He can walk out at any given moment……

When I think about my two last relationships and now my short dating experience then there have been three men with whom I never felt secure enough. Surely with one of my exes, lets call him Robert, we even discussed marriage and children. We even discussed child names. However, Robert and me were in a long-distance relationship and he was postponing his move….constantly. He also let me know that he is not going to move unless he finds a good job. Even though we talked about me moving to his country, there was never a conscious effort from his side to help me with that. If I wanted to move, I was supposed to organize everything on my own….

This kind of ambivalence and lack of reciprocity I think characterizes my relationships. I am not talking about emotional closeness and affection here. Some of the guys I have dated with have been rather affectionate and loving, way more than I. What I am however talking about is that I never felt safe that these guys are going to stay. I did not feel as if I was part of their life.

I lived together with my recent ex for four years. Still during these four years, I did not feel like I was part of his life. He had his own little secret life when he was visiting his friends at his home country.  I did not belong there. His friends did not accept me with open arms either. Rather they made no effort to include me and somehow he accepted this. Again, I felt unsafe.

I could continue with the list of behaviors here, but I think more worthwhile is still analyzing this feeling of being unsafe and left out. I do not think I am imagining it. I think all three guys were not ready to share their life with someone else to the degree that is needed for a fully blown relationship. There was a lack of commitment and lack of commonality. I always felt like I had to fight for the common future. Like I was the one holding everything afloat.

My last experience with someone is finally starting to make me realize that this is not how one should feel. I have been so invested in trying to figure out how to make these guys commit and love me that I have never asked myself – do I feel good in relationship with these guys? I am going wild here and guess that if a relationship makes you constantly second-guess yourself and induces a lot of anxiety in you, chances are high that your partner is probably not fully ready to be in a relationship. Instead, they keep sending you some kind of contradictory signals about commitment, which you accept, because you are so invested in trying to get their commitment.

I am not sure yet what a good and healthy thought process in this situation would look like. However, what I do know is that I do not want to feel that insecure anymore. I also do not want to be someone who has to convince their partners to make a bigger commitment. This is something that is still a very sensitive topic and which I will devote more time to in the future.

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The fine line between vulnerability and neediness

At the age 31 I have no idea what a healthy relationship looks like. I mean there is another drawback for having chased after unavailable guys, besides the obvious ones. See the problem is that I have very little experience in being present in the relationship where we were both open and vulnerable. I mean the whole idea of chasing unavailable guys is that you will not get hurt because the disappointment is kind of coded into the future anyways. So now that I am actually opening myself up to guys who are not obviously unavailable I risk with truly getting hurt. And let me tell you, I have little idea on how to handle these emotions of vulnerability and hurt that come with truly being present with someone.

Since I have no experience I tend to verge between two extremes, either be truly submissive and accepting of shitty behavior or being truly closed off and distant. It is really complicated to hit the middle gear, simply because the whole experience is so new for me.

I am also noticing that I am dealing with the emotions of yearning and longing for someone and I have no good idea on how to manage this either. I mean, I know one should not act needy etc., but I have no idea on when is one acting needy and when is one just vulnerable and open. How should you respond when your love interest is withdrawing – did you somehow act overly distant and drove them away with your wish not to appear needy or are they just in need of space? Am I being needy when I go after them and tell them that I miss them or am I just showing natural vulnerability and interest? Is my judgement on them being less invested than me fair or is my fear of being vulnerable clouding my judgement? I mean there are tons of questions which I now seem to have in connection to this fine line between neediness and vulnerability. I have no idea what is right and wrong and it is not like someone has enough patience to start educating me from the ground up at my age. So I know I need to somehow learn this, but how……well this remains to be seen.

Taking responsibility and the anxiety

Who is afraid of going to massage because it might divert her from her daily routine? Yes…you guessed right – it is me. I am starting to understand, however, that this kind of anxiety which I feel if I have to even tiny bit do something out my regular routines is not really normal nor healthy.

It is weird, had you asked me five years ago if I was a person who was stuck with her routines and really loved predictability, I would have protested loudly. I did not see myself as someone who is micromanaging things. I laughed over my friends’ attempts to control things. Little did I know that I had purposefully chosen such friends so that I would not have to take responsibility nor control anything. I mean it is easy to not be upset or anxious if you perceive yourself having little control and are willing to give it to someone else.

Things have changed. I have given up my controlling friends. I have begun to give up the idea of ever meeting some boyfriend/father figure who would take control over my life, protect and manage everything for me. As long as I had this hope, I really did not need to worry about the future, because I could always comfort myself with the knowledge that, maybe I did not have to. I have let many things just stand without wanting to even take a look at these. My finances is for instance one thing. I just did not even want to go over of my spending because I was too afraid of what I will find.

How does this all relate back to me feeling anxious about massage? Well, now I know that I am expected to show up on time. There will be consequences if I do not. I also know that I have thousands of other responsibilities, so going to massage on a work day was aversion from these activities, but was something I perceived necessary because I was collapsing under these other responsibilities. Quite honestly, it comes down to managing my life and my responsibilities on my own and boy is that anxiety inducing. I think this is just a beginning of me exploring this issue though, because there is a lot more to dwell on here.

Control issues and hot and cold guys

Dating world for emotionally damaged is less than ideal to say the most. I have described plenty in this blog about my experiences with unavailable guys. Emotionally completely unavailable guys seem to have been replaced by hot and cold guys almost entirely. I think it is a development, but well, not exactly what I had in mind when it comes to the end result. The number of hot and cold guys that I have been lately attracted to is becoming a bit too big for me to pin it on bad luck, so I will try to analyze as follows what might be behind it.

So, my hypothesis is that my attraction to unavailable or uninterested guys was mainly related to me feeling unloved and feeling I needed to chase someone’s love. The fact that I do not do this anymore shows that I have greatly dealt with my unlovability issues which in itself is worth a whole celebration. However, hot and cold guys – well my hypothesis here is that this one is related to me having felt out of control my whole childhood. Let me elaborate.

Essentially my childhood was about my mother’s moods (and criticisms). And boy was she unpredictable. But not only in terms of moods, but also in terms of attachment. She could be nice one day and distant the other day. She could go on a work trip and be gone without any contact for a week or two (and yes first time she did this I was only 4). When I was younger I was with my grandparents, but at the age of 9 I was home alone.

So hot and cold guys? Well they take me back to this time. I can never guess their reactions and most of the time is spent by trying to figure out what they feel and how they feel (if they feel at all). Meetings, if at all, seem to be random and entirely on their control. I simply have no control in the matter. This feeling of lack of control is something which I think I keep repeating because it is so familiar. To me, in some perverse manner, this lack of control and emotional ups and down have come to signify love.

I guess the only thing here really is to work with these feelings of lack of control in therapy and hopefully leave the whole experience behind me.

Finding out what makes you happy after therapy

So that title might sound funny for someone who has never been into therapy. Might even sound funny for someone who has never struggled with false identity and people pleasing. What I am, however, discovering is that, a lot of the behaviors and hobbies of mine were adopted either to make other people happy or to run away from certain emotions which I did not want to feel. So now I am at the point where I ask – what is it that I like to do in my free time?

So lets look at what I did in my free time before my big move and my therapy. Well, I took some pictures. I still like photography, but I suspect that part of my photography habit back then was to deal with the lack of social contacts as well as to impress other people with my pictures. I did camping. Again, it is not that I dislike camping these days, it is more that I question the motives as to why I took it up to begin with. I went to cinema at the time of the film festival every year. Now, when I actually do end up in the cinema, I find it enjoyable, but I hardly go there. I visited a song festival every year, I have been there couple of times still, but somehow I do not get a kick out of it. I went to some parties, and I have to admit that these parties seem somewhat unsatisfactory today. I travelled and again, even travelling can get me excited these days. It just seem like work.

For couple of last years my life has been pretty much my work and therapy. It is difficult to come out of this routine, because you really discover that you have no idea anymore what to do with your free time. You have no clue what interest you these days, because the person who did all the previous things seems like a distant memory. Like you can remember that you once were this person, but well, not anymore.

So there you go, I have no idea how I can be so confused about what I enjoy, but apparently it is possible. All I know at this stage is that I like my job. What my hobbies are remains to be seen, somehow.

Has therapy made my life easier?

I am going to try to express here my latest feelings around therapy. So I have been somewhat frustrated lately, because let me tell you the last half a year has really been a challenge. I seem to get to the situations with people that are just conflictual. I seem to finally notice how messed up and insecure life around me is. And well, everything seems….a bit difficult to handle at once right now.

My friend told me about cycling. His point was that the cycling never really gets easier, but instead you become faster and faster. I am starting to think that with therapy and life it is the same way. No, your life will not get easier, magically, after certain amount of therapy. Instead, you start taking on new challenges. But these challenges are as difficult as ever. Unfortunately. Maybe I have still not developed far enough to see the point where life indeed becomes easier.

So what am I currently tackling? Well, I am tackling still my addiction to hot and cold guys. I am tackling my financial issues. I am tackling my habit of drinking wine at least during three evenings a week. I am tackling dealing with insecurities in both my professional and personal life. I am tackling being honest with people. All this at once. And let me tell you – it is not easy. It is actually fucking difficult. I feel like I need tons of therapy to handle everything. And yet, I cannot have tons of therapy so instead, I let myself be overwhelmed and try to forgive myself for not having it all together yet.

Hot and cold guys

My relationship with my ex has been potentially one of the longest that you can have with someone who blows hot and cold. It started as a mutual dynamic, taken that I was unable to sustain intimacy of any amount of time. My ex still likes to claim that he does not run hot and cold, he is just reacting on my behaviors. Now, I am finally realizing that this is not true.

 
How? See I met another guy and I am noticing very similar habits and patterns as with my ex in the beginning of our relationship. So, lets call the new guy Tom. Tom is acting all flirty with me and trying to smooth talk me. Now, I am usually not very quick to fall so Tom is doing the smooth talking, emotional supporting etc for months. Finally, I start developing certain feelings about Tom as well. So I become more available and open and what do I see, suddenly Tom is distancing himself. He does this once, twice and the third time. At the point when he does it for the third time I am finally starting to think. So here is what I figured out.

 
The pattern with these guys is awfully similar, it is almost like you were dating the same guy all over again. They like to draw you in with emotional conversations – deep stuff, not some trivial compliments. They let you know they like you and you start becoming more smitten. When they notice that you are becoming smitten, they suddenly distance themselves. They stop being available. The usual dynamic which I followed with my ex was to call him myself, to chase him to a degree. Well, with Tom, I have not been doing this. Instead I become distant and cold myself which initiates another reaction – him question me about my distance and rejection issues. Let me tell you, it is so easy to fall for such things. You really start thinking – maybe I am mistreating poor guy. Maybe I, indeed, have strong rejection issues. It took three times of him distancing himself for me to understand that actually, no, I do not have rejection issues, but rather it is difficult to be consistently open and vulnerable with someone who acts all wishy washy.
I have to be grateful for Tom, I never fully realized my exes patterns in the relationship. Thanks to Tom, however, I am becoming clearer and clearer as to how my ex treated me for years, acting all warm and loving at one moment and then distancing himself, making me think that it was something about my behavior which made him do that. Hell, he was actually telling me constantly how it was about me and how he was just reacting.

 
Now, more interesting question is however, why do I keep falling for these on and off guys? What is it in me that finds them attractive? This is something to explore further through this blog.

What I have achieved last year

I thought, I will write a post on what I want to achieve in the next year, but it seemed like a list of things where I am still lacking. So, instead, I decided to focus on what I have actually accomplished during this year.

This year has been messed up. As in really, really messed up. I met someone I thought was close to being my soulmate and I lost this person. I broke up from my six year relationship. I guess those were the two main themes from this year. So what have I learned?

I guess I have become more independent. I am still vastly dependent, there is no question about it, but every time I visit my home again, I feel more independent. I have relapses. I have moments of great fear, but overall, I can think about the coming move to my own apartment without trembling in fear. I somehow have become to believe that eventually I will manage.

I also know that loss will not kill me. Chase died in August and it has been only four months. I am doing so much better than one month ago. In fact, every month I am doing better. I do not blame god, I do not think world is deemed, I just somehow remember him with kindness. For me, he is not dead either, because he will to a degree always be part of me.

Breakups, especially when you live together, are long and messy. There is no such thing as clean breakup. You are bound to have second thoughts, you are bound to tell to your ex how you miss him. No relationship is so doomed that you could easily let go (at least this is my opinion). When I looked at my ex, I see someone who is equally confused. I see a person who once loved me and still does and this to me speaks volumes about his character. On the other hand I also see someone who just cannot be present in the relationship to the degree I want. Maybe it is my unreasonable demands; maybe it is his lack of commitment – who knows. I know that I and ex had a deep connection and that will probably still be there for a while. It was not one of those superficial relationships where you act a role, no; my ex touched me to the core. I believe I did challenge him to the core as well.

The changes in life make you question who you are, especially if you are going through therapy. Too many changes and you might end up like a headless chicken. I think I am going through a headless chicken phase right now where I have no idea where to turn for support because well, there really is no viable source of support.

Strategies I use for abandonment issues

Recent events have pushed to analyze my abandonment issues further. Namely, I recently had a bit of a disagreement with my friend and I noticed how upset I became when he distanced himself. This has also pushed me to describe various ways through which I handle abandonment issues in my life. I believe these ways are perhaps also familiar to other people who struggle with the same problem.

My first way to deal with my abandonment fear is to surround myself with people. I make friends, I try to keep in contact, I try to avoid loneliness. Naturally this has become a lot more difficult with my move to foreign country, but also with people simply starting to have families. At the point where I still had ample choice of friends around, I put much less stress on my relationship. With fewer friends, I make increasing demands to my partner on having to be available to me. Furthermore, now that I am single, I get attached awfully easily. I meet a guy and my mind goes around already planning a future with him.

My second strategy to deal with my abandonment issues is through avoidance. When I get triggered I try to numb myself with alcohol, food or shopping (it could previously also be through contacting friends). I can also work obsessively or watch Netflix. All the replacement activities that there are.

My third strategy is self-improvement. I used to read tons of self-development books with the sole purpose of being more attractive as a friend or lover. I thought, that when I could make myself perfect enough, people would like me, come to communicate with me and definitely not abandon me.

My fourth strategy is distancing and try to control this fear. I have become aware of my abandonment issues and the toll they have on my relationships. So I try hard not to overwhelm people. When I get too obsessed or close, I consciously distance myself. It makes having sincere relationships from my side difficult, because I am constantly keeping in mind – do not overwhelm the other person, do not overwhelm them. Remember! Furthermore, the relationship obviously circles more around the other persons needs than mine.

Finally, something which I do very little these days, I blame the people for abandoning me. I mostly do this with my significant others. I tell them how they should have been there for me and they chose not to be and how unfair it is.

 

In a relationship with narcissist?

All  – my mother and my two exes show some signs of narcissism. I find that the definition of narcissist as someone who is hiding their true self behind some grandiose false self is quite fitting. It has taken me some time to actually start perceiving these behaviors and narcissistic traits, because I never questioned those.

Lately, with a little bit of distance I am starting to see such behaviors more clearly in my ex. I notice certain manipulative behaviors. For instance, my ex finds it necessary to fill me in, in terms of how many women flirt with him. Hell, he wrote a separate message to tell me. Actually, he was telling me also in the middle of our relationship about some women that flirted with him. This to me seems like a behavior which is catered towards showing ‘how wanted guy he is’.

Another behavior that I have recently noticed is his lack of regard to my feelings. When I actually tried to communicate my feelings in the relationship, my ex repeatedly said that I was overly dramatic and everything circled around my feelings in the relationship and his were never taken into account. Now, I cannot comment on how much I took into account his feelings or not, because obviously I am not an objective judge for that, but what I can say is, if he was really constantly taking into account my feelings over his, then his reactions would not have so often entailed telling me how insignificant those very feelings were. Namely there is a certain discord between him telling me how he never dared to go against my feelings and openly telling me that I was a drama queen. If he really had been so afraid to confront me, he would ha never be able to tell me something like this.

Now another thing, which I have pointed out repeatedly in this blog already was that my ex really did not like when I brought out his negative behaviors or traits. Mostly I thought it was just because he could not accept blame, but now I am coming to see that me pointing to these very weaknesses was actually threatening his false image. I was pointing too much to this vulnerable self that he was trying to cover up. My ex is still pointing out to me that he does not like to analyze himself and he does not like to deal with his feelings. In fact, he hates me doing this as well. I used to think this was some fault of mine – being overly obsessed with these things (ex also openly blamed me for that). Now I see this in a different manner, in fact if you have an open and loving relationship you do open up about these feelings and vulnerabilities. You do not see someone who tries to help you open up as an enemy.

There are multiple other behaviors which I am starting to see, but I will leave these for the next post.