Negative Expectations

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    I am looking for advice on why my mind might be reacting a certain way.

    I have had a lot of bad, toxic exes in my life. Men who never cared for me the same way I cared for them, men who used me for my empathy and giving nature, men who lied to me, stole from me, emotionally and verbally abused me, and so on. On top of these bad experiences (or because of it), I hold a lot of anxiety when it comes to new relationships now.

    For instance, the man I am with now is wonderful. He has an endless list of great qualities, which was why I chose him. We have been together just over 4 months now but I have known him over 6 years as he was a mutual friend.

    We mainly communicate through text or in person. Text seems to be easier, as we both don’t really like talking on the phone because we both talk so much we just end up unintentionally interrupting each other so it can be hard to communicate via telephone and our phone providers we are both with do not provide the best service, so a lot of calls end up dropping anyways. So texting is usually fine with us as we talk every day, most of the day. We also see each other a lot (about 3 times a week considering our work schedules).

    As great as things have been going (and believe me, they really have been generally going wonderfully and we haven’t had a big fight just minor issues that we have talked through), my mind keeps telling me things like,

    “he will forget to do that/he will realize he doesn’t need you/he is ignoring your texts/he is upset with you and not telling you/he is planning to leave you/he doesn’t care about you as much as you care for him”.

    Anytime I don’t get a text back within a reasonable amount of time or he seems “short” on text or isn’t smiling as often as he usually is in person, I assume it has something to do with me. He told me he is not really an emotional person as he never grew up that way and because I am the opposite and am very verbally affectionate, sometimes I have to guess by his actions how he feels and that can get confusing and cause me to over think things. Sometimes I feel I am looking for problems because things are generally going so well. I always assume he will mess up or end things with me or piss me off and make me storm off. But I cannot figure out why I keep assuming this because anytime a thought arises, by the time I get the facts, I am usually wrong.

    He told me if he ever had any issues with me or our relationship, that he would be open and let me know. And he has not brought anything up as of yet. I do not ever think he is lying to me or cheating or would be physically abusive. Those things have not crossed my mind. I worry more about how he feels about me because he is not as verbal as I am or I worry if I am doing enough to make him happy, as he has not had a girlfriend in over 8 years before me. He seems happy when we are together, he shares his day with me, he is physically affectionate, he’s introduced me to his friends and all his family and includes me in all his future plans. He even brought up taking a vacation with me at the end of the year. All great things.

    So then why do I keep assuming he will mess up? Every day I carry this fear and have a Plan B set up for how to move on with my life in case things crumble. Is this just anxiety? I know my worth. I know I am a great girlfriend and generally a great person. I know that even if he did decide I am not enough, I would not want him in my life anyways at that point.

    But I care for him I think more than any other man so the fear has been increasing the more attached I get.

    Any advice?


    Dear LinLin:

    “I cannot figure out why I keep assuming this because anytime a thought arises, by the time I get the facts, I am usually wrong”-

    – you keep getting these thoughts because these thoughts are recorded in your brain, held strong by emotion. So it is thoughts and emotions recorded in your brain, based on what happened in the past, before you met your current boyfriend. These thoughts and emotions get activated anytime something triggers them, examples of such triggers are when you noticed he isn’t smiling at you or that he didn’t answer your text quickly.

    It is natural, this is how the brain works: old thoughts and emotions get activated in the present time.

    “Any advice?”- one is what you are already doing, “get the facts” of the present time, and get those facts before you react to the activation. If the facts don’t match the old recording, and your anxiety or anger is not valid, then calm down and choose a reaction that is appropriate to the situation now, if a reaction is needed at all.

    Ways to weaken the strong emotions that holds those recordings tight in place are different relaxation techniques/ anxiety management, work  in quality individual psychotherapy and/or some effective expressions of your emotions created in those past experiences, art, poetry and such.




    I agree with Anita. Your mind is just responding in fear from past events. In addition to the advice Anita gave you, try doing a Google search for “cognitive distortions” and reading about those. There is a list of different ways our minds sort of trick us and cause us to think negatively when there is no need such as overgeneralizing, catastrophizing, and “mind reading.” You can read through the list and see which things you identify with and then there are techniques you can use to combat those thoughts and turn them back around when they pop up. The more you’re able to catch them and turn them around, over time they will lessen and when they do pop up, you’ll be able to recognize and fix them quickly.

    It’s definitely a good thing that you seem to realize these thoughts you’re having aren’t really rational or based on anything that is truly happening, so that’s a good start for being able to recognize them and turn them back around.


    Hi LinLin,

    Time is the great equalizer. As the years pass, the actions and voices of the multitude of exes will become ancient history. Their ridiculous statements and failures will be buried under all the loving words and actions of people who adore you. Finally, you will accept the best friends and lovers that surround you and will never even be able to remember the past and everyone will feel sorry for the guys who ultimately missed out on so much.



    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Inky.
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