hardest thing, hurting him and him not understanding why or knowing the real reasons.

I went on to do lots of therapy, had another relationship (one with very little intimacy or emotional connection, maybe because it felt safer) but I was unhappy in the relationship and ended it as it wasn't authentic. I always thought about the other guy I had been falling in love with but just got on with building my career etc. and moved away.

Then, last year I did something I had avoided doing - I contacted him and wrote him a very healing and authentic letter explaining everything. I told him about the trauma, explained that I had cared for him and that I had ended it not because I wanted to but because I felt I had to. He took some time to process what I told him and then he was so understanding, non-judgemental and supportive of me. He admitted that he still cared for me and we have been speaking ever since. We started slowly as friends and as we were both single, agreed to give things another go.

He was talking the other day about being physically intimate with me again (we had been intimate a few years ago when we last met) and I do feel comfortable with him and trust him. Thing is he was talking about a particular sexual act (which is the same one that happened when I had my bad experience). I was open to the conversation, which was via messaging but then he mentioned that he did that particular thing with his ex (someone he was with since the last time we met). Let's just say he went into far too much detail and I did tell him "too much information!" he laughed it off and just continued talking about me and him. I felt so so so uncomfortable and wasn't sure if it was just because hearing about exes and sexual experiences in detail surely is uncomfortable anyway - or if it was because of the particular sexual act we were discussing and my traumatic experience. Discussing it with him is hard enough without hearing about an ex and having an image of him with her.

I didn't say anything. I kept quiet and I left my phone down. We then spoke later on a video call and neither of us mentioned it but he looked embarrassed when we first started talking. I think he knew he had overstepped the mark and had been careless. Every morning since this conversation I have been waking up with intense anxiety and a horrible feeling. I don't want to cause drama, I like that he can talk openly with me but I just feel a boundary is being crossed and I want to know how to address this without seeming jealous or petty. I really do think part of it is the trauma and trust issues but part of it probably is that my heart hurt at the thought of him with this other person - because of the level of detail. Surely exes shouldn't be discussed in such detail? I am just struggling with trying to come across as calm, level-headed and reasonable whilst I have this internal turmoil as it's stirring up something for me far more than I could have predicted. Really can't place where the anxiety is coming from. I haven't felt anxious in years. How can I shake this feeling and tell him how I am feeling without seeming unreasonable? I feel unsafe and triggered. I hate not speaking up, I did that for so many years that I can't sit with the discomfort of it for much longer. Any advice would be so so welcome and appreciated
 
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Friday

Moderator
Surely exes shouldn't be discussed in such detail?
How can I shake this feeling and tell him how I am feeling without seeming unreasonable?

Exes & past sexual experiences are discussed in all kinds of detail.
- Some people want to know everything,
- some people want to know nothing,
- some people are fine with hearing everything (but don’t particularly want to),
- some people are fine with hearing nothing (but don’t particularly want to),
- some people are want to know up to this level, are fine with up to that level, and want to know nothing past that.
- some people
- some people
- some people

The best rule of thumb I know of concerning OTHER people’s comfort levels, is to pay attention to how open & honest they are about their own history. So I can see why your boyo may have missed the mark following an incredibly open/honest letter, or even felt he owed you the same level of detail you shared with him in sexual matters. Sounds like he also realized he read you wrong
I feel unsafe and triggered. I hate not speaking up,
My best piece of advice is this... shake the trigger FIRST, then talk to him.

Because if I’m triggered? By definition, I’m both overreacting and responding to the present as if it’s the past. As if the person I’m loaded for bear with has earned this level of overreaction, rather than it being what other people have earned and I’m misdirecting all my anger/hurt/fear/etc. with other people onto them.

Sortin out my triggers doesn’t mean I still won’t be pissed off, or whatever other reaction I’m having. If it’s legit? I’ll still be pissed off. Or whatever. But it will be commensurate, rather than lashing out at them for things that had no part in and are not to blame for. And if my emotional response is ALL triggers & stressors & stress? It’s like a flood of cool reason and right emotions rise, instead. Win/Win. Legitimately pissed off, or legitimately cool, either way? It’s f*cking legitimate.
 
Let's just say he went into far too much detail and I did tell him "too much information!" he laughed it off and just continued talking about me and him. I felt so so so uncomfortable and wasn't sure if it was just because hearing about exes and sexual experiences in detail surely is uncomfortable anyway - or if it was because of the particular sexual act we were discussing and my traumatic experience. Discussing it with him is hard enough without hearing about an ex and having an image of him with her.

^I agree with you. Maybe a looong way into a well established relationship talking about sex with partners may be okay for some... but not me. Sexual behaviour with ex's as far as information goes is too much info.

Every morning since this conversation I have been waking up with intense anxiety and a horrible feeling.
^So by the sound of it, it's the trauma and this 'new info' combining to cause anxiety?

I don't want to cause drama,
There's no drama. You don't like something he told you. That doesn't account for drama that accounts for your feelings which are important.

I like that he can talk openly with me but I just feel a boundary is being crossed and I want to know how to address this without seeming jealous or petty.

^Tell him. If it's a boundary then he ought to know because that is fair. It's not being petty or jealous & imo it's normal.

my heart hurt at the thought of him with this other person - because of the level of detail.
^You probably are going a little bit far here because he was with another person after you left him. That's not a case for hurt feelings. What he does when he's not with you is his business. Just a shame he couldn't have kept that to himself.

Do you think he was talking up his sexual prowess or trying to tell you that he's been with other women etc?

Surely exes shouldn't be discussed in such detail?
^I agree. I've had one or two that liked to re-digest their relationships with me... ugh... I tell them I'm not interested unless it's a need to know thing and also... honestly where did discretion go? Certainly once I knew that they were quite prepared to talk about their ex's that way I then knew they'd talk about me that way if the opportunity came along. Like Friday said, 'some people??'

Remember he didn't know at the time he spilt that info that it'd trigger you. My guess is he knows nothing about trauma etc so be gentle on him till you've made it clear that it's not okay to discuss that stuff with you.

How can I shake this feeling and tell him how I am feeling without seeming unreasonable? I feel unsafe and triggered. I hate not speaking up, I did that for so many years that I can't sit with the discomfort of it for much longer.
^Be brave. It's necessary because it's a part of your history. I hardly think that you relating your trauma to him opens the gates to discussing sexual positions and ex's, they're just not the same topic. Your feelings count in this relationship and if you don't set the standards and you don't speak up then this relationship is going nowhere and my guess is you'll shut down, be resentful etc and that's going to create a problem for you. Tell him he gave you way too much info and you'd like to let him know so he understands. That's it. No need for apologising or justifying. Just leave it there and let him deal with it. If he does it again then it's your problem and your boundary that he then did cross and then the question is what will you do.
 

lil_fighter

Confident
Thank you so much @Friday
My best piece of advice is this... shake the trigger FIRST, then talk to him.

Because if I’m triggered? By definition, I’m both overreacting and responding to the present as if it’s the past. As if the person I’m loaded for bear with has earned this level of overreaction, rather than it being what other people have earned and I’m misdirecting all my anger/hurt/fear/etc. with other people onto them.

Sortin out my triggers doesn’t mean I still won’t be pissed off, or whatever other reaction I’m having. If it’s legit? I’ll still be pissed off. Or whatever. But it will be commensurate, rather than lashing out at them for things that had no part in and are not to blame for. And if my emotional response is ALL triggers & stressors & stress? It’s like a flood of cool reason and right emotions rise, instead. Win/Win. Legitimately pissed off, or legitimately cool, either way? It’s f*cking legitimate.

I agree with this and I have had time to centre myself and think about where the triggers are coming from and what was my own stuff to deal with and what about his comment was genuinely overstepping the mark. Today I am feeling more level headed and have been journalling to let go of the anxiety and make sense of it. When I speak to him again I feel I'll be able to address it calmly. Thank you for your response as I feel that you highlighted the importance of giving oneself permission to feel whatever they feel and make sense of it, then address it with the person rather than just lashing out without weighing it up first. There really is value in stopping and sitting with those uncomfortable feelings for a bit before bringing up the issue with the person.

@blackemerald1

^I agree with you. Maybe a looong way into a well established relationship talking about sex with partners may be okay for some... but not me. Sexual behaviour with ex's as far as information goes is too much info.
Absolutely, I personally don't want to know. I don't see it as relevant. I think discussing sexual preferences, what they like / don't like can be discussed without mentioning what they've done with other people and a blow by blow account of what they did. It's more respectful to keep those things to yourself. I think some men don't realise conversations they should have with other guys shouldn't be had with the woman they are in a relationship with / dating.

Do you think he was talking up his sexual prowess or trying to tell you that he's been with other women etc?

I did wonder that myself. He was bullied at school and is now in his early 30s but has confided in me about his insecurity particularly with women - he seems to have this thing about being "rejected" and told me he has been "rejected by so many women" that he feels unattractive. I also know that although he understands why I cut off from him a few years ago, he definitely took that as a rejection (understandably because he didn't know the reason at the time). He has asked me about the one relationship I had since him and he clearly is uncomfortable about it. I don't talk about the guy I was in a relationship with (it was a brief relationship) but he did ask me about him and told me the idea of me with this other guy upsets him because he wishes I had reached out to him earlier and that maybe we would have been married by now. So I can't help but wonder if his way of bigging himself up is to go into explicit detail about sex with another woman as a way of proving his worth or seeming more appealing to me - which it doesn't do, it does the opposite.

^Be brave. It's necessary because it's a part of your history. I hardly think that you relating your trauma to him opens the gates to discussing sexual positions and ex's, they're just not the same topic. Your feelings count in this relationship and if you don't set the standards and you don't speak up then this relationship is going nowhere and my guess is you'll shut down, be resentful etc and that's going to create a problem for you. Tell him he gave you way too much info and you'd like to let him know so he understands. That's it. No need for apologising or justifying. Just leave it there and let him deal with it. If he does it again then it's your problem and your boundary that he then did cross and then the question is what will you do.

Thank you ☺️ I needed to hear this. My feelings do count, you're right. I think my response to him at the time with the "too much information" comment did communicate it kind of in a small way but not really enough and then later on when we spoke on a video call, my choice to not bring it up was my own habit of dismissing my feelings and pushing them down as if they are not valid but also not wanting to make him uncomfortable. I sensed he was embarrassed at the start of the convo seeing me on the video - even though we've spoken many times on video call and he's always been comfortable. I felt that he knew especially as he was very complimentary and was telling me how much I mean to him, talking about the future etc. So maybe he was trying to reassure me. We had a lovely conversation and I really value the connection we have, I know that by communicating how I have been feeling since his tactless comment can potentially strengthen the connection we have - if he is willing to respect my feelings about it. I do feel more confident about bringing it up after writing about it here so thank you to you and @Friday too ☺️
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
Hard pass for me.

Honestly it just feels like dudes who hang out with their friends and brag about how they banged this chick.

Is nothing sacred?

Moments of intimacy are private and not to be shared. If he’s talking about his exes to you like this, do you want to be his story for his next partner?

To me it also shows that sex is just sex to him, with his ex, and now with you.

edit.

I’ve had guys talk about sex with me to others. I’ve had guys talk to me about sex with their ex’s in detail. Both feel violating.
 
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