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  • #361660
    limbikanimaria
    Participant

    I have been talking to a guy from an online dating app for about a week.  We seem to be in alignment in some fundamental ways – both practice yoga and meditation, minimalism is important to us, being outdoorsy and active, neither of us wants kids, both of us are off social media, both spiritual but not religious.  However, in one of our conversations, we were talking about our relationship to yoga.  He said his core got a lot stronger from doing yoga, and asked if I had a strong core.  I said that my core was strong, but I didn’t have a six pack or anything.  He then asked if I can see my abs.

    I got pretty triggered by this because of my body image issues, perfectionist tendencies and history/current struggles with eating disorders.  I responded by asking if that was important to him (like, is being able to see abs an important quality in a potential partner).  He said that he is physically attracted to athletic/fitness.  I then responded with something along the lines of “we might be better off as friends because of my issues with body image and practicing not valuing physical appearance so much”.  I explained that physical attraction is important, in a way, but it shouldn’t be the foundation to a partnership.  He agreed with me on this and was apologetic that he triggered me.  He said that being able to see abs or having a super toned body isn’t a vital quality in a partner to him, and that the reason he is attracted to fitness is because he needs a partner who is physically active and can go on adventures with him for years to come.

    I decided to try and let this whole thing go and continue getting to know him.  I’m kind of stuck on it though and having a hard time wrapping my head around why he would ask about the appearance of my abs if he didn’t hold the believe that it’s important to him.  If he didn’t hold that belief it doesn’t seem like a necessary question to ask a potential date.  I feel like my inability to fully let this go is tainting our connection and getting to know each other.  I feel almost angry that he even asked that question.

    Things also seem a bit different coming from his end now too, like, maybe me being triggered by such a seemingly silly thing turned him off.  Or maybe he is sensing my lingering anger.  Maybe a combination of the two.

    I feel like I need an outsiders perspective on this.  I opened up to a long time friend about this in an attempt to get some perspective, but she also struggles with body image and an eating disorder history.  So, naturally she fed into my response of anger and was angry that he asked that question too.  She might have been the wrong person to confide in.

    I am thinking I should continue getting to know him but be mindful of how he might put too much of an importance on physical appearance.  But, I also don’t want to always be “on the lookout” for this, because if I’m looking for it I will find it, even if it’s not really there.  I am trying to figure out how to process and let go of this residual anger that I have for that conversation.  Any outsider perspective would be appreciated.

    #361663
    Brandy
    Participant

    Hi limbikanimaria,

    Here’s my outsider perspective: After one week of talking with this guy, his asking to see your abs is a sure sign that physical fitness is very important to him in a potential partner.

    B

    #361664
    limbikanimaria
    Participant

    He didn’t ask to see my abs – he asked if I could see them.  I think he was curious if they were toned.

    I do realize that fitness is important to him, but I’m trying to understand his superficial question and his intentions of asking it, and how important that is to him, or if it was just a simple question.

    #361665
    Brandy
    Participant

    Hi limbikanimaria,

    Hmmm….either way, he wants to know if your abs are toned because it’s important to him that they are toned; otherwise, he would not have asked the question. (Because really, it’s a strange question, don’t you think?)

    B

    #361666
    limbikanimaria
    Participant

    Yeah, it’s a strange question to ask if that is not important to him.  Maybe he was asking the question without much weight to it.  Or, maybe he is superficial.  His follow up responses made it seem like he wasn’t superficial.  But again, I don’t know why that question needed to be asked to begin with if he is not.  Which might not be healthy for me to continue given my issues with body sensitivity.

    #361667
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Limbikanimaria:

    ‘I got pretty triggered by this… I responded by asking.. He said.. I then responded.. He agreed with me on this and was apologetic that he triggered me… I’m kind of stuck on it though.. I also  don’t want to always be ‘on the lookout’ for this, because if I’m looking for it I will find it, even if it’s not really there.”

    It is helpful to look at previous threads so to detect themes and patterns. Your pattern, seems to me, is that you get triggered in a relationship by something the person says or does and you get stuck there, not letting go, being on the lookout for evidence.

    For example, three years ago, July 10, 2017, you were stuck on the thought that your boyfriend at the time liked pictures of women on Instagram after you told him that you were “triggered by boyfriends ‘liking’ pictures of other females”. You stalked his Instagram, confronted him, tried to “give him the benefit of the doubt and let go of him ‘liking’ the photos”. You wrote at the time: “it has been eating at me.. I can’t seem to let go of this and allow it to continue eating at me”.

    Fast forward three years and you are communicating with .. an almost perfect match, but there it is: the trigger and game changer. He said something that triggered you  and you are stuck, not letting go.

    For as long as you get triggered and stuck on non significant topics, how can you ever have a long term relationship that works for you and in which you experience peace of mind?

    I figure, better deal with the getting triggered-> getting stuck-> being on the lookout pattern itself, a pattern that is independent from this particular man you are currently communicating with.

    anita

    #361668
    Brandy
    Participant

    Hi limbikanimaria,

    If I were you, I’d wouldn’t immediately pull the plug on getting to know him but I would proceed with caution. It’s possible that he messed up with that one question and that he’s actually not superficial; time will tell. Your response to his strange question was perfect, by the way. I love that you called him on it, established your boundaries with him early on. You may have taught him something. I say try your best to let it go and see what happens.

    B

    #361669
    limbikanimaria
    Participant

    Thanks Anita.

    I agree that it’s important to consider previous patterns, and I’m very aware that I have this pattern.

    I also don’t want to overlook things early on in a relationship that could potentially be problematic. Like, if this guy is superficial that would certainly be a problem.

    #361670
    anita
    Participant

    Dear limbikanimaria:

    You are welcome. Personally, I don’t think that him caring about physical fitness and abs is superficial, not if his interests include the other things you mentioned (“both practice yoga and meditation.. both spiritual”). From what you shared I don’t see a red flag. I think that you get easily triggered when it comes to the physical body, because of your eating disorder/ body dysphoria history. It is not realistic to expect a man to never make any comment about the looks of his body, your body, other women’s bodies, to never look at your body with.. what you will consider the wrong kind of look, etc.

    It is very difficult to heal from disordered eating and body dysphoria, isn’t it?

    anita

    #361677
    limbikanimaria
    Participant

    Thanks Brandy, I think that is a wise plan to move forward.

     

    Anita, yes, healing from those issues has been extremely challenging for me. Do you have any ideas on how to break out of that pattern of trigger-getting stuck-being on the lookout?

     

    #361684
    anita
    Participant

    Dear limbikanimaria:

    How to break the pattern of trigger- getting stuck- being on the lookout in the context of a relationship:

    The pattern involves thoughts, feelings and behavior. Of the three, behavior is easier to manage: you can avoid stalking a person on social media, for example (something you did with the boyfriend of 2017). You can avoid interrogating a person in effort to find out what he meant by saying this or that. (You can ask once and control your impulse to ask a second time).       *Impulse control is a big part of behavioral control. It takes distracting/ taking time out, so to pause between impulse and acting out the impulse.

    It takes insight into how the pattern came about, when, where and how it was born, so to speak. If you know how it came about, when you get triggered by something new (example, your current thread topic), go back in your mind to the origin of the pattern and say to yourself: that was there and then (the origin); this is here and now (the current). You separate/ free the current from the former, removing the past from the present, so that you are able to see the present as it is now.

    There is much distress involved in this pattern, an obsessive thinking  and a compulsion to check/ look for evidence: these are elements of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which is fueled by anxiety. Therefore lessening your anxiety on a regular basis is very important; have a daily routine of exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, listen to a guided meditation every day, have a regular practice of mindfulness exercises (which includes guided meditations with the theme of mindfulness).

    Is my answer satisfactory?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by anita.
    #361688
    limbikanimaria
    Participant

    Anita,

    Yes, you explained it well and those ideas resonate with me, especially the part about exercise and meditation routines to manage anxiety.

    Thank you

    #361689
    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, limbikanimaria. Thank you for letting me know I explained it well.

    anita

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