Lost Spark?

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    Hi Everyone,

    John here. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything online, but I wanted to get your advice on something.

    I don’t even know how to explain it, but at it’s core, I don’t feel attracted to my girlfriend anymore. I don’t think I love her or even like her and I can’t understand what happened or why.

    We’ve been dating for almost a year and living together for a short while. Most recently, we’ve gone through some trauma recently related to my stresses at work.

    She’s really a nice girl and she’s been very patient through all the craziness that has been going on (other girls would have probably run for the hills when they saw me in the emotional and mental state that I was in a few weeks ago). She wants me to get better and does everything in her power to do so; goes to the doctor with me, finds me self-help books and articles to read, encourages me to find hobbies and friends, and takes me on trips. And the only thing my silly monkey mind can do is plan how to run away home to my mom and dad. I can’t seem to control it. The escape fantasies continue plaguing me. They want me to quit my job and run home where I think it will be safe and secure.

    But I want to make this relationship last. I want to work hard and do whatever it takes to get back on my feet again and feel confident and stable in life. I want to turn off this critical and judgmental mind that is constantly evaluating me, her, and others. I want to see her beauty again.

    I want to be happy now, wherever I am, with whomever I’m with, and whatever I’m doing. I want to stop chasing and running after things always thinking that the grass will be greener on the other side. My experience has shown that it rarely is.

    And yet I feel so anxious around her – we’re not really communicating very well and there’s a lot of misunderstandings. We don’t argue, but I can feel we’re both frustrated and distant from one another.

    She’s waiting for me to get better and come out of whatever depressed hole I’m in, but I’m afraid that the hole is deeper than she thinks.

    Where am I? What can I do? Where can I go from here?


    Hi John

    It sounds from your post that there is a lot going on in your mind just now, your feelings for your girlfriend being just one of a whole range of things. You mention an emotional time with stresses at work, and you feel the need to run away. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but is your reaction to your girlfriend at this time something that is becoming more of a focal point at a time when your mind has so much going on, rather than necessarily about her?

    It might well be that your feelings are changing and are less strong than before. But it may also be (I’ve done this myself in long term relationships when facing a crisis in my life) that you are pushing away the person who is nearest because you want to push away everything just now. You mention that she is ‘really nice’ and doing everything she can for you now. Is there some part of you that sees yourself as unworthy of this level of devotion right now, and therefore she is somehow unappealing to you?

    If you have a lot to deal with and you want to run away, can you take time out in a different sense? Get some fresh air, some sea or some countryside, take a few days on your own without it being a case of throwing the whole thing away? I’m not sure about your parent situation but running to others may help, or you may need some head space.

    it does sound from what you have said that there are issues in the relationship, but perhaps you won’t be able to sort them out without sorting other things first. You should re-read your paragraph that starts “I want to be happy now”. There are so many posts on here about happiness and its pursuit. Happiness really does come from within, you can’t rely on her to make you happy ( and reject her when you are not). Do some reading, do some mindfulness, think about what you have. and then if you still feel its the relationship that is the issue, you must talk and be honest with her. You must always be honest.

    I hope this helps in some way.


    I want to be honest, but what is the truth? My wires seem to be crossed. I don’t feel physically attracted to her, but I’m jealous of her being attracted to someone else. I feel anxious when she’s around, but miss her when she’s gone. I don’t feel worthy of her devotion and yet I can’t seem to return feelings of gratitude and love.

    Taking some time away to see the parents might be a good idea, but it feels like running away and avoiding my problems. Though, I will consider it seriously.

    All of this feels eerily familiar and a nasty pattern of thought and action that’s repeating itself. It has to stop. I can’t keep doing this to myself and others.

    The Ruminant


    I glanced through your post and was left thinking how your problem is so very familiar to me and how I should explain what my own point of view about it is. In two words that would be “emotional immaturity”. Then I came back to read your post again, and only then did I notice that you had actually stated wanting to run back home to mom and dad 🙂

    Now, please don’t take offense to my statement, as it’s not meant to be condescending. It is merely an observation I’ve made based on my own experiences. Here’s what I’ve observed in myself and in others:

    When we’re young and start to face some of the more problematic issues in life, we all start to develop ways to cope with the stress and fear that comes along with it. We create defense mechanisms that work as sort of a buffer in-between our vulnerable core and the harsh external world. We could call that “ego”. It’s perfectly natural in itself. The problem comes from holding onto these old patterns of survival tactics and never dealing with the painful issues. Something which can be overwhelmingly scary when we’re children should be something that we can cope with when we’re adults. But unless we’re willing to face those fears and deal with them as adults, they never really go away, and we never develop mature ways of dealing with things. So we’re stuck with this childish side that comes out when we’re scared or hurt or stressed out.

    Let’s say that your childish ways of dealing with things are coming out now that you have been under a lot of stress. Your girlfriend has been taking care of you and nurturing you. Is it any wonder that there’s no sexual spark in that sort of scenario? It’s tempting to just sabotage everything and seek another type of scenario where things would be easier. I have to commend you for understanding that running away isn’t going to solve things.

    What would I do in your situation, knowing what I know now? Try to identify the moments when you start to think of running away and what sort of chatter is going on in your mind. Look at that chatter as that childish person who’s trying to sabotage your life and have a calm conversation with it. Allow your adult self to take more and more responsibility of your life. I have a post-it note above my computer that says “never complain, never explain”. It may seem harsh at first, but when you think about it, it really allows one to take responsibility of oneself and live in the moment. All kinds of excuses that we make to ourselves and to others are useless. Reality is what it is and we have to deal with it accordingly. Stop the mind chatter and take control.

    Meditate. Definitely meditate, as that is a great way to cleanse the mind from old habits and allow it to grow. Mindfulness meditation has been proven to thicken the parts of the brain that are responsible for our emotional responses.

    Imagine what it would be like if you were in control of your own life and took responsibility of all your actions. What would it be like to be that kind of man with the woman who loves you?

    I would also like to point out that if these childish patterns arise in your personal life, then it’s more than likely that they also arise in your professional life. The childish ego creates a lot of drama and a lot of stress for you to cope with, which in turn activates these defenses even further. It’s a vicious cycle. If you were able to tackle that, even your professional life might become much better and you’d have better control over your own destiny.

    I know that all of this may sound peculiar, and I wish I had a better way to explain it all so that it didn’t. But I know from my personal experience and observing other people that the immature mind is rather prevalent. More prevalent in those who had to “grow up” fast when they were kids, but it’s not limited to them. You can see adults in high positions who still blame all of their problems for external circumstances and who are always looking for a new fix and a new lover to feel better. Facing fears is indeed scary and painful, but the prize for becoming mature is definitely worth it. It is a whole new level of living and loving; much deeper and more satisfying, and there is no need to run away.


    I agree with The Ruminant 100%. You do not, I repeat, DO NOT need to feel sorry for yourself. Look at my situation. I used to be exactly like you. The only difference is I didn’t have a boyfriend, but I might get one soon. I’ll explain. There’s an event happening at my local museum and basically, single people get together to mingle, dine at the nightlife. And this special event is two weeks away! Arrgh, the agony! Back to your situation now. We both clearly have one thing in common: we tend to overthink about what happens if we do certain tasks in certain situations. We don’t tend to ask ourselves what WE want, not what EVERYONE else wants. Be positive about any changes you make.

    In other words, become more optimistic, caring, and courageous in this complex and misunderstood world. Even if you need to break down and let all of your emotions out, do that. Just make sure it’s somewhere private so no one thinks you’re crazy! Again, I can relate to you. I used to be a bit of a people pleaser and I tried doing what everyone else wanted me to do. While it hasn’t been easy, I have made significant progress. I hope my words of guidanced has eased your stress a bit. I can’t promise that I’ll reply back to you right away, but when I have a chance, I will write a message to see how you’re doing.

    Big blue

    Hi John,

    After the first year or so in a relationship, the initial lust ebbs, and a new stage of more meaningful love needs to kick in. See The Art of Loving (Fromme). Your thoughts on this?

    You didn’t share the nature of your stress at work. There, and in your relationship, would it be safe to say you are not living your dream of being happy all the time with people? Do you have a successful track record of living away from your childhood home where things were easier? Such as away at college with room mates, in your own place or as a partner? These experiences are often sweet, but most likely they are also peppered with surprises, setbacks and suckiness. What are your thoughts?

    In summary, how are you with uncomfortable or distressful experiences? Are you easily upset, ok or really tolerant and persistent? Are you often stressing because things aren’t just so?

    I ask because sometimes we have high, unrealistic expectations that inevitably sour in the full light and heat of life.

    Been there done that! 🙂

    When faced with unknowns and adversity we need to stand on our beliefs and work through the less than ideal challenges.

    Doing this! 🙂

    What are your thoughts?

    Big blue

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 12 months ago by Big blue.

    Thank you for your responses. I will consider them fully.

    I would like to face my fears and I don’t want to blame anyone for anything that has happened – not my job, not my girlfriend, not my parents. I want to take full responsibility.

    My job was stressful, but I believed that if I could fake it, I could make it. Instead, my ego kicked in and my desire for recognition, status, and control created more confusion and havoc. Basically, my ego wrote a cheque it couldn’t cash.

    Ruminant was spot on, my childish ways kicked in. I avoid stress, work, conflict, and basically any unpleasant feelings or thoughts. I tend to see the world through rose colour glasses.

    What do I want really? I want to be fearless. I want to be authentic. I want to be who I want to be and not what my mind is telling me I am. I want the confidence to believe that I can do anything and overcoming any obstacle or set back. I want to be resilient and not become a child or cower under pressure or stress. I want to really care about people. I want to see their inner beauty and connect with them. I want to be honest with people and tell them what I really think and feel. I want to do good for this world. I want to be accepting of everyone and everything and believe in the goodness of others and see the best in everything and everyone. I want to be positive. I want to follow through on my commitments. I want to say “Yes” when I mean “Yes” and “No” when I mean “No”. I want to be productive and a good contributing member of society. I want to know my strengths and weaknesses and apply them accordingly. I want to feel connected with others. I want to wake up happy, energized, invigorated with a zeal and zest for life. But more than anything else, I want peace of mind.

    I don’t want to be angry, resentful, hurtful, mean, apologetic, jealous, insecure. I don’t want to be driven my ego. I don’t want to be driven by status, money, sex. I don’t want to be judgmental or critical (of myself or others). I don’t want to lie. I don’t want to manipulate. I don’t want to be a people pleaser all the time. I want to stop searching for the next big thing that will make me happy or solve my problems. I don’t want to be so self deprecating and demand pity from others.

    And yet the more effort I put in, the worse it seems to get. Forcing positivity, forcing relationships, forcing work, forcing love, forcing gratitude, forcing to care, forcing goodness, forcing generosity, it all seems to backfire with depression and anxiety.

    This needs to stop and this needs to stop now! I have to get a grip and accept what is and just be happy with what I have and who I am.

    The Ruminant

    I’ve got some further thoughts for you after reading your response.

    “Avoiding unpleasant feelings or thoughts” is one of the keys, in my opinion. Pretty much all living beings, when left on autopilot, will avoid pain and seek pleasure. A mature human being, however, has the capacity to accept and face an unpleasant situation without trying to escape it at all cost. It is terrifying and very difficult at first, but your brain will adapt and it becomes easier and easier to cope with those situations. Just allow the unpleasantness to exist and don’t try to look the other way. You’re not going to die from it, and as soon as your brain realizes this as well, there is a feeling of relief afterwards, and you’re one step closer to a mature mind.

    We aren’t born with those capabilities, but we grow and adapt. If you’ve always avoided facing pain, then that part of the growth is still in front of you. You have to do it sooner or later or continue to avoid things. I personally continued to avoid the pain and reality and came up with more and more elaborate ways to deal with things, until finally it all caught up with me and everything collapsed like a house of cards. I had no other choice than to face what I didn’t want to face. I lost the person I wanted to be with, and I guess I had to, as it was the only way for me to finally see that I couldn’t continue living the way I had lived until then.

    I don’t think there is anything shameful about the immature patterns. We all do the best that we can with what we’ve got. Nobody deliberately makes a mess of their own life and if you don’t have the right tools to deal with the mess, then things will just spiral further out of control, and there’s not much you can do about it. To be able to make a conscious choice would require the knowledge that you actually can choose. As long as a person mindlessly seeks pleasure and avoids pain in any way possible, they’re not free to choose.

    I would also like to point out that a desire to be fearless is also a bit of ego talk. We still are going to have fears and that is OK. It’s how you cope with that fear that counts. Being fearless is to be detached from reality and detached from life.

    Similarly, the “this needs to stop now” type of talk is very similar to “I’m going to change my whole life, starting now!” It is very dramatic and those types of swings to one direction will inevitable be faced with an equally strong swing to the opposite direction. Subtle is good. Humility is good. Taking small steps and making small changes is good. Drop the drama, as it feeds the ego.

    Something that has helped me personally tremendously was to realize what power words have. You know that chatter that tells you to run? It would not be able to exist if there weren’t any words. I deliberately stopped a lot of conversations going on in my head by simply refusing to create words. Now that was a huge relief and is still the way I gain access to a peaceful mind. I also removed especially the type of words that told me that I wasn’t good enough or that I was weak or a coward. The ego can turn against you really quickly when you try to fight it. I wasn’t capable of anything positive, and I don’t believe in any kind of forced positive thinking. Just removing the negative was enough. The positive will come naturally later when you’re free from the immature monster that’s wrecking havoc in your life. There is an inherent joy in living an authentic life and authenticity will happen naturally when you stop the middleman that is trying to twist everything to suit a situation. Being quiet can be a great way to move towards authenticity, as words are needed to manipulate the reality.

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 12 months ago by The Ruminant.

    Thanks so much Ruminant. Very insightful.

    I agree that wanting to be fearless is more ego talking. I’ll try to recognize it as such more often.

    Words are very important to me and so I often take the words I hear in my head as gospel. I will try not to be so extremist in my thinking and will try to find a middle path and the stepping stones that will lead me out of this muck and mire.

    Any advice on how to stop the questions that pop into your head? “Am I? Aren’t I? Do I? Dont’I? Should I? Shouldn’t I?”

    It’s the incessant conversation with myself that takes up so much of my energy and takes away my focus and concentration leaving my brain feeling like a vegetable and no enough room for anything else, like new knowledge, learning, growth, and quiet.

    The Ruminant

    If words are important to you, as they’ve always been to me, then it’s even more effective to take away those words for a while. Refusing to participate in a conversation and constantly interrupting it. When words start to appear, instead of grabbing onto them, actively let go. Refuse to hold them in your mind. It is kind of like a passive resistance.

    It is possible to exist without having a constant narrative about what is happening, what has happened and what will happen. It is possible to just be. Even for a short while, and when you get the hang of it, it will be your refuge when things start to get too much for you to handle. Painful situations rarely last long. It is the mind that holds onto them and replays them over and over and over again, prolonging the pain or making it worse. Sure, your mind can also visualize things, and people do have flashbacks. But in order to analyze what you see and hear, you’ll need words and it’s the analysis part where things can start to go wrong and become twisted.

    So how to stop the questions from appearing? You can’t prevent them from appearing, but you can refuse to continue the discussion or the thought process. If you’ve ever been interrupted a lot of times in a row, you’ll know that even forming a sentence will become really difficult. Same thing in this case. When you refuse to participate in the chatter, it will eventually die down and becomes more sporadic.

    Take time to pay more attention to the sensations in your body. What you hear, see, feel, taste…without the narrative. Essentially, mindfulness meditation. You’ll notice how the constant narrative is not needed and that there is this other part of you as well: your body. The ego would like to think that it’s everything that you are and if it’s threatened, it’s like you’d die. But you’re not going to die, even if the ego would die, or shatter, or get bruised. The ego is there for a reason, but it needs to be in balance with everything else and it can’t be activated all the time, as if you were constantly under threat. You’re not, and being mindful about your surroundings helps to calm down and realize this.

    I can’t really explain it much better, not least because English isn’t my first language 🙂 It’s also such an abstract subject. This is just how I got help for myself: by taking control over the words, I got control over my mind and subsequently my life.



    A regular metta practice helps with racing mind. All those questions, vibrations, emotions and whatnot don’t need to be dealt with, stomped out. Open the space, and they simply vanish little by little over time. The “I” stuff that keeps pulling you down is connected to the stress, and not “something you have to figure out” for peace of mind. Remember its not throwing new ideas into a pool that stops the surface from rippling. The basic loop is “bodily stress->cyclical thinking about self->stressed about thinking->arrow after arrow->bodily stress”. Always so harsh, always so contentious. Where is your tenderness for John? Where is your acceptance for John? Too scared that the cycles are never ending? Trying to jump off a burning boat that follows you around?

    Try “hmmm, maybe it isn’t beneficial to stew in my own suffering, and if I put my butt on a cushion and do what needs doing, the clouds will clear, and I can begin to blossom the life I wish to live, the characteristics I find noble.”

    From another direction, consider telling a doctor “it hurts when I walk”, she says “yep, sprained, stay off it and it will heal”, and what happens next? The imperious rooster on your shoulder says “run, weakling”, so off you go running. Next week, you goto the doctor…

    With warmth,


    Thanks TinyZebra – I am sorry that you are still suffering.

    Thanks Big Blue.

    Thanks The Ruminant – Wonderful insights. Love it. Learnt few things myself.

    Hey John

    I couldn’t help myself but read your previous posts to try and understand your thought process. Matt @amatt (thanks !) has helped you previously so I hope you will take his advice to embrace mindfulness and meditation again.

    You seem to have a huge conflict going on in your head as to what is right or wrong for you and for everyone else in the World. Does this make sense ? You want one thing but you are not able to achieve what you want consistently. Is it your arrogance or ignorance – Only god or you know :). Are we dealing with Baby John or Adult John – you need to figure this out as both need their rightful place in your body and mind.

    Hey, first things first – I think time has come to PAUSE and let everything in your life go, which is not adding to calm or a state of peace. Let go of your girlfriend (sad but best for both of you – even if you mend this relationship in the near future, you would have evolved too quickly for its own good); let go of some parts of the job, which are not fulfilling you; let go of friends who are not helping you evolve; let go of food habits, which are not sustaining your existence etc.

    Then REASSESS your needs and what does John need to feel part of this Universe ? Hey, you can only change yourself and no one else. However, once we change, the world around us changes automatically to reflect what is going on inside us. If there is chaos in the world outside then it is stemming right from within John’s heart.

    FEED your mind, body and soul starting soonish. Good nutrition for the body; exercise for the mind; and meditation for the soul. Give yourself few weeks and I am pretty confident it will help with bringing more calm in life. Continue to see your therapist.

    If you were the first person on this earth, what would John be like ? Perhaps, that’s what John needs to be and work towards…….
    and to where you want to be, I reckon it will take many good months to years but the issue is not time. What is of relevance here is that you are being kind to yourself. When you are able to be kind to John, John will be able to be kind to everyone else outside – this is a beautiful consequence of self-love 🙂 What we don’t have, we are not able to give it out to the world, yeah ?

    Fill up your mind, body and soul’s tank and you will be able to put on your rose coloured glasses again. Until then, some decent effort needs to go into getting rid of the internal garbage and embracing reality.

    Loads of positivity coming your way,



    Thank you everyone for your positive and kind words.

    Back to the cushion I go. 🙂

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