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  • #179623

    X
    Participant

    Matt,

    Glad you are back for our “back and forth.” Just saw your post and have a few short ideas to throw in before I forget. (But this should not distract you from all the rest and all that you wanted to write.)

    “…how fast the kids are growing up. Have to enjoy it while I have it.”

    Reminds me of one more parable, this time from Paolo Coelho’s Alchemist. The secret of happiness is to be able to enjoy life, to observe the world with wonder, but at the same time not to forget about the oil in the spoon one is carrying – and not to spill it out! Something like this, not an exact quote.

    Oh, I see what you meant by “upgrading the character.” Yes, I wholeheartedly agree! “Tell me who your friend is” is as true as ever – it is number one. And number two is that I do indeed believe that somehow (have no idea how it works speaking of the physics of the process – maybe the scent picked up unconsciously in addition to the appearance and body language ’cause we do choose those who look alike to interact with if everybody around is a stranger) we do attract those who are on the same level of consciousness as we are (or want to be or seem to be from afar as I learnt on the example of my ex). So yes, if a person is – for some reason – developing spiritually, s/he is not going to find his or her old circle of acquaintances satisfactory for a long time.

    One more sentence to add to that space image in answer to your original question. “Reboosts” are possible and necessary, but that initial immense power of “lifting off acceleration” is to be experienced only once (or twice in rare circumstances – after a prolonged separation) is what is meant, I think.

    Had one more thought about flower vs bridge. You know, after all my reading about narcissists (and how a child grows up to become one), I think I started seeing signs that my ex was devoid of empathy. I guess this feature fits into the vague feeling that I had that he was doing things that he believed a man in love who is a romantic should be doing (and he IS in love – no doubt about that (his thinking), so he is doing all that without really feeling it all). If I develop it further building on your words about the bridge, it can be compared to doing maintenance so that the car is running (i.e. the relationship or, rather, the comfort he was getting from that relationship at the time). But the bridge or the car is not a live thing (I hope I don’t hurt your feelings if you are an bridge builder or a fan of motor vehicles), has no soul (well, some would argue against that, but still…) whereas a flower is fragile and vulnerable and alive.

    But here again, I don’t know. I mean normally, people say that as the distance and time separating us from the event grows, we start to see it more clearly. On the other hand, some can become nostalgic (this is especially common with older people who would insist that “back then” everything was better, purer, more honest, cheaper, healthier, etc., etc., etc.) OR, if the event did not end well (would be my case), they start to demonise it. I do all my best to be as objective as I possibly can, but here again I can’t help but wish for a psychology-trained professional (whom I would trust!!!) to tell me exactly what it is or was all about.

    Over to you now and sorry for the interruption – had to add it.

    X

    #288973

    X
    Participant

    Hi, Michelle,

    I would say I am pretty good about focusing my mind in everyday life unless I have been deeply disturbed by something.

    If I can’t calm down on my own and thoughts just keep going on and on in my mind and I keep rehashing the same story, I do put it down.

    I think the sheer act of pouring it out helps.

    Sometimes though that rehashing combined with pouring it out makes the whole story lose its grip on me and I am able to condense it to a couple of sentences.

    Later on I might even forget what it was that made me so frustrated, I forget the details and only remember that I don’t want to go back / deal with that person again, etc.

    So about those old posts. First, it is indeed an old story now and I don’t want my ex back (though may still be angry that he didn’t treat me the way he said he would both during the breakup and now – I would say that now he is passive-aggressive as if I was the one who dumped me (but we seldom meet now and might not even meet again)).

    Second, obviously, something is wrong with me (or is it?) and all those thoughts and feelings about men in my life are still applicable to me today.

    Third, as they say the devil is in the details and psychologists and therapists often ask their clients not to leave anything out at all. So I simply don’t know – can it be that that particular thingest gives somebody the clue???

    So in short, I suppose I am referring to all those posts so that I don’t have to write the same thing twice as all of this kind of extends into the present moment and I really don’t know whether anything can be omitted or not.

    Please believe me that I do know how hard it is to read through all this. I am now even feeling bad because, while believing that that info may be of use, I personally don’t want to reread those posts also because they bring about too many painful memories that I consider now processed and buried.

    I just don’t know – maybe we could try and start off with my response to your comments and then you will be able to tell whether you need to go further down my memory lane and experiences contained in those old posts?

    #288975

    X
    Participant

    So… in short…

    I meet a man and either I like the way he looks or I don’t.

    I may like the way he looks, but if after two or three meetings I don’t feel “it” > no use. Nothing else matters (looks that I may have liked earlier, how he treats me, who he is, etc.)

    I don’t like the way he looks, don’t feel “it” > no use.

    I guess under “it” I mean the easy test: can I imagine being intimate with him or not. Now why I can imagine being intimate with the very few, but not with others – that I don’t know.

    Ultimately, am I not supposed to be looking for that special someone? If a few are equally special (each in his own way) or equally meh, then I don’t think it is fair to continue to give them hope.

    In long…

    Michelle, it is not that I consciously reject those whose looks (let’s put it this way even though I’d say it is closer to charisma – that is why when I try to find a pattern in my previous attachments, I fail to do so – physically they were all very different, in age and in appearance though I do tend to be attracted to older men; and yes, I know that charisma often goes hand in hand with narcissism and emotional unavailability etc., etc.) I don’t like. It is as if I were the perfect example of what psychologists say – that our subconsciousness decides whether we like a person or not (or whether he is of interest as a partner to be more specific in my case) in the first 1-3 seconds of the face-to-face. And that people tend to choose partners who mirror them in appearance – pretty tends to choose pretty, a skinny person will hardly be pulled towards an obese man, things like that (of course, there are exceptions). At the same time, I can name a couple of instances when I didn’t like the man at first (actually, it was like that with my ex), but after half a day together my opinion changed. Still, if I don’t like somebody after, say, two or three meetings, no use trying more.

    More than that, when I followed my mother’s advice and tried to “give them a chance”, my aversion grew and more than that (and it is not that I was imagining or was biased towards them), these men behaved in such a way that proved that I would be settling – such as not valuing my time, not calling when they say they would, going MIA for a long time and then resurfacing (or not), etc. I trust my gut feeling now and do my best not to waste my time. After all, am I not supposed to do just that – trust myself more?…

    And when I say “like”, first, it means that I am not interested in the man – that I don’t want to know about him, have no questions to ask, don’t want to get to know him better and, if he is attracted to me and tries to get closer to me, I immediately find a million things I could do to spend my time better.

    By the way, the same happens with some men to whom I am attracted at first (I guess that primal physical attraction – like we would look good together in a picture), but after a few conversations, if I don’t feel the charisma or spark or whatever it is that something else, they immediately stop being of interest to me. (Funny enough, hardly anybody from this category really sees anything in me, so I have no qualms.)

    And when I tried to analyse what it was in particular, I realised that because they lacked that something, I couldn’t imagine being physically close to them, would be sick even at the thought of holding hands together.

    At the same time, there are men with whom I am good friends, I enjoy talking to them, etc., but there is no physical aversion, just pure neutrality on my part. And even though I obviously respect and value them and enjoy spending time with them, I couldn’t fall in love with them no matter how hard I tried.

    The “selection process” that I described is hardly a conscious thing on my part. I tried to find a pattern and answer whys as to what I feel towards different men and this is what I came up with.

    To sum it up, with me everything ultimately boils down to that special something that is either revealed in the first 2-3 meetings with a man (of whatever appearance and background) and so I find him appealing or not. It seems that I cannot bypass that “special something” and I cannot really pinpoint what it is – it is either there or not. And I can feel that “something” both when the man has no clue that I liked him and (like it was with my ex) when the man himself starts pursuing me and I realise that something might be there.

    Well, with my ex it was a very active pursuing on his part. What has caused me various degrees of heartache and longing was when men start pursuing and then go MIA or when there are seemingly signs of their interest (of which they may not be aware – think male-female nature or they may not mean much to them at the end of the day), and the romantic me starts seeing something in them and naturally my imagination runs wild.

    I am afraid that this elusive “something” my stumbling block.

    Just like this crush that I am developing now – in fact, for the first time since something undeterminate over a year ago. Good case in point, by the way, as it is happening here and now, and I am both the agent and the observer. And how ironically – just a few days before the day I am about to describe I thought that nearly a year had gone by with me meeting new people (and going on a few first dates with a few people – every single one of which being the first and the last), but not really liking anybody at all… And all of a sudden… But I am fairly sure it will remain a platonic sigh on my part and nothing will come out of it. But hey – who knows, right? See how it goes… Yes, in circles…

    So…

    We had met before, and I remember making a mental note to myself that he was a pleasure to talk to and to look at.

    Now several (five or so) years later, I happen to interact with him directly for over an hour. I am now single, completely unattached as that major crush of mine that helped me to get over my breakup has been uneventfully simmering for three years and going nowhere. And it just so happens that he gazes into my eyes for a long time – Michelle, there was enough time for me to blink three times, to muse in amazement why he was looking into my eyes for so long, that all the people around (of course, he is a prominent figure in our hierarchy) were politely waiting for him to start the meeting and that I had better break this eye contact myself since I didn’t know how much longer he might be continuing like that.

    And that how it starts. Then I remember how our paths crossed in the corridor a couple of months ago and he nodded to me, how just two days prior he said hi to me from across a huge empty parking lot, how he veered off the main idea of his upcoming speech exactly after he had seen me (did he also feel something and was confused, overcome with emotion maybe???), how several days later we come across each other again and this time I say hi, and his eyes are so caring, warm and loving for longer than needed to acknowledge another person’s presence (Or so it seemed – ???) By comparison, during that first staring into each others’ eyes, his eyes showed nothing, but I was sitting right next to him and can vouch that he was looking into my eyes and was not somewhere in his thoughts so that his glance merely happened to rest on me.

    Next I do research. Indeed, no more wedding ring. Looks unhappy, so divorce in order or just over and unlikely on his initiative. Takes random days off – most unusual. No good candidate for the romance if it is so fresh. But my oh my, how cute he is and how good we would look together – so yes, I am interested!

    Again, if he does nothing, this feeling of mine will subside in a couple of months (I am already thinking about him all too often). If he makes a few steps like inviting me out and then stops, it will take me much longer to get over. If no new man comes into my life, it may take me up to a year to forget my imaginings of what could have been and how it could have been developing with him. I could write novels!

    But at the very beginning – that many years ago – there was that something that made me make a mental note that I “could” with him and this time around it started totally uncontrollably on my part – I suddenly realised in a meeting before the one above that I wanted to hug him from behind as he was sitting at the head of the table.

    I am not sure that initial spark or interest is something that can be started consciously. I can explain post factum why it started, why he is worthy of me (or me of him, but I can’t say why it started with him and not with another one whom I <u>know</u> to be no less worthy.

    But without it, the man is indifferent to me and I can’t imagine being physical with him.

    I am sure that I have had similar encounters and glances and talks with other men, but I forgot all about it, because I didn’t become interested.

    A good marker, too, is whether I start living in my head with the man. If, according to me, we are a match, I start thinking how wonderful it would be to travel together, we could go for a walk there, I’d love to watch TV cuddling with him etc. and if I don’t like him, I think the opposite – I still have places X, Y, and Z to visit and I want to do it alone for it has been on my list for too long and I need it for my personal development, once I am done, maybe I’ll consider going on more dates; I want my cup of tea at my place alone; I want my book and my computer; and what on Earth am I doing here with him feigning interest where there is none?!? …

    So why and what to do about it is a very big question indeed.

    #289081

    Michelle
    Participant

    Hey X.

    First – thanks for the short and long versions. Glad you understood how it will help us.

    So, as said upfront, I’m not a therapist or any kind of professional but I can offer a different perspective and where I can draw on my own experience, will do so – though obviously this doesn’t mean it will be right for you, just some data/different way of seeing reality. And as ever, if some questions are too personal for this forum and you don’t want to share, just say so.

    Q1.  Do you have any close friends ( male or female ).  You know, the kind you can share anything with even if you haven’t seen them for ages, have proper conversations with, they understand you.  As in, do you expect a romantic relationship to meet all your emotional needs?

    Reason I ask – your language about what you are looking for from a romantic relationship doesn’t match up to the pre-selection criteria you are currently using.  So, it’s like going out to a restaurant, assessing the menu, discarding 95% of the options available because they aren’t yellow ( or some other selection criteria ), receiving your banana custard pudding and then finding out it doesn’t fill you up as actually what you needed was lasagne ( or something, you get the idea.. ).

    A daft example but I think you’ll get it.  All your language ( hugs, crush, cuddling etc ) about what you want from a romantic relationship is not at all sexual in nature but pretty much all your pre-selection criteria are very chemistry/physically-based.  So it is not too surprising that your approach so far hasn’t resulted in finding what you actually want/need.  If you had to pick your top five things you wanted your long-term partner to be, what would they be in priority order?

    Q2.  What goals do you have for life outside finding a romantic relationship?

    Reason for this one, how much of a balanced, full life do you have outside of looking for a partner. You do clearly get very over-invested, over-attached very quickly, needing very little to go on to conjure up a whole imagined exciting potential world. Take your current experience, a lot of very small occurrences, all could be as easily explained away as they can be built up into something exciting in your head. I’m not surprised given it will feel exciting after not feeling any interest for a while which is why I’m curious about what else excites you, grabs you attention and makes you feel alive outside a romantic relationship possibility.

    Q3.  Relationship with parents. Aware you/Anita started on this one and this isn’t my area so I’ll only ask what I can understand and this is something you might want want to pick up with one of those free online therapy/counselling websites you can find.  Given you were attention-starved in your family life, it is not impossible this is why you tend to look to older men for hugs, attention, recognition that you exist/are important/valued and why one of your criteria is the family portrait assessment.  What is the relationship with your mum & dad like now. Do you feel you are independent of them, is there much contact?

    And last one for now Q4 – a slightly personal question, to be ignored if uncomfortable sharing here. Would you say you are comfortable/confident with sex, enjoy it, know how to ask for what you like etc?  From reading through it seems you have limited physical experience, which might go some way to explaining why your pre-selection criteria are highly focused on this area of attraction, since it is the area you know least about so far and hence why it excites you so much more than other criteria.  How were your teenage years, first kiss/fumble etc, did you date much back then at all, even if you don’t count them among your experiences here?

    Take care, look forwards to hearing what you think. Long & short version…!

    #289163

    X
    Participant

    Hey, Michelle,

    Thank you so much for reading and responding.

    I am very well aware that you are not a therapist or any kind of professional, I am just looking for other insights.

    I don’t know if you got to the portion about my very candid discussions with a doctor guy from my country here who helped me a lot to see the light at the end of the tunnel in 2015 – well, as I wrote to Matt on that thread his first “go – no go” for a romance was based on how attractive he found the female based on looks (the “family portrait” assessment as you aptly put it). Which, I might add, is not surprising. I read in some interview a male therapist say that a man will never marry a woman who is physically undesirable for him, yet women make this mistake all the time. Hence a lot of marital problems because the guy is a good, decent guy by nature, but the pull, the physical attraction on the part of the woman is missing. Hence possible cheating and guilt complex – something along the lines of he is a good guy, totally worthy of love, yet I don’t love him… And like I wrote about my ex, when I look back, I can tell exactly what I was seeing in those men back then, only now I have changed and me today doesn’t see it now.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that that doctor totally understood where I was coming from. Yet, when we had a friendly chat about my life half a year ago, he was surprised that I hadn’t found somebody already, after three and half years at that point. Well, I might add that he urged me to forget all about my ex when I was barely out of a relationship, and I am only too aware of rebound relationships, so that was a little bit premature on his part, I say, so certainly I am not taking everything that he said for granted, but still… Besides, after he was cheated upon, he married a girl who is 18 years younger…  Someone in my camp? 🙂 I am definitely not alone!

    Now to your questions.

    Michelle, you grouped them in four groups, but each of them contains a few questions in its turn. So I had to break my answers. I was not sure I could do a short and long version. I don’t think my answers are particularly long. Please let me know if this format worked. I think now that time has passed and I dumped everything out back then, I don’t have the urge to write A LOT. Sorry if I am being presumptuous.

    Q1.  Do you have any close friends ( male or female ).

    Yes.

    For a long time, I had three close girlfriends, but the funny thing is that I would be sharing different things with them. Like, with one I could talk about my ambitions and travels, but with another it would be mostly about feelings.

    Now I’d say I have two, one is one of those three (have been friends since 1997) and another one is a “newcomer” (even though we have been friends for over 15 years now).

    Somehow I started to be more open about my love life with that old friend of mine, even though I don’t always feel the need to tell her everything.

    Frankly, I never thought that we would be friends for such a long time – we are so different, but here we are still, 20+ years after high school. And funny enough, just like you say, when we meet or Skype, no matter how long it has been since our last conversation, it always feels as if we parted only yesterday still on the same wave length.

    With the restaurant analogy, do you mean that I am looking for the chemistry (of whatever kind – no matter will other women fall for what I am falling for or not) and then being surprised that the man is not loving, supportive, etc.?

    If you had to pick your top five things you wanted your long-term partner to be, what would they be in priority order?

    Being able to trust him 100%. Like if I, God forbid, become disabled, he is by my side of his own will and not because he “must”. I know that my Dad is like that, but very few men are.

    Being able to laugh at life’s mishaps, at oneself and not be deterred by it.

    Be of comparable or of a higher level of education (or knowledge since one doesn’t have to have all sorts of degrees to be an interesting interlocutor).

    I would say that 2. and 3. need to go hand in hand.

    And being willing to see things from my perspective, put himself in my shoes is part of 1.

    That is it.

    Interesting question, by the way. You know, I have always been against checklists trusting that “gut feeling” – can I cuddle with him or not, does he feel like a “kindred spirit” or not. True, it hasn’t brought me very far yet, but if I don’t feel “it”, I can’t feign it or make myself feel it – oh well, here I go again. And I have a couple of male friends or very good acquaintances around who would fit those criteria and yet I don’t feel that I could see them as my boyfriends or husbands. Just reliable friends whose company I enjoy.

    Q2.  What goals do you have for life outside finding a romantic relationship? Reason for this one, how much of a balanced, full life do you have outside of looking for a partner.

    Again, and interesting question for the me who I am today.

    I have a list of things or skills I would like to master in whatever time I have left. I still want to learn a couple of languages, learn to play the guitar, dance(with a partner) and many other things. And I am not looking to be perfect in all of them (with the exception of the languages, maybe). It seems that I bring all those skills I want to have to a certain level and when my inner something says “Good enough!”, I stop.

    Now the interesting part.

    When I looked deep into myself several years ago, it did seem that I was looking for a father figure. (Despite the fact that I have had rather serious crushes over men barely 5 or 7 years older.)

    Then I came across the following advice: try and imagine what your crush would be adding to your life and try and get it myself.

    I typically persevere if I set myself a goal. I am also good at imagining what I would feel like under these or those circumstances, in this or that environment.

    Just like with that guy whom I am finally getting over (hey, I don’t feel the urge to check his Twitter account every day now!), I very quickly summarised that I wanted to travel with him and wanted to be heard and accepted just like I was.

    Travelling was easy. Now that I come to think about it, I am really blessed to be a female living in the 21st century. I am not attracted by exotics, I am totally fine with Europe and the Americas, have a list of places that I am slowly but surely visiting. But I am digressing.

    Regarding being heard and accepted, maybe the fact that I was not longer in a relationship with a married man, maybe the fact that I now cared less than ever, but I guess I became more open, having nothing to hide. And now I physically feel support and goodness coming from different people to me. You know, just like somebody said that love comes in all shapes and forms – a smile from a friendly-looking person in a store on a gloomy day is also love. Or developing friendships with ladies of my mother’s age whom I truly admire and can learn a lot from.

    In short, I trust the world much more now (so don’t need my now ex to protect me and shield me) and stand much more firmly on my two feet.

    Career advance and change in my immigration status definitely are part of it, too.

    But I would sure love to travel, do horseback riding, go sailing, shooting, attend matches and learning the rules of the different games, try new cuisines, finally learn to cook with somebody very special.

    You do clearly get very over-invested, over-attached very quickly, needing very little to go on to conjure up a whole imagined exciting potential world. Take your current experience, a lot of very small occurrences, all could be as easily explained away as they can be built up into something exciting in your head. I’m not surprised given it will feel exciting after not feeling any interest for a while which is why I’m curious about what else excites you, grabs you attention and makes you feel alive outside a romantic relationship possibility.

    Yes, this can be easily explained by that.

    But at the same time, I sometimes feel that magnetic animal pull towards men whom I physically don’t like. I even know that they are definitely not a good match because of their qualities, yet I feel the pull. Naturally, I find it very easy to resist because there is nothing more to it, but the raw sexual attraction that doesn’t stand to reason at all.

    However, just like with those men who pass the “family portrait” assessment, I always tell myself, “Let’s see what I will be feeling when I see him in two days.” More often that not, I feel nothing, that is how I know that it what just it – animal instinct to procreate, but not something to follow through on.

    Q3.  Relationship with parents.

    Aware you/Anita started on this one and this isn’t my area so I’ll only ask what I can understand and this is something you might want want to pick up with one of those free online therapy/counselling websites you can find.  Given you were attention-starved in your family life, it is not impossible this is why you tend to look to older men for hugs, attention, recognition that you exist/are important/valued and why one of your criteria is the family portrait assessment. 

    Part of what I would say here can be found in my answers above. I’ll only repeat myself that I can always find a few exceptions to any generically-sounding statement that would fit perfectly if it was not for those instances-exceptions.

    What is the relationship with your mum & dad like now. Do you feel you are independent of them, is there much contact?

    Yes, I feel that I am independent.

    But there is that small tinge of wanting to break the news to her that I have found my ideal man. And he would be so and so, so that she can gasp. And so that I can say – “See, no matter how often you would exclaim in mock despair, “And who is going to marry you like this?”, I still found him, you would want him for yourself and he adores me.” And I wouldn’t tell her until I am married and it is final. But wait, don’t divorces happen, too?…

    (Something akin to my wishing for my ex to divorce, so I can tell him that it is he who is inadequate, who falls out of love no matter how gorgeous the woman is and so that I am vindicated and can feel right about my diagnosis that he is a narc.)

    I think my mother now wants to pursue the strategy of being my friend – possibly so that I would share things with her that one normally shares with one’s girlfriends.

    But I am very wary of it. On the one hand, I am not used to sharing such personal things with her; on the other, in the past (especially when I was with my ex, whom she obviously hated), she would sneakily ask something in a matter-of-fact manner and then, later on, use the same information in a snide remark against me.

    So I share things so that she is satisfied, but doesn’t know what I truly have inside. Like I would share how a few dates went, but those would be dates with those I don’t care about. I am not going to share about anything that might not turn out the way I want it to.

    But there is regular contact. I always feel as if my mother wants me to be on a short leash. I do my best to make her get used to, say, me dropping an email only once a week. She, of course, would rather get emails from me every single day. She says that she, as a mother, naturally needs to know that I am alive and well every day (besides, I don’t have a partner who would know that something is wrong if he doesn’t hear from me every day). But I just can’t stand it. Though I do understand it. I am not a mother.

    With my Dad, it is now much more caring on my side, maybe due to the fact that he will be 75 in two years. I now appreciate more than ever that he exerts a steadying influence on my mother, that he lets me make my own mistakes, doesn’t ask questions and if he has something to say, he clearly states that that is his personal opinion.

    With my mother, as she gets older, she now believes that she has lived long enough to know literally everything. Something like, “I have lived for about 60 years now, believe me I KNOW. If I say so, it is so.” No humility whatsoever.

    And last one for now Q4 – a slightly personal question, to be ignored if uncomfortable sharing here. Would you say you are comfortable/confident with sex, enjoy it, know how to ask for what you like etc? 

    Yes, I believe so. Mostly, my sexual experience was with my ex of six years (I am not sure I should count petting with my #1 and 2 as I call them). It was amazing. And it is one more reason for me believing him to be a covert narcissist. They say that it is ever so hard to break away from narcs because sex with them is so wonderful, they surely know how to please a partner in bed.

    “Fifty Shades” was not yet published, but we already were doing it in bed, on the floor, on the kitchen counter, in a car – you name it.

    I suggested lots of things, too. Such as taking shower and bath together. He said he felt uncomfortable as he had never done it before, but went for it and we did it multiple times.

    From reading through it seems you have limited physical experience, which might go some way to explaining why your pre-selection criteria are highly focused on this area of attraction, since it is the area you know least about so far and hence why it excites you so much more than other criteria.  How were your teenage years, first kiss/fumble etc, did you date much back then at all, even if you don’t count them among your experiences here? Take care, look forwards to hearing what you think. Long & short version…!

    I didn’t date at all until I had that tremendous crush on my #1 when I was 23 and already a graduate student.

    I had had a few crushes before that, mostly on male middle-aged teachers, but one of them was on my dancing teacher (I was 19, he was 25) and on an Arab man in his mid-20s when in Egypt (I was 18). Actually, the Arab was the one who was the first man ever to ask me out on a date. I was on vacation with my father and my father let me go (I knew how worried he was, so I respect him ever more so for that). We spent a few beautiful hours on the beach, but I didn’t want to kiss him because I knew that it was not going anywhere even though it was a very nice date. I am normally not the one who takes chances. It is as if I consisted of two levels – emotional and intelligent. If the intelligent doesn’t give a green light, it is relatively easy to quell the emotional portion. A couple of weeks of daydreaming and that is it. But if the intelligent gives a go…

    One of the four most recent crushes, just before the guy who seriously led me on, was only 7 years older. I couldn’t shake him off for nearly three months. The guy “who led me on” helped a lot, but then I couldn’t get over him for at least two years, you could say three in turn – if you don’t count really minor crushes passing in a couple of weeks in year 3.

    If I had to choose among those five love languages (even though all are important if one is watching carefully, aren’t they?), I would say that mine is quality time combined with physical touch. I don’t let acts of service go unnoticed, do value gifts; words are cheap but women fall in love with their ears.

    Also, in life in general, what I naturally pay special attention to is the ambiance, how I feel in that particular environment, by what I am “enveloped” so to speak. My litmus test is how I would feel in somebody’s arms, head on his shoulder. If I can imagine that, if my body accepts his – then I can fall in love. More often than not, I shudder at the thought though.

    Please let me know if the way I am answering is all right. I am really thinking as I type, and it would really mean an extra effort to condense the answers further. At the same time, I have that nice feeling that I have nothing to add besides what I have written – pure bliss! 🙂

    Take care you too and thanks again!

    #289165

    X
    Participant

    Michelle, I have a couple of questions myself. No rush, I have had these questions for quite some time now, they can sure wait.

    1. If like attracts like (even though it is so easy to look for commonalities and find them just for the sake of proofing this statement), why would a healthy person be attracted to an anxious one and/or vice versa? I can identify perfectly good trustworthy men (although how can I know for sure?), but a) they are not attracted to me, don’t see me more than a friend b) they lack that “something” or, rather, if I can see all of these “good men” equally good for me (if they were attracted), they just aren’t the ones for me because when one is in love, the “one” is head and shoulders above all the others, is he not?

    2. Do you believe that if I had been differently wired, I wouldn’t grow up like that? You see, under the circumstances, I do think that my parents gave me as much as they possibly could (let’s omit that my mother encouraged me to learn to read at 4, so that I wouldn’t bug her with requests to read fairy-tales to me, which made her fall asleep) and certainly more than a lot of other parents.

    When I talked about how I perceived a few instances in my childhood, my mother would ask, “But don’t you remember how we defended you there in front of your classmate’s parent? And how supported there and your father went to talk to your friend’s father? And how encouraged you to go ahead over there and try this and that?”

    I also spent a fairly long amount of time during each given year with my grandmother and she is the best grandmother one can possibly think of. When I think of an example of enduring never-ending patience and protection, I think of her.

    Or is it that no matter how well the parents may have done objectively, what really matters is how the child subjectively feels or perceives his or her childhood to have been?

    I have a very good friend who has a twin brother. They are in their late 60s (yes, I have cultivated some surprising friendships among others), they (obviously) were brought up under exactly the same conditions (being twins born at the same time). Yet, his brother has been happily married with kids whereas my friend was so devastated by a breakup some thirty years ago that never married and lives alone.

    This and also stories from parents who point out how different their kids are even though they have been brought up under the same conditions makes me think that it is so one-sided… Maybe genes, maybe other people, maybe something else definitely are a factor, not only the influence of the primary care givers?

    #289399

    Michelle
    Participant

    Hey X,

    Was out yesterday celebrating our 19th anniversary, so a little delayed getting back here. Here goes….

    Q1.  Yes, that’s exactly what I meant by the restaurant analogy. If you are picking men based on one set of criteria, then it is not too surprising when they don’t magically match the real criteria you want them to have.  It is much easier/normal for people to value the short-term ( physical looks, instant attraction, chemistry… ) than to think about the longer-term.  It’s why it’s called a gut reaction and it’s not a bad thing – but it’s just one piece of information. Since you know you have a history of choices that haven’t made you happy then it’s worth spending some time thinking through and embedding what you really want, hence the ask on the top 5.  Now I’m not suggesting you mentally run everyone through a checklist since agreed, it doesn’t work that way, you don’t know enough about anyone until you start finding out the reality, finding out more.  So through conversations, through dates, slowly gaining more knowledge, experience – not through assessing them further in your head, in your imagination.

    Do I mean you should start dating people you aren’t attracted to – no. I don’t think you can fake attraction and you shouldn’t have to. But I do think you could try to keep an open mind for longer before dumping people into the friend zone. Some people become more attractive the more you get to know them, as they open up to you. Given your current method isn’t working, trying a different approach is the only way the outcome can change ( a la Einstein’s famous quote re insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results ).

    Q2.  It’s a good list of goals – how many of them are you actively pursuing, i.e. all I’m really asking is do you have a balanced life or do you have a lot of spare time to spend dreaming and imagining up your perfect man  and how life will be great only if/when you have met the right man.  Most people I know end up meeting their partner when they weren’t looking for him, when their lives were full in a good way and they were happy.

    Q3.  It’s good you have considered the father figure aspect. I believe it has less to do with age than looking for people who can take care of you, make sure you feel safe, protect you from the world when needed and who will provide direction/guidance and generally mean you don’t need to take such responsibility for your own life. So people who are either in positions of power, authority or have those kind of qualities attract you when looking to replace the father figure, not the age thing.  Do you tend to feel the chemistry, this family portrait thing with men who resemble your father?  Especially given your childhood and lack of attention/love, it would not be surprising to still be looking to fill that hole with a relationship plug.

    Your mother sounds difficult and you sound like you are still carrying expectations of hers. I’m glad you have managed to cut contact to once/week – daily is ridiculous. Well done. I know from experience it is hard to work through determining your own values and not still living to those given you by your parents. Take the marriage example – understand completely on that one. My partner and I are not married and when I was still insecure it used to worry me – and it took me a while to work out that I was only worried as it did not meet my parent’s expectations, hopes whereas the big wedding, the 2.4 kids was just not actually me, not something I wanted.  This comes back to goals again and determining your own values/aims – learning to stop having your mother in your head judging you for not being married yet and therefore ‘not good enough’ , ‘not pretty/ladylike enough’. All untrue but hard to recognise when still judging yourself with your mother’s voice and so damaging to your self-esteem.

    Q4. Ha – excellent, probably way too much detail for here but hey, yep, seems you’ve ticked that box well and good.  It’s just odd that the first thing that comes to your mind when attracted to someone is to hug them. Back to the theory that you are really looking for affection, love but are assessing people instantly on sexual chemistry instead.

    Now to your questions!

    1.  So first, not convinced I agree that like attracts like, often seems it’s that opposites attract. And if you look at most of the stats people throw around, there are apparently nowhere near enough secure-style attachment people in the world to match the number of relationships in the world! So given that, what’s important these days in determining if a relationship is going to be good for the long-haul is all about being able to help each other grow, not expecting perfection all the time, not buying into the Disney view of romance.   Most people are just not that self-aware or used to questioning their feelings, reactions as to what’s best for the long-term instead of short-term instant gratification. Mark M does a good piece on this ( ‘F… your feelings’, on his blog ).

    1a. Do you believe you are worthy of a good man?  Per above – are you still expecting it all to happen magically or are you willing to deal with the reality of the world, the reality of others.  No-one is perfect and I don’t believe there is only ‘the one’, indeed my own life story so far tells me otherwise. This is why it’s worth being curious enough to learn more about people before discarding them. Is my other-half perfect, ofcourse not in the same way I am not. But we have had an amazing journey so far and I know him way better each day as we grow together – the love today is incomparable to what I felt at the start, richer, truer, sturdier.  Could I have known that at the start – absolutely not.

    2. I think it is very much down to how the child-you perceived it at the time – which is why twins/siblings can grow up so differently in the same environment, they will have perceived the experience differently based on their own perspectives, emotions.  Regardless of the actual reality, if you felt disconnected, lacking attention or protection from your parents at the time, that’s going to leave you with a hole to fill.  This is where Anita was going with her questions, to help you recognise that what you are looking for from a relationship can’t fill that hole – it’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole – it’s not going to heal that hurt.

    I have family over for Easter here so if I’m slow getting back to your responses don’t worry, I’ll get there. Hope it helps in meantime.

    #289513

    GL
    Participant

    Hello X,

    Your conversation with Matt about relationship was quite lovely. It’s always nice to learn about another person’s perspective on dating and relationship.

    Now, going over your posts, there were some ideas that popped up and it might you with working out your current structure. Though do ignore it if you don’t find it helpful.

    Regarding your childhood, it seems that you’ve spent the majority of it with your grandparents, which is not bad, but it seems that what you yourself needed was an authoritative figure, i e your father, rather than a gentle mother-type figure. Which is why you idolized your father, but you didn’t spent much time with him so you couldn’t develop too much emotional connection between the two of you. That was detrimental to you.

    Then there was your mother, whom the best way to spend time with you was to read books together, but she found the activity boring so instead taught you to read so you could do it yourself. Again, not a bad thing, but for you, reading together was a means of building an emotional connection with your mother. That she would unknowingly reject it probably hurt the child you. So during childhood, you were only able to developed a partial relationship with your parents, whom you viewed as the first authoritative figures in your life. Hence, probably why you identified with the orphans in the novels. You felt abandoned by your parents, whom you wanted to spend as much time as possible together, but the circumstances didn’t allow that. It wasn’t that your parents didn’t try, it’s just that circumstances and the method of raising you wasn’t attuned to you so much as what they think was the best for you. It was a mismatch of expectations.

    Then when you were older, you began to pull away. But that’s typical teenage behavior as teenagers are at an age of trying to explore their own individuality. Your parents didn’t know how to response to that since it seems that they were too used to you being obedient to their expectations. And it seemed that they stopped trying to guide you or at least communicate with you at a level that made you felt heard, which was even more detrimental to your psyche because though you might have quietly rebelled, you still needed the proper guidance. Or at least an authoritative figure you can depend on as a safety net while you try to understand a little more about yourself. That would explain a little of your romantic affiliation towards older men who are in position of authority. You idolized the thought of having someone guide you and that mixed in with the quality of potential romantic partner.

    You have really good intuition so when you met your previous partners, something about them had appeal to you. One of the theme that connect them was that they were unavailable due to being married or unable to forget someone. But intuition doesn’t pick up status, it pick up emotions and motives. And if there’s a running theme between your exes, it was that they were unhappy in their relationship. And you being emphatic, you probably wanted to help these people who were able to catch your interest. Now, combined that with your need for a true mentor/teacher/guide, idolization of your father and romantic idealism of ‘love conquers all’ (with your previous exes likely looking for a distraction from their current relationship), it’s not difficult to imagine why you entered into a pseudo-relationship with men who can only make empty promises. After all, those men were older, charismatic, likely knowledgeable given their position and unhappy.

    Even now, you are still searching for answers from those whom you think is a leader in certain fields. You wish for a guide. You wish for answers to what confound you; from your preference in men to why your exes just could not choose you. Because those answers might help you move on. Because knowledge might help you stay in control in a situation with brittle foundations. A pity you can’t really predict human behavior.

    I caution you against labeling your ex as a narcissist. He had his vices, but you also decided to accept those vices, along with his promises of settling down with you. You yourself chose to accept those promises as valid, you chose to believe him regardless of what his actions might have indicated. You chose to wait for him, but he didn’t choose you in the end. For whatever reason, it wasn’t you. And it hurts because he was someone special to you for the six years you were together. You might have even thought he would be the one. It’s not something that is easy to let go of. But labeling him as someone narcissistic is merely trying to place the blame of the ruined relationship on him. It’s merely trying to say that you were in the right and he was wrong, that he is the one at fault. It might make you feel better, but the you that chose him can’t be all that perfect either, can you?

    The analogy of a choosing to commit to a relationship in the form of watering a flower is lovely, but you’re still missing a piece. If the flower represent the relationship and all its emotions (from the spark to affection) and the watering the choice/decision to commit, then you only chemistry. You forget about compatibility, which is the earth that houses the flower. For whomever you meet in life, you can have chemistry, but not compatibility. Or you might meet someone who is compatible with you, but no chemistry. It is difficult to meet someone who has both chemistry and compatibility with you. Thus, there is compromise and separation.

    You can love a person, but you might not love the life with that person. Because each person respect the other as individual with their own needs and desires. Because each person respect the other’s need for a life that they want. Because they want the other person to be happy, even if it’s life without them. So they separate, because while they did love each other, they couldn’t live the life the other person wanted. So it was better to let go. Love is letting go.

    It’s not always the ‘why’, but rather the ‘how’. How do you choose to love someone?

    #289805

    X
    Participant

    Hey X, Was out yesterday celebrating our 19th anniversary, so a little delayed getting back here. Here goes….

    Hey, Michelle!

    Congratulations on the milestone! Wishing you and your partner many, many more years ahead!!!

    Q1.  Yes, that’s exactly what I meant by the restaurant analogy. If you are picking men based on one set of criteria, then it is not too surprising when they don’t magically match the real criteria you want them to have.  It is much easier/normal for people to value the short-term ( physical looks, instant attraction, chemistry… ) than to think about the longer-term.  It’s why it’s called a gut reaction and it’s not a bad thing – but it’s just one piece of information. Since you know you have a history of choices that haven’t made you happy then it’s worth spending some time thinking through and embedding what you really want, hence the ask on the top 5.  Now I’m not suggesting you mentally run everyone through a checklist since agreed, it doesn’t work that way, you don’t know enough about anyone until you start finding out the reality, finding out more.  So through conversations, through dates, slowly gaining more knowledge, experience – not through assessing them further in your head, in your imagination.

    Do I mean you should start dating people you aren’t attracted to – no. I don’t think you can fake attraction and you shouldn’t have to.

    Michelle, what do you think of the following answer in a popular dating blog? I would say that I find the answer very true and worth following.

    https://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/chemistry/how-long-should-i-wait-for-chemistry-to-develop

    But I do think you could try to keep an open mind for longer before dumping people into the friend zone. Some people become more attractive the more you get to know them, as they open up to you. Given your current method isn’t working, trying a different approach is the only way the outcome can change ( a la Einstein’s famous quote re insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results ).

    I am only too well aware of this quote. However, I think it might be misleading relationshipwise. Even if I am more or less the same person (“even if” because I definitely think I have made some progress and a few premises that I held before entering the relationship with my ex are now deemed by me not true and are forgotten), I meet different men, don’t I? Just like you (and Anita) said, if an anxious person is in a relationship with a healthy one, s/he may heal. So it is not a given that anxious person is bound forever to pair up with another one, not healthy, is it? So this tenet doesn’t hold, does it?

    I haven’t really dated at all before falling hard for #1, which was very a very short-term affair. It is really only after my ex and those six years that I am now looking at the entire dating thing seriously. I am very comfortable on my own now (just as before I met my #1 – up until I decided that something must be intrinsically wrong with me, not having had a boyfriend at 23 and not having kissed at all, so I think I was putting myself in a very vulnerable position believing that I am damaged and looking for a “saviour”). If you look for something, you find it. Or so you think.

    Tiny Buddha and Anita’s recommendations to get to know the man slowly over a long time ring true.

    So given all that and combined with my mother’s advice (and Mum had a lot of suitors in her 20s and 30s, she is very feminine), I am certainly not discarding men at once if I don’t like them. I am “giving them a chance”.

    The problem is I am either approached by men in their early 60s (one at work was direct enough to insinuate that he wanted to sleep with me, another one at the cafeteria is literally jumping out of his pants when he sees me – so creepy!), or by men whom I can’t stand (and I am at a loss how come they don’t see it?) or by men to whom I, too, “give a chance”, everything seems to go well and be promising for some time and then they just go MIA. True, these are men who haven’t resolved their issues (married or not over their ex or whatever) before approaching me, but nevertheless.

    As I wrote before, the way those men behaved eventually (am not talking about Category 1 – definitely not my cup of tea!) showed that my gut feeling was not wrong (and even my mother agreed!) for Cat. 2 and that it was good riddance for Cat. 3.

    So as Mum put it, “There isn’t really anybody for you to choose from”.

    But Michelle, since I have so little experience with dating, let me describe how it began and was done with the men whom I knew to have no partners. I would really love to know what you think.

    1. Guy on a trip (Cat. 3). Met him at a restaurant when travelling. He was my waiter. Asked me out. Had a great date, talked a lot, had dinner, he was willing to pay, I suggested we go Dutch. Wouldn’t have minded ending the night at my room, but respected my no.

    Next, I go to another town. Don’t hear from him for several days. Write him a letter saying that I really enjoyed the date (I did – he was my first crush after my ex!!!) and would love to get to know him better. He replied. After that he would drop me a couple of lines (literally a couple – nothing too fancy, definitely not in a way one does when one wants to get to know a potential mate) here and there, go silent for six weeks, then resurface again. Finally, went MIA three months after our meeting in his country. Then wrote again two years (!!!) after that saying he wanted to visit me. He did talk a lot about his ex who had finished things off about a year before we had that date. Had had a couple of girls since, but nothing serious.

    1. Next was the “guy who led me on”, enough about him on that other thread.

     

    1. A guy from the shooting range (Cat. 2). Asked me out. I suggested we meet at a café. I arrive, he is already there with a cup of coffee. He tells me to go and get my coffee. I do. Then he gives me something simple for my pistol saying, “I asked you out, so I was supposed to pay for your coffee, but since I have this present for you and its cost is comparable to that of your coffee, you got your coffee yourself.”

     

    WHAT??? Michelle, I am totally fine paying for myself. But women like men to be generous. I do, too. (Isn’t it in the female psyche, selecting the mate who can provide best for her and offspring?) I always insisted on going Dutch with my ex. We even had a third card for outings together, which we would pay 50% each. But when a man has just asked me out… I work mostly in a male environment, and somehow men (even in higher positions) at work take pleasure in paying for my coffee at our coffee stand. And we are just friends. And they are certainly not thinking of anything “like that.” (Just yesterday I ran into my manager’s husband, and he bought me coffee just because.) So I don’t really understand it when a man asks me out, asks me where I would like to go and then (I <u>don’t</u> choose a fancy restaurant) just sits there, having already gotten his beverage expecting me to serve myself. Say, my ex at our first date nearly started an argument over me wanting to pay for myself. The waiter guy was ready to pay, too, but I had wanted to do a few things on our date in his city that it was only natural for me, given the difference in our revenue, to suggest splitting the bill.

     

    1. A guy from my sailing program (Cat. 3). I hadn’t noticed him at first, then all of a sudden, two or three months into the training, he approaches me and starts asking me questions, telling me about his brother married to a woman from my country… I was rather neutral towards him at the beginning (and he was bald, I seldom like bald men, in fact, he was only a second bald in my life whom I ended up liking), at our next class, he offered me a piece of clothing to borrow (I hadn’t brought one and wouldn’t have otherwise been able to participate in an activity) and then… Nothing. As if he thought better and changed his mind. I sent him a request to become friends on Facebook, started a few matter-of-fact chats, came up to him when he was working in a distance by himself to say hi. He just stopped coming up to me.

    A colleague of mine, from my country, too, said that I should have pursued him. Well, I don’t like the idea of a woman “pursuing” a man. I initiated contact several times (normally, “poke” three times), if he is not coming to me in his turn, he is not interested. I for one hate to impose myself.

    My mother likes to bring up as the reason for men not pursuing me my lack of qualities of a housewife and femininity. She says that men who are serious, are looking for a wife. I retort – are they looking for a wife & a partner or a cook & a maid? Besides, if you take that colleague of mine, yes she is very family-oriented (and cooks, too), but nevertheless she got herself a loving boyfriend who became her husband one year ago only well after she turned 30.

    Besides, when I remind my mother (and my aunt) about their skill level when they were young, they concede that yes, they learnt to cook only after they married…

    1. One more guy from the sailing program (Cat. 2). Would text me quite often even though I said I preferred email or regular phone (one of my quirks – I still live without a smartphone), then invited me over to his boat for a Christmas party. Well, only two more people came, so there were three men and I. Not a very nice feeling, being in a boat with three men, female alone. No special program, played a game. I forgot what it was called, but it was a game where players are given phrases and they are supposed to make sentences and then vote which one is best. Well, a few phrases were alright, but quite a few were related to sex and sexual organs. I didn’t find that game funny at all; more than that, it was quite vulgar after my taste.

     

    To compare, sometimes I gather together with folks from my country who are here on rotation and we play games. But we play board games, such “Cashflow”, and it is a totally different level. That is why I said that education is very important, too.

     

    The same guy asked me out. Via text. I responded in texting with a question about time. He never responded until about two hours before the time that had still to be confirmed. Well, if you insist on texting, have the decency responding to texts in time!

     

    Next, the date. Not much to talk about. In fact, it seemed as if he was expecting me to reveal something to him (since I am from a different country) that would turn his life upside down and make it even more “fun”. Sorry, mate, can’t help you here. And how do you like the phrase, “You really need to learn to cook if you want to get married?” Dear, who ever told you that I wanted to get married???

     

    No need to say that it never occurred to him to suggest paying for my meal.

     

    1. Another one, this time a nephew of my aunt’s good friend who happens to live now in the same country as I (Cat. 2).

     

    I’ll omit the intermittent communication that we had leading up to the date. Now the date. We look at each other, and I realise that he is NOT the one. He made a tiny move as if he was ready to pay (at that place, one pays at the counter), but seeing me with my wallet, happily let me pay for myself. Next the talking. Made me talk about myself, yet, when I would answer and then ask him about the same (I hate it when the conversation is not balanced), he would answer in one sentence and then proceed to asking questions about my life here again. Then he went to the loo, came back and said that he would be going.

     

    Needless to say that I was only too happy not to have heard from him.

     

    With him, it felt as if he was complying with his relatives’ wishes to meet me only in order to be able to say that “Yes, I saw her and didn’t like her”.

     

    It is also funny how great the power of stereotypes is. When guys hear that I am from such and such country, am 34 years old, have been in this country for over ten years and am not married, have no kids (nor intend to) and work where I work because I studied where I studied and my another passport is coming shortly, they feel that something is fishy and they better get out of here. Such things merely don’t happen! Well, I am certainly not the one who will be holding them back.

     

    Maybe I am too old-fashioned and old-school? But aren’t we all brought up on the same books and movies and stories? Or, since I felt such a strong aversion to them, they didn’t expect me to “give them a chance”, because other girls wouldn’t, and when I did, so intelligent and pretty, they decided they could twist me around their little finger?

    I am also only too aware of a wide array of distractions and instant gratification in the modern world. With smartphones and apps like Tinder, it is so easy not to make any efforts. On the one hand, we all know that there is no “one and the only one” for each one of us, that relationships are built and not happen, but on the other hand, when one knows that there is always the next one… My job involves lots of distractions as is, I hate typing on the small window keyboard (speaking is so much faster!), I don’t want to be a “smartphone zombie” and I have access to computers all around, so I have been able to resist the smartphone mania so far. Of course, that sounds very suspicious, too – that I still live without a smartphone. But if somebody really likes somebody, all those quirks are just lovely peculiarities, making that other person endearing, are they not?

    So do you think I should have continued dating them (Cat. 2, I mean), getting to know them better after that? (We are assuming I didn’t feel that physical aversion to them or, at the very least, felt neutral.)

    Is my bar too high? If I lower it, I get jerks. If I keep it, I get wishy-washy unavailable men with whom it goes well at the beginning, but then they just dissolve into thin air.

    It is not like any of those guys (even the ones whom I didn’t like) stayed around to try and win me over. Say, with my ex, we corresponded daily and talked over the phone for over two months after his first business trip here when nothing had yet happened between us. With the “guy who led me on”, we corresponded almost daily for four months, literally discussing all possible topics from interests to finances, before he stopped writing back and initiating.

    All in all, it does seem like I did my best to follow the adage, “If you want a prince, be a princess” only to discover that all princes have been taken and there are none left for me. 😉

    My impression is that the guys who do ask me out, do it with the expectation that I will be the one dancing attendance on them, and if I don’t, nothing to worry about ‘cause there are many more to check out on Tinder.

    Q2.  It’s a good list of goals – how many of them are you actively pursuing, i.e. all I’m really asking is do you have a balanced life or do you have a lot of spare time to spend dreaming and imagining up your perfect man  and how life will be great only if/when you have met the right man.  Most people I know end up meeting their partner when they weren’t looking for him, when their lives were full in a good way and they were happy.

    Michelle, I have thought about this one too. I believe myself to be tremendously lucky. You see, I work with languages, something I have always wanted to do. My job allows me not only to do what I have been trained to do, but it also has a few opportunities to take my time, read books, articles online, do some research, learn new things. One could say that what I do at work is what I would be doing in my life anyway. I am comfortable with the salary and can afford to travel on a budget when I am on holiday. It can be anywhere between 6-10 weeks a year – just depends. Am totally fine travelling on my own, no company needed (though it would be nice to share a glass of wine with somebody and to have somebody lug my suitcase 😉 ).

    I mentioned what I would like to learn / do in life. I need to mention that I spend very little time getting to and from my work place, so after work, I go swimming three times a week, shooting (once) and fencing (once). Now I do sail training at the weekends every other week, before that I did martial arts for three years and rode horses for five. I also strive for a good night’s rest, 7-8 hours preferably. I paint, too.

    Despite all these activities, I start feeling stuck in a groove after roughly 3-4 months, so I do my best to plan my holidays and travels so as to break up the routine, as I call it. I am very thankful for how my life has panned out in this respect so far.

    So when I meet somebody who starts pursuing me and I don’t like him, I immediately begin to think that I still have so many things to do, my list is far from finished, I am not ready yet, I am so reluctant to pass on on any of my hobbies for the sake of meeting up.

    But when I really like somebody, all that flies out of the window, I literally have to make myself follow my usual routine so that I am not incessantly daydreaming about him. But I am aware that I am prone to co-dependency, I am making a mental effort not to let go of all my other activities, even if it is out of mere spite. And I still do them all, but all am living as if in a fog when I am in love.

    But yes, I did feel that I was sort of filling my time (even though I greatly enjoy my hobbies) awaiting my ex.

    I also had that feeling that I was putting my life on hold up until I meet my “other half”, but that was before #1. Is if I was not ready because I hadn’t checked off a few items from my list – back from my studies – as if I hadn’t earned those degrees yet. Well, now that list is nearly done, and I do feel a bit more at ease. It might be one more subconscious reason for my choosing men who wouldn’t need full commitment on my part. (???) But then again – am I not supposed to have my own interests and my life?

    I am not sure I do it anymore. I have definitely become more aware, read a lot about Buddhism, about being in the flow, but I can’t help feeling as follows:

    • When I feel that I need somebody (that “hole” to be filled that I now fill with the many other people – and I used to expect that one’s partner should be “the one and only and everything”), I meet people who are just as deficient, one-sided as I am. So obviously, it doesn’t work.
    • When I feel perfectly rounded, wholesome and happy on my own, I don’t meet anyone at all. As if, on the one hand, why would those who are happy on their own need anybody at all? and on the other, as if there were so few really wholesome people out there, that our paths simply don’t cross.

    Or is it the perfectionist in me? (Well, I am really not that bad and obsessed at all, I adhere to the “take nothing to extremes” wisdom – I do everything until it is “good enough”)

    When I was told and believed that I should stand by my man and support him (think the good wife of the 50s books), I was doing just that (my ex). Still couldn’t get over the cooking thing – didn’t want to compete with his wife; besides, my ex was fine with eating out.

    Now I am told that I need to be happy on my own, I can assure you that I am perfectly happy on my own. When I meet somebody I don’t quite like, the only thing I can think of is how well I am doing all by myself and how many things I still have to do before I can afford to waste my time on guys like that.

    Q3.  It’s good you have considered the father figure aspect. I believe it has less to do with age than looking for people who can take care of you, make sure you feel safe, protect you from the world when needed and who will provide direction/guidance and generally mean you don’t need to take such responsibility for your own life. So people who are either in positions of power, authority or have those kind of qualities attract you when looking to replace the father figure, not the age thing.  Do you tend to feel the chemistry, this family portrait thing with men who resemble your father?  Especially given your childhood and lack of attention/love, it would not be surprising to still be looking to fill that hole with a relationship plug.

    GL just wrote to me on my thread, and for some reason his explanation now hits home. I knew all this before, but probably in the heat of the moment, it didn’t ring true. Now somehow it does. I elaborated more on this one in my answer to him below.

    But isn’t the female of any species wired to be looking for the male who is able to provide for her and future offspring (of course, there are exceptions, even in nature out there)?

    When Matt and I had our correspondence, he said that he also had the innate need to know that his wife was out there for him. So I guess it is true for both sexes.

    And yes, I do acknowledge that when I look at a man, I need to feel admiration for him (probably goes hand in hand with him being sexually appealing to me) AND there is that tinge of me wanting to be able to lean on somebody who is secure in his position.

    You see, in the first place, one could say that I am the anxious type and on the other, no matter how happy I am with my life right now, it is all due to a very long-term project. But everything that has a beginning has an end, and this project, however long-term, may end. When – it is still out in the open, but in any case, it will hardly last until my retirement. And I don’t know whether I might be able to find something as fulfilling as this job.

    Right now a relationship does feel like a cherry on top, one last check mark or one last item to add to my list of fulfillments. But I am only too aware of how fickle life can be, and I don’t know if I simply succeeded in convincing myself now that I am better off on my own.

    But no, surprisingly enough, I never dreamt of anybody who would be similar to my Dad in appearance. On  the contrary, my first glance is caught by men who are rather opposite to him in appearance. My father is not very tall at all and wears glasses, well, so far, I have been attracted to only one bespectacled man for a brief half a day in my whole life. On the other hand, I have found only two bald men appealing in my whole life, and my Dad still has all his hair. I have been attracted to several plumpy men, and my father is all bones and muscles. And yes, tall men do stand out. But as time passes, even as brief a period as half an hour, and all those initial pickings go away.

    Looking back, I can’t really say that I feel the pull to a particular appearance by default.

    Your mother sounds difficult and you sound like you are still carrying expectations of hers. I’m glad you have managed to cut contact to once/week – daily is ridiculous. Well done. I know from experience it is hard to work through determining your own values and not still living to those given you by your parents. Take the marriage example – understand completely on that one. My partner and I are not married and when I was still insecure it used to worry me – and it took me a while to work out that I was only worried as it did not meet my parent’s expectations, hopes whereas the big wedding, the 2.4 kids was just not actually me, not something I wanted.  This comes back to goals again and determining your own values/aims – learning to stop having your mother in your head judging you for not being married yet and therefore ‘not good enough’ , ‘not pretty/ladylike enough’. All untrue but hard to recognise when still judging yourself with your mother’s voice and so damaging to your self-esteem.

    My father has always been very supportive and he was the one who would check my mother and grandmother telling them to leave me alone and let me do things my way and let me think what I want to think and live according to my own views.

    Frankly, I can hardly imagine what I would do with my mother if/when my father is not here anymore.

    She loves me very much, but in her own way. It is as if she loved the image of me that she has in her head. I must acknowledge though that she / we have been working on this. For instance, I explain that I simply can’t be always available for her emails or calls. She says okay, but if you have no news to tell, drop at least a line saying that you are okay once every two or three days. So it’s work in progress.

    Q4. Ha – excellent, probably way too much detail for here but hey, yep, seems you’ve ticked that box well and good.  It’s just odd that the first thing that comes to your mind when attracted to someone is to hug them. Back to the theory that you are really looking for affection, love but are assessing people instantly on sexual chemistry instead.

    I have also read lots of psychology books, in different languages (I speak a few) after the breakup, because obviously, I didn’t know a thing about reality and real-life men. One author was a practising thererapist who used the opportunity of dealing with people’s problems to conduct polls. So he effectively showed that in some areas men and women did think the same, but in a few others the difference between what women and men would think could be very wide. His books were fun to read and were rather eye-opening as regards male psychology both at the beginning of a relationship and during.

    One of his works was a three-volume on sex. Michelle, it was very decent without any technical details (contrary to what the title suggests). Among other things, he stated that men and women tend to be naturally biased in favour of their sexual appeal and skill. For instance, one can be convinced that one is very sexy whereas in reality, one is not. So I thought I need to be more specific about actions and thins vs what I might be thinking.

    As far as hugging goes, when I look into this, I see that my culture is not a very tactile one. Besides, (GL had the perfect insight, and I elaborated) when I turned 11 or 12, I started to distance from my parents and so all the hugs went away (I don’t think we actually ever hugged, like really hugged). And never came back. And now too much time has passed, I really have no desire to introduce it. I feel bad already that I can hardly think of giving a good hug to my grandmother, but I’ll try to do it this year when I see her.

    But I know that we are “herd animals”, hugs and touches lower blood pressure etc., so now I consciously make sure I don’t shirk from hugs at work and the people among whom I live now. So that I am not starved for human touch.

    Now to your questions! 1.  So first, not convinced I agree that like attracts like, often seems it’s that opposites attract. And if you look at most of the stats people throw around, there are apparently nowhere near enough secure-style attachment people in the world to match the number of relationships in the world! So given that, what’s important these days in determining if a relationship is going to be good for the long-haul is all about being able to help each other grow, not expecting perfection all the time, not buying into the Disney view of romance.   

    Well, as far as like attracts like goes, somehow people always look for things in common be it in friendships or romance. True, the differences may not be a deal breaker, but they look for something similar to bond.

    Second, I don’t know because when I started off this premise, I found a few deeply buried traits in myself that were similar to what my ex revealed about himself. But maybe I simply found them because I was looking for them. I am talking about my inner desires that pulled me to him and that were similar, not about the anxious-avoidant me vs dismissive-avoidant him.

    And yes, novels and Disney made me want to test out the idea that “if I am a good girl and wait long enough, I’ll meet him and we will live happily ever after.”

    Now I know it is not so.

    Most people are just not that self-aware or used to questioning their feelings, reactions as to what’s best for the long-term instead of short-term instant gratification.

    I like the test of time. More often than not, my initial attraction evaporates. If not, I am ready to work on the relationship in a consistent manner. But that is me. And I need to remember feeling-wise, what it was that attracted me in the first place. And I do remember.

    I am not so sure about those whom I meet in our instant gratification world full of distractions with Tinder.

    1a. Do you believe you are worthy of a good man?  Per above – are you still expecting it all to happen magically or are you willing to deal with the reality of the world, the reality of others.  No-one is perfect and I don’t believe there is only ‘the one’, indeed my own life story so far tells me otherwise. This is why it’s worth being curious enough to learn more about people before discarding them. Is my other-half perfect, of course not in the same way I am not. But we have had an amazing journey so far and I know him way better each day as we grow together – the love today is incomparable to what I felt at the start, richer, truer, sturdier.  Could I have known that at the start – absolutely not.

    Yeah, I am really starting to think that Mum is right and I am not presented with a decent pool of men to choose from. Even though I do my best to be exposed to the maximum – lots of men at work, my hobbies (when the sailing program starts, there are over 150 persons, a few of them men), I am not shying get-togethers, even though, as an introvert, I get tired of throngs of people and having to repeat who I am and what I do.

    I did some research once. People would meet at all sorts of places, ranging from a parking lot to when travelling (I travel alone, so it is very easy to approach me), but most often coupes are formed at places of study/work, hobbies (as you can see, I actively pursue lots of things) or through friends or family.

    Today, people also meet online. Anita gave some good advice on how to conduct the selection process. I may want to try it sometime. However, the online dating project seems akin to looking for a needle in a bundle of hay these days…

    1. I think it is very much down to how the child-you perceived it at the time – which is why twins/siblings can grow up so differently in the same environment, they will have perceived the experience differently based on their own perspectives, emotions.  Regardless of the actual reality, if you felt disconnected, lacking attention or protection from your parents at the time, that’s going to leave you with a hole to fill.  This is where Anita was going with her questions, to help you recognise that what you are looking for from a relationship can’t fill that hole – it’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole – it’s not going to heal that hurt. Well, again I don’t know whether I sort of fake being so busy whereas deep down I am still looking for the one who will come and turn my world around and make me safe and happy. But if I do, I do it so expertly that even when I, with all my propensity for looking inside myself, don’t find it there.

    Recognizing that I have a hole that I tried to fill with my ex was also one of my first steps after the breakup. I tried to enumerate what it was I was getting from him and what it was I was missing after the breakup and how I could get it from other people. Hence my being more open, hence revealing different parts of real me to many more new people with whom I enjoy interacting and who respond to me in a way that I appreciate.

    I think I succeeded, so I am a little bit surprised that I am still single, approached by men who are definitely not a match and still daydreaming about other men, albeit different ones. (I don’t know if it is a sign of progress, but since the breakup, I have been attracted to two men happy on their own and not looking for anybody, one single but clearly not over the ex of one year before, and two no longer with their wives and not because of me.)

    I have family over for Easter here so if I’m slow getting back to your responses don’t worry, I’ll get there. Hope it helps in meantime.

    Michelle, it was very thoughtful of you to write it. I do confess that I was checking my inbox a little bit more often than needed on the day following my post, but it is okay. I guess I belong to the anxious type by nature, but I am also a thinking and reading person, and I know that people ghost often nowadays. It is even easier to do online, so I wouldn’t be surprised 😉

    And it is not a good sign on my part to almost expect people to drop out. I was so happily busy with my activities on Wednesday and Thursday, and I do need my beauty sleep, so I was not sure I could written or posted anything myself. I could have, but it would be to the detriment of my sleep and well-being.

    THANK YOU!

    Looking forward to whatever comments you might have! Whenever 😉

    Happy Easter!

    #289807

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    Hello GL,

    Wow! I think you hit the nail on the head!

    I have been suspecting for quite some time now that the way my father thought he should be raising me up didn’t quite agree with my personality, the way I was, who I was as a kid. My mother, in turn, is much more emotional , inconsistent and irrational than I am by nature, so no wonder, we seldom saw (and see) eye to eye. You explained the dynamics 100%, and it is all crystal clear to me now. Super helpful, thank you so very, very much!!!

    I don’t quite agree with the orphan association though. Just look at good children’s literature: Bronte, Dickens, Hugo, “Anne of Green Gables”, “The Chronicles of Prydain”, even Harry Potter, not to mention fairy tales like Cinderella or Disney cartoons like Duck Tales or Darkwing Duck or Tale Spin – all of them feature orphans as main characters at the forefront. So it seems only natural for a child, if a child imagines oneself as one of his or her favourite characters to imagine oneself an orphan. More than that, all those books with happy or more or less happy endings almost make one think that if one wants to end up in a happy position being an orphan is almost a prerequisite.

    Becoming a teenager, I think it was almost a conscious decision on my side to be special, to be alone, to stand apart by not having anything to do with “them”. I would say that they “stopped trying” because I insisted so. Besides, them being at work, me at school most of the year and away with my grandparents in the summer didn’t provide for a lot of opportunities to be together. (Not that I minded – by that time, I had already developed my own inner world and didn’t need their company.)

    When you wrote “circumstances”, I realised that yes, my parents, being human (and now that I am in my 30s, I can see that grown-ups are not that fundamentally different), were themselves quite scared and not knew what to expect due to external circumstances not of their own doing at the time. As Anita said, children naturally pick up vibes of fear and uncertainty from adults.

    You idolized the thought of having someone guide you and that mixed in with the quality of potential romantic partner.

    Again, spot on! My inner world involved a romantic story of a young lady (an orphan, of course) who was sort of a role model for the me back then in how one should behave in a courageous and noble manner and her partner who was around 20 years her senior (because back then I found men around 40 irresistible) and much more experienced.

    What you wrote about my previous partners also rings true. I definitely picked up on them being charismatic, more knowledgeable than I was (so they could hardly have my age, even though as you can see, there were a few intense crushes on guys just slightly older than I was) and unhappy (and me wanting to be a savior showing them the path to the light, that there are still beautiful and intelligent women in this world who are trustworthy and faithful).

    Even now, you are still searching for answers from those whom you think is a leader in certain fields. You wish for a guide. You wish for answers to what confound you; from your preference in men to why your exes just could not choose you.

    Yes and no. Yes meaning that yes, when I read some psychology books or watched a documentary with a very trustworthy-looking psychologist or therapist in it, I thought that if only I could talk to that particular person, he would surely lay everything out for me and I would do whatever he told me.

    No meaning that I do try to learn if not from the mistakes of others, then from my own. After the breakup, as I was processing what had happened and what had preceded it, I made a list of lessons learnt.

    One of those lessons was that no matter the age of the man, he may not know some things better than me. That everybody, no matter the age, is still figuring out life. That I might just as well take my own word (and gut feeling) for granted as his.

    I caution you against labeling your ex as a narcissist. He had his vices, but you also decided to accept those vices, along with his promises of settling down with you. You yourself chose to accept those promises as valid, you chose to believe him regardless of what his actions might have indicated. You chose to wait for him, but he didn’t choose you in the end. For whatever reason, it wasn’t you. And it hurts because he was someone special to you for the six years you were together. You might have even thought he would be the one. It’s not something that is easy to let go of. But labeling him as someone narcissistic is merely trying to place the blame of the ruined relationship on him. It’s merely trying to say that you were in the right and he was wrong, that he is the one at fault. It might make you feel better, but the you that chose him can’t be all that perfect either, can you?

    Oh, I am only too very well aware that I am no psychologist, so I do refrain from labelling people. It is just that in my search for answers, I came across Natalie Lue’s http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk, and it struck me how much in common her description of a narcissist’s actions and words had with my ex’s and how similar I felt to her description of how a narcissist makes his women feel.

    You said that you enjoyed my interaction with Matt. I don’t know if you have seen the other half. Matt had his own thread, and when we started to correspond, we would write on both at the same time. Here is where I appear on his thread: https://tinybuddha.com/topic/need-some-space-to-vent-and-maybe-a-shoulder/page/2/

    Forgive me, but listing here why I still believe he is / was a narcissist and going into much detail about that relationship of mine now feels like chewing a gum that lost its flavor a lo-o-ong time ago.

    I’ll add in parentheses that it doesn’t matter to me now whether he was/is a narcissist or a plain jerk – I do believe now that I wouldn’t really have been happy with him long-term for various reasons. I wouldn’t have had any incentive to figure out my patterns and since he keeps choosing the same type of women (I was similar to his ex in a few areas and his current wife is similar to my predecessor and hence to me unless I am seeing things that I want to see), his marriage is bound to end the same way all his previous marriages and partnerships ended. Of course, only time will tell.

    And I am by no means trying to embellish or exonerate myself. I was entering the relationship with open eyes knowing only too well how the overwhelming majority of mistresses end up. There was simply no way for the way I was back then to resist this relationship. So no regrets.

    For whomever you meet in life, you can have chemistry, but not compatibility. Or you might meet someone who is compatible with you, but no chemistry. It is difficult to meet someone who has both chemistry and compatibility with you. Thus, there is compromise and separation.

    I am ready to compromise, have always been. As well as to work on a relationship. If you look at my list of most recent men in the post to Michelle or at the descriptions of men in my correspondence with Matt, you’ll see that I haven’t really met anybody with whom I would have chemistry at first and who would be willing to work for us being compatible long-term.

    Do you believe that I should have continued to see those men if I had felt at least neutral towards them and not the aversion / repulsion that I did? They say that if you don’t feel chemistry, it means that the person is biologically, on the physical and animal level not good for you gene-wise, not good for procreation, like a distant cousin may be.

    How do you choose to love someone?

    GL, I am really not sure that love, or rather, its beginning is a conscious act. If it was, there would be many more happy marriages based on pure compatibility derived from tests and checklists. Matt and I discussed it in depth as well as Michelle and I.

    I wonder what your comment to this would be: https://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/chemistry/how-long-should-i-wait-for-chemistry-to-develop

    I seriously doubt the path: s/he is worthy and decent and compatible with me > I love him / her works.

    I believe in the path: initial attraction > willingness to work on it and build on it > I love him / her works

    I don’t think one can get very far only based on reason.

    Thanks a lot! You have really helped me to dot all the I’s regarding where I was coming from with all my past affections.

    Hope to hear from you.

    #290043

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