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We are both afraid

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This topic contains 35 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  anita 1 week, 6 days ago.

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  • #315089

    Anushree
    Participant

    Great to know that, Connie. Wish you all the best.

    #315191

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Connie:

    I want to understand a bit what happened here: you met a man recently, and “we agreed to be exclusive really early on”. Mid September he asked you to be his girlfriend and you gladly said yes. Within a week, “things changed drastically”, he shut down and became “really cold”.

    He then told you that even though he “fell really hard for” you, he “needed some space to think”, that “he was scared of everything”. He asked you “why I liked him”. Soon after, you texted him “that I really missed him and even though we are both scared, I am determined to go through everything with him”.

    Hours later he replied to you that he loved you and “asked to spend time together”. When you met he was apologetic and told you that “he collapsed sometimes and needed time to be alone and isolate himself”. You asked him then to let you know next time when he wants to be alone, so that you “would know what’s going on and how to help him”. He told you then that “it would  never happen again and he would make sure to let me know if otherwise”.

    He then told you that “he loved me and wanted to marry me… to move in together, have kids with me.. Everything seemed so wonderful”.

    Two days later, the two of you arranged a two-night sleep- over at his place. Right before you headed to his house, he texted a cancellation to you, “because he was sweaty and gross”. A little later he texted you that “he had dinner ready and wanted me to come”, asked you if you loved him and the two of you did get together. “That night we also talked a lot and he was really affectionate”.

    Two days later he shut down again, “He got mad over something that’s really small”, then twice hung up the phone on you. Later he told you that “everything happened too fast and too much”, and that “he couldn’t do this anymore”.

    During this short relationship you “gave him a lot of patience and warmth.. stayed cool and collected when he first disappeared.. didn’t blame him at all… I was calm and tried to communicate with him in a rational sense”.

    My thoughts: that he was scared, that is a n0-brainer, isn’t it? He rushed into intimacy and then rushed out of  it, ran toward love and then ran away from  it. Problem is that this kind of behavior on his part, that cannot be something new for him. He has been in this kind of a situation before, maybe every time. Why didn’t he share that with you then, is my thought.

    If I was you I would  have asked him at the time to tell me about his previous relationships with women- is this rushing toward and then rushing away, if that has been a pattern for him. I would have shared with him a bit about my relationship history, so it is not a matter of you fixing him but the two of you helping each other.

    Did you ask him about his relationship  history when he first shut down and became cold?

    anita

    #316371

    Connie
    Participant

    Hello Anita

    Thank you for getting back to me. I had to collect my thoughts in the past week because there were too many things going on.

    First of all, no, I never really asked him about his past relationships. We talked briefly about it but I couldn’t handle so much information. I told him I needed time to process his past with his exes.

    He came back to me after some days of silence. In the beginning, he acted as nothing had happened. As we talked more, he started opening up and telling me he was sorry for being distant and wanting to end things when he didn’t really want to.

    We talked about his insecurity and why he had to run. He said he’s a “manchild”. Having strong feelings for me was too overwhelming because he hadn’t had any feelings for so long. He forgot relationships need work and at the same time, he felt he was letting me down because he turned down my plans of going out for a date night.

    I felt he had a switch. Some days he is extremely affectionate and caring, but some days it almost feels like he’s “switched off,” acting really indifferent and strange. When he gets better, he would come back and apologize because he was fully aware of what he was doing to me.

    I don’t doubt his feelings for me and I have been thinking a lot. We do want the same things in the end. But perhaps we are just walking at different paces. We have a lot of things in common and always feel we are connected to each other even when we are apart. We are so similar to a point I almost feel loving him is loving myself.

    I also thought about his emotional unavailability. I just realized that there are some things that switch me off as well – when he talked about his past relationships, when we get too close and it becomes overwhelming, and when I can’t respond to him after the silence. Those are the times I become emotionally unavailable. The only difference between us is that it takes me a shorter time to break my silence but my unavailability is still there.

    And I forgot the fact that “relationships need work.” I used to fantasize about meeting my Mr. Right and things would work out magically and we would live happily ever after. This Mr. Right is a perfect figure that doesn’t really exist. Even if he does, am I the Ms. Right? Do I magically make his world better? Can I accept all his flaws and imperfections without any complaints or doubts?

    I am still learning this person and learning myself.

    #316527

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Connie:

    Excellent articulation, the way you put it into words: “And I forgot the fact that ‘relationships need work.’ I used to fantasize about meeting Mr. Right and things would work out magically and we would live happily ever after. This Mr. Right is a perfect figure that doesn’t really exist. Even if he does, am I the Ms. Right? Do I magically make his world better?”-

    No such thing as magic, so we have to do that relationship work. Even if the two  people work hard and long, still no magic. But a healthy relationship that will make life better for the two people in it- that is possible.

    If you and this man went to couple therapy with a good therapist- that would be best to get the two of you started on a good, healthy relationship that will make the two of you feel safer. In the absence of such, there are plenty of books (and workbooks) in libraries and bookstores, as well as online, I imagine, regarding interpersonal skills, learning such and practicing those. The two of you can embark on such self-help learning together.

    anita

    #318729

    Connie
    Participant

    A bit of update:

    I just discovered that my boyfriend might be suffering from depression.
    It seems to me that when his emotions get overwhelming, he will start withdrawing himself from everything. We would make plans and stuff and he would have to cancel it in the last minute.
    I am not sure what to do here but allow him time and space to recharge. He told me that he gives a lot to his work and people who created him. He has had abandon issues and sometimes he just feels that he needs to run away from everything.
    I am trying to get used to it. But I still feel kinda hurt every time when he feels the need to shut himself off. I guess it’s just hard for me to see him having to go through everything.
    He also cries a lot recently whenever we have a heart-to-heart conversation. He wants to know my past and everything. However, every time I tell him about things in my past, e.g. my past abusive relationship and my childhood unhappy experiences, or just simply the hard things I am going through life, he will have a hard time adjusting it. I am not exactly sure why he wants to know all of this because those things seem to be too much for him to take in.
    We both feel we are very similar and so connected on the emotional level. It almost feels like we finally found each other that knows us so well. But at the same time, everything is so overwhelming.
    Does that I said even make any sense?

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by  Connie.
    #318745

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Connie:

    I am looking forward to read and reply to you when I am back to the computer in about 11 hours from now.

    anita

    #318785

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Connie:

    What you wrote makes sense to me: that he suffers from depression. Depression and anxiety are closely related: when a person experiences too much fear for too long, the brain gets overwhelmed and sort of collapses into depression (he told you earlier that “he collapsed sometimes and needed time to be alone and isolate himself”). The collapsing involves withdrawing from situations and people (“withdrawing himself from everything.. make plans and.. cancel it in the last minute), and he withdraws from his own emotions (becoming “really cold… “shut himself off”). This withdrawal from people and from his own emotions is what depression is about.

    To prevent the high spikes of anxiety that lead to his shutting down aka depression, some SSRI psychiatric drugs may work for him. Quality psychotherapy as well. Regular exercise, hikes in nature (maybe with you), other physical practices such as yoga and tai chi, guided meditations available online, and Mindfulness exercises and practices (lots of info on that).

    When you share with him about your distressing past, following him asking you, share in small portions, in bite-size pieces that he is more likely to be able to handle without collapsing. When you make plans with him, make smaller plans that he is more likely to handle without collapsing/ withdrawing/ shutting down.

    I get the feeling that he understands that he found someone special in you and therefore I am thinking that he may be motivated to get better so to be with you in a functional relationship- something that is possible for him with help, such as the things I suggested above.

    anita

    #318943

    Mark
    Participant

    Connie,

    He sounds very insecure with himself… He seems to ask you often how you feel about him… which sounds like he cannot accept or love himself. I sort of know what that feels like.. if he cannot love himself, he will constantly question how you could love him.. he will move close to you, question everything about himself, and then move away form you… until he gets to a point of self acceptance/love, he will constantly move back and forth emotionally.. In my case, it would not be about commitment as much as it would be a fear of someone realizing how truly worthless i am … (even if that reality is not true) It would affirm my own worthlessness.. Any little comment about anything you make.. he could work that into negative support of his own self image.. and you won’t even understated what you said or why he is suddenly distant… It is a terrible way to live .. for each of you… and for him, it dooms him (and anyone in relationship with him) to a cycle of emotional roller coasters. He needs to work on himself before he can be functional in a healthy relationship …

     

     

    #319405

    Connie
    Participant

    Hi Anita and Mark

    Thank you very much for the feedback. Both of your descriptions were really very accurate. We have had some conversations and he told me that he wanted to get better with me by his side. He said he was trying to fight his brain and needed time.

    I am glad he has made some progress. He used to disappear and not respond to my texts and calls. Now he would at least check in with me regularly and let me know if he’s feeling off. Our communication has gotten better but I know we still have a long way to go. He also seemed very excited when I told him that he’s improving.

    He still has a hard time accepting/loving himself, especially when I compliment him on things he doesn’t feel he deserves. I wish he knew how great of a person he is. It’s sad for me to see that he has to suffer like this, and that he doesn’t know he’s such a great person.

    He also confessed that he has had depression. However, he’s not seeking professional help. He feels uncomfortable talking to people about his “problems,”  and he doesn’t like taking medicine 🙁 I haven’t had a chance to make any suggestions on him going to doctors and stuff. I figured I should give him time and space to figure out what’s best for him? Or when the time’s right, I will let him know that professional help is an option that he should consider?

    He promised me that he will try his best to get over depression and he wanted to be able to take care of me. I am glad that I can be a motivation in this situation. It’s just very hard on me sometimes because I feel I need to be a stronger person for him as well. We both have a lot to work on.

    #319449

    Harshita
    Participant

    Hello Connie,

    I just read the whole reply chain. You are not alone in it. I am going through the same. After reading your thread, i can assure you, you are not alone in this. I am going through exact same thing. Looks like the guy who recently dumped me is also an avoidant as discussed above because of which I lost a person i loved as well. Just like you even i feel that he comes back or somethig happens that makes me happy again.

    Your last reply above is working like an inspiration for me because if you can be at a happy and peaceful place, i am getting a confidence that i can be too. So thank you very much for this inspiration. I wish you get a good life and another beautiful chance in love.

    #319485

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Connie:

    “He also seemed very excited when I told him that he’s improving”- this is encouraging, points to him interested in improving further.

    “He still has a hard time accepting/ loving himself, especially when I compliment him”- a way around his discomfort when you compliment him is when he does something that pleases you, to tell him that you are  pleased, for example: it makes me feel good that you told me this personal thing, makes me feel good that you trust me.

    If he gets it that he has a good affect on you, he will eventually consider that he may be.. a good and worthy person.

    “He promised me that he will try his best .. to be able to take care of me… I feel I need to be a stronger person for him as well”-

    – and he should be a stronger person for you. It is only when he notices that he is strong, that he can feel confident in his strength. Again, what you can do is let him know (without complimenting) how better you feel when he says this and does that.

    And you need him to be stronger because it will not  work otherwise, that on an ongoing basis you are strong and he is weak.

    He is very fortunate to have you in his life and reads to me that he is aware of it.

    anita

    #326631

    Connie
    Participant

    Just wanted to share some updates.

    I have decided to take a break from this relationship. My boyfriend and I have been having some arguments. Some I don’t really understand why they are issues. No matter how hard I tried to comfort him, he just didn’t seem to be able to get over them.

    I am getting really tired about everything: the arguments, his mood swings, and everything else. It’s been too much for me to handle. He still has a lot of doubts about himself. His low self-esteem made everything a lot worse.

    He told me he’s not sure if the relationship is right and if he’s ready for a serious relationship. And it almost felt like the more I tried, the worse things became. I am afraid we would eventually grow resentment toward each other, even though we still love each other.

    I asked him what he wanted to do or if he had a solution. He said he didn’t know. He became less affectionate and quiet. He admitted that he was building a wall around himself. I told him I would work through thick and thin with him and support him no matter what. But nothing has changed.

    I honestly think taking a break will be nice for both of us. We need some time apart to reevaluate this relationship before we can be fully committed again. It breaks my heart that things developed this way. But I think that’s the best we can do now.

    I am not sure if any suggestions can be given. I guess I just need the validation that I am doing the right thing.

    #326635

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Connie:

    I will be able to read and reply to your recent update when I am back to the computer, in about 12 hours from now.

    anita

    #326669

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Connie:

    I re-read your posts on this thread and my replies to you. I am impressed by how thoughtful you were with him all along, how hard you tried and how you did everything right by him. Reads to me that you really did all you could to make him comfortable and to help this relationship get to a better place.

    Often a failure of a relationship (be it a temporary or permanent failure) follows both sides harming the relationship. In your case, an exceptional case, reads to me that he is the one solely responsible for the current failure. I suggested to you before that he should seek professional help (medications, psychotherapy), and you wrote that he doesn’t want to do either one of these things, that he refuses to seek professional help.

    This was a short, fast and troubled relationship that started when he asked you “to be his girlfriend” and you “gladly said yes”- that happened in mid September this year. Within a week and through the rest of September-October this year, he was at times affectionate with you, telling you that he loved you, that he wanted to marry you, “move in together, have kids”, and that “he wanted to get better with (you) by his side”.

    But at other times during Sept-Oct,  he was anxious and depressed, telling you that “he was scared of everything”, that “he collapsed sometimes and needed time to be alone and isolate himself”, that “everything happened too fast and too  much”, that having strong feelings for you “was too overwhelming”, that “he needs to fun away from everything”, and he “also cried a lot”.

    At yet other times, Sept- Oct, he was angry: “he got mad over something that’s really small… he hung up  on me a couple of times”, and by December, less than three months of this relationship, the two of you “have been having some arguments. Some I don’t really understand why they are issues. No  matter how hard I tried to comfort him, he just didn’t seem to be able to get over them. I am getting really tired about everything: the arguments..”-

    – I think the reason he got angry over small, non-issue things is that he needed to withdraw from the relationship and anger accomplishes that. His anger is not about the issues, or non-issues; it is about his need to withdraw from the relationship.

    “the more I tried, the worse things became”- because the more you tried, the more scared he got. “He admitted that he was building a wall around himself”, scared of you, as if you are a threat. More precisely, for him, a relationship is a threat.

    “I just need the validation that I am doing the right thing”- taking a break is the right thing. I think breaking up altogether is the right thing for you because he is too scared and he refuses to seek professional help. You can’t be his professional help, and you already did all that you can do as a girlfriend. Nothing else for you to do.

    His fear wasn’t born in the relationship with you, it took hold of him early on in his life, and maybe it got worse in this twenties and thirties. Fear is a powerful force, and it being so early and already established before you met him, there is nothing you can do.

    anita

    #327193

    Connie
    Participant

    Hello Anita

    You’re right. There’s nothing I can do.
    He told me that he needed to work on a lot of things on his personal level. And he had a lot of that he wanted to achieve career-wise so he really didn’t have the capability to be in a relationship, at least for now. I think there’s a lot going on in his mind/life.
    His family only live an hour away. He had never once gone back for a visit, not thanksgiving, not on his mother’s birthday, not even when his dad had a heartache and underwent a emergency surgery.
    He said he’s a very independent person. In my opinion, he just really enjoyed his solitude because, like he said, he didn’t have the capability to love, or show people his love.

    I also asked him why it had to be this way, why couldn’t we work on things together. He said he didn’t know. Part of him wanted this relationship, part of him didn’t. I am sad and feeling sorry for him. But it’s the best.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  Connie.
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