You May Get To Wear The Wedding Dress But Your Relationship Will Be Unhealthy And Mistrustful
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You May Get To Wear The Wedding Dress But Your Relationship Will Be Unhealthy And Mistrustful

You can’t control the thoughts but you can control how you react to them.

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You May Get To Wear The Wedding Dress But Your Relationship Will Be Unhealthy And Mistrustful
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On March 28th, another creator on Odyssey wrote an article addressed to her current fiance's high school prom date titled "You May Have Worn The Prom Dress With Him, But I Get To Wear The Wedding Dress."

The article quickly went viral and elicited strong reactions from Twitter.

The past is past. If you get worked up enough to write an entire essay taunting the person who was cheering "your man" on at high school sporting events & the smiling plus-one in his prom pictures, that doesn't bode well for your marriage, Cupcake. Good luck with that.
— Lisa Y (@YakTalk) April 5, 2018
"sometimes I have issues with jealousy" lmao bitch you online thrashing his hs gf you never met for no damn reason https://t.co/QHEIWD98EK
— Sarah Everett (@goddammitsarah) April 4, 2018
I wrote an entire book about why women aren't crazy but this article seeks to destroy everything I (and any normal woman) stand for... I also can't wait for this to be a Lifetime movie. https://t.co/W0YhDMktib
— Iliza Shlesinger (@iliza) April 5, 2018

When I initially conceptualized my response to her article, my thoughts fell mostly in line with the criticism she was receiving over social media. But as I did further research and read more of her articles, I found that the underlying issues were a lot more than just what comes off as patronizing and jealous.

In another article of hers titled "Why I Will Tell My Children To Wait Until Marriage," she draws on the jealousy and obsession she experiences in her own relationship to claim that premarital sex is damaging to any and all relationships.

"I never knew how someone's past could devastate me. I struggle daily with insecurities and comparisons to the girls he has been with. I don't want to, but I can't help it. I know that he feels the same way about my past. It causes distrust in a society where distrust is already easy enough to have … I want my children to do their part of not instilling this lack of confidence that I find myself struggling with."

In a different article of hers also addressed to her fiance's ex-girlfriends, "A Thank You To The Girls Who Didn't Love Him Right," she goes so far as to rejoice in her fiance's failed relationships as a means of affirming their own.

"They didn't love him like he needed to be loved. If you are one of those girls, thank you. Thank you for helping to shape him into the man that he is today, but thank you for not being right for him. That sounds selfish, but I want to be selfish when it comes to him. You took advantage of the time you had with him, and I will never do that."

At face value, these articles read like self-assuring shouting into the void to convince herself that she and her fiance are, in fact, safe from his high school relationships. But aside from the condescending targeting of her fiance's exes, these articles share a common theme; retroactive jealousy.

Retroactive jealousy is defined as painful thoughts and curiosity regarding a partner's past relationships and/or sexual history. Retroactive jealousy differs from standard jealousy in its often compulsive, obsessive nature.

Though experts tend to avoid labeling retroactive jealousy as a form of OCD — OCD is a disorder that can be treated but not cured, whereas retroactive jealousy can be overcome — it is widely acknowledged that both have a common destructive thought cycle: sufferers get caught in a loop of obsessive thoughts, painful anxiety, inconsiderate and irrational actions, and then short-lasting relief.

This is the cycle that she, in my opinion, illustrated through her articles. She tells her audience that she suffers from these intrusive thoughts of her fiance's past and, despite not wanting to, experiences feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and mistrust. She then manifests her feelings and writes these targeted articles to affirm the relationship and satiate her jealousy until the relief dissipates and another article is born.

No one should blame those who suffer from retroactive jealousy or other forms of intrusive thoughts. But even though the thoughts cannot be helped, there are steps to take to manage the compulsions and obsession. Zachary Stockhill, author of "Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy: A Guide to Getting Over Your Partner's Past and Finding Peace," suggests de-identifying with the thoughts or reminding yourself that your jealousy may be based on unrealistic ideas of your partner's past.

While the creator should not be blamed for the jealousy she experiences, it's important to note that she has a responsibility as a writer on a public forum to consider the effects her writing may have on others. Though her articles may be meant to show others who feel similarly that they aren't alone, they also reinforce incredibly toxic and harmful behaviors.

As someone who has a partner who has been in toxic past relationships, it would never occur to me to celebrate those unhealthy relationships because he inevitably ended up with me, nor would I ever make him feel that they have any bearing on ours.

Maintaining a healthy relationship requires trust and communication and transparency. And sometimes, in terms of overcoming personal conflicts for the sake of that relationship, it requires a lot of work. I am not claiming that overcoming obsession is as simple as telling yourself that your thoughts are misguided, recovering from unhealthy tendencies and mental illness never is.

But I would offer that a happy and healthy relationship deserves that both partners be able to offer their best selves, the promise of growth and compromise, and unconditional love and respect for themselves and each other.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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