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Emotionally Unavailable or is there hope?

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  • #375882
    Michelle
    Participant

    Hey Anita I did take your advice and I have not said anything further regarding love. I am checking myself everytime I want to receive those words or say them and I try to question why. You’re right, it is a vicious circle, in that when I do hear them I will always be wanting to hear them again to check to see if the love remains constant.

    Sometimes I wonder though if we could get to a place where we could express that and not have it be riddled with anxious undertones or fears. I do know of a relationship he had about 12 years ago where he said he expressed it quite freely and often. So I wonder what has changed in him since then. I do feel a lot of love with him now and I am more confident knowing that he could see us living together and that he isn’t looking for other women. That is enough for now. I feel like I really needed something. I know that love is not always forever and people can and do fall in and out of love, change their minds. There is no guarantee and yet our hearts want the stability of something everlasting. I’m trying to really experience now for what it is and enjoy what I feel is happening in the moment. I do feel that we fall in love again a little each and every day, and that feels true.

    #375886
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    It just occurred to me that your urge to tell him that you love him so to get him to say the same, this urge can be thought of as a compulsion and the thoughts: does he love me, does he not, etc., can be seen as an obsession, and therefore you have more in common with him than you may think: obsession + compulsion,=  OCD, or OCD- like.

    What fuels obsessions in OCD is anxiety, and the purpose of the compulsions is to find relief from the anxiety. Performing compulsions bring about temporary relief from the anxiety, but the anxiety is soon back, and like you wrote, “it is a vicious circle”.

    “I do know of a relationship he had about 12 years ago where he said he expressed it quite freely and often. So I wonder what has changed in him since then”- it is possible that, as the anxious that he is, suffering from OCD,  saying (pronouncing/ writing/ typing) the words “I love you” started to scare him at one point on, sometime between twelve years ago and now.

    anita

    #375907
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Michelle,

    I can understand your struggle in on one hand, not wanting to pressure him or scare him away, and on the other hand needing reassurance and even a guarantee that this relationship has future and that eventually, you’ll get what you need from him. You say:

    “There is no guarantee and yet our hearts want the stability of something everlasting.”

    Yes indeed, there’s no guarantee that someone will love us forever and would never abandon us. Maybe after many years of a deep, committed relationship, having been tested through various hardships and challenges, we can be pretty sure that this is it, that we’ll be together until death do us apart. But simply getting married isn’t a guarantee at all – many marriages end up in divorce. Sure, the willingness to get married tells something about the person’s intentions, so it would give you some security, but not the ultimate security.

    You and Anita have spoken about your anxious attachment. Probably your need for a guarantee that he loves you and will stay with you forever comes from a childhood wound. I know you’re a psychologist, so probably I’m just repeating things you already know, but anyway, I believe the solution would be to work on that and give your inner child the love and stability she yearns for. Promise your little girl that you’ll be there for her always. That you won’t abandon her. So basically, give yourself that what you expect from your boyfriend. That’s when the “grenade” will be deactivated, I think.

    “Sometimes I wonder though if we could get to a place where we could express that and not have it be riddled with anxious undertones or fears.”

    This is another problem – his side of the equation. On your side, there’s abandonment anxiety, on his there’s something else, but definitely something that would need to be solved if you want a healthy, long-term relationship. Tip-toeing around him won’t give you satisfaction, even if you solve your own issues. But I guess you’d first need to deal with your side of the equation, and then see how and if the dynamic changes and how you still feel about the relationship.

    #376765
    Luz
    Participant

    Dear Michelle,

    I read through your posts and, even though it’s been a while since your first post and I’m not sure if you’re looking for more advice or input into your situation, I feel compelled to comment because of how similar your attachment style and experiences with men are to mine.  Even the way you describe your mom’s parenting style sounds so similar to mine–she, too, was sometimes physically abusive, very strict/authoritarian, would subject me to the silent treatment and was generally someone with whom I had a love-hate relationship growing up.  Our relationship has become much, much better over time, but I still do find it hard to be emotionally open and vulnerable with her (which sometimes extends to other relationships/friendships…my fear of rejection and being vulnerable).

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I understand how difficult it is to be in a (semi? sorta?) relationship with someone who is scared of love and has a hard, impenetrable shell around him that prevents him from letting you in.  For about a year and a half, I was very much stuck on a guy that I believed was my “twin flame”–the person who mirrored and reflected my fears and insecurities back to me, who made me feel a sense of kinship and closeness and intimacy I had never before experienced.  I too believed our relationship was fated–there were two many weird synchronicities for it to be anything but, in my mind.  We were born a few days days apart, both November babies (11:11 is a huge thing in the twin flame world), kept running into each other despite living in a huge city, had similar outlooks on life despite how differently we raised and despite our different cultural and religious backgrounds.  I  convinced myself that because he had been through a lot of trauma, he was just a scared little boy who needed time to step out of his shell (even when he quite clearly told me he wasn’t looking for anything serious), and even though physically I checked out of our very short-lived fling, emotionally I was very, very hung up on him for a long time.

    I’m not any more. I’m in a happy, committed relationship with someone I am very much in love with.  Looking back, I now question whether he was my “twin flame” after all and to be honest, I don’t even care if he is or not.   The thing is, once you start truly loving yourself and giving yourself the same time, attention, and care that you gave that person–the second you start prioritizing your needs and realizing that you have to communicate them in order for there to be a shot of those needs being met–the second you’ll realize that you won’t need to spend time journaling and posting and endlessly talking about a man who just doesn’t want something deeper. Plain and simple.  It doesn’t matter why he’s that way, or who made him that way, and whether he will one day change–all that matters is that right now, he’s not someone who has communicated to you that he’s in love with you.  While you can extrapolate and conjecture and imagine a scenario where one day, he says those words to you, the truth is, you don’t know if that scenario will take place, and there’s very little from his actions and words to indicate that that reality will come to be.  While uncertainty is something we all have to deal with in relationships from time to time, I’ve found–in my all too many experiences of dating avoidant men–that the type of man that is truly ready for a committed, loving relationship is someone that will minimize that feeling of uncertainty to the greatest extent possible.  It’s someone whose actions align with their words and indicates clearly and loudly that they’re into you.  It’s someone who doesn’t prowl dating apps just to “people watch” or who makes you wonder if they’re agreeing to move in just to save on rent.  It’s someone who has gone through enough self-growth and has enough insight and self-awareness that they don’t need someone to tear down their defenses for them–they’ve worked on doing that for themselves.  All your kindness and support towards him and eagerness to explore and understand his psyche and why he’s so scared to open up isn’t going to change him.  In the end, he has to take the leap himself.  Be willing to shed some of his old habits and behavioral patterns, difficult as that is.  You can’t do it for him.  And the longer you hang around in the hope that he’ll eventually come around, the longer you’ll be stuck in a place where you’re not truly happy, where there’s a little nagging voice inside that’s telling you that something’s not quite right.  That you deserve better.  You deserve someone that tells you in no uncertain terms that you ARE someone he does see or could see as “the one”,  and that you’re not just a stepping stone to whatever he truly desires (which I doubt he even knows).

    Anyway, I do think it sounds like there’s so much growth and change that he’s igniting within you..that’s the beautiful thing about relationships and intense connections, no matter how fleeting.  They tend to force you to confront the ugly and uncomfortable aspects of yourself.  It sounds like you’re being forced, through your interactions with him, to realize how much YOU’RE now willing to lower your defenses and open up to someone to an extent that maybe you weren’t in the past.  So even if your relationship with him doesn’t work out, I think the upside is that you’re a stronger person for it.  You’re more ready now to plunge in to something deep and scary at times but incredibly satisfying.  Real love, based on trust and commitment and mutual understanding, is a beautiful thing that we all deserve to experience, and sometimes the road getting there is long and winding and messy but it seems like you’re on the way there.

    Peace!

    Rosalia

    #376777
    Chickadee33
    Participant

    Rosalia,

    I hope Anita reads your answer.  I tried to tell Anita earlier, many months ago, that this guy was not into her enough to be FULLY committed and it was clear from what she wrote here. But she was (and likely still is) seriously hung up on him and using her psychoanalysis of his “trauma” or his emotional complexity as an excuse – that she would not admit to herself – as an excuse to keep clinging on to him.  You shouldn’t have to act like a guy’s therapist and try to “figure him out” to see if you have reason to keep clinging on.  That’s not how love works.  He’s either not into you or not ready for a relationship. Both are absolute deal killers.  Mature, wise women realize this.

    My posts were reported and deleted because I told Anita the truth of her situation that she refuses to see.  She apparently sees unvarnished truth as an “attack” because it’s obvious from her very, very long essays that she does not want the “bottom line” of the status of this non-relationship with the object of her obsession. She wants to contemplate this situation for months and years and spin it over and over in her mind like clothes in a washing machine.  It’s her own roadblocks that won’t let her move on.  I feel like she has some deep-seated attachment issues of some kind that are causing this dysfunctional pattern she has with this man.   The never-ending micro-analysis of her obsession = a chance, however slim, that they MIGHT end up together when he [insert reason]  comes to his senses, processes his trauma, grows up or whatever psychological revelation she is pinning all her hopes and dreams on.  She can’t handle people telling her it’s never going to happen and that she’s fooling herself.

    I see you’re saying that in the ultra-gentle, coddling way that she needs to hear it.  It’s a real shame how much of her life she is wasting on a man who will never commit to her.

    ~  chickadee

     

    #376778
    Chickadee33
    Participant

    Rosalia,

    I hope Michelle reads your answer.  I tried to tell her earlier, many months ago, that this guy was not into her enough to be FULLY committed and it was clear from what she wrote here. But she was (and likely still is) seriously hung up on him and using her psychoanalysis of his “trauma” or his emotional complexity as an excuse – that she would not admit to herself – as an excuse to keep clinging on to him.  You shouldn’t have to act like a guy’s therapist and try to “figure him out” to see if you have reason to keep clinging on.  That’s not how love works.  He’s either not into you or not ready for a relationship. Both are absolute deal killers.  Mature, wise women realize this.

    My posts were reported and deleted because I told her the truth of her situation that she refuses to see.  She apparently sees unvarnished truth as an “attack” because it’s obvious from her very, very long essays that she does not want the “bottom line” of the status of this non-relationship with the object of her obsession. She wants to contemplate this situation for months and years and spin it over and over in her mind like clothes in a washing machine.  It’s her own roadblocks that won’t let her move on.  I feel like she has some deep-seated attachment issues of some kind that are causing this dysfunctional pattern she has with this man.   The never-ending micro-analysis of her obsession = a chance, however slim, that they MIGHT end up together when he [insert reason]  comes to his senses, processes his trauma, grows up or whatever psychological revelation she is pinning all her hopes and dreams on.  She can’t handle people telling her it’s never going to happen and that she’s fooling herself.

    I see you’re saying that in the ultra-gentle, coddling way that she needs to hear it.  It’s a real shame how much of her life she is wasting on a man who will never commit to her.

    ~  chickadee

     

    #376845
    Michelle
    Participant

    Anita, thank you for your continued insight. Your latest post about my OCD tendencies and compulsions is very true, and I check myself often to ask myself why I am needing something, and whether I need to ask for it right away. I usually try to sit with my anxious thoughts for a few days before bringing them out into the light.

    TeaK, you are new to my topic here but I really appreciate your insight, and I have been thinking a lot about my wounded girl and how to keep feeding her on my own, so that I am not looking for him or someone else to do that. It is so true, when you are full you become a fountain, overflowing and the love does not become something you are seeking, it becomes something that you already own, that you are at home with. I also agree that I cannot tip toe around him forever and his issues and there needs to be open and honest communication. We have since started this discussion and I will address this below.

    Luz (Rosalina), lovely to meet you and have you share your unique experience. I appreciate the overlaps that you see in our stories and I am happy for you having found the love that you did not in the past, embracing it fully now. I do agree with a lot of what you shared, the importance of expressing what I want, and continuing to ask for what it is I believe I need. This is where I feel there is a lack of understanding on Chickadee33’s part. She says that I am hung up on psychoanalyzing him and needing to create excuses for why he will not fully commit to me or for why he is not in love with me. You also addressed this as a pattern of yours with your past twin flame. I have no desire to get him to fall in love with me. Being in love would not be the goal of my continued relationship with him. There have been many men before him that expressed a lack of a desire to continue a relationship and I did not spend time psychoanalyzing them. I could’ve taken a few guesses for sure, but I did not feel like there was a need for a continued relationship and we parted ways. I don’t feel that I have a need to make someone love me. I am not simply chasing or psychoanalyzing this man out of a desperate attempt to hold out for a sliver of love. I don’t think he will realize one day that he is in love with me. What I am looking for is what we currently have. A relationship where there is undisputed love (whether we are in love or not is beside the point for me), affection, care, support, honesty, trust and an agreed upon level of commitment.

    I do not wish to be his therapist and have told him this. I recently suggested that he might want to consider therapy in the future as his lifelong sadness and numbness (as he puts it) has plagued him from early childhood, and I feel that it might keep him from feeling the depth of his emotions fully. That may or may not apply to our relationship. That is for him to discern and attempt at his leisure. Do I believe from my very intimate view of him that it does keep him from experiencing love fully, and has him holding out for an ideal that doesn’t exist? Yes I do. He admits this also.  Is this because I hope we will one day have a fairy tale romance and that I need for him to be the one? No. I don’t believe in fairy tales, I just believe in what we have shared up until this point which has grown to be a consistent expression of love and support and a slow and steady submission to greater awareness of each other and ourselves. Growth in a relationship? What an absurd thing to strive for, haha.

    Chickadee33 while I respect the “he’s just not that into you” approach to dating and relationships, it will forever be far too black and white for me, and my deal breakers are completely subjective and unique to my experience. I would never want there to be blanket deal breaker, except that I am not physically or mentally abused, and treated with respect and kindness. That’s the basis for all relationships. As far as, this man or woman should do this, within this amount of days, in this exact way, or else the relationship is worthless and the love isn’t real…. Well those are expectations I do not want to be wrapped up in. I come from a background of psychology, and I know how multi-dimensional people are, it’s too hard to ignore that. Should we make excuses for people, and not consider our own needs first? No. I made it clear that I was not accepting of him still being on the apps and it was not behaviour I would accept if it continued. But he needed to make that choice himself.

    Chickadee33, I might even have agreed with you if this was a few years ago. That he’s just an object of my obsession and all of my hopes and dreams are wrapped up in him. In other relationships I pushed for the advancement of things, just out of a need for security and love that was false. But I also left men in those relationships when my needs weren’t being met, including an alcoholic, another depressed man and a man who was lying about not dating his ex when he was. I have moved on from men who don’t meet my needs, and have since learned a lot about what my needs are. Now it’s more about balancing my needs with my compulsions for security. I deserve love and commitment and all of the things I’ve mentioned, as we all do, as I am trying to balance those desires with a healthy dose of reality and understanding of the other person in the relationship. I am trying to be aware of myself, while also not being too demanding. No one is going to be able to give me everything instantaneously and I do not wish to leave someone who is giving me a lot, due to a lack of acceptance of where he comes from. I feel the need to at least try to reconcile that with my own experience and see if we can find a happy medium. You cannot have a relationship of growth without fully accounting for the other persons’ experience. Do I need to ask for basic things that I feel that I deserve? Yes.

    Most recently we had a very open and honest conversation and I laid my cards out on the table. I said I would like to be in a fully committed relationship where I am his girlfriend and we do not see other people. I said at this point that is where I felt we stood. He said he calls me his gf and has not been on the apps and will not be going back to them since we had a convo about that about a month ago. He says he loves me and values me in his life, even though it is not the romeo and juliet ideal he had in his head. He admits that he does not believe that that is real and that we have a lot of good between us and he wants a future with me. He does not want to move in together at this time (since we had been discussing that more recently), as he wants to be on his own with his own space for a while and his early schedule for work (middle of the night wakeup) would either disrupt me, or he would be disrupted by me. He says we can definitely revisit the idea in the future. He looks forward to having me stay over with him on weekends and bringing my dog. He seemed very anxious that I would be upset by this, but I just said that it’s fine for now, and it’s something we could always try down the road.

    Are we madly in love? No. Would I want that? Not really, as the rush and the height of that eventually comes tumbling down, and I feel that being “in love” is impermanent and ultimately just a state of intense infatuation. I want something consistent and real and supportive and that has depth. I am still wildly attracted to him, more sexually satisfied with him than I have even been, and really enjoy spending time with him. I was with a guy before him that I was definitely highly infatuated with and it just burned out so quickly. There was so much that was unmet in that relationship.  He has been a very slow simmer, but such a wonderful one at that. Had there not been any progress up until now, I would be feeling very despondent about our relationship. Even just last summer I was told he did not want to be exclusive and this resulted in my many posts on this forum. If anything when we agreed that we would date other people, I did and he did not. Not one date. I had a few almost other relationships. I know what lies out there for me, and I am not giving it up just for the chance to psychoanalyze and get what I want from someone who won’t give it. I just don’t see love as something to attain and hold onto desperately. I just feel that it is something fluid that slips in and out of our grasp, dancing around us, reflecting back what is already there.

    #376849
    Chickadee33
    Participant

    “Even just last summer I was told he did not want to be exclusive and this resulted in my many posts on this forum.”
    —————————————————————————-
    It should result in you moving on – not mega-hyper analyzing a situation that is actually really simple and easy to understand, even if your emotions can’t handle it.

    “If anything when we agreed that we would date other people, I did and he did not. Not one date. I had a few almost other relationships.”
    —————————————————————————–

    Is your pointing out that he didn’t date (“not one date”) other people your way of holding out hope that he’s going to come around to you again?  How do you know he didn’t have casual dates or sex?  Do you think he reports everything to you?  You’re like a comfortable, dependable old shoe –  you’re there for him when he feels like it.  When he does meet someone who knocks his socks off – and no one can predict when they will happen – you’ll know it.  I don’t think you’re emotionally prepared for that.

    ” I just don’t see love as something to attain and hold onto desperately. I just feel that it is something fluid that slips in and out of our grasp, dancing around us, reflecting back what is already there.”
    ———————————————————————————

    Some love is solid, dependable, not desperate and doesn’t slip out of our grasp.  You’ll never see that – or experience it – if you chase people who want to keep you on the edge of their lives.  You’re again rationalizing staying connected as if the ebb & flow will somehow result in you two ending up together later.

     

     

    #376851
    Michelle
    Participant

    Chickadee33, I no longer feel the need to justify what I feel to you or defend myself. I have tried to explain why I feel that this is different, and you are insistent on calling the kettle black. You accuse me of being redundant, and yet you remain unwavering in your assessment of an intimate relationship of mine, a view from the outside. You, nor anyone else knows the future of my relationship, as you are not some all seeing woman with a crystal ball. You continue to make judgments about me that I do not resonate with and no it is not because I am unwilling to see other perspectives aside from us ending up together. I have admitted that I do not know if we will and do not hold out for this as the end goal, and I have been very open to others’ interpretations and suggestions. Anita too has highlighted some of my patterns and I am working on things.

    You take my words and twist them and take them out of context. I am definitely not just there for him when he feels like it. He has put in equal if not more effort most days than I have. He takes regular trips to visit me on weekdays and weekends and we have many leisure activities that we both enjoy, indoors and outdoors (I also do not live nearby). He has encouraged my involvement with friends and family and everyone has been accepting of me as his gf. I mentioned that we were not exclusive in the summer as a demonstration of how things evolve and change, even when you think they may not or you should throw in the towel. It did not feel over when he said he wanted to see other people and as I resisted this suggestion of his, the happier he seemed to become and the more he secure he acted. Do I have surveillance on him 24/7? Do I know for sure if he had casual sex or dated other women, no, but I trust him and he is honest. If he did it couldn’t have been of much significance and it definitely didn’t take up his weekends as he’s spent every weekend with me since we met. His weekdays consist of no leisure time, except for an occasional dinner with me when he can muster up the energy. He’s just not a casanova and I’d be almost impressed to find out that he’d been one, without my knowledge of it. It seems that maybe you’ve dealt with some men you could not trust in the past, who may have betrayed your trust.

    Your entire aggressive black and white view of relationships tells me that there are a lot of unresolved issues between you and men. You almost seem angry with me, and without fulling knowing your story, I wouldn’t be able to determine why. Do you see yourself in me? Maybe you had a similar relationship in the past, and got burned. Now you are either closed off because of it and have very high expectations of men, or are in a better situation, but I can’t fully understand the reason for your need to scold me, or preach to me. You see me as some sort of foolish woman, who can’t get her pretty little head around the fact that this man does not love her. He does not keep me on the edge of his life, he has me quite fully immersed, he’s just admitted that I’m not what he pictured, but I don’t see that as him denouncing what we have. I’ve said time and time again that if he feels the need to date and still keep searching, he should do that. I don’t have any desire to hold him back from complete happiness. Something seems to have changed with our relationship, where he does not feel the need to do that, and says he is happy with me. He is not some lothario who keeps me on my toes, never returning calls, answering texts, seeing me infrequently, completely ignoring my feelings or my daily life stresses. This is a man who is giving and kind and completely there for me but is currently asking to have a relationship, while living apart. I don’t think that makes our relationship something to leave, or something outrageous, if it works for us.

    If he met someone who truly knocked his socks off, there would be a discussion. He doesn’t think it will happen, and he admits that he has trouble being knocked off his socks because of his own eternal sadness. But do I leave a man who is there for me out of fear that he might one day leave me for someone else? I would then truly be at the mercy of an anxious avoidant attachment style if I did that. One day at a time, like I said being in love in impermanent, love is fluid in that in changes, it surprises you. I do believe it can be constant, and no I don’t think it has to be desperate. It does slip between our fingers from time to time though. It takes effort to keep loving someone. It becomes a practice. It’s not just a choice you make once, or the divorce lawyers of the world would be out of business.

    #376860
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    Good to read from you again, 20 days after your last post. I hope the aggressive input in your thread has come to an end. It reminds me to stay strong in my resolve to not do the same, not in subtle covert ways and not in overt ways. You dealt with it well.

    I want to reply to you further when I am rested, I have some new thoughts perhaps that are currently percolating- would you like me to offer you my thoughts tomorrow morning, in about 16 hours from now?

    anita

    #376862
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Michelle,

    Good to hear from you again! I was often thinking about you and how you’re doing. Glad you’re doing fine and are experiencing “a consistent expression of love and support” in your relationship. It appears that one of your mail goals in this relationship is growth, i.e. that you are consciously trying to lessen your compulsion for security, while at the same time taking care that your basic emotional needs are met. (“I have moved on from men who don’t meet my needs, and have since learned a lot about what my needs are. Now it’s more about balancing my needs with my compulsions for security.”)

    You also appear to be aware of the possible limitations of your relationship, and also of his “eternal sadness and numbness”.

    “I recently suggested that he might want to consider therapy in the future as his lifelong sadness and numbness (as he puts it) has plagued him from early childhood, and I feel that it might keep him from feeling the depth of his emotions fully. That may or may not apply to our relationship. That is for him to discern and attempt at his leisure.”

    In this I believe you’re mistaken – his emotional wounds do apply to your relationship, and will apply in the future as well. Until he starts processing them, he can’t be a partner you’re looking for on the long run. He can be an experiment and someone you’re practicing your tolerance with, your letting go of your need for security. So he can be someone you’re stretching your limits with, but on the long run, he needs to be willing to stretch his limits too. If he’s unwilling to go to therapy, it’s almost like saying “sorry, this is my maximum, I am not willing to work on my issues. So take it or leave it.” His willingness to work on his own emotional issues would be a true sign to me that he’s willing to change and allow himself to go deeper with you.

    It doesn’t mean you need to push him to go to therapy, specially if you see he’s stretching his limits already and willing to work on the relationship, but just be aware that it’s a sign of how far he’s willing to go.

    “I just don’t see love as something to attain and hold onto desperately. I just feel that it is something fluid that slips in and out of our grasp, dancing around us, reflecting back what is already there.”

    In this part I agree with Chickadee33, when she said “Some love is solid, dependable, not desperate and doesn’t slip out of our grasp.” She’s right, true love isn’t fluid and doesn’t slip away and disappear. Such love is possible with someone who has solved his core emotional wounds. Until he’s willing to do that, your love will be fragile and prone to slipping away. But it’s on you to decide if this is something you can live with and what your priorities are. If the current situation suits you and you’re not hurting, but are feeling fulfilled, then by all means, go for it.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 4 weeks ago by TeaK.
    #376868
    Luz
    Participant

    Hi Michelle,

    Nice to e-meet you, too! Like TeaK, I’m glad that things seem to be going well for you and that you are experiencing growth and a sense of fulfillment in your current relationship.

    One suggestion I have (besides listening to your own intuition and inner voice, since ultimately we’re just strangers on the Internet!) is don’t be afraid to express your needs openly and frequently, even if you perceive your need for reassurance to be “compulsive” or rooted in your anxious tendencies. Anxious and avoidant attachment styles are two sides of the same coin, and in trying to free ourselves from anxious thoughts and behaviors, I’ve found that sometimes it’s easy to swing the opposite way— where we’re overly tolerant of uncertainty and ambiguity in ways that are unhealthy or inauthentic or shy away from having any conversations where we could be perceived as being needy or insecure. It’s ok to give yourself permission to crave security and stability in a relationship if that’s what you want, and to seek confirmation from the other person that they’re on the same page as you, as long as you do so in a calm and measured way that’s not coming from a place of reactivity. That’s the ying and yang, push and pull of relationships—sometimes we do the giving, and sometimes we receive. It’s fine to ask for gestures and words of love and affection and to ask questions that might make the other person uncomfortable, if doing so will help shed light on the true nature of the relationship

    I agree that not everything, including relationships, can be put into neat little boxes, but sometimes the issues we’re internally struggling with when it comes to romantic relationships really can be boiled down to fairly simple questions—are we both looking for something long-term and committed? Are we both on the same page about what we feel for each other and where we see this heading, or is one person giving considerably more than the other? Those are the gateway questions in any relationship, even friendships, and usually the rest doesn’t quite fall into place unless both people are in agreement about those basic terms.

    Ultimately, I think the real question to figure out is—what do YOU want? Are you looking for a long-term and committed relationship with no expiration date, or are okay with something potentially more fleeting, given the hesitancy your partner has expressed at times around commitment? Rather than focusing on what your partner wants, getting to the root of what YOU truly desire (and don’t desire) may help shed light on how healthy this relationship is for you. It’s fine to be in a relationship that may not be obviously long-term but might develop into something deeper over time as long as you’re honest with yourself that you’re truly fine with this. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we don’t want or need something, when deep down those desires and needs are still there, yearning to be met. And more we tell ourselves “maybe they’ll be met by this person one day,” the more we’re ignoring the current realities that contradict this possibility.

    I would also ask yourself: in a relationship, do I need someone who is a good communicator and able to clearly demonstrate and articulate his feelings towards me? Or am I ok with someone who is unable or uncomfortable with verbalizing certain emotions (which can cause me to doubt at times that those emotions even exist?) I know for me, because I’m very much in my head and can be extremely analytical, a deal breaker for me is when a man constantly struggles to communicate his emotions. If someone doesn’t tell me what they’re feeling I tend to go into panic mode, where I start weaving stories and narratives in my head that may or may not be rooted in reality and filling in the gaps of what the other person didn’t say with my own interpretations. Before, I labeled that tendency to analyze as “bad” and tried to convince myself that that tendency prevented me from fully exploring certain relationships (since I’d go into anxious mode and push the person away). But recently, I’ve stopped judging that side of me and have just accepted that I need a partner who is straightforward and emotionally vulnerable, and whose words I can trust at face value. Which may not be the case for everyone; some people are fine with partners that are more reticent and slow to open up, and that’s ok too. It’s ultimately about pinpointing what you truly want and don’t want and deciding whether your current relationship aligns with those desires. If your current partner doesn’t meet them, the reality is that there is someone out there that is, and sometimes our attachment to someone can prevent us from exploring those other possibilities.

    #376871
    Michelle
    Participant

    TeaK, the thing is I feel that he is and has tried a lot to work on his issues so that they do not affect the relationship. He takes my feelings into consideration, will hear them now, won’t try to escape or leave the room or belittle them. He will sit and be comfortable with me crying. I know he still will need to go deeper, in order to feel things on a deeper level, but he really does try to give all that he can within his limits at this time. He didn’t say he’s never willing to work on himself, just that he isn’t ready right now. I am trying to have a little faith.

    Maybe love can come close to having complete stability, where someone really promises to stand by your side no matter what. I guess they can hold that intention at least. I meant that the intensity of love changes as does our other feelings and one day love ends, as everything does, and then renews again. I’m probably getting too philosophical here about it all.

    I wanted to clarify a few things today and expressed to him that I wish to live together in the next few years. That he should take this time for himself now and live alone if that is what he wants, but that I do see that as a goal and I want him to see that with me. I am willing to see how things go and I am very happy now, but that I probably don’t want to eat alone forever. He seems to see it too but has a lot of practical fears. I think he’s quite afraid to have any sort of unhappiness within a relationship. He seems to rely on it to maintain a bit of equilibrium, so it’s as if he’s trying to create a situation that will instil maximum contentment and peace. I mean I think even having a conversation about how we would deal with issues as they arise before we’d live together would be important as well. He did have a terrible experience with his last roommate and that seems to have scarred him. He’s also never lived with a woman and he seems to have skewed views of what it might be like. When he does move out and live alone again, I think showing him that things can be good when I’m over there and that I don’t invade his space, might go a long way to ease some of his fears.

    Luz, yes I agree I do believe that I do suppress some of my own needs to communicate out of a fear that they are arising due to my attachment style. I do agree that words of affection (my main love language) will be something I will want to practice more with him and encourage. It may start with me expressing what I feel more and being okay with not hearing it back sometimes. I know I am not his ideal love, but we have admitted love to each other and it would be nice to express that more. It still exists and is what it is.

    Sometimes I have hard time coming to terms with what it is I want, vs what I am supposed to want. Society says I should be married now with kids and I don’t really see any of that for myself, but sometimes I think that would be nice. I just feel that I will never be one of those women who can demand it. I want that to come naturally if it’s meant to go in that direction. At the same time, I’ve usually been the one pushing and men are always fine to keep things status quo. My last major ex was willing to get married he just wanted to further his career a little more, but there were other issues there. Marriage wouldn’t change a lot for me, it would just give me a fairy tale moment of someone proposing. My friend says but it shows a bigger intention that someone wants the ultimate commitment. I just feel like it’s sort of out of my hands, especially with the custom of the man asking in our culture.

    I try to live in the present most days, so I do just take things as they come and I know how swiftly everything can change, even the best laid plans coming from people with the best of intentions. So I’m not completely against just letting things unfold as they do, but I know I need to at least voice my potential dreams for things, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I just feel like I had grand romantic ideals when I was younger that I held on too tightly too, and now I want what I have, something more real. I just want to give him all the lee way he gives me to be who I am, but try not to sacrifice myself too much in the process.

    He is a grand communicator through acts of service and gifts. He will do anything for me that I ask. He has gotten much better at expressing affection and love, saying “I miss you” and “I can’t wait to see you” etc. We just haven’t gotten to the point of saying I love you with any kind of frequency. It means more in a way when I do hear him express words of love.

    I don’t know, it would be very hard to end things right now. Things are good and I am happy with him, I just see a future with him and want to at least sketch a plan for that. He seems receptive to possibilities so we will see.

    #376872
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Michelle,

    I don’t know, it would be very hard to end things right now. Things are good and I am happy with him, I just see a future with him and want to at least sketch a plan for that. He seems receptive to possibilities so we will see.

    Yes, there’s no reason why you would end the relationship now, since things are good and you’re happy, and he’s not rejecting the possibility of living together in the future. Also, you say you’re not too eager to have children, I mean it’s not your priority to settle down and become a mother, although you see it as a possibility in the future. So from this perspective too you don’t feel pressure to go down that road right now. You have time to wait and explore this relationship further.

    You say he had a bad experience with his former room mate – what exactly was the problem? If I remember well, you earlier said he was critical of your eating habits, and that you’re not orderly enough. A part of the reason why he doesn’t want to move in together might be his OCD, because you would disturb his sense of order, and order calms him down. I guess that’s one of the things he’d need to work on before moving in with you.

    Sharing a life with someone is not easy, so he’d need to become much more relaxed and less guarded of his sense of peace. If he’s suffering from OCD, it’s a very fragile sense of peace, and he doesn’t want it to be disturbed by any means, no matter how much he might care for you. As I am writing this, this is what’s coming to me as perhaps the greatest practical problem and limitation for your relationship: that he needs a particular structure and order to self-regulate, and he’s afraid that you living with him might disturb that balance.

    I think he’s quite afraid to have any sort of unhappiness within a relationship. He seems to rely on it to maintain a bit of equilibrium, so it’s as if he’s trying to create a situation that will instil maximum contentment and peace.

    I am afraid that his “unhappiness” might be caused by very small things, like your eating habits, or you e.g. not cleaning the flat the way he’d want to. On top of that come the inevitable disagreements and tension in a relationship, which are completely normal, but for a person with a very fragile emotional balance, it may throw him over the top.

    I am sorry I am mentioning this, actually when I started replying, this aspect didn’t even occur to me, but as I was writing, I started feeling it might be a pretty big obstacle. Have you thought about it and how you’d deal with it?

    #376879
    Michelle
    Participant

    I am having a very hard time right now, as as soon as we make progress, things seem to retreat back to square one. Chickadee 33 would use this as further proof that he is showing me all of his cards and I’m refusing to see them, but as I’ve gotten to know him, I see that he has certain patterns and fears.

    So he again told me that he doesnt see me as a life partner and he thought the relationship would eventually end. He thinks that there isomeone who could give more emotionally and offer a promise of long term commitment. He still says he sees the possibility but since I’ve brought it up more he wants to be honest that he doesn’t really see it happening. He says he’s not looking for other women though and doesn’t expect to find someone else. He wants to continue things the way they’re going and says on one hand maybe he is just messed up in the head and needs to sort through that. He says he can’t see the future and doesn’t know for sure what he wants.  He says he would probably regret it if we ended things now. I just don’t really know where to go anymore. I don’t feel that it is over.  He says he’s worried about disappointing me and being disappointed. He says he’s never felt that anyone had fulfilled him this way before.

    It just seems like if it’s going to end I’m going to have to do it. But it doesn’t feel over, I just think hes messed up.

     

     

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