March 12, 2019 at 4:16 pm #284345
You are dealing with a lifelong issue that started with your parents and your upbringing. I suggest therapy. I don’t see this as an easy fix.
Wherever you go, there you are. This has little if not nothing to do with the person you are dating/living with/married to. He can be the “perfect” man but you’ll always be anxious and feeling boxed in.
Take care of yourself and get someone to help you with this deep seated issue.
MarkMarch 13, 2019 at 7:44 am #284407
A summary of what you shared so far: you are a 58 year old woman, no children. You lived alone for most of your life, “very independent… really like to be in control”. But you also “enjoy having an intimate connection with someone… enjoy being in a relationship”, and you “do want a special man in (your) life”.
The problem is that you also feel “trapped… boxed in” relationships, once they get serious, and your anxiety while in relationships that get serious goes up. You would like to have a serious relationship with a man where you will not be stressed, be relaxed instead.
Your parents’ marriage was not healthy, your father verbally and emotionally abused your mother. You remember “feeling sorry for, and angry with (your) mom for staying, and being treated so badly”, and you remember thinking, as a child: “I will never let myself get trapped in a relationship that is so awful”
Your most recent relationship lasted about 15 months. You are currently on a dating website. You feel that you are not good at distinguishing between “must have” characteristics to look for in a man vs “icing in the cake” characteristics, such as personality quicks.
Now my understanding at this point: as a child, witnessing your father abusing your mother, you felt very distressed, your anxiety was up. You were in practical terms boxed in and trapped in that awful marriage between your parents.
You empathized with your mother, felt great emotional pain seeing her unhappy in her marriage and you wanted very much to help her, protect her, or rescue her. You probably tried to help her, to make her happy in the small ways a child tries, maybe you talked with her about her marriage when you were a teenager, trying to help her understand better and exit that marriage, but your efforts failed.
As an adult, throughout your life so far, whenever you found yourself in a relationship with a man that started getting serious, you automatically felt boxed in and trapped and your anxiety automatically went up. In other words, you relived your childhood emotional experience. The only relief was to undo the relationship and return to the lower anxiety or calm of single life.
Within each getting-serious relationship you were alarmed by any personality quirk you observed, suspecting the quirk to be an abusive element, and that the man is or is soon-to-become abusive. These repeating alarms and doubt kept your anxiety up.
As a child, observing your parents’ marriage, you were too young to understand why that marriage was awful, and later, you weren’t objective enough to understand, your strong empathy and anger at your mother didn’t allow objective understanding. Therefore, you suspect any trivial thing about a man to mean an abusive relationship to come about.
I think therapy with a capable therapist is a good idea. If you want to examine parts of your previous relationships with me, maybe one of those, so to gain better understanding of what makes a relationship healthy and what makes it awful (what about a man is trivial and what is truly alarming), you can share with me and I will look into it with you.
anitaMarch 13, 2019 at 4:34 pm #284509
Thank you Anita, that is very kind, and I would welcome your help. I’d like to discontinue the pattern I have with intimate relationships.March 14, 2019 at 8:29 am #284581
My thoughts this morning regarding “must have” characteristics in a man vs personal quirks:
When you were trapped in your parents’ marriage you were powerless, had no power to change your living circumstances. This is why it is very important that in an intimate relationship with a man, you will have power, equal to his, that you work with the man as a team, to make things happen to your satisfaction and to his satisfaction, a win-win relationship.
Clearly, a man who practices my-way-or-the-highway attitude is the wrong man for you. He has to be open to your input, take it seriously, change what he needs to change according to your input, following considering and agreeing with any part of it. He has to be a fair team player.
The two of you will have to practice EAR with each other: Empathy, Assertiveness, Respect.
The routine you are used to, keep it as you begin a relationship. Proceed with the relationship gradually, keeping your routine as your safety, something to ground you as you proceed with an experience unfamiliar to you and scary- a serious, intimate, long term relationship with a man.
He will need to be a man who needs you but is not clingy, or desperate, so that he doesn’t push himself into your routine, taking it away from you, so that he doesn’t invade your alone time, your private moments.
An example of a personal quirk that is not a deal breaker, as I see it: he has to have things very orderly and you don’t, it would be okay that he has his own room where all his items are arranged in perfect order, untouched by anyone but him. So he spends his time there and in a shared bedroom with you.
anitaMarch 14, 2019 at 4:47 pm #284665
Thanks Anita, How do I tell a new person that I’m interested in dating, that I am fearful of feeling trapped, but I’m interested in getting to know him. When do I bring up this issue; after a few dates? I usually say that I’m very independent, and that weekends are best for me.March 15, 2019 at 9:16 am #284769
I would tell a man in the first date or the second, as you talk, that you are fearful of feeling trapped in a relationship and ask him if he fears that too, or what he fears in the context of a relationship.
It is not about telling him you are fearful so that he has that information, it is about sharing and exchanging information. Fear is not unique to you, every man you meet is also afraid.
Once two people honestly share about their fear, the two can help each other, as a team, repeatedly talking, checking with each other, coming up with ideas and solutions along the way.
anitaMarch 15, 2019 at 4:50 pm #284825
Thanks Anita, yes, I think it’s important to reveal this early on. I like the idea of it being a shared conversation, with mutual comfort and support as a goal. I always say I’m pretty independent, to me this means I don’t want to feel smothered; this is not being specific enough. I need to realize that there are some compromises I need to make, just ease into it, I guess.March 16, 2019 at 6:45 am #284859
You are welcome. If you tell a man you recently met “I’m pretty independent” or “I don’t want to feel smothered”, these are vague statements, definitely not specific enough. You can therefore say, for example: I’m pretty independent, I like working and managing my money. If I live with a man, I intend to continue to work and keep my finances separate from the man. We will figure out ahead of time who pays for what, before we move in, so finances will be clearly independently managed, no confusion.
Or you can say something like: I don’t want to feel smothered. If I live with a man and I tell the man: I need some alone time, I will need the man to not be offended, to not ask me why I need alone time, to not keep talking to me, but respect what I need and go about his business without talking to me.
anitaMarch 16, 2019 at 4:21 pm #284891
Good examples. I need to figure out how to not fear making plans, because I don’t know if I’ll feel like doing that when the time comes, and I don’t like to cancel on someone. I’m not sure there’s anyone out there that would be so tolerant of my weirdness.March 16, 2019 at 6:56 pm #284905
It is possible that the part of you that decided long ago, “I will never let myself get trapped in a relationship” has been making sure all along, for four or five decades since the decision was made, that indeed the decision is kept. It may be that no matter what dating strategy you consider, the child in you who made the decision will make sure it is kept.
If you examine your dating/ relationship history, do you see this decision being dominant in all your choices in the context of dating and relationships, all through the years, with every man?
anitaMarch 16, 2019 at 9:35 pm #284911
i need some input. Mainly because I’m trying to shake this guilty feeling. I was with my ex boyfriend for 2 years. It was a rollercoaster. However, I still love him. The night we broke up we got into a fight and his mom actually got involved. He was speaking so disrespectfully and sarcastic, I got so mad and said that he treats me like shit and he got mad and drove off and told his mom to tell me that it’s over. Apparently, he broke up with me cause I said that in front of his mom and in his eyes he’s never treated me that way. To give him the benefit of the doubt, he was very sweet. I’m trying to make sense out of how can someone be so sweet, caring, talk about planning a future with me, travel with me but then turn around and be cold, disrspeful, and ignore me. I don’t get it. A few days ago I texted him saying sorry cause I was speaking to him rudely too and he said he still loves me and that he meant forever. I said love you back and he hasn’t responded. I feel stupid for even being sad about this but I don’t know what to do. I have this feeling to fight for him but maybe cause that’s what I’ve always done .March 16, 2019 at 9:36 pm #284915
<p style=”text-align: right;”>M</p>March 17, 2019 at 6:01 am #284931
* Dear Veronica: will you please copy your post above and paste it into your own thread- if you click FORUMS at the top, you will get a list of categories, one of which is RELATIONSHIPS, click that, scroll down and start your own thread. I am looking forward to respond to you there.
anitaMarch 17, 2019 at 8:19 am #284959
I think that’s accurate Anita. Either I’ve ended a relationship, or after awhile, my boyfriend will be worn down by my cancelling dates and/or not committing to a date, that he will end things. It seems early, in the first couple of dates, to tell someone that my parents marriage was abusive, and it made a big impression on me, but I’d like to break this pattern. This requires, not only willingness on his part, but also patience and understanding. A lot to expect from someone I’ve just met. I come across as a nut, yes?March 17, 2019 at 9:19 am #284973
You don’t “come across as a nut”, not to me. You come across as very persistent. The child who made the decision to not be trapped in a relationship has kept her decision. She was a very strong willed girl who meant that promise that she made full heartedly and has persisted all these years in keeping her promise.
No man you meet can change that girl’s strong resolve. You can give a man all the information you have on your childhood and struggles, but he will not be able to change that little girl’s mind. Neither can I.
What is keeping her resolve so strong and lasting is her fear of re-experiencing what she experienced as a child, and it is her anger at her mother from taking the abuse for so long, for not making it stop, day after day, year after year.
I asked you before about that anger, do you remember it, are you still feeling it at times?