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A date with a coworker felt like a bright spot in 2020 (and maybe it was)?

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  • #387070
    Ry
    Participant

    No need to analyze, Anita. I can see any trust has been broken. I am sorry for seeming to waste your time. I know your mind is made up no matter what I say here. All I can say is that everything I’ve written here is true.

    I will no longer utilize the Tiny Buddha forum.

    Ryan

    #387071
    anita
    Participant

    Hello Ryan:

    I am only one member here. You are welcome to continue this thread or start a new one and communicate with other members. It is your choice. I will say goodbye to you, but I hope for many positive and healthy Hello-s for you, here and more importantly, in your real-life.

    anita

    #387074
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ryan,

    All I can say is that everything I’ve written here is true.

    I do hope it is. It never occurred to me it isn’t. It kind of shook me when anita suggested it. We can keep communicating if you’d like to. I did want to continue our discussion…

    #387075
    Ry
    Participant

    Thank you, TeaK. I would like that…

    While it stung to read it, I can understand Anita’s suspicions. I did not realize how similar their comments were. Obviously, I do not include all the text messages. And while it may be odd, or at least not the normal here, I include comments here as I feel it paints a better picture than the one-sided picture I could paint alone. I do wish that my writing here did not give a false impression, but all I can say is that I wouldn’t be pouring out so much here if it were false.

    As I said with Anita, I would understand if you decided to no longer communicate with me here.

    Ryan

    #387082
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ryan,

    It feels so egocentric to believe my presence in her life was a positive while the disillusionment of our relationship will cut her so.

    Yes, it is egocentric, because you leaving will cause her pain. It’s good you see that now…

    I think a part of the dichotomy comes from feeling like I can be a positive influence in someone’s life, but knowing I’m incapable of giving them what they may need. In this case, it was safety, security, and kindness. However, I was unwilling or unable to give her love (or at least the type of love she wanted).

    I feel that I can be a very good friend–which is what I should have aimed for in this relationship–but also understand that a relationship with me can be emotionally painful.

    As before, I do hope that she and I can eventually find a friendship. … Perhaps in time, we can have some semblance of a friendship.

    So your primary motive for getting into a relationship is wanting to connect as friends, and not wanting to be more than friends. You want to be a positive influence, someone to be admired and appreciated, but not someone who…. [finish the sentence – what does being in a romantic relationship mean to you? What would you need to sacrifice that you aren’t willing to? What are you afraid of in a romantic relationship?]

     

    #387093
    Ry
    Participant

    Good morning TeaK,

    Last night hurt (and continues to hurt) more than I anticipated. After I told her that I was taking a job and leaving, she cried and said that she needed to go for a drive. We spoke on the phone later, and she confided in me that she is more upset that I didn’t give her the option of possibly going with me and seeing where the relationship went. However, I did not confide in her that I’d done that before and it did not work and it would not be fair to her. She wanted to know why I did not want to maintain the relationship: “Is it my dogs? My looks? I’m too needy? Not fun? My politics? Or you just want to check out the dating pool there? Just why you don’t want a relationship?” I did not respond, because I simply do not know. And she is vulnerable and any criticism I would have offered would have stuck and she would carry it on to future relationships.

    She continues to text this morning: “I’m so torn…my head says I should just start hyper dating a bunch of losers and try to get over you and move on but my heart says I should take whatever time we have and make the most of it. That’s what I want. Time is so short & who knows what tomorrow will bring and why quit something that makes me happy? P.S. don’t respond. I’m just getting stuff out.” She warned me early on that she didn’t want to fall for me and wanted to keep me at arm’s length, and there is some anger inside her that I didn’t do a better job at keeping some distance. I could have been honest about leaving here from the start and possibly saved her some heartache, so that weighs on me.

    To answer your questions, TeaK… Been diagnosed with dysthymia, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and I suffer at times from anhedonia. Had severe self-esteem issues as a child, and others have suspected some traumas experienced as a child that I do not recall. I did not date growing up, and being married with a child at 20–then divorced a few years later–after braces and a better diet and exercise, I began to “grow” into myself. I dated several women with emotional issues–one attempted suicide and another, sadly, was successful. Married the girl who had attempted suicide near the end of our marriage. After her, I tried to be more…selective, which may have contributed to my unwillingness to connect on a deeper level with them. This likely fed into the belief that there may be someone better just around the corner.

    I do see the immense value in a companion (or lifelong partner). I could say that I’ve been too focused on myself to put in the work necessary to build a deep, lasting relationship. I am highly self-critical–and critical in general, though I try to keep the criticisms to myself. I find when a relationship runs into trouble, I perhaps do not value it enough to put the work in to fix it. A romantic relationship means being wholly vulnerable and open, which is something I’ve been unwilling to do. There’s a commitment and an intimacy that I cannot seem to maintain.

    I keep waiting for the “one” or the person I feel a deep connection with, and maybe I don’t give it time to develop. There is so much about myself that I feel needs work, but I continue to date and ultimately hurt them in the end. All the while, time flies by and I move closer and closer to 50.

    I am seeking fulfillment in someone else, but all the while, I’ve never truly found it inside myself. I grow impatient and frustrated and meet someone who soothes those feelings for a time. Meanwhile, I am filled with feelings that I’m not stable enough for this world and feeling that I’m always a step away from failing at work. I’m simply not happy and fear this job and the move will not make me any happier.

    My apologies as this response was all over the place.

    Ryan

    #387096
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ryan,

    I am highly self-critical–and critical in general, though I try to keep the criticisms to myself.

    A romantic relationship means being wholly vulnerable and open, which is something I’ve been unwilling to do. There’s a commitment and an intimacy that I cannot seem to maintain.

    Are you afraid that the woman would sooner or later start criticizing you? The women you’ve been with in the past few years have praised you a lot….  but could it be that deep down, you don’t believe you deserve to be praised… because you feel unfit: “I am not stable enough for this world“, and you feel like you are one step from failing at work. You see yourself as a failure, and you believe it’s just a matter of time before the woman you are with discovers it. So you leave before she realizes how “inadequate” you actually are?

     

    #387103
    Ry
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    I understand what you’re saying and appreciate it… And my response may be better suited for another Tiny Buddha forum.

    I don’t think that I’m leaving before the nurse sees my inadequacies. I really enjoyed her company, but at the same time, I realize that I used her as an escape in a sense. My weekends here largely consisted of grocery shopping and the occasional weekend getaway, but it was nice to include someone else in my life. Obviously, it made for less lonely times for the both of us, but I knew it would come to an end. (Thought I’d end up relocating sooner than I plan to.)

    The thing is, I think she would accept me for my who I am, with all (self-perceived) flaws. But to be honest, I don’t think I could do the same for her. She is intelligent, fun, and a good person, but there are things about her appearance that I do not care for and her politics are 180 degrees from mine. I fear that both would weigh on me as time went on.

    And I convinced myself that leaving Appalachia and taking a job with a bigger organization was the right path for me. I set that path in motion last year and ended up getting the job in late March 2021. I’ve just been dragging my feet on my move since the cost of living here is significantly cheaper and we were teleworking for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, my mental health these past few years has not been grand. Even with counseling and SSRIs for a time, I continue to suffer from an inability to concentrate and focus, decreased retention, and general malaise. The fear of failure comes from not living up to the stellar employee I used to be in previous careers. There are metrics that have to be met in federal employment, and I have been “pulled aside” a few times for a pep talk about meeting expectations. Now, I’ll be leaving for a new city soon for a job that really isn’t that different than the one I left. Having served in the military, received my graduate degree, and working a “good job,” people see me as successful and drive. All the while, I feel very subpar and average these past few years.

    To circle back, I guess I cannot expect anyone to see and accept my flaws when I truly cannot accept them myself.

    #387114
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ryan,

    I guess I cannot expect anyone to see and accept my flaws when I truly cannot accept them myself.

    Right, you said you are both critical and self-critical. You feel flawed. I still believe this is the main motivation why you don’t want to go deeper into a relationship. But then your rational mind finds excuses why the woman is unsuitable. With your previous ex, who had a young son, you said it was her anger outbursts. With the nurse, it’s her looks and political views. While it could be that they aren’t/weren’t a perfect fit for you, it seems to me you are finding excuses to leave them, because of a deeper fear. And this fear includes you feeling inadequate, not good enough. Fear of being a disappointment.

    This is what you wrote back in April:

    I think my issue is more that I feel a sense of guilt/shame when I hurt or disappoint women. It feels as though women see me as something that I may not always be: A good man or a better man than most. I try to live up to their expectancies but often don’t.

    You yourself confirmed that this is one of your main issues. So when you say: “I don’t think that I’m leaving before the nurse sees my inadequacies“, I actually believe you are, but you are suppressing that from your conscious awareness and convincing yourself that it’s because of her inadequacies.

    When she asked you why you don’t want to be with her, you said you don’t know:

    She wanted to know why I did not want to maintain the relationship: “Is it my dogs? My looks? I’m too needy? Not fun? My politics? Or you just want to check out the dating pool there? Just why you don’t want a relationship?” I did not respond, because I simply do not know. And she is vulnerable and any criticism I would have offered would have stuck and she would carry it on to future relationships.

    A part of the reason is her inadequacies (which you didn’t want to share with her, not to offend her), but a part of it is your deeper fear, which you aren’t aware of. That’s why you didn’t really know the reason. At least this is how I see it…

     

    #387121
    Ry
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    I appreciate your reply and I agree with your thoughts…

    I have not been in a long-term relationship since my second divorce 15-years ago. (She also attempted suicide after we separated but did not pin her attempt on me.) I read back over an online journal I’d kept then, and see where I often mentioned feeling quite inadequate. It is possible that my relationship with her not added to my lingering feelings of inadequacy, but added to them, and I’ve spent my time since in temporary, short-term relationships. Never remarried and nothing that lasted longer than 6-8 months.

    With the nurse, I do feel a fondness and closeness with her, but I too fear getting close and letting her in. Since I told her that I was leaving on Monday night, she continues to text/call and asks me to essentially ask me to continue the relationship.

    “Help is what people do for each other when they care and are in a relationship. It seems you don’t understand that it’s reciprocated. I’ve leaned on your support and thrived in it. I would have liked to give some of that back but you don’t want it. I honestly think it’s because you have feelings for me and you don’t really know how to process them or what to do with them. Unfortunately it’s pushing me away.”

    Again, thank you for taking the time to reply, TeaK. I don’t expect you to reply to this, as I don’t know what else you can say. Nevertheless, I appreciate you trusting in me and making time to engage.

    Ryan

    #387132
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ryan,

    you are welcome. I still have a few things to add…

    I dated several women with emotional issues–one attempted suicide and another, sadly, was successful. Married the girl who had attempted suicide near the end of our marriage (She attempted suicide after we separated but did not pin her attempt on me). After her, I tried to be more…selective, which may have contributed to my unwillingness to connect on a deeper level with them.

    It reads to me you are attracted to women with emotional issues. In the past those were severe issues, which lead to two of your relationships ending with the woman either committing or attempting suicide. Since then, you are probably attracted to women with less severe issues, however they still have self-esteem issues and you said the nurse is also suffering from depression (Like me, she too battles with self-esteem issues and depression.).

    I believe you are attracted to such women because you feel you can be a “positive influence” in their lives and “save them”. Which makes you feel better about yourself. Secretly, you feel better/superior than the woman you are with. You even believed that staying with the woman, even though you knew you’d be leaving her eventually – would be beneficial to her. So this is your superiority streak, which causes you to choose women you can feel superior to.

    At the same time, you’d be probably terrified to be with a woman who is strong and self-confident, because she would find out how “inferior” you actually are. With such a woman, your worst fear would be confirmed: that you are a failure and a disappointment. You don’t want to be with such a woman, lest your greatest fear gets confirmed. That’s how you are protecting yourself from getting a “definite proof” that you are not good enough – which would be devastating for you.

    When you run away from a relationship, you are protecting yourself in the same way. Because if you stay, it might turn out that you are really inadequate, which would be devastating for you. If you leave on time though, this never gets confirmed because these women always praise you. They do resent you for leaving them, but still, they praise you and want you to stay. You are loved and wanted, not discarded and humiliated.

    This is I believe the dynamic behind your romantic relationships. What do you think?

     

    #387153
    Ry
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    As always, I appreciate your reply…

    This is a sound theory and I feel it rings close to true. I tend to date women who have had poor relationships in their past. “Poor” meaning either abuse or infidelity. (Sadly, this seems to be the norm–at least for me.) At the same time, I tend to date accomplished, stable, college-educated women–nurses, law enforcement, Ph.D., etc. The Ph.D. was a mental health counselor who loved me deeply and tried like Hell to help discard my self-perceived inadequacies. And while she was immensely helpful, I simply did not see anything long-term with her. I just did not click with her.

    I’ve had CBT off and on for over a decade. In 2017, I paid for a psychological evaluation that included the MMPI, CDS, TSI-2, SCS, and a diagnostic interview. The doctor’s findings corresponded with those of my counselors: That I needed to learn and implement coping skills to deal with depression and anxiety. What is pertinent to this post is this clause from the report: “[His] behaviors of closing himself off from the world has protected him and hindering him at the same time. Caution should be taken when addressing [his] emotional vulnerability since he cannot tolerate a lot of emotional risk, confrontation, or risk letting anyone see his true self.”

    I find that parts of me I aim to keep hidden begin to bleed into relationships after a time. The depression, self-doubts, transient feelings of worthiness, lack of a “true purpose,” etc. I’m not settled in my own soul and cannot feel settled with another. There’s always the feeling that there has to be something more (or better) than this. All the while the years float by.

    Unfortunately, for those women I let into my life on a romantic level, it never ends well. The guilt and feelings of emptiness and loss stick with me. Even with the nurse now, I knew I’d hurt her in the end and still I used her in a sense. And the use was essentially just enjoying her east company on the weekends. And now she’s heartbroken: “I don’t want to imagine my small world without you in it,” she texted last night.

    I always thought I’d get a grasp on things in my life, and then I’d meet that one person who was right for me. And maybe I will but my patience wears thin at times. I always feel like I need to get myself right before I meet another, but I hold onto hope that the next girl will be different. And they may be but it’s me who is the same.

    Ryan

    #387163
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ryan,

    I tend to date women who have had poor relationships in their past. “Poor” meaning either abuse or infidelity.

    At the same time, I tend to date accomplished, stable, college-educated women–nurses, law enforcement, Ph.D., etc

    Are those the same women? The accomplished, college-educated women, who had poor relationships in the past?

    I’m not settled in my own soul and cannot feel settled with another.

    I always feel like I need to get myself right before I meet another,

    That’s largely true. If you aren’t happy with yourself, you won’t be able to be happy with another. The question is why you aren’t happy with yourself, and this is what I’ve been trying to explore here with you.

    My theory is lack of self-esteem: on one hand, you believe you are inadequate and you need to change first, before you meet the right woman (I always feel like I need to get myself right before I meet another). But a part of you hopes you aren’t inadequate. This part craves the validation and praise he is receiving from women who are head over heels for him. This part is going from one relationship to another, staying 6-8 months at most, and basking in their love and adoration. He feels good about himself for a while.

    But the inadequate part doesn’t really buy it – he “knows” you aren’t good enough, and sooner or later, you start withdrawing from the relationship. You blame it both on yourself and the woman (I am highly self-critical–and critical). You feel you aren’t good enough (I’m not settled in my own soul), but the woman isn’t quite to your taste either. The latter is mostly an excuse – you simply want out, you know you can’t stay. As I said, I believe you want out because you believe you would prove to be inadequate in the long run.

    But you don’t want to stop dating completely, until you “get settled in your soul”, because you crave love and validation you are receiving from the women you are with. That’s why, after each breakup, you start thinking: there has to be something more (or better) than this. I hold onto hope that the next girl will be different.

    You seem to forget your own principle: I always thought I’d get a grasp on things in my life, and then I’d meet that one person who was right for me. You forget that it’s largely due to your own issues that you can’t keep the relationship. You start believing that this time, you’ll come across the right person – before you solve your own issues. This is how your mind tricks you into pursuing new relationships, without really solving the underlying problem, which is in you.

    Anyway, that’s one possible theory. The question is how to heal yourself… You say you did CBT on and off for more than a decade. Have you worked with your inner child? Because you seem to be very intellectual, but your emotions aren’t very involved.

    It could be that those emotions are stored in your inner child – all the anger and hurt and pain… Your inner child believes he is inadequate and unlovable. You, the adult Ryan, would need to get in touch with that little boy and show him you love and appreciate him. You’d need to become a good parent to that little boy… How does that sound to you?

     

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by TeaK.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by TeaK.
    #387186
    Ry
    Participant

    Dear Teak,

    Thank you again for writing… I agree with what you’ve written and will respond this weekend.

    Ryan

    #387189
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Ryan,

    you are welcome, and I am looking forward to your reply.

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