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Confused and feeling guilty.

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  • #401984
    Tara
    Participant

    Hello Anita and everyone, it’s been quite a while since I have posted here. It’s a bittersweet feeling to be back, but here is my problem. I 21(F) and my boyfriend 24(M) have been in a relationship for just a little over 2 years now. This relationship has been the most deep and meaningful I have had in my life, though I know I am young, this one has felt different to me from the start. We have had our differences in the past, with explosive fights, dramatic arguments, etc. but have always worked past this.

    Recently, I started a new job, and because of my age and looks I feel as if I have been getting a lot of attention from older men, which I have never experienced before. Most of this attention I tend to just brush off, make a joke of it, or make a mental note not to be overly friendly to whichever customer/coworker has approached me. Despite this, there is a coworker/manager that has been shamelessly flirting with me for the past week now. The worst part of this situation is.. I enjoy it. I do not flirt back directly to this person though I do admit, I do not put a stop to it either.

    This situation is making me second guess my entire relationship, to the point of me thinking about breaking up with my partner. I am not sure if I am just easily swayed by male attention because of my past childhood trauma, or if truly deep down I am not as happy as I thought I was in this relationship. At the same time, I feel as if I am a monster self sabotaging the only meaningful relationship I have ever experienced.
    Though I admit our relationship isn’t perfect, I feel as if I have already ruined it by even having thoughts about or liking attention from another man.
    My partner is a wonderful person, though he does have his faults as everyone else. I have been sent into a spiral of thoughts and wonderings about if there really is an underlying problem in our relationship. If I was to break up with my partner, the aftermath would likely be messy, as we live together and have a dog we raised together, so this thought also deeply scares me. For context, I am still young, and have had a string of relationships quite close together since the time I was 16, and am unsure if maybe I just have not had enough time to explore the dating world or if there is some kind of pattern going on here. I don’t know if this is a case of the grass is always greener, or if the universe is trying to send me a message to show me this is not who I am supposed to be with.
    To further explain my thoughts, I would not be breaking up with my partner for the reason of being with this other coworker, I know that it is just a small meaningless attraction, though at the same time I feel as if I wouldn’t be feeling this attraction if I truly loved my boyfriend.

    Please be kind in the responses, I have already beat myself up enough about this situation in my head, I am just looking for a little advice or a sign..

    #401989
    Roberta
    Participant

    Dear Tara

    Being paid a compliment/ flirted with may temporarily boosts ones self esteem & like you said in the past you have seen what these interactions are & have taken steps to not allow them to influence you unduly.

    I take it that your present relationship has now settled into something more harmonious and you wish to preserve it?

    Eckhart Tolle talks about something called the pain body and when it is awake it wants to feed on negativity/pain for women it can be stronger in different parts of our hormonal cycle. So maybe you can just ride this out and in a few months you may be able to smile with relief that you did not do anything hasty.

    all the best

    Roberta

     

    #401991
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tara:

    On July 14, 2020 you shared that you were diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, and that you (20)  were in a relationship with a man (22) for about 6 months, living together for 2 months, “a man whom I love deeply and often see myself marrying and having a family with”, but you were worried at the time that you might be bisexual or a lesbian. You moved back to your parents’ house. You shared regarding your boyfriend:  “We are currently on a break due to my panic attacks and anxiety clearly showing… All I want to know is, do these thoughts alone make me bisexual/ lesbian… or, maybe even OCD is pushing me to think about this issue… I’m very happy with him and love him deeply… The best relationship I ever had in my life”.

    Two days later, on July 16, in a 3rd thread, you shared that you found the root of your anxiety: an incident a month earlier when your boyfriend, following working and living in 113 degree heat without air conditioning, “began to yell and throw things around the car” and then again, in a hotel room. You shared: “When I was a child, my father had many angry outbursts, yelling, screaming, stomping”, and about your boyfriend: “I love him so much and it hurts me that he causes me this anxiety”.

    Three days later, on July 19, in a 4th thread, you shared: “I feel alone. My anxiety has reduced me to doing nothing all day, and when I am not anxious, then the depression sets in. I have no close friends… my boyfriend and I are no longer on speaking terms… My days are either filled with dread and anxiety or depression and loneliness”.

    In that 4th thread, you shared this about your childhood: “I know that my parents fought a lot… I was always in trouble for random reasons… I felt I could not confide in anyone… I remember a time… standing at my parents’ door listening to them scream at each other. I remember crying, feeling as if it was my fault, because a lot of the fights, I believe, involved their ways of parenting me.. I remember my mom talking to me about their fights even from a young age, about how horrible and mean and angry my dad was, even though me myself didn’t directly experience his anger as far as I know or can recall”. You also shared that as a teenager, you and your mom fought, screaming at each other. You remembered saying to her during those fights:  “You only punish me for the bad things I do, you never tell me you are proud of me for anything”!

    Almost two years later, in your current  June 2022 thread, you shared that you (21) have been in a relationship with your boyfriend (24) for a little over 2 years,  the two of you living together: “the most deep and meaningful” relationship you ever had, “We had our differences in the past, explosive fights, dramatic arguments, etc. but have always worked past this”. Recently you started a new job, your coworker/ manager has been flirting with you for the past week, you enjoy it and you haven’t stopped him. Because you enjoy his flirting, you are second guessing your entire relationship with your boyfriend and you are thinking about breaking up with him.

    “Unsure if maybe I just have not had enough time to explore the dating world, or if there is some kind of pattern going on here” – I say: there is definitely a pattern here. If you explore the dating world further, with this pattern unexamined and unchallenged, you are likely to find yourself in the same situation over and over again.

    The parts of your pattern as I understand it are: (1) The repeated screaming and arguments between your parents caused you anxiety and led to your Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnosis, (2) Some children exposed to screaming and fighting parents become quiet and passive, others scream/ fight back-  it seems like you became the latter, being an active party to “explosive fights, dramatic arguments” with boyfriends,

    (3) You suffer from invalid guilt in regard to your parents’ fights, believing- falsely- that you were responsible for their fights, that you ruined your parents’ relationship (even if you don’t think it, deeply, your child self believes it still).

    Fast forward, you believe that you ruin your relationships with men, not by having dramatic arguments and explosive fights (which do ruin relationships) but by your THOUGHS (such as the thought of being of a different sexual orientation than straight), or by your FEELINGS (such as enjoying the flirtation of your coworker/ manager).

    If you understand that it is only ACTIONS that ruin relationships, not thoughts and feelings, you will be a step closer to breaking this pattern, instead of breaking the relationship

    anita

    #401997
    anita
    Participant

    * correction: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (not general anxiety disorder)

    #402434
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Tara?

    anita

    #402544
    Tara
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Much has happened since I posted this thread. Even though it has only been a little over a week it feels like this week has gone by draggingly slow. Bear with me, this will be lengthy.

    I sat on your response after posting and started to come to terms with my feelings of guilt, and realized something deep within myself. Basically, it is completely out of my character to seek attention from other men outside of a relationship. I have had only a few long term relationships in my life, but in not one of them have I ever felt the need to go out and cheat on someone. Even with this situation, intentions were not cheating, but I enjoyed the attention I admitted.

    So after thinking for a bit, I came to the conclusion that there has to be a REASON that I feel this way. A sound, explainable reason that I am feeling good about another man flirting with me. Usually, I would just shut someone like this down. Maybe, at some point in my relationship I realized the fights we had were actually a lot worse than I had downplayed in my mind. It started about 6 months after we were together, the fights got nasty. He would be screaming, yelling, saying horrible things to me, throwing and breaking our belongings and things sitting around the house. At one point, after I had driven away from a fight, he drove over to me and we proceeded to fight again in the car. Long story short, he punched my rear view mirror and cracked my entire car windshield. I had to have the whole thing replaced.

    In my head, he would apologize for his actions so I would justify his behavior. I would tell him not to do it again, that it scares me, gives me anxiety. He would tell me he’s sorry and okay. It kept happening.
    My point is, my attraction for another man was probably a tall tale sign that something inside my relationship wasn’t as stable as I thought.

    Fast forward to this past Saturday. Me and my boyfriend ended up planning to go to one of our close friends parties. Before the party when I arrived home from work, we started arguing. He told me I had been acting weird and quiet for weeks and that whenever he asked me about it I still would act quote “weird.” Keep in mind this had been brought up a few days before. Despite this fighting, we decided to go to the party anyways. The entire time we were there, we did not actually talk. I would go up to him and give him a hug and kiss once in a while and he would oblige, but no actual conversation. So I stuck by my girl friends that entire night because of this. Then I am sitting with my friend right in front of the area my boyfriend was sitting, and he comes up and accuses me of adding a male friend of my females friend I was sitting with on social media. He goes up into my face and asked me almost manically what the interaction was, in front of all of our friends. Fast forward a bit, I started crying after this interaction and went to the restroom, he after came to the restroom and we argued once again. He told me I need a break, I said okay, and I left him there.

    It has been half a week since then and I haven’t seen him, I grabbed a few things from our house and our dog and have been staying at my parents house again since. He has texted me and we have sent long messages back and forth, I still love him and this hurts. But deep down, I know that the things that happened in our relationship I cannot fix for him, and I deserve better than that. I keep crying missing him, I really did and do love him. I hope he gets the help he needs and finds happiness, even if it’s not with me.

    Anyways thank you for listening and checking in Anita, I really appreciate it.

    #402549
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tara:

    You are welcome, good to read back from you!

    “I realized the fights we had were actually a lot worse than I had downplayed in my mind. It started about 6 months after we were together, the fights got nasty. He would be screaming, yelling, saying horrible things to me, throwing and breaking our belongings and things sitting around the house…. he punched my rear view mirror and cracked my entire car windshield… I would tell him not to do it again, that it scares me, gives me anxiety. He would tell me he’s sorry and okay. It kept happening…

    “Fast forward to this past Saturday… we started arguing… we decided to go to the party anyways… he comes up and accuses me of adding a male friend…  on social media. He goes up into my face and asked me almost manically what the interaction was, in front of all of our friends…. I grabbed a few things from our house and our dog and have been staying at my parents house again since” –

    -You did the right thing when you moved out of a domestic violence live-in situation. I hope that this relationship is placed where it belongs- in the past.

    “He has texted me and we have sent long messages back and forth, I still love him and this hurts. But deep down, I know that the things that happened in our relationship I cannot fix for him, and I deserve better than that… I hope he gets the help he needs and finds happiness, even if it’s not with me” –

    – Excellent attitude on your part, I am impressed! You are (1) no longer willing to accept his “sorry and okay”, (2) you know that you can’t fix him, (3) you know that you deserve better, (4) you acknowledge that you feel love for him and that it hurts, but you are stronger than what you feel; you are willing and able to do what’s right for you, regardless of it hurting.

    By the way, now that you are staying with your parents again: are they still fighting with each other.. arguments, any verbal (or other) aggression in your parents’ home?

    anita

    #402607
    Tara
    Participant

    Hello Anita, sorry for the late reply, I have still been having a hell of a week (excuse my language).

    As I have been staying at my parents house nothing too horrible has happened, but my mother still tends to complain about my father and her relationship with him constantly. Another thing is my father also tends to have small angry outbursts when little things don’t go his way. I always go into my room to escape the anger, though it’s not directed at me, I hate the cussing and yelling and screaming over the smallest little inconveniences in his day. It gives me feelings of anxiety.

    Also, thank you for the wake up call by calling my situation domestic violence. I guess I never realized how bad it was until now. I feel dumb and naive for ever forgiving this man, and I don’t understand why I stayed as long as I did. I have pictures and some secret videos of our past fights, and after rewatching, it arises the emotions that I felt in the moments they were being taken.
    Even at one point in a video, my ex gets up in my face while yelling at me, balls his fist (almost like he wants to punch me) and then goes for our standing fan instead (he completely destroys it.) Another detail from this video that haunts me is at the end of the fight he tells me to leave, so I start to, and then you can hear our front door being held closed, while I’m exiting the house. I say “ow you’re hurting me” and then “let go of me” as he is holding onto my arm telling me I am not leaving the house until I take all of my things. Keep in mind this all is happening at one in the morning. I never had the heart to look at this video in depth until now, and it sickens me watching it.
    I feel lost, me and my ex have still been bickering over text about things since our breakup. Today he told me he found my “tinder” account from one of his friends. This account was made sort of as a joke/a lame ditch at getting some kind of positive male attention, and I admit it was a bit too early for me to be making a dating profile.

    I admitted all of this to him, and apologized, saying it was a mistake and it didn’t give the satisfaction I was looking for.

    But he kept obsessing over it. At first his demeanor in the text messages was sort of nice, but sad. He said things like “If it’s attention you want and that’s what makes you happy then I support you. You’re amazing and beautiful, I could never speak bad on your name and I won’t to our friends, they all love you, I’ll bring rest of your stuff by tomorrow when you’re at work.” Then hours later, I get a text from him, telling me that I am making nothing out of our 2 and a half year relationship, that I can come get my own stuff from our old house, that the tinder was the last straw. Almost acting as if I wasn’t the one who broke up with him? I apologized over and over again, not wanting this to be our last interaction, but he would not accept any of it. He just kept saying the same things over and over. I am feeling guilty for this and also scared of what the outcome of this situation is.

    I know that I messed up by making a dating profile so quickly, even though I am clearly not moved on. But I can’t shake the feeling he is going around our small town and same close group of friends telling everyone of this mistake, making it seem like I was the one who ruined our relationship. I know that if these people believe him, they never were truly my friends. At the same time I live in a tiny town, and am scared to even go to the same restaurants we always frequent (there is only a few in town). I am upset and scared that I will see our/his friends (they were his friends first) and that they will judge or call me out on this issue. I’m sad and I feel lost. I feel as if I cannot even step outside without fearing I will have to see and talk to someone that is directly related to him.

    Anyways, I know these problems are all surface and trivial, but they are plaguing me. What should I do Anita? I don’t know how to feel anymore. The worst part is, I still have feelings for him, and I don’t want to end on bad terms. Although maybe we already have.

    #402632
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tara:

    “I have been staying at my parents house nothing too horrible has happened, but my mother still tends to complain about my father and her relationship with him constantly. Another thing is my father also tends to have small angry outbursts when little things don’t go his way. I always go into my room to escape the anger, though it’s not directed at me, I hate the cussing and yelling and screaming over the smallest little inconveniences in his day. It gives me feelings of anxiety” –

    – you got adjusted to your parents’ aggression since you were a child best you were able to  by downplaying it in your mind,  thinking of it as nothing too horrible.

    Fast forward, you minimized your boyfriend’s aggression: “in my relationship I realized the fights we had were actually a lot worse than I had downplayed in my mind… I never realized how bad it was until now”.

    “I feel dumb and naive for ever forgiving this man, and I don’t understand why I stayed as long as I did” – not because you were dumb and naive, I figure, but because you were adjusted since childhood to downplay domestic aggression.

    “At first his demeanor in the text messages was sort of nice, but sad. He said things like ‘…You’re amazing and beautiful..’ Then hours later, I get a text from him, telling me that I am making nothing out of our 2 and a half year relationship…  that the tinder was the last straw… I am feeling guilty for this and also scared of what the outcome of this situation is” – I think that he is emotionally unstable and manipulative.

    What should I do Anita? I don’t know how to feel anymore. The worst part is, I still have feelings for him, and I don’t want to end on bad terms. Although maybe we already have” – (1) To end the relationship with him, seems to me, cannot happen under good terms because he is unstable and aggressive, (2) Do not bicker with him over text anymore (“me and my ex have still been bickering over text about things since our breakup”), and do not fuel his aggression in any other way, (3) Stop all communication with him, establish the No Contact rule, (4) Do not place yourself in a situation where you are alone with him,  (5) if he threatens your physical safety, contact the police/ the courts, asking for protection from him, (6) In regard to what the tells other people about you and the relationship, and people possibly believing him: keep records of his texts and other records so that you have proof, in needed, of his unstable and aggressive behaviors. Otherwise there is nothing you can do about gossip in general (other than you not providing people who tend to gossip with private information), so it’s something you’d have to live with.

    anita

    #402897
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tara:

    In the three days since we exchanged messages, it is possible that you are still staying with your parents, but it is also possible that you got back with the boyfriend because as the title of your thread says, you were “Confused and feeling guilty” (June 8). You then got some clarity, but maybe the confusion returned as new thoughts appeared, and because you “still have feelings for him” (June 19).  I hope to read from you again regardless of most recent evens, if any.

    anita

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