January 12, 2023 at 11:21 am #413651LaineParticipant
I’m brand new to these forums after asking sage depository of knowledge Google, “why have my feelings suddenly changed,” and coming across this particular thread: https://tinybuddha.com/topic/i-just-randomly-and-suddenly-fell-out-of-love/
While I can relate closely to many of the posts there, I thought it better to start a new topic, considering the age of the original.
Anyhow, some background about my relationship:
I met my now partner in July of last year on a first date (OkC+members of a mutual Discord server), meaning we’ve been dating about 6 months now. Our relationship has been positive, fulfilling and fun for the duration. If I had to give an honest assessment of how we interact as a couple, I’d say that while our “chemistry” is simply okay, our compatibility is very high. In fact, I’ve never dated anyone with whom my values and even politics are so aligned. We also naturally share many of the same interests and hobbies and have effortlessly, organically taken up and enjoyed myriad activities together. We come from somewhat similar backgrounds, have had many similar experiences and have similarly unique identities that allow for us to relate on a level that I couldn’t with most other people. The negatives: thus far our sex life is lack luster, though he is eager and willing to improve this with me and learn/practice how to better satisfy one another. Secondly, he can be a bit reserved and distanced from his emotions, partly just because of personality but also because of some pretty serious trauma he experienced in early childhood (which I should add also affects his sexual being). Lastly, I feel that, despite our mutual respect, understanding and comfort with one another, there persists a sort of excessive courteousness between us that can make it feel like there’s still a distance or lack of full presence with each other.
For most of our relationship, I’ve experienced a warm, caring comfort with him that’s previously been unknown to me. His attentiveness surpasses, in many ways, those of any partner I’ve ever had. He’s accepting and understanding, even when I approach him with difficult or nerve-racking subjects. All in all, things have been pretty great and just felt right between us. I’ve seen real long-term potential for our relationship and have even considered bringing up the possibility of moving in together.
And now to get to the current situation:
I live in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US but grew up in West South Central (TX), where my family still lives and whom I fly down to visit after holiday season. I invited my partner to join me on the trip but due to financial, job and family reasons he wasn’t able to. I was sad not to be spending my holiday vacation together but made in effort to be back in time to spend NYE together. I had a good trip, made some repairs to my relationship with my mother, feeling closer to her as a result and enjoyed the company of dad and brother. Of course, I bragged about my boyfriend to them, and due to lots of wedding talk between my brother and his fiancé, even considered my own prospect of marriage.
The thing is, when I returned from my trip, I quickly realized I was now experiencing a distance and lack of connection between my partner and I. I’m a pretty emotional person, and when something hits, it can really take over and occupy most or all of my mental space. I’ve since had this nagging feeling that something is off and a subsequent urge to end our relationship. My emotions have been all over the place but marked principally by intense anxiety, depression and a dark, heavy feeling. Dread is pervasive and I’m unable to enjoy much of anything, or even to get mind off the subject.
If I could, I’d wave a wand and return to the way I felt toward my partner before our trip. I’d love nothing more than to bring back those joyous feeling of warmth and affection and continue building a relationship together. I don’t know if my mind/body will let me. Because I didn’t see any other way around it, I’ve shared most of these thoughts/feeling with my partner, which has understandably left him feeling shitty and unwanted.
Some additional dating history of note: this feeling isn’t new to me. It’s been an occurrence in every single adult relationship I’ve ever been a part of. The only relationships where this wasn’t an issue were way back in high school, where I mostly had my heart broken. Since then, however, my relationships have been marked by feeling really invested and into a person, then having my feelings quickly change, experiencing a need to flee, escape, be alone and then me either ending the relationship or going through a prolonged, painful back and forth in my desire for the person. I’ve never had a happy, smooth, content relationship absent of me feeling the need to leave.
I’m familiar with attachment styles and more or less figure mine is anxious-avoidance. When I was younger, I think it was defined more by anxious attachment, since getting older there’s a lot more avoidance going on. It’s a problem I’ve found no solution to, and is quite truly, the most painful, unwanted aspect of my entire existence to date. It’s created so much strife and pain for everyone involved.
So here I am, once again struggling between a drive to leave my partner or to soldier through, hoping I can “fix” or return to a happy, loving state with him. I know no one outside myself can give me the answers, but I would nonetheless love some discussion, advice or simply the company of anyone who can relate.
Thanks for reading!
LaineJanuary 12, 2023 at 12:02 pm #413657
Welcome to tiny buddha! I read all of your original post.
“I had a good trip, made some repairs to my relationship with my mother, feeling closer to her as a result.. when I returned from my trip, I quickly realized I was now experiencing a distance and lack of connection between my partner and I“-
– It is possible that closeness with your mother scared you so… instead of undoing the bit of closeness that you felt for her during the visit, you undid the closeness with your boyfriend upon your return to him.
If when you were growing up, closeness with your mother hurt you, it would be no wonder that as an adult, you will be scared of closeness with a man. This would explain the pattern you described: “my relationships have been marked by feeling really invested and into a person, then having my feelings quickly change, experiencing a need to flee, escape“- we want to flee, to escape when we are scared. What do you think?
anitaJanuary 12, 2023 at 3:05 pm #413677LaineParticipant
So what repairing and getting closer to my mom actually looked like in person was lots of argument and confrontation. I found myself rehearsing in my head for hours in the months leading up to the trip, arguing at my mom at times that I felt riled up about something. My mom and I have a lot in common, including being emotional, hot-headed and opinionated at times. As my brother described it, “[We] both come in hot.” That being said, it’s not like we have a terrible relationship or anything, but when I was younger, I didn’t much stand up for myself or voice my opinions. I’ve been pretty conflict-averse much of my life, and it’s only in recent years that I’ve become somewhat more comfortable meeting it head on. I should also note that I didn’t feel very seen by my parents growing up and beyond. My mom can be very self-absorbed and distractible, so sustaining a conversation can be difficult.
Still, when I’ve spent time around my family the last several years, my life has felt full and satisfying. When I leave, a significant emptiness descends. It hit me hard last year. It hit me even harder this time. I’ve left both times considering moving back down south to be closer to them. Maybe it’s also partially that my partner can’t fill that emptiness I experience. Of course. How could he? I’ve lived far away from the rest of my family for 15 years now. I miss them. My parent are older and I don’t know much longer I’ll have them around.
Attachment theory talks a lot about how interactions with our parents as children shape attachment styles. I don’t understand why or how my parents’ relationship toward me created insecure attachment, but it did. My family life was mostly one where we were together but separate. I spent a lot of time alone. And haven’t been very close to many people in my life. Inevitably, for me, moving closer to some means moving further apart from others.
And yes, I am scared. Of so much.January 12, 2023 at 6:15 pm #413679
I read your second post but I want to re-read both posts (and anything you may add before I return to the computer) Friday morning when I feel more focused. For now, what crossed my mind when I read: “I don’t understand why or how my parents’ relationship toward me created insecure attachment, but it did”- what crossed my mind was that your experience with your parents when you were 4, 5, 6.. (your first decade of your life), was different from the totality of your 3 decades experience with them which you remember now, in the present time . Now, you have memories from your teenage years, 20s, 30s (I am guessing you are in your 30s..), but back then, in your first decade of life, your experience was raw enough, severe enough to cause your insecure attachment style. I will be back to you in the morning.
anitaJanuary 13, 2023 at 11:32 am #413720
You shared that you met your partner, a warm, caring, understanding, and the most attentive man you’ve ever dated, back in July 2022. You assess the compatibility between the two of you (similar or identical values, politics, interests, hobbies, backgrounds and life experiences) to be “very high“, but the chemistry: “simply okay… sex life is lack luster“, but he is eager to work on that.
“I found myself rehearsing in my head for hours in the months leading up to the trip, arguing at my mom“, “I had a good trip, made some repairs to my relationship with my mother, feeling closer to her as a result and enjoyed the company of dad and brother… So what repairing and getting closer to my mom actually looked like in person was lots of argument and confrontation“-how can it be, I asked myself as I read this: how can closeness and repair be congruent with arguing and confronting?
“My mom and I have a lot in common, including being emotional, hot-headed and opinionated at times. As my brother described it, ‘[We] both come in hot.‘“- you weren’t born emotional and hot headed, it wasn’t a genetical trait that was passed on from mother to daughter, like the color of one’s eyes. You were born to a hot-headed mother and you reacted to the mother you lived with.
“when I was younger, I didn’t much stand up for myself or voice my opinions. I’ve been pretty conflict-averse“- like I suggested right above, you were not born arguing. You were not born able to stand (literally) or to stand up for yourself, or to deal with conflicts. No baby is born able to do more than to cry.
“So what repairing and getting closer to my mom actually looked like in person was lots of argument and confrontation… I’ve been pretty conflict-averse much of my life, and it’s only in recent years that I’ve become somewhat more comfortable meeting it head on… I didn’t feel very seen by my parents growing up and beyond. My mom can be very self-absorbed and distractible, so sustaining a conversation can be difficult“-
– So what “repairing” the relationship means, what getting closer to your mother means is… matching her ability to be heard, matching her vocal anger, her hot-headedness: like mother like daughter sort of a thing? And when your brother said that you and her, “both come in hot” that made you feel closer to him, for saying it, and closer to your mother, for being thought of as similar to her?
I have more thoughts, and would like to attend to your last, very significant line (“And yes, I am scared. Of so much”) later, after you- hopefully- respond to this post.
anitaJanuary 15, 2023 at 10:09 am #413865
I hope you are well. It’s almost 3 days since you posted here, and I wish that my replies were somewhat helpful to you, so that we could continue to communicate. Three days ago, you wrote: “And yes, I am scared. Of so much“- maybe my replies scared you even more. That was not my intention, of course, but it happens that we get scared when ideas are introduced to us, ideas that feel threatening. If you let me know if this was the case, or is the case, I will be cautious and try to provide you with a safe, comfortable space here, on your thread.
anitaJanuary 18, 2023 at 8:39 am #414080
I am returning to your thread and it is okay with me if you don’t reply. Maybe reading the following will be helpful to you. I don’t think it can hurt you, so here it is:
“I didn’t feel very seen by my parents growing up and beyond. My mom can be very self-absorbed and distractible“- in my 2nd post to you, six days ago, I wrote: “your experience with your parents when you were 4, 5, 6.. (your first decade of your life), was different from the totality of your 3 decades experience with them which you remember now“.
Today, I am thinking about your 1st decade experience: It is in young children’s nature to see themselves as the cause of what happens around them; to take responsibility for what they are not responsible for. When your mother was very self-absorbed etc., that is, severely inattentive to you, you probably felt back then that it was your fault, that you somehow rejected her and that she reacted to your rejection the way she did. And you felt guilty for (in your child misperception) rejecting her. Also, during your first decade of life, you had a strong thirst for your mother’s attention and for the closeness you’d feel to her if you had her attention. So, two things: Guilt and Thirst.
Fast forward, as an adult, your pattern in romantic relationships has been “marked by feeling really invested and into a person“- driven by the Thirst for attention and closeness I mentioned above, “then having my feelings quickly change, experiencing a need to flee, escape“- driven by the Guilt I mentioned above. The thought under the surface may be something like: if I continue to enjoy closeness with this man, that would make me a bad girl, a bad daughter for choosing closeness with this man after rejecting my own mother! So you end the relationship with the man/ partner, so to be a good girl, a good daughter. It is a sort of unfinished business (to feel close with your mother) that you need to be attended to before you are allowed- by your conscience- closeness with a partner.
“I’ve left both times considering moving back down south to be closer to them. Maybe it’s also partially that my partner can’t fill that emptiness I experience“- you’ve been considering finishing that unfinished business of.. finally accepting your mother (based on the misperception that you were the one who rejected her).
I hope that you resist the urge to end the relationship with your partner and that you attend quality psychotherapy to help you with your emotional struggle.
anitaJanuary 25, 2023 at 11:59 am #414436
How are you, Laine?