After break up – trying to change relatipnships patterns and overcome rejected

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    Dear Rhaenys:

    “I do feel a bit scared, as I’m 33.. is it too late and are all the good guys taken?”-

    – My answers: it is not too late, and not all the good guys are taken. Many good guys are taken, but many bad guys are taken too, so what is available is still, as always, the good and the bad, and all that’s in between.

    In your recent post you shared about your parents’ marriage, which ended when you were 20, an ending that you expected much earlier. You expected it much earlier because “They were fighting.. they didn’t get along, there were some nasty fights, not just between them, but between my brother and me, and us with them.. We also had some fights after divorce”, “but even when they were not (fighting).. I felt it’s not working.. their relationship didn’t work”.

    You blamed your father a lot, feeling “that he didn’t try enough”. He was often away and your mother “was home, she did almost all of the housework and was always there for us”. Soon after the divorce, your father had a new woman in his life and wanted you to get to know her and her family; you didn’t want that. Next, your father’s parents whom you were “really close with” got sick and died.

    My understanding as it is today: you were never married, so you never experienced your own marriage. But you did experience your parents’  marriage by proxy, as if it was your own marriage (children do that). This experience has been very powerful in your life, particularly in the context of your adult love-relationships with men.

    There was a lot of aggression in your home, between all parties, at different times, and even when no one was fighting, there was aggression in the air, hanging in there, spoiling times that were supposed to feel good, like Christmas dinner, trips and vacations.

    When you were not fighting with your brother or with your parents, you witnessed your brother fighting with your parents, and you witnessed your parents fighting each other. At times you identified with one parent, at other times- maybe you identified with the other parent, so you were emotionally involved in the fights even when you were not part of them.

    You were often anxious growing up, uncomfortable and at times angry. Fast forward- this is how you feel in your relationships with men: anxious, and “when things don’t go the way I planned it, I start being angry”.

    You wrote about that last relationship: “I think he wanted a relationship, but in terms of seeing each other and dating.. I wanted something more“-

    – I think that this “something more” that you wanted was to feel that enough-feeling, that nothing-is-missing feeling, and that-something-missed-is-back (“I remember a feeling that when our family was together… somehow it was not enough.. that feeling that somehow our family isn’t enough, that something missed, went away“).

    That Something-is-missing is Safety = feeling comfortable, calm and warm inside when together.

    You were angry at your father for being away a lot, for leaving your mother alone in the home, so you decided that you will not leave a boyfriend alone (“I never went with my friends instead of him”). You were angry at your father  for not trying enough, for leaving your mother alone with all the housework, so you decided that you will try enough, and you not leave your boyfriend alone with his work (“I did put him first.. I still helped him with his exams.. I helped him with college a lot”).

    Overall, within a relationship with a man, I see your challenges being:

    1. Anxiety, fear that the relationship will go badly, just as your parents’ relationship went badly again and again and again. This anxiety is  likely to be there not only when there is a conflict but at any time, just like it has been for you as a child during trips and vacations, the aggression and anxiety hanging in the air, spoiling the moment.

    2. Anger, which often accompanies fear. Animals, including humans, feel fear right before the anger.

    3. Conflict: not wanting to be like your father (not try hard/ break up with him), and on the other hand wanting to break up with him so to not be stuck in .. a marriage like the one between your parents, the marriage you experienced as your own, by proxy.



    Thank you Anita, I’m so grateful for your efforts and I appreciate them.

    I agree and I think you got most parts right.

    I don’t think I would describe I felt that much aggresion when I was a child.. When you say aggresion was in the air, somehow I don’t feel like that’s it. There were a lot of fights after divorce, mostly between me and brother, and us, kids and parents.. My mom and dad did fight, but that was not dominant, or at least not only that. I feel it was more like… sadness, emptiness was creeping in the air. Loneliness maybe… Like we were not enough. There were not fighting most of the times, but I still felt it didn’t work.

    So I guess it’s a bit of aggression, but also, and even more, sadness, emptiness, loneliness. Maybe that “something missing” is love – but not for us kids, but between my parents (and maybe calmness, as opposed to aggresion, but I don’t feel I relate do that as much). Also, maybe I don’t relate that much to anger/aggression, because even though I do tend to feel them still sometimes, that is the problem I did manage to solve, at least a bit, (I used to feel it and show it much more before), while the other one – not so much. I think I always find an area in my life where I feel something is missing (sometimes it’s friends, sometimes is work, sometimes health), and I tend to think my problems are bigger than they are which stops me from enjoying life as I could. And the worst I feel when I have problems in my relationships with my partners.

    I also never realized the connection you put between what I blame my father for and what I do in relationship – I guess that I learned that is a way to show love, to try, to be there for them, to not leave them – I guess that is what I also want them to show me love (and they may have different ways of showing it).

    What to you propose, what should I do in the future, how to get rid of that unwanted feeling, and how to break my pattern, change my behaviour, what to do to make relationships work? How to feel just happy and calm.

    I’m having a small crisis today because it’s Friday and I don’t know what to do on weekends.. My friends are mostly home / with partners or a few of them that like to go out have other company, and don’t call me anymore as I would spend weekends  with boyfriend or home (especially lately, as I felt it wasn’t working so I wasn’t in the mood to hang out with my friends).. But suddenly, being home is not that much fun.

    I live with my mother and brother now, and I do feel there is love and calmness now at home. I don’t feel like something is in the air, but more, like it’s in me. As I’m still hurt and I do miss my boyfriend, I miss our weekend trips, and would like to go somewhere, to get out of the house, but don’t feel like doing it alone. I guess I will probably reconnect with old friends or find new, but that takes time and healing takes time too, so it’s hard now.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by Rhaenys.

    I wanted to add, as I asked for advice, what are my plans, what I think I should do, and that is as follows:

    1) Practicing mindfulness, not just now in hard times, most of the times actually, making it part of my life, way of living. Also, now, when I start analyzing my relationships, or feeling sad or panic or anxiety I want to try to observe my emotions, not stop them but try to be an observer.

    2) Appreciate what I have – spend time and connect with my family, friends, my cats also. Spend more time with my granny. And also appreciate all that, also my work and my health, I have a lot to be grateful for.

    3) Find a hobby, a passion. Not I don’ feel that will be easy. I’m reading  these days, but I want also something more.. I plan to try playing an instrument again, also not sure if I want to draw again. And I also felt a strong desire to ride my bike, so I’m planning doing that, maybe on weekend mornings. I guess if these don’t work I may try something different. I’ve been feeling I need that for a time now.


    Dear Rhaenys:

    You are welcome. I will need  to re-read your recent post when I am more focused than I am now and reply further then (it may be in as long as 16 hours from now).

    But I do want to reply to your “small crisis”, it being Friday, and you not knowing what to do on weekends- I imagine that “sadness, emptiness.. creeping in the air. Loneliness maybe” that you mentioned in the beginning of your recent post, is creeping into this start of a weekend.

    This is what I suggest (and it does not sound like much fun, I  know): this weekend let the sadness be as it is, let the emptiness and loneliness be. Don’t resist these at all, don’t run away from this experience in any way. And don’t be alarmed by the experience, knowing that you survived it all your life, and you will survive it this weekend as well.

    Accept this emotional experience more than before.  Let it be and post anytime to express here, for me, how you feel, how it goes.


    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by .

    Thank you for your advice Anita. I read ypur post this morning, however, I already made a deal to go to beach with a friend… but I’ll try to practice your advice this evening and tomorrow.


    Dear Rhaenys:

    I am glad you plan on going to the beach and hope you have fun. This will be a long post that includes my best understanding at this point, putting together all the communication in your thread:

    “I live with my mother and brother now, and I do feel there is love and calmness now at home. I don’t feel like something is in the air, but more, like it’s in me”-

    – That something, you wrote, “it was more like… sadness, emptiness was creeping in the air. Loneliness maybe”.

    Earlier, on page 1, you wrote about your recent relationship: “Next year was a paradise. It was such a magic being with him, we were really in love and enjoyed each other. I admit I was scared a lot first six months.. but he was a lot into me, really good and I started feeling better”-

    – interesting how you stated that year was paradise but then clarified that during half of that year, you were “scared a lot”- that’s not paradise, being scared a lot. Later in the year, you felt better. Reads to me that during that year you were anxious a lot, then felt better, and had lots of paradise moments in it.

    As we look back in time, especially as we remember our childhoods, we tend to forget the fear that is associate with aggression in the family (aggression that is not necessarily violent, as in physical beatings, it can be words, tone and volume of  voice, facial expressions, etc.).

    You wrote yesterday about what was in the air when you were a child: “I don’t think I would describe I felt that much aggression when I was a child.. When you say aggression was in the air, somehow I don’t feel like that’s it… My mom and dad did fight”- if they fought, then there was aggression in the air. But we tend to forget the fear and aggression that we felt as children. (Similar to you forgetting for a moment that for half a year in your recent relationship, you were scared).

    The “sadness, emptiness.. creeping in the air” is what we feel when we push the fear away from our awareness best we can, disassociating- we are left with sadness. Sadness is much more tolerable than fear, it is way easier to be aware of sadness than it is to be aware of fear.

    It seems to me that the reason you had boyfriends who were younger than you, particularly the most recent who was 23 when you were 31 (almost a decade age difference is very significant when one is in his early 20s, a college student living with his parents, liking to party and hang out with friends late at nights, and the other is in her early 30s), and the reason you proceeded with long term relationship with the two men who told you throughout the relationships that they are not interested in anything serious, is because a big part of you, the scared part of you,  didn’t want anything serious either.

    You wrote it yourself: “I chose partners that were not emotionally mature, and were not ready for next steps in relationships (meeting parents, living together, they wanted just to go  out and hang out- especially my longer relationships. The last boyfriend was young, and he wanted to finish college and go  out until late”.

    You wrote regarding the last boyfriend, the 23 year old college student: “I realized I wanted more serious relationship but he was not ready for it”- neither were you ready for it because you are scared of a serious relationship.

    “After little less than 1 year after meeting him, last summer I started going cold a bit.. I didn’t understand why I fell out of love, and he was still much in love and good to me”- I think that you fell  out of love because he was still good to you and you were afraid that you will end up in a serious relationship with him.

    When a boyfriend gets cold/ distant toward you, that’s when you feel safe enough to pursue him: “I tend to try more when I feel my partner is getting distant. Like it’s a trigger for me… I also started the future talk in a period when things started going bad, and he grow colder”. (I imagine if you pursue a distant boyfriend and he turns warm toward you and remain warm and close for a long time, then it would be your turn to get cold).

    Here is the evidence of your fear, of the scared part of you: “I couldn’t be alone… I had a kind of panic attack… I can’t sleep much and I wake up every day at 4:30 am with a pain in my chest.. I even had sleep problems at the beginning of new relationship because of my fear of being hurt again”.

    You mentioned that you suffer from elevated TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)  levels. womenshealthnetwork. com/ adrenal fatigue and stress/ is stress affecting your thyroid, reads: “Research shows that stress-related adrenal imbalance is often connected to a low thyroid problem. Here’s why: * The same parts of your brain control both your adrenal and thyroid hormones. * Your adrenal and thyroid hormone ‘feedback loops’ interact. * Cortisol- a key adrenal hormone- and thyroid hormones work together to form your stress response… You can see why it makes sense that when one set of hormones signals is disrupted, chances are higher that the other will be disrupted too, especially if constant stress is involved.

    “Thyroid symptoms caused by stress: fatigue, sluggishness, cold intolerance, weight gain, memory loss, poor concentration, depression, infertility, hair loss.”



    Thank you very much Anita for your time and answers.

    I guess analyzing what happened is good, and you came to some answers, together with me… But what’s the solution, what would you propose me to do? How to heal so I don’t feel that “emptiness” in the future? And how to stop the pattern?


    Dear Rhaenys:

    “How to heal so I don’t feel that ’emptiness’ in the future?”- wishing to fill in the emptiness will not do. Anyone’s instructions on  how to heal will not do-  you have to desire healing, to be drawn to it, to want it with all your mind and all your heart, no matter how difficult, no matter how long it takes.

    Nonetheless, I will give you a few suggestions (a few of which  I suggested to you earlier):

    1. To “stop the pattern” of dating men who have no intention to have a serious relationship -> when you first consider dating a man, ask him if he is currently interested in a serious relationship that will lead to marriage. If he does not clearly answer affirmatively, do not date him.

    2. To stop the pattern of dating men who are unable to get married in the near future (ex. a college student in his early 20s who lives with his parents) -> do not date college students in their early 20s. When you consider dating a man, find out if he is employed, if he is living with parents or on his own, find out his career plans and see to it that the man is financially and practically able to get married in the near future.

    3. To stop the pattern of not breaking up with a man you are unhappy with -> when you do date a man and you want to break up with him, write down the reasons you want the breakup: if your reasons include that the man is dishonest, untrustworthy, unethical, then break up  with him. If the reason you want to break up is because you are afraid of being in a serious relationship yourself, then it’s time to see a psychotherapist and address that fear.

    4. Better see a psychotherapist before you get into your next relationship, to address your emptiness and fear,  and continue to see the therapist at the beginning of your new relationship, so to help you through it.

    5. Consider living on your own, away from your mother (and father)- far away. The emptiness you have felt for so long is your subjective inner experience and it will be with you wherever you live (until you adequately heal), but living with the people that brought you that emptiness, makes healing very difficult.



    Thank you Anita. I’ve been thinking about your replies for some time.
    I’m really grateful for your help and I appreciate time and patience you took to answer to my posts.

    I’m waiting for therapy, I may post here after some time how my progress goes. Wish you all the best Anita.


    Dear Rhaenys:

    You are welcome and thank you for your good wishes, good wishes back to you. I hope you feel comfortable posting again anytime you think I may be able to offer you anything helpful.



    Hello Anita,

    I just wanted to say that I managed to get an appointment and that I’m going to therapy starting tomorrow.

    I know that we have to face our fear and find roots of our problems in our childhood, if that’s where they arise from… I appreciate your help a lot, and I don’t want to run from that, but I guess I’m not totally relaxed by talking about all that online on a forum. I do really desire healing this time, and not just running from my problems in Search for a new partner /relationship.


    Dear Rhaenys:

    I wish you well in your therapy, which starts tomorrow. Thank you for your note.



    Hello, I wanted to do an update…

    I’ve been visiting both this site and forums, and reading articles and topics.

    I think I made some progress this month.. My appetite is pretty normal. I’m having a really good sleep. I do wake up sometimes in the middle of the night, but I just fall asleep again, without any panicking feeling. I also wake up feeling better in morning.
    Although I guess I would try to escape that if the situation is different, the COVID-19 and a sickness last week made me to do what you Anita told me – they made me to stay home, not to go out at weekends and because of cold I was home 5 days last week all the time. And I made it. Yaaay. 🙂 And it’ wasnt’s so bad.  Actually, I managed to have some sleep I needed so much (as the break up was just in the beginning of my vacation, I didn’t get any much needed sleep during vacation as I barely slept then). I read books and played piano and it was actually really nice. I finally got some rest.

    I also did some reflection… I guess the realization that the whole time I seemed to want a serious relationship and commitment, but without making sure to choose guys that wanted that too hit me.. And by doing that, by desperately wanting a relationship and not choosing wise, I didn’t let myself to have the thing I really wanted. I think that now I really get it.

    Also… I realized that I may not have acted mature either, and that maybe I was (or am) afraid of commitment.. As I always avoided things like doing housework for example. So I tried to be more aware of that now.

    I went to therapy but I’m not sure if and how it helped.. I am better now, but therapist was mostly really generic, and talked to me for example that I should do things that I like to fulfill my energy, that I should live in the moment, that partnership works better ih people are similar… But I felt it was too generic.

    I reflected myself… I am aware that my parents marriage didn’t work. And that I wanted an escape and saw it in romantic relationship. But at the same time, because of their marriage I somehow didn’t believe in it, like that it can’t work and it won’t happen to me ( I guess because their didn’t work). I remember hating romantic novels – I told myself the reason is they are silly and boring, but it was because I thought love can’t or won’t happen to me.

    I also have some issues with my dad… I feel like he puts me down. We talk, and he says he loves me and cares for me and that I am worthy of love and better than my exes…. And the next minute he tells me that I have to think what I did wrong in my relationships and not do it again an the future and that guys are always into me in the beginning and then they change.. It’s like he wants to hurt me.  I don’t really call him these days. I just can’t. Last week I faced him with that, and told him that his words hurt him. I guess I wanted a reaction like, oh I  wasn’t aware, I’m really sorry (I would say that if my words hurt someone I care, or if he misinterpreted them). But I didn’t get that, he was just defending himself, told me that he also thinks about what he has done wrong so he can be better in future and that he won’t speak it if it bothers me – but impyling he is going to think it. And that’s not good enough for me. I was angry at first, but right now I don’t even feel anger, I just don’t and can’t talk to him because it makes me worse. I think he blames me because I don’t want to have contact with his wife and her family, like he wanted me to. And I guess I have to accept I will never have a relationship with my dad the way I would like it.

    I do plan to talk to him in the future, but I guess now I’m still a bit hurt and he opens this wounds.

    And I realize this is connected, that because of my relationship with dad after divorce that was not as I wanted it, I wanted an escape, in romantic love… And that wanting, that was too strong, actually made me just further from it.

    I also thought about your advice about moving far away from my parents… At first I hated it. I’m with mom and brother and two cats, and I like not being alone (I was living alone before for 2 years in another city and I didn’t like it much). And right now the financial situation is not the best. But now I do feel I need to think about living alone in future. Not far away thought, as I like it here in this town a lot. But I guess that wish is also a step forward, as it’s something new to me. Like I’m finally wanting to be mature and independent.

    I also try to meditate / practice mindfulness in the evening and in the morning. Well, I do wish to try to do it more, even when I’m walking or drinking tea or not to think too much about my situation when I’m at work, but I don’t always manage that.
    I’m a bit calmer and I don’t have any panic attacks or similar.. But my fear that I will stay alone, without family, marriage or kids, still exists. I’m trying to work on that.


    Dear Rhaenys:

    I will read and reply to your recent update when I am back to your thread, in about 15 hours from now.



    Dear Rhaenys:

    Good to read that your appetite is pretty normal, that you sleep better and feel better in the mornings, that you got much needed rest and enjoyed yourself last week, reading books and playing piano, and that you try to practice meditation/ mindfulness in the evenings and in the mornings, feeling calmer.

    During last week, you reflected on a few of the points I made to you earlier, considering among other things that although you are “desperately wanting a relationship”, you may be “afraid of commitment”, and therefore not choosing the men in your life wisely.

    “I went to therapy but I’m not sure if and how it helped.. it was too generic”- therapy needs to be very personal, it needs to be about your personal experience.

    “I am aware that my parents marriage didn’t work.. because of their marriage I somehow didn’t believe in it, like that it can’t work and it  won’t happen to me.. because their didn’t work.. I remember hating romantic novels- I told myself the reason is they are silly and boring, but it was because I thought love can’t or won’t happen to me”- the marriage of the parents is not experienced by the two of them (mother+ father) alone, the children also experience that same marriage, sort of by proxy. If the child is most empathetic toward her mother, and the mother is in a miserable marriage, what happens is that the child identifies with her mother and it is as if the child herself is in the marriage.. actually, the child really is in the marriage. Fast forward, you are an adult woman carrying within you a powerful and negative experience of marriage.

    It may be that you reacted angrily to romantic novels because you were envious that what’s in the novel was not your personal by-proxy experience of a relationship with a man.

    You shared about your current issues with your father: on one hand, “he says he loves me.. and that I am worthy of love and better than my exes”, and on the other hand, he says that “I have to think what I did wrong in my relationships and not do it again and .. that guys are always into me in the beginning and then they change”- my comments:

    1. Unless your father told you what he did wrong in the relationship with your mother, and unless he corrected his behaviors with his current wife- his advice to you about how you conducted or should conduct your relationships has no legs to stand on.

    2. Reads to me that the motivation behind him telling you that guys are into you in the beginning and then they change is his frustration: a combination of anger and feeling powerless to change a situation that angers him. His frustration may come out of feeling that he cares for you, but expressing that care in a somewhat angry way is not a caring behavior.

    “I faced him with that.. he was just defending himself”- his focus was to protect himself, not to help you. This is very often the case with parents, in my experience of life.

    “I also thought about your advice about moving far away from my parents.. a step forward, as it’s something new to me”- it will take moving far away from your by-proxy experience of your parents’ marriage, no longer holding in strong feelings about their marriage (which is your marriage by proxy, because of your natural, strong empathy for your mother).

    I figure a personal therapist, not a generic therapist, as you termed it, would help you express your strong feelings regarding that marriage, and expressed, lessen their intensity.



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