Telling the difference between gut and fear in relationships

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    I have posted on here before, you can see if you view my profile, but on that post I only got one persons response and I did not feel it was a fair response that was considering everything I had to say, honestly I felt judged. I can take constructive criticism, but I didn’t feel heard so I am going to try again cause I am still having the same underlying issue in my relationship.

    If you read my last post you will see my partner is a stand up man, no question. And I know love is a “choice” to an extent and the honeymoon won’t last forever and all that, but that’s not the advice I am looking for, honestly someone that relates would just be so helpful because I feel so alone.

    I met my boyfriend of two years online and we have been good friends ever since, and yes we do have a good sex life in that we both like to and find the other attractive, but it is not with the intimacy that I pictured having with my future husband, yet anyways, maybe that changes over time? Anyways, met online, couldn’t stay away from eachother it was so fun to hangout and do things together rather than alone. But here’s the thing, and maybe this is just my insecurity due to how we met online, but I am not confident that if we met in a group setting with 3+ girls and 3+ guys that we would choose eachother. By this I mean I am not sure he sees what makes me special as opposed to another girl who’s pretty, good awareness, and fun (just like the basics of a good fun person). Something that has kept me with him is whenever thoughts like these lead to anxiety he is alwasy there for me, which is nice, but I am now starting to feel like I complain how he is lacking certain things I want, then he consoles me about my sadness in lacking feeling. almost as if a friend would comfort me as I tell her my relationship doubts. But I would rather him just be those things so I don’t have to mourn them in the first place. I sometimes feel like we are just friends that have good sex.

    Things I imagined in a future husband, help me see if these are unrealistic or not because that is my internal battle right now.

    – Laughing, we laugh of course at times, but not as much as I would have imagined, our sense of humor isn’t as in sync as I have had with other friends and acquaintances

    – Words of affirmation, I don’t know my exact love language, there have been times I thought it was a different one each time. He doesn’t tell me how he feels about me, and when I ask him he says superficial things that honestly make me feel worse cause who cares. I want him to tell me he loves things about me that make me ME. I want to feel like he sees  me and I don’t very often. but is this just an anxious attachment style symptom? I want him to tell me he loves me and that I’m beautiful, and that I have good ideas, or that I inspire him in some way, just anything that is validating to who I truly am. Ive gone two years without this type of word affirmation so i know this isn’t my own insecurity it has just bothered me for long enough and I want to explode and just be like “DO YOU SEE ME like do you actually see my spirit and soul over here exposed to you and walking in the world”

    – Communication, this ties into the words of affirmation, but he just doesn’t seem to talk as much as I wish during our date nights or hangout during the day. in the beginning you have all these stories to share and after two years I understand there is more to what you do know about the other than what you don’t, but I still expected conversation about nothing like idk the pyramids or how interesting the renaissance period is, just anything

    – Our end goals. He wants to live away from people and on a farm, homeschool kids (not opposed at all here) and have hobbies like learning to fly a plane or building something cool. I want to be apart of the fashion world in some way, where I make clothes or simply can afford to wear my style downtown, I want to be around people or at least not far from a big city, I am also an actress and I want to go to auditions in the city and one day be apart of a big film or tv series. I love going to boutiques with fun aesthetics or having local cafes to go read and write. Honestly a future is compromise and if you truly love someone you can make it work so maybe this section isn’t deal breaker worthy.

    Idk maybe we are perfect for eachother and I am self sabotaging, or maybe its the inner voice of my higher self telling me it’s not right


    Hi Seaturtle

    I understand that you want to feel seen by someone with a similar perspective to you. This is similar to you wanting to be with someone who shares the same values as you, a theme of anxiety in your relationship.

    But people are different. Even when you are with someone who feels similar to you, you start to learn how different you are. No two people are exactly alike.

    I understand that you want to be liked for the things that you like about yourself. But being sweet and adventurous aren’t generic complements. Not everyone is sweet or adventurous. It is hard that your partner doesn’t specifically value parts of yourself that you do though.

    You want him to say and feel and think exactly how you want, but realistically this is never going to happen with anyone. You might have some areas that you feel compatibility with, but not all. In every relationship you will have to get used to people acting in their own unique ways.

    You mentioned difficulties flirting in your previous post. My husband didn’t know how to recognize flirting when I met him. I had to teach him to recognize when I was flirting. Have you tried teaching him about flirting?

    I think the end goals being so vastly different is a bigger thing than you realize. To have his dream, you would have to give up yours. To have your dream, he would have to give up his. Is there a compromise that meets somewhere in the middle??? My mother gave me one piece of advice for relationships which I feel is true. That your goals should be compatible or the relationship won’t work. In my mind, this is a valid reason to part ways as there is no real future together if you can’t find one that suits both of your needs.

    You describe the relationship as being good friends who have sex. That’s my understanding of what a relationship is.

    You mention communication dying down as a difficulty in the relationship. Have you been in a long term relationship before? I feel like this is pretty common as people don’t have as much to talk about because they already know a lot about each other.

    You are still in the relationship after two years despite feeling unsure. Do you worry that you are seeking perfection in a person? Or do you think that perhaps you’ve stayed together because he’s a good person and you worry that good people are hard to find? Does part of you feel like you might regret leaving him in the future? I guess what I’m asking is why you’ve stayed together for 2 years despite feeling uncomfortable?

    It sounds like you might be fairly young. I have ended relationships with good people that I haven’t been compatible with in other areas.

    Hygiene, cheating, lack of attraction, insecurity, lack of communication, lack of commitment. Often more than one of these occurring at the same time. Sometimes only one.

    Regardless of other people’s perspectives on what you should do, or how you should feel your reasons for what you want to do are valid. You have free will! You don’t have to stay in a relationship that you feel uncomfortable with if you don’t want to. The question is do you want to stay together or not?

    There will be other chances to meet good men. Will those good men ever meet all of your criteria? Probably not. There is always a measure of compromise no matter who you date.

    I would suggest considering what you want in a relationship, as well as what you don’t want. Negotiables and non-negotiables.

    I know that we are different people with different values, but I hope I haven’t made you feel uncomfortable. I do respect you, even though we are different. ❤️

    Wishing you all of the best! 🙏


    I’m trying to think how I knew that I wanted to be with my husband.

    I would say that with him I felt loved and accepted for the first time in my life. I felt like I could share everything, not just the good parts of me. He accepted even the parts of me I don’t like about myself.


    I would add that another thing to consider since you want children is time. Women have a clock on this whereas men don’t.

    Whilst good men exist it can take some time to find one that you are most compatible with.

    Would you be okay with giving up on the idea of children for a partner more compatible? It honestly depends on how old you are.


    Dear Helcat,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and thorough responses!

    To answer your question, yes I am young and this is my first long term relationship. I am 24 and he is 26. I’ve had about 5 previous relationships but I ended each of them after about 3 months cause that was just how long it took me to realize they weren’t right and end it well. With my current partner, at that 3 month mark that feeling of wanting to break up was replaced with this light peaceful feeling that I could relax with him and almost like a voice was telling me he would be around for a while. It has never been a forever feeling though, but even now a fear of breaking up is that I want him in my life.

    Even as I type this I feel so sad that he could maybe not be the one, but I just don’t know if he is what I want. I want someone who is as spiritual as me, and wants to laugh as much as me. I love to make others laugh and vise versa, some of my best friends were made that way and many past crushes I have had stemmed from our ability to make each other laugh. My partner now is the first man I have fallen for and that not be a reason. At first I thought we could just go to comedy clubs and watch comedy movies to get that into our relationship, but it’s almost as if that has been a band-aid until now and I just want him to make me laugh so bad. And I want to have deeper more spiritual conversations, but he is so caught up in this world, he is not superficial, but he is an ex pro football player that has the work ethic of a multi-millionaire, he works works works. I do admire him for it but when I want someone to be present with me he is often not able to be. I wonder if he ever will be or will ever have the spiritual or emotional capacity that I desire in a partner, but I am terrified of wasting my time waiting…

    You asked me why am I with him if I have all these uncomfortable doubts, well I hope it is starting to make sense as to why. He has so many things I do want in a partner that I’ve wanted to wait for him, to be more emotionally and spiritually connected to me, to grow into being my soulmate, because as of now that is something I can sadly, but confidently admit, he is not currently my soulmate. I don’t see him at the depth I have seen others and definitely don’t feel seen in as deep a way as I crave.

    He accepts my flaws and loves me inspite, which touches me so deeply because I didn’t receive unconditional love from my father. However this is just the type of person my partner is, he has many friends I don’t necessarily like but he accepts those parts of them and finds the positives and keep them around, so am I even good for him or is he settling?

    My dad is a success oriented man and if I wasn’t doing things to his standards I received a very cold version of him, versus his warm personality when I was doing something he defined as efficient and effective. My partner consoles me when I have panic attacks and I have always been alone in those, or when my mom was around, had her comfort. But my mom over-gave comfort, she didn’t allow me to suffer when I was growing up, which led to me having a hard time making decisions in my adult life. Both my parents were very protective, they didn’t let me make my own mistakes and pick myself up (my mom would pick me up and do whatever I wanted to prevent sadness), which I believe is playing a role now in my fear of breaking up, and indecisiveness in general, not just my relationship.

    My mom has always said, you have to teach a man to love you. That makes me cringe even saying that, but is it true? does our current society not raise emotionally and spiritually intelligent men naturally? seems ridiculous our human experiences can’t be that significantly different. I guess what I am wondering is, should I expect a man to already have all these attributes or is there some waiting that is involved in the best relationships, but also how does that compare to the general knowledge that loving someone for what they could/will be isn’t true love?

    I fear that if I break up with him I will realize when it’s too late that he infact was ideal but I didn’t have the capacity to accept him and love him unconditionally back. Like maybe he is meant to be with a future version of me and not the present, which is funny cause my whole young life I prayed to meet my partner young so we could grow together, but then my young-met parents divorced and my aunt and uncle who also met young, that I looked up to, have a type of relationship I would never want.


    Hi Seaturtle

    You’re welcome! I appreciate that you understood my intent which was to encourage you to share more about how you feel about your partner.

    I’m going to reply in a couple of different parts because it’s getting late. But I can share my immediate thoughts now.

    You seem like a very intelligent and self-aware young woman. You’ve already made some really important self-discoveries, well done!

    There’s an idea about soulmates that I quite enjoy. Probably different from how you use the term. Still, I wonder your thoughts about it? Basically, soulmates can be friends, lovers, family. Anyone with a significant impact in our lives. The idea is that many different souls come into your life to teach you different things.

    I really enjoy this idea, since I think who we choose to spend time with and why is very important because we learn from them as we spend time with them.

    In some ways, I think we all teach each other when dating because it’s very much about compromise. Not every guy you date is the same and vice versa. We all have different preferences and needs. Dating is all about communicating and meeting each others needs.

    By reading about how you feel about your partner you clearly love your partner, despite your differences. I think that you’re more decisive than you realize! You dump unsuitable guys very quickly, which is a great thing. It sounds like you chose to stay with your partner for a reason.

    At any time please feel free to share your thoughts if you disagree. You know yourself much better than I do and I can very much be wrong!

    Do you notice a pattern in how you feel about your partner and how your parents raised you?

    For example, your father’s love being conditional. And your mother’s overcomforting doing her best to provide you with anything you wanted.

    This could link to to the theory about learning from the people that we spend time with I mentioned earlier. Quite often we learn a lot from our parents, whether we like it or not.

    Throughout your life you were taught that you deserve to have anything you want from your mother. Meanwhile, your father taught you that you should reject people when they “let you down”.

    These messages could translate to the conflicting feelings that you have about your partner? What do you think?

    For example, he should be perfect and share my favourite interests with me, spirituality and comedy. But he doesn’t! So maybe he’s not the right person for me.

    I hope that I haven’t hurt you by simplifying it to these points. I really just want to know if you see a pattern since you brought up your family history.

    I hope that you feel comfortable enough to share any thoughts you have. ❤️

    I will be able to share the rest of my thoughts tomorrow.

    Wishing you all the best! 🙏


    I completely feel the same way about there being different soulmates in our lives in different forms. I have found this in a friend, my sisters and my mom. But something interesting I’ve noticed is that these soulmates can sometimes be distracted with other things and lead me to not feeling that connection at times. My best friend is dating someone who I would not put up with, and since this boy came into her life (I can’t even call him a man) she has been so consumed that I don’t feel that soulmate connection with her at the moment, which hurts my heart. Same with my sisters and mom, it comes and goes. Which is why I want this to “come” with my boyfriend. I have had the smallest glimpses but over all I don’t think our souls are mates, but instead recognize eachother.

    Some time ago I became much more selective about who I spent my time with. I read a book called “the empaths guide to survival” and in it I learned how much of an empath I am and how I take on other peoples energies. This all lead me to notice I was already selective about the people I spent time with and taught me that this was a useful instinct that I had developed. Although interesting on this topic is I’ve found I can become “overly” controlling of my environment, such as getting to the point I just refuse to go places cause certain people are there, which affects having much of a social life. This bothered my boyfriend when it came to our roommate, his college football friend. Short story for context:

    It’s actually bizarre, so we moved here from WA state and a week before our move BOTH our cars were stolen. Still to this day I don’t quite see why in the universe this happened, like what the good in it is. Because it lead us to have to buy new cars with our savings and due to then lack of funds I couldn’t get my own apartment as planned, so naturally I ended up staying with him for about a year (just moved into an apartment with a friend a couple weeks ago). Living with him was what he originally wanted, but when I said I wasn’t ready, he found a roommate.

    Anyways, his (still) roommate is not someone I typically would have spent alot of time with for various reasons, I felt he takes from the energy more than he gives and I felt drained when he was around. I complained to my boyfriend about this more than I should have. On “overly” controlling my environment, I feel I can be selfish by simply not wanting certain people, even movies/music in my life, fortunately my partner is very easy going but that also concerns me that he may just be unaware of what drains him. Because the pattern ends up me calling the shots a lot, our date nights depend on my mood, the music, most of the movies we watch, it’s all my comfortable preferences, when does this become selfish? I have wondered before if I am a narcissist and a taker in life, am I crafting the environment to only be suitable for me and he may not know it now but is my partner building resentment and he doesn’t even know it and one day he will come out and say “we only ever do what you want and I’m sick of it.”  That unpacked more than I was planning but I will let it sit and not edit it like I want to go back and do because I want to see your response (Helcat)

    Interesting on meeting eachothers needs, how much should we need one person? Like I’ve heard it’s healthy to rely on multiple ppl for different aspects of your life so you don’t overwhelm one person. Do you think this is true?

    I’d love for you to elaborate on how you see that I am more decisive than I think, because I often get stuck there.

    “Do you notice a pattern in how you feel about your partner and how your parents raised you?”

    • Above I mentioned a fear of being/becoming a narcissist. I believe both my parents are on this spectrum. My mom cheated on my dad several times, she slept with a guy I was suppose to go on a date with. all these acts had different reasons, she was emotionally neglected from my dad, she was “protecting” me from a bad guy who she told not to go meet me on our date to which he responded he would stay with her then… anyways, how could she not be a narcissist with her ends justify the means behavior and careless acts to my Dad who did love her, at least was very committed after forgiving several disloyalties. I have forgiven my mom, it has been several years since, and somehow after shutting her out for a year at 16 years old after her cheating came to light to me and the divorce happened, I missed her. We were once so close and I somehow felt my heart needed her in my life, that it would be worse for me to cut her out completely, so we began to mend our relationship and still with faults, she recognizes her faults which is redeeming enough for me, although I keep her at a distance and unfortunately cannot share much with her because she still has an “end justify the means” mentality so I don’t trust her. My dad is highly superficial, he made alot of money after the divorce his company exploded in the best ways. He now is with a 6 year gf who is just like him. no talk of emotions and they cheers a jack and coke every night they aren’t at a four seasons resort. When my car was stolen his name was on the title still, about to be tranfered to me a week later, he took all the insurance money and justified not giving any of it to me cause he paid for my insurance while I was in college, even though I paid for part of the car and had well over a thousand dollars worth of things stolen from inside the car. I emailed him about this after finding a way to move here without his financial help, a very honest email about how I felt left in the dust and screwed over by my own father. He responded to the email that it was too much for him to emotionally take on, and never truly responded. I have also found a place in my heart to keep my dad though, after all, my mom hurt him so bad and I could not leave him too, and him and I had a heart to heart on christmas and I told him I understand he’s only human and made mistakes with me growing up but at the end of the day I wanted a friendship with my dad. Ever since, he’s the only family member to visit me in AZ, just him alone, it was very special and he truly entered my world and just was real for a minute and didn’t talk about the news or something that makes him sound smart and in control. He’s actually in town for a golf tournament this weekend and is making time for me friday evening so I am excited to see him, I love challenging myself to be real with him, cause he is someone I didn’t know how to be real with for a very long time.
    • I noticed I would get anxious when my partner didn’t inform me exactly when he’d be home or when he spent “too much” time with our roommate before coming to bed. I could recognize this was unreasonable but I couldn’t stop the feeling. I started to recall how emotionally absent my dad had been growing up, it was like I expected my partner to disappoint me which was giving me the anxiety before it even happened, by “it” I mean being emotionally abandon. He notices I still don’t fully trust him but I keep just thinking it will happen eventually
    • My fathers love being conditional I think makes me doubt my ability to unconditionally love and be loved which is a root of a lot of problems
    • My moms over coddling makes it hard for me to be uncomfortable, and I had to learn to deal with my own emotions later in life which, I still feel control me at times.

    “Throughout your life you were taught that you deserve to have anything you want from your mother. Meanwhile, your father taught you that you should reject people when they “let you down”.

    • this feels so true and honestly is probably why I don’t fully respect her and am much more real and harsh with her than my dad who I just never want to bother. My younger siblings feel the same about both of them, we have talked about, and I have even tried to express to my dad, we feel we can take our stress out on my mom and she takes it and consoles us, then we go to my dads house and he gets a much more put together version of us. He claims he doesn’t want it this way and wanted me (when I lived with him alone from 16-20, whole other story about the turmoil I was in not talking to my mom and having a dad who did not understand a growing woman in any way and did alot of things I would never repeat to a child in the future) yet he would make fun of me if I was sitting at home watching tv mid-day I would not hear the end of it, judging me, saying everything you need to to get across the point ” you are lazy”
    • The one about my father scares me more. He was very critical, I left a dish in his sink at his house, or left my backpack downstairs, basically left any trace of myself in “his” house, he would get upset. infact while I lived with him I went through alot of suicidal thoughts and running away attempts, never known to him because of this criticism that I did not understand. Every 3 months, not an exaggeration, we would have what he began to call “house cleaning” where we would sit down and he would list all the ways I had exemplified being “ungrateful” at his house. The shoes by the door, dishes in the sink, bakcpack/clothes downstaires, my messy bedroom, messy car, how I didnt think about him and cook him dinner. This all has followed me, I worry my partner doesnt think of me, when he doesn’t put the toilet seat down my head tells me he doesnt think about me at all. My dad would accuse me of planning my showers around avoiding talking to him, or if I was upstairs when he got home I was expected to come had conversation with him (all things I felt were a wifes place not mine as a 17 year old girl who just wanted to text boys and draw in my room) but if I didnt do these things they would come up at “house cleaning.” man as I write this all our I realize how messed up it is and how I never want to treat anybody like this. If my boyfriend is showering by the time I come over I think, “wait why couldnt he plan his shower so he would be out when I got here, he must not care very much about our time together.” I know it’s ridiculous right? all these are ways my mind just was exhausted living with him and I needed to get away from, well now I am realizing I needed to get away from myself… I need to journal more, alot of this has not been surfaced yet so thank you for challenging me with your questions Helcat.
    • I think i do get the impulse to reject when I am not given what I expect from my boyfriend in particular when it comes to attention or any of the things mentioned above. Last weekend he was an hour late to my house and him being late is a pattern in our relationship and it would bother anyone, but I do feel it bothers me more than most, I suddenly feel myself closing to him and I can’t be touched and I get upset that “he caused me” to shut down cause I don’t want to be. Terrible cycle that makes me afraid to be disappointed because I am afraid to shut down, so I literally fear him being late or doing anything that triggers this shutdown.


    “For example, he should be perfect and share my favourite interests with me, spirituality and comedy. But he doesn’t! So maybe he’s not the right person for me.”

    • In the grand scheme I can see that pointing out these things is a form of rejecting him and pushing him away because he’s not doing them aka I am not getting what I want, but why am I rejecting him at all? I think there could be a deeper reason that I am pushing him away, that manifests itself into “oh we won’t work because of comedy, spirituality,” cause although valid needs, isn’t something in the relationship lacking if I am feeling there is something missing? it may not be spirtuality or comedy, but there has to be something right? or would I push anyone away right now and the whole problem is me and our relationship would be fine if I stopped self sabotaging…

    I wonder about all the ways I act out of past trauma.

    This is actually a specific topic I like to talk about but my boyfriend doesn’t understand the point


    Hi Seaturtle

    Thank you for feeling comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings! I don’t think you’re a narcissist or a taker. It sounds like you’ve experienced a lot of trauma in your life and simply don’t want to end up like your parents.

    I can see how much pain you experienced as a child. Psychology is becoming more aware of the massive impact of verbal abuse. I believe this is what you experienced with your father. Repeated criticism can chip away at mental health and the negative messages that we’re told are learned and become a part of our psyche.

    I’m glad that your relationship with your father has since improved. You did a very good job standing up for yourself with the car insurance situation.

    I don’t know if your parents are narcissists. I’m not a psychologist. I’ve just received a lot of therapy because of my own abuse growing up. I found therapy to be really helpful for healing from trauma. I don’t know if this is something you would consider?

    What I find is that some people are better at maintaining relationships from a distance and struggle to say live with others especially when their mental health is bad. I do believe that your father may have some kind of mental health issue. His behaviour is quite similar to my adoptive mother. But yes, people who struggle to live with others when their mental health is bad often take it out on those around them. It was never your fault that he behaved the way he did. Those mistakes are entirely his responsibility. He should never have treat you that way. Some people are not ready to look after children. He was one of those people.

    I’m curious about how living with your father affected your mother’s mental health? Part of me wonders, if one of the reasons she cheated is because of your father’s issues. It’s no excuse for her behaviour. Cheating is an abusive behaviour and not okay.

    So I mentioned that negative messages we learn can become part of your psyche. You mentioned a connection between how your father accused you of taking showers to avoid him and you experiencing negative thoughts when your boyfriend takes a shower when you’re around.

    I would call this an intrusive thought learned from your father as a result of his verbal abuse.

    One thing that has helped me when I experience negative thoughts and feelings is questioning, who in my life does this thought remind me of?

    I think that you recognize that your father’s behaviour was unhealthy and unreasonable. But the intrusive thought persists because the situation is a trigger, a reminder of what you experienced as a child.

    Your father falsely equated normal teenage behaviour with you not caring about him. This trigger causes you to feel uncared for too.

    I think asking your boyfriend for a hug once he’s finished with his shower could be a good way to remind yourself that he cares. What do you think about all of this? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

    Love and best wishes! ❤️ 🙏


    I asked for a therapist when I was 17, after the divorce and after an attempt to harm myself didn’t work, I knew I needed help. Thankfully I got a therapist and saw her consistently until January of this year when my insurance ended, now I have a state issued health insurance but it doesn’t cover my therapist back in WA. I tried searching for a new one a couple months ago but I couldn’t find someone available and relatable, so I gave up.

    I definitely don’t think my parents were ready for children. They dated for one year and got pregnant with me their junior year of college, got married and started a family, with three more children. They did their best but I would not have a child if I did not believe it was coming into a prepared home, cause I have lived how unfair that is to the child. Something I think really adds to some struggle in my relationship is He seems much less affected by trauma… I’m not a psychologist either and I am open to his just being deep down but He was the youngest of three, his parents are much older and he was homeschooled and played football with all his time he was training. He made it to the NFL so that just shows how dedicated his life was. From the stories he’s shared, his parents are not perfect by any means, but it seems like he escaped alot and had his own social life. Me being the oldest I could never slide under the radar like my sister and brother younger than me. Plus I was a very obedient child, I don’t know why, looking back now I wish I was more rebellious. My partner is someone who will do what he wants, and he would get away with alot, I was watched like a hawk. When I try to talk about trauma with him I am not always comfortable to do so, because he doesn’t relate and if it follows an argument and I am explaining why something is a trigger, he calls my response “excuses” and that is the most invalidating thing, but also makes me wonder if they are just excuses…

    “I’m curious about how living with your father affected your mother’s mental health? Part of me wonders, if one of the reasons she cheated is because of your father’s issues. It’s no excuse for her behaviour. Cheating is an abusive behaviour and not okay.”

    • Some of the grace I developed for my mom happened while I lived with my dad. Like you said, it doesn’t excuse the cheating but it made it understandable for me. He was in no way emotionally validating or aware in general. The type of guy that I refused to date in fact had some of the qualities he had/has. When you come with a stressful issue and they give you logical solutions instead of giving you comfort, and he would make jokes about sensitive things that would hurt your feelings then call you sensitive. I just could understand why my mom felt misunderstood and found herself looking other places for it. However, my moms mom, my grandmother, is like my mom but worse in the “ends justify the means” mentality. My grandma (between my mom and dad this is the story that is my impression of what happened but my grandma and my mom lie alot for their own agendas so I am never sure if I fully know the truth) so my grandma told my mom not to tell my dad certain things, He was homeschooled and raised by a pastor, a virgin who did not believe in divorce. My mom had been with other men, she says around 10, but she cheated with 6 men alone so I think that number is higher. I do not judge people for the amount of partners, but it’s the lying part I am fixating on. Anyways she did not tell my dad how many men she had been with, she lied and said one or two. Later, 2 years into their marriage, I am two and my brother is on the way, it comes out how many men my mom had been with and he told her, according to my mom, “i would never have married you had i known that.” When she told me the sad part is I could see my dad saying this awful thing to her. He would get mean when his feelings were hurt. never physical, but he could get very mean.

    If intrusive thoughts are a result of verbal abuse then there must be alot of verbal abuse I have not even recalled yet, because I battle intrusive thoughts often. I feel like I have so many triggers, and I feel bad my partner gets the reaction of alot of them.

    “Your father falsely equated normal teenage behaviour with you not caring about him. This trigger causes you to feel uncared for too.”

    • I do often feel uncared for by my partner, and it hurts him whenever I tell him this, but I just am trying to be open and honest with him. I even preface it with saying, “I am not saying you don’t care for me, but when you do ____ I feel that way and I think it has to do with past trauma.” He hears me and can wrap his mind around it but it still hurts him that he triggers me to feel uncared for and has even asked me why I want to be with him then if what he does upsets me. To this I try to explain that it is not him it is my past, he understands but I dont think it makes him feel any better.

    “I think asking your boyfriend for a hug once he’s finished with his shower could be a good way to remind yourself that he cares. What do you think about all of this? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.”

    • I like this alot, infact I think I do try to do things similar to this to try and reprogram my own psyche. When I wish for him to comfort me, I, uncomfortably, make myself go give him comfort, and usually this also soothes me, and probably my own inner child. I also have this plush stuffed animal he gave me, and when I lived with him and felt very anxious while he would talk to our roommate and not come to bed, I would just comfort the stuffed animal and try to visualize calming my scared inner child. This seemed to work. But I like your idea to comfort him, cause I think that not only helps me heal but can help him to feel safe and loved as well.

    A recent relationship tiff that came up last night when my partner came to hangout with me after work and stayed the night.

    • We have fun with eachother and wrestle around but last night he got a little too harsh and after a third time of just feeling pinned down and tickled/ pinched (i hate being pinched) I freaked out and felt shut down and thought the only solution was him coming to apologize and comfort me. He did not come to comfort me when I pulled away and instead I had some time to think about why I disliked that so much and why I suddenly felt so uncomfortable. My dad was the oldest of 6 brothers, and I often stayed with my dads mom during the work week. They were like older brothers and they would rough house with me, not aware that I was just a little girl, not one of them. they would pin me down and tickle me until i cried or could not breathe, but I was laughing which somehow seemed to give them permission when I was in pain. I think this is what I was triggered by when the wrestling turned into tickling and pinching, evening typing that out makes me uncomfortable. When I was able to tell my partner this he said he felt like he was always consoling me for something he did wrong. This put me into deep thought. He is so delicate about talking about this stuff and says it stresses him out, so I feel I have to very carefully approach the conversation about trauma and triggers, he is receptive but it feels like I am draining him, and I also feel pressured to know exactly what I want to say, when in actuality in these moments I am formulating thoughts and ideas but apparently cant do that with him. After a while of sitting in thought I told him about my uncles, but he still felt like he was always consoling me for something he did wrong. I told him he did something small that was made bigger in my head because what I went through and that I felt bad he got that harsh of a reaction as if he was hurting someone he loved very badly. I then went to lay with him and comfort him, which he reacted very softly to and like he needed that.
    • But then, so he often self medicates with Marijuana, it helps him with his adhd and sleep paralysis. Since being with him I have been smoking with him in evenings quite often, but I know I need to ween off but I think I am addicted to the routine of it. Anyways, we smoked and (this is not the first time) I suddenly felt as though he was a stranger. He was getting into my bed and I felt uncomfortable sleeping with him. this happened after I said some things thinking they were funny (here the comedy aspect kicks in) and he didn’t react at all, which made me feel self conscious and then he said something he thought was funny and I did not get it at all. usually when i smoke on occasion with friends we laugh and laugh, but with him its like we get awkward and unfamiliar. To remedy this I rubbed his back as he faced the other way to sleep, this way no talking and I could keep reminding myself that it was ok and I could be comfortable with him. The whole thing is so sad to me, because it is not just marijuana that makes me feel this estranged way towards him. I have felt this strange feeling before where it’s like we are awkward and I try to shed light on it by just being real and asking like why is it awkward right now? and his response is always that he had no idea that it was. It just makes me feel so alone, and I believe is the feeling that initially leads me into wondering if we are a good match, then blaming it on the lack of comedic sync and spiritual intuition, like him not being able to sense that the energy is off between us and awkward. Since he doesn’t sense it it makes me wonder if it is just in my head? This is actually a very consistent question I ask myself and makes me wonder if this is my intuition saying he is wrong for me or I am making this up and it is just an intrusive thought from something that happened in my past that therefore would be present in any relationship. infact this is the whole title of this forum and it’s taken till now to actually get to

      “Telling the difference between gut and fear in relationships”



    Hi Seaturtle

    My heart goes out to you for your difficulties with trauma. ❤️

    It’s good to learn that you’ve already seen a therapist before. That explains your impressive level of self-awareness.

    It sounds like your trauma is extremely active for you. Affecting you in a variety of normal situations. It doesn’t sound like your partner either doesn’t understand or isn’t aware of how bad your trauma was. Potentially both.

    You mentioned that your partner had some experiences of trauma but he often had the opportunity to escape. This is a very important insight. As the oldest child with multiple siblings I expect that you also had childcare responsibilities for your siblings? This is pretty common when parents struggle to cope. There was no way for you to escape your situation.

    It’s not simply not fair of him to call your trauma response during arguments an excuse even when he is upset.

    So a good way to communicate that this isn’t appropriate might be. Please don’t call my trauma response an excuse during arguments. I would bring this up next time he does this.

    It does sound like your trauma is impacting the relationship which isn’t your fault. There are potentially some things that you can do to help.

    Phrasing is very important when communicating triggers. Currently, your partner feels blamed and like he is doing something wrong when you communicate triggers. The reality is that often your triggers occur during situations that others would perceive as normal. So in fact most of the time he is doing nothing wrong. Just accidentally and innocently stepping on a trigger.

    Making an effort to watch your phrasing and try to avoid mentioning your partner making you feel a certain way will help him to not feel to blame for your emotional response to a trigger.

    You did a good job comforting him after the tickling situation.

    I have experienced similar communication issues with my husband. I have PTSD from trauma and need to communicate my triggers too. It has taken some time to figure out a style of communication that helps us both to feel at peace.

    An example of communicating a trigger might be. I feel upset because I had a trigger and describing the event that occurred in the past.

    Communicating a need will be received better than a perceived complaint. (How he experiences it)

    So when you feel an emotional need to be cared for because a trigger has made you feel uncared for. Think about what your partner could do to show you he cares. Going with the hug example.

    Could I get a hug? I’m having a trigger. You could maybe explain the past trauma while getting a hug.

    I think taking some time to process might be important when you feel upset too. As you pointed out its not always immediately apparent what the trigger is until you reflect on it.

    These things are really tricky to navigate. You’re doing the best you can in each moment. Clearly, you are an empathetic and caring person. I think you’re doing a good job, these are just some tips that helped my husband and I to communicate about these things.

    You’re resourceful by using a teddy to comfort yourself. I do that too! I’m actually bringing a teddy to the birth of my child because I don’t like to be touched during a PTSD trigger.

    Love and best wishes! 🙏



    I can really empathize with your experience. I am going through a very similar thing.

    I have been dating a nice man who is very understanding of my emotions. We have fun times togther, but something feels off and has for the entire time we’ve been together (one year). The challenge is that he just isnt right for me. He’s just not the man I wanted to be with. I often try and focus on the positive things and try to make it work.

    Recently ive been wanting to improve my self worth. Ive been seeing a therapist and I realize that Im willing to sacrifice my own happiness to have someone in my life. My boyfriend is a good man. He’s honest and tries hard in our relationship. He’s been here for me through tough times and he loves me (and I love him). But we are just not aligned. (We are in the process of breaking up)

    If youre anything like me, you probably want to hold on and make things work. But I really want to stress to you that your desires for your future matter. Those are called non-negotiables. You deserve to be he happiest and most beautiful version of you, and if that means exploring the acting world and living in the city, why should you give that up for a guy?

    There will be other good guys, and other good guys who love acting and love the city.

    Now, I also have noticed I have very specific expectations.Things like exactly what the relationship should look like, or exactly what the person should love about me are unrealistic. Those expectations will leave you disappointed every time. No one will love you the way you love yourself, they just wont notice those things because they dont experience their beauty like you do.

    What isn’t unrealistic is being able to share a life with someone, a future with someone and to feel loved. If you are an actor or an artist you may be very expressive of love and you may want to receive that as well. Im an artist and a poet and experience love in a profound way. My bf does not. For some people, love is about the commitment, time and moments shared together. About bein there for someone. Those things are silent. He may be able to work on it, but he has to actively do that. (I suggest asking him)

    If you need something different from what youre getting with him, that ok.

    Those things like words of affirmation are things you both compromise on, thats healthy. Where he works on it and you appreciate and have patience for the growth.

    But your desired future isnt something you should just throw away. Thats a place where you have a little wiggle room, but the difference between the city and the country is big.

    You deserve to be happy. Sometimes that means letting go of things that aren’t aligned with you.

    Also, strongly consider if this person would be someone you would be really good friends with if there was no possibility for dating. How much do you share in common? Are your paths in the same colour scheme (all warm tones or maybe cold) or are you a red and he’s a green? -Just things to consider

    Good luck! Sending love 💗


    Dear Helcat

    Thank you for your advice on how to respond to my trauma triggers, having these techniques in mind will help me in the future.

    The inner child work of a stuffed teddy is surprising I am glad you found it too.

    All these triggers I have from past trauma that come up in my relationship make me wonder if my partner can handle it. He seems to not have many triggers, infact after me sharing my trigger reponse after the ticking he asked me ‘why dont I have triggers like you do do I have no trauma?’ this is concerning to me for two reasons: he lacks some self aware, but I knew that before and think he can grow in that way if he wants to but I am not sure if he truly does. and with me talking about my trauma and his inability to relate it makes me feel like he is holding all this baggage for me and I am holding none of his, to which he will eventually tire.

    I would also really love to hear your analysis on the last paragraph of my last post. I get this feeling of unfamiliarity often, when alcohol or marijuana is involved it does prolong the feeling and make me feel more trapped but I have the same feeling completely sober as well. This feeling of disconnect that feels like an awkward unfamiliarity and I am the only one who notices it.

    In an earlier post you mentioned I am more decisive than i think. I think it would help understand if you could elaborate on this a little more? I ask this not only for validation but to help open my eyes, because I want to be decisive and often feel I am not, specifically in this relationship and how much I question it.


    Dear Seaturtle:

    What got my attention early on when reading your very intelligent (if I my say so) posts in your two threads, is what I see as the core of your difficulties in your relationship with your boyfriend of two years. Here it is (I am adding the boldface feature):

    “I do not know if he loves me for me…… He often says ‘love is a choice’ and I get that and agree to an extent but I’m like ‘ok but what do you love about my personality? like me specifically apart from others I don’t feel seen… I am not sure he  sees what makes me special as opposed to another girl… I want him to tell me he loves things about me that make me ME. I want to feel like he sees me… I want him to tell me..  anything that is validating to who I truly am… I want to explode and just be like “DO YOU SEE ME“-

    – Having read all the positives you indicated about your boyfriend and the relationship with him, and before reading anything about your childhood and parents, it was clear to me that you grew up UNSEEN, and what you experience with your boyfriend (evident in the quote above) is the re-activation of your unseen childhood experience.

    I grew up severely unseen myself, and when I was your age and kind-of dated, I was OBSESED with a man’s previous girlfriends and had to know what’s different about me, what does he like about ME that’s different from what he liked about THEM. I felt like I was.. not appreciated for anything significant that’s special, or unique about me. I didn’t want to be- in the guy’s mind (or in my own mind) just another someone, or.. no one.

    I grew up with my mother (father was gone when I was five or six), and .. well, I was one of the loneliest girls on the planet, isolated from the inside.. I’ll try to explain: UNSEEN (with capital letters, as in to the extreme), there was an emptiness within me, a heavy, dark emptiness. To be seen would have been like the person seeing me turning on the lights in that darkness, so that I could see myself. The darkness within made me a stranger to myself. I didn’t know who/ what I truly was, so as a young woman I demanded that a guy will give me the answer: what’s different about me from this or that girl that you dated before.. What’s special about me.. Turn on the light in my darkness-within and tell me what you see..?!

    What a relief it was/ is, decades later, to start seeing ME.  Interestingly, the more I see, the less my need to be special, unique, as in different or better than others.

    Back to you. I didn’t read your childhood experience although I saw that you mentioned it. I will now read..:

    “I didn’t receive unconditional love from my father… If I wasn’t doing things to his standards, I received a very cold version of him, versus his warm personality when I was doing something he defined as efficient and effective… My mom..  didn’t allow me to suffer when I was growing up…  I mentioned a fear of being/becoming a narcissist. I believe both my parents are on this spectrum. My mom cheated on my dad several times, she slept with a guy I was supposed to go on a date with… My mom hurt him (dad) so bad…  I started to recall how emotionally absent my dad had been growing up.. emotionally abandoned… My moms over coddling makes it hard for me to be uncomfortable, and I had to learn to deal with my own emotions later in life which, I still feel control me at times… He (father) was very critical, I left a dish in his sink at his house, or left my backpack downstairs, basically left any trace of myself in ‘his’ house, he would get upset… he would list all the ways I had exemplified being ‘ungrateful’ at his house. The shoes by the door, dishes in the sink…  My dad would accuse me of planning my showers around avoiding talking to him… I was a very obedient child, I don’t know why, looking back now I wish I was more rebellious… I was watched like a hawk“-

    – you were watched like a hawk, but you were not seen.

    Here is what I think your father didn’t see (this is what my mother didn’t see in me): that you LOVED him. If he saw this basic, true, most significant part of who you were as a child, you would have felt seen.

    Your empathy (“My mom hurt him so bad“) was with him, but he didn’t see that, did he? Didn’t see how much you cared for him. If he did, he wouldn’t have given you a very cold version of himself when you weren’t doing things to his standards, because he’d know that you loved him no matter what, and when he noticed that you left traces of yourself in his home, like your backpack, instead of thinking something like: this is a backpack and it doesn’t belong here, getting upset; he’d think something to the effect of: this is my  daughter’s backpack.. a trace of her love, and she belongs here.

    There is more that I can say, but would first like to know what you think about what I wrote here and if more of my input is welcomed..?




    Thank you for taking the time to relate to my experience and respond!

    When you say your relationship has always felt off, I have a couple questions that came to my mind

    • What attracted you to him in the beginning, what got you hooked?
    • Have you had moments where you thought if you stayed together it could work?
    • That off feeling…what is that feeling and did he notice it too or did only you feel it?


    Thank you for taking the time to read both my posts and giving me such a thoughtful response.

    When I read your analysis that I “grew up Unseen” that hits a chord and is dead on. It speaks to my passion to make others feel seen, I have an intense empathy for people who are unseen, it is like a lens I cannot unsee now, I can’t even watch certain movies if a character is harmed in this was, just now realizing that’s probably because it’s a trigger, it makes me so sad for them and I can truly feel their pain. I also think I have an intense fear of not being seen, so much so that I try to avoid it, and don’t much like to spent time in groups of three because I am worried I will be the one left out.

    Paragraph on having someone come turn on the lights is so incredibly insightful and I will probably be re-reading it for a long time because it is alot to absorb but I can already feel it opening my eyes to a knew revelation about myself.

    It is very interesting what you say about my fathers inability to see that I loved him, leading him to respond to me as if I did not care about him. Like Helcat mentioned before, he took normal teenage behavior as me not caring for him. What a lonely place to be, where you cannot receive or See the love, I want to avoid turning into my father in this way.

    Anita I would love to here more of your insight.

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