When you think you are not good enough for someone

Part of why my relationship with my ex never worked out was because I always thought he was just too good for me. As I have mentioned earlier, he was everything I thought I wanted (handsome, intelligent, sarcastic etc etc). Additionally I initiated the contact with my ex and pushed the relationship in the beginning. I was also the first one to kiss him. Add such a progression of events to my lacking self-esteem and you get potentially poisonous mix.

See when you are convinced that someone is too good for you, you will see rejection everywhere. You will analyze what they say in a manner which is predisposed to finding something negative, you will perceive their actions as a sign that they do not want you and you will try to act not the way you would act with your friends, but you will try to project the kind of image you think your lover might want you to be. Furthermore, you keep hoping that your love interest will help you to finally feel better about yourself, but the problem is, in no way can they convince you that you are good enough.

The tricky part is that you probably started liking them because you thought they were above your league. If you suddenly started feeling that you are on the same level, your feelings might fade. You might feel as if you might have miscalculated and actually your love interest is not so perfect after all. In my experience the relationship where one side is longing for the other to validate them and make them feel as if they are good enough actually do exist because of this unbalance. See, when you need the other person to validate you, it is because you believe that once they confirm you that you are good enough, you will finally feel this yourself. If this happens and your love interest indeed falls in love with you, you feel disappointed, because, well, your feelings about yourself have not changed. Instead, you start thinking that he might be the wrong one after all.

Inbetween places

Lately I have gotten this weird feeling that I am transitioning to the new phase of my life. Afterall I am slowly finishing off with the more intensive period of therapy and making some choices about my future. My future, which I tried to ignore all these years I was in therapy, being afraid I might get overwhelmed. It just felt too scary at this point.

I have been revisiting old places at home and whereas I take a lot of enojoyment in this, it does not feel the same. Old hobbies, old people, old places- while familiar, seem to be somewhat misfitting these days. It is like trying on clothes that are slightly small, there is this sense of familiarity (you have been wearing them for years, so they still match your body, but they are just slightly small, itching and scratching…..). So yeah, whereas I feel this overwhelming sense of peace and belonging at home, it just does not feel the same anymore. At all…

I do not want to make it a story about, I went to foreign country and saw other kind of life, because it is not about this. It is not about me feeling much more evolved than my old friends. It is just this sense that I am transitioning and my old friends have taken slightly different routes. Perhaps they have always been different, but I never noticed, because I was obsessing all the time getting at least some people to like me.

All this time, I however have no idea where I am transitioning. Who am I becoming? All this is rather blurry to me. All these years in therapy have made me question most of my identity pillars. I guess it is common for patients to feel slightly disoriented- you know if you are getting a new leg, you need to relearn walking. I assume I need to relearn communicating, setting goals all this stuff. I am just not yet that far that I can fully pull this off. So hence inbetweenness…..

How do you recognize “the one”

I usually try to write post on topics which I feel I have something to say. Somewhere were I feel I have a bit of authority. This post will be different since I have to begin by saying, I have no idea. It is going to be more of a discussion and therefore contributions are welcome.

I am someone who struggles with all kind of decisions. I struggle deciding to get together with someone, I struggle breaking up. My relationship with my current boyfriend started before the last one had ended. This applies both to him and to me. We both were rather disturbed by such sequence of events. He was engaged at this point, I had moved to another country for my ex. It was not so nice start and still it is the only time that I have felt the wish to cheat on anybody. I could have dreamt about such things, but I had never even come anywhere near. We both tried to fight the feeling and attraction. It was half a year of difficult decision making, self-beating and disbelief that something like this can happen. We tried ignoring each-other, I tried addiction counceler (I assumed it had to be love addiction, because I had never felt so little control over myself). I felt completely helpless. The way this relationship started was also a motivator for me to begin therapy. I felt that if I am able to do something like this, fall in love with someone else while being in the relationship, there has to be something seriously wrong with me.

After having told you the story of our meeting, I have to say that I do not believe in life-long love. Neither do I believe in “the one”. I however believe in people coming to our life to teach us some lesson. My current boyfriend taught me how I am lovable. He has been the first person profess his love to me. He taught me that I can be loved for something else than my achievements, that I can be loved for who I am. I taught him that he can be more than he is. That he is not a looser and that he can achieve things, that people have expectations on him and he cannot let them down and play helpless. In some ways we were polar opposites, providing to the other what each had.

I think good relationships teach you something. Make you realize something that you did not know before. They help you evolve. Where I am now, I would have never gotten without my boyfriend who constantly supported me and professed his love to me. All the dark hours in therapy were I felt that no one wanted me, how I cried about my mother never appreciating me the way I was; he was there, all surprised, that I, out of all the people, would feel so bad about myself. In his opinion he had much more of reason to do this. I am probably going to make a separate post about how he has helped me evolve, so I will cut this short. However, I believe that the sign of love, for me, is that you support your partner in becoming a better person. Sometimes even when they do not want this or think that they cannot make it. You see the problems in their thinking, you see their wounds, you put ointment to their cuts. You teach them something they never learned.

My relationship with my current partner started and even existed against my own will. I never thought that he was what I wanted. He is not super attractive to me physically, nor did he have the traits that I thought I was seeking in my partner. I still do not know how I feel about it. But I nevertheless do think he was necessary for me. He has helped me the ways no one else could have.

Who is pulling the strings in your relationship?

Because of my traumatic childhood and my mother’s huge disappointment in me, which was verbalized in every possible instance, I had a very low self-esteem. In fact I was attracted to guys that I needed to chase for one or another reason. When a guy was attracted to me, this only spoke badly of him, since well, there had to be something wrong with him. It is therefore no surprise that in my two last relationships I have been the one pushing the relationship forward. It has been me who has tried to plan the future together, who has tried to change myself for the sake of my partner etc etc.

Today I had an epiphany. I am not going to do this anymore. I have been somewhat resigned from my current relationship for several months now, but I decided to take even some more steps back. I am currently on my vacation without my boyfriend and it has helped me to clear up my mind. It is not uncommon that when one looks at the events from a small distance, some of the things that they have endured seem totally ridiculous. I have now also understood, that I have put up with a behavior that is not OK. I have tried to steer the relationship, convince my boyfriend, cry, become a better person- all just to get him to commit to the future with me. And I am frankly tired. I realize how unfruitful this kind of strategy is. If a man wants to commit to you long-term he will, if not, well, you are probably not going to convince him either. Perhaps some small changes are necessary to make the relationship work, but if your partner demands huge changes from you on a constant basis, it should make you very careful.

At this point I have no idea what is going to happen to my relationship. I have only decided that I am not going to try to push it to any direction anymore. I am also not going to try to change myself for the sake of making my partner commit. I am just going to lay back and see what gives. It is clear that at this point it is my partner’s time to make some changes, to prove that he wants to be with me on a long-run and actually try to earn some of my lost love back. If this is not going to happen, I am afraid that this relationship has to end.

This is actually an attitude I recommend to all the girls that feel that their partner is unwilling to commit or fight for their affection and they have to do all the work. Do not anymore. Just sit back and see how he is going to react. This says much more about the likelihood of having common future together than anything else.

The double bind of trust issues

My ex boyfriend had trust issues. He, himself, never quite expressed himself in this particular way, but rather said that it takes time for him to trust people. Now the problem in being a partner of such a person is that you can be very consistent for a while, but at some point, you also need reassurance. In the case of my ex, when we were taking about me moving to another country because of the relationship, he was honest with me and said that he cannot promise he will follow. He does not know the situation in the labor market, he does not know where our relationship will go etc etc. He might have been honest with me, but such a statement seriously challenged my trust in him. Should I just take a leap of faith in him and hope for the best? Moving to another country is a big decision. No matter how much I fought with him on this matter, he never changed his position. I ended up moving without any warrantee.

My trust in him was seriously challenged by this act. I got very hurt but I nevertheless continued with him. I did believe that he will do his best to move. However, unfortunately, subconsciously I started pushing my ex away. I would suggest that this in no way uncommon. You are together with someone who has trust issues and they do not commit fully and soon you notice that you start to distance yourself as well. After all there is nothing certain about your common future. So their trust issues backfire.

Fast forward one more year and our relationship was at this point in a serious crisis. He still did not trust me enough to even profess me his love nor make any kind of commitment. At this point I had very little trust in him as well. I felt rejected and unimportant. I had proven, in my opinion, often enough to him that he can trust me. Granted, the last half a year was actually already pretty bad because my passive-aggression was at this point already pretty visible. I was bitter and disappointed, but still in love.

I had to breakup the relationship, because it was ambivalent. I could not know anymore what he was feeling and he still had not managed to build enough trust in me. At some point the partner that needs to prove that they are reliable just looses their patience. Make no mistake, I still think that my ex was the love of my life, he was the most reliable person I know. I felt safe with him. I felt that when he promises something, he will do it. But I felt that I just cannot reach him. He is still on his defenses and there is just no way to crack him. So in this respect, I lost trust in him. I lost trust in the relationship.

My fear of rejection and judgement

I am currently visiting home and it has brought up some very strong memories. I remember how scared I was for so long. Note that I have been a victim of bullying for years. I remember how I changed my school (away from bullies) and after that avoided taking one road for years. I just never wanted to meet anyone from my old school. I was just so scared.

Now I am feeling all the old emotions, but in new context. I am still afraid that someone will point out what a failure I am, how I do not have a family yet etc etc. I am afraid that every random person will judge me and find fault in me and that no one wants to communicate with me. I have spent years trying to become more acceptable to people by making myself more beautiful, doing various self-help programs etc etc. It just never occurred to me how scared I was.

Naturally my fear of judgement and imagining the society as some evil and judgmental group of people has a lot to do with my family as well. The fact that neither my mother not her temporary boyfriend never gave me the feeling that I was acceptable. The fact that I felt that every small mistake of mine could get me kicked out of home (I was kicked out several times). I was an awkward and a shy kid who was easy to pick on. I liked walls. I liked hiding myself. I was scared that the minute I am noticed someone will laugh over me. I was just so scared.

Naturally this fear also translated to my relationships with males. When some male approached me, I usually scared them away with my defensive mechanisms. I either made some crude jokes or pretended to not see them. For year I was scared of talking to males. I think it was finally at the age of 25 I was not anymore scared of males. I was afraid that none of them would want me, after all no one did. When I did get together with someone, I instantly thought it was because there was something wrong with them, they could not get anyone better. I was just so so scared. Naturally it is easy to understand where my intimacy issues came and why I was just waiting for someone to breakup with me. I still remember my relationship with my ex, where whenever I was visiting him I was soo scared to mess something up. I finally did mess something up and I was so sure that he would instantly want to breakup with me.

The intensity that these feelings still haunt me is a surprise to me. I really hope that I can leave those feelings behind at some point and move on with my life. I hope that I can at some point feel accepted and also surround myself with people that accept me.

The struggles of commitment phobe in the relationships

As already mentioned earlier, most articles on commitment phobia focus on the experiences of the partner of commitment phobe. Here I will try to give an overview of my own commitment phobic experience.

In my two first relationships I never even committed fully because I treated those as temporary. I started a relationship knowing it is going to end. I was so afraid of being seriously hurt and rejected so I actually never gave those guys a shot. Given, there were some signs that  made me more careful along the way, but mostly I came out of the breakup looking good. Then I met the ex with capital letters. He was someone who represented most things I wanted to see in my husband: we had many many things in common, common values, common interest etc. One could say that there was a stable basis for the relationship, also because I really admired him. I liked so many things in him. At the moment when I was forced to commit more, I started doubting. I was scared as hell, also because the relationship included moving to another country. I had to sacrifice everything. I did move, but my ex was not sure he wants to move and told me he cannot give me any warrantees. Fast forward another year and my ex still had not told me that he loved me so I confronted him. He admitted that he had no idea what he felt for me. I felt pain. I truly felt very hurt at this moment, but there was somewhere a wish to avoid this pain, so I continued the relationship. Less enthusiastically.

I had already checked out of the relationship, or so I thought. I thought that the final breakup would not hurt because after all I had anticipated it for quite some time. It hurt like hell. Knowing that he did not love me truly broke me. For him it was just another relationship, whereas for me it was THE RELATIONSHIP. My experience with my ex made me so much more commitment phobic. I did not dare to plan the future with anyone anymore. I canceled all the possibilities with guys I could reasonably see the future with and instead chose my current boyfriend. I always treated him as a temporary solution. I never committed to him, but instead was pining over my ex. After all, it was the ex. The ex that had told me something I had dreaded in my heart- that I am not lovable.

My boyfriend patiently listened to me talking about my ex. He made a lot of shit over the years, but it was all the time obvious that he loves me. I just never really fully participated in the relationship because my boyfriend had some obvious problems which made it very difficult for me to imagine a future with him. He was nothing like I had dreamed my husband to be like. He was the complete opposite in so many ways. We did not have common values, no common interests. The only thing we had was some deeper level understanding. Something I actually never had with any other guy before. Somehow my boyfriend understood my pain, probably because rejection was not a foreign word to him either.

It was scary to be together with someone who is real, not the dreamguy from Hollywood. Who has expectations and wishes. Who has anger outbursts. Who smells. Who has tons of annoying habits. Who has the capacity to really really hurt me because he knows me so well. Someone who opens up and actually confesses me his love (seriously, someone confessing me their love is a scary experience for me). See commitment phobia is not there for no reason. It is there to warn us that we are not really ready to let anyone close. That we are way too vulnerable to actually allow for the presence of another person. It is a good defense mechanism, because I was never ready. I pushed my boyfriend away, I got hurt so many times, I distrusted him, I was a mess, still am to a degree. Commitment phobia is a little bit like a casket, it is there to protect, because something is broken. If you remove the casket too early, you end up doing more harm than good. That was what I did. I opened the casket too early and ended in a very stormy relationship with very uncertain future.

There is no smooth way out of commitment phobia, but my suggestion would be to start with therapy and then move on to relationship at some point. Me and my partner ended up hurting each other a lot. However, after my failure with the ex, I was already very very broken. I could not spend a day without crying for about a year and a half, so I guess that is quite radical.

In the future I will spend some more time talking about my very scary experiences in my current relationship- how it is for someone with some very strong fears to let someone else close. I hope it will also help to at least somewhat increase empathy for all those commitment phobic guys around.

Silent treatment in the relationships

In the post about relationships after narcissistic childhood, I mentioned that acons (adult children of narcissistic parents) often have dramatic and somewhat toxic relationships. This time I want to talk a little bit more about silent treatment.

Both my mother and my boyfriend have used silent treatment on me. I hardly ever used any silent treatment (I usually get anxious after a fight). I find silent treatment to be one of the most disturbing ways of relating in the relationship. If someone refuses to answer your messages after the fight, does nothing to get back to you or even shares the roof with you, but refuses to communicate, they are manipulating you. I cannot express it any other way, it is a power struggle. They are testing you out, seeking reconsolidation on their terms. Tapping on your fear of abandonment, they push you to the point where you are willing to apologize even if you did nothing wrong.

My mother was great on silent treatment. She could go days without talking to me, showing me how I had misbehaved. Such silent treatments always ended up with me apologizing. My boyfriend’s habit to use silent treatment obviously freaked me out. When we were still not living together he had a habit of disappearing after our fights. Never did he initiate contact first and he often did not even bother to respond to my messages. I can only read out of this that he was not particularly afraid that I might leave and must have not cared much for my feelings at this point. He later started using this also as a blackmailing strategy, trying to get me to apologize after our fights. Sometimes he would never express openly what he was mad about, but just let me guess, what I had done this time to anger him.

At this point my boyfriend has almost stopped silent treatment, so has my mother funnily. You know what helped? You either walk away yourself from them using silent treatment or you carry on with your life as usual. If your boyfriend does not answer to your calls, you stop calling. You ignore him as well and wait for him to come back at you. Granted, if you have big abandonment fears, this is not an easy strategy, but I think after years of practicing I have it down. See, the relationship for people who use strategies such as silent treatment, is about power. They want to control you enough, so that you would stop bringing up unpleasant issues, stop behaving in a certain way etc etc. When you demonstrate that they do not have this kind of power over you and their silent treatment will change nothing in your behavior nor will stop you bringing up issues they feel uncomfortable about, they will realize that this is a pointless strategy. Reasoning with people who use silent treatment is in my experience a pointless activity, since often these are the people who cannot take criticism to begin with. So if someone is trying to blackmail you by ignoring you, ignore back. Show them that their approval and presence is not that important that you would back down from your principles.

 

abandonment fear and borders in the relationships

About a week ago I published a post about the relationships that go nowhere, well now I am going to treat my own issue related to this topic- abandonment fear. I am used to people dropping out of my life with short notice. I am used to people setting criterias on my behavior and threatening to abandon me if I do not fulfill these demands. What I am not used to is setting my own criterias on other people.

When I started therapy, setting my own boundaries was a pretty fussy concept. I did protest in my relationships sometimes, but then the fear of abandonment kicked in and I went back to pleasing mode, basically telling my boyfriends that everything was OK. When you have grown up with the constant fear of abandonment, it is difficult to imagine yourself setting any standards to the relationship. Most of the time you end up feeling incredibly powerless, just hoping that the other side will not see you for what you are and will not leave you. If they do, well you want to be ready for that as well, so you never quite relax.

So during my therapy I have started setting some limits and borders in my relationships with other people. I have been assessing my relationships and I have lost some friends. I lost one friend when I announced that her chronic lateness (we are talking about an hour or two) was not OK. She could not handle that and I could not handle her being late on a regular basis. To me that sent a message that she really does not give a shit about our relationship. That does not mean that letting her go was easy, in fact I spent a month pining after her. This seems to be stupid as I am pretty sure that she spent little or no time missing me. Oh well….

As I am giving up on some of my relationships, because I find that these people are not treating my right, I still feel a lot of anxiety. What if there will be no one there in the end? What if I am exaggerating? Am I going to the other extreme now where I cannot accept any misgivings in my close people? All these questions are circling in my head as I am starting to set some borders in my relationships and define what is good for me. It is an ongoing process and a rather painful one I must add. I really wish that it would end in victory.

Children of narcissists and their romantic relationships

I have been struggling really long to find some information about how having narcissistic parents would impact one’s adult relationships. My wish to find information stemmed partially from the fact that I am addicted to information (it feels like power :)) and partially because I just wanted some understanding. Finding someone writing about other people with the similar background struggling with what I am is incredibly comforting. So I finally found this study (https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0053880). It is a good one, but also nearly 200 pages, so let me just summarize what I picked up from there.

People with narcissistic parents choose a partner who makes it easy to feel insecure in the relationships. This might mean choosing partners who one thinks are better than they are, highly critical parnters or emotionally unavailable partners. Man can I relate. The love of my life was in my mind so above my league that I spent years trying to get to his good graces. He was also quite critical and always left me feeling that I had somehow failed his standards.

The study also mentions that children of narcs (ACON) are usually the ones that breakup and avoid showing feelings of vulnerability in the relationship. This might be connected to the feelings of intense inferiority that these children feel when compared to their partner. Again something that I can relate acutely based on my own experiences.

Thirdly, the study mentions that acons struggle with intimacy in the relationships. It is quite difficult to establish intimacy when one is not really certain who one is. Narcissistic familes namely never allow the child to develop their own sense of self. Furthermore, they also teach children that they need to hide all their negative qualities (feelings) and paint a good face.

One other interesting point that the study makes is that acons get easily bored in relationships. Man, and I thought it was only me and something was terribly wrong with me! One of the reasons is probably found in the saying “I would never join a club that would accept me as a member”. The partners, as soon as they show fondness to acon, get devalued. There is a certain need for that chase which was carried out with parents who never quite gave their love.

Apparently acons also have unrealistic expectations in relationships. My guess is that these children are trying to find in their partners what they never found in their parents (I almost accidentally wrote parents instead of partners, so that should serve as a sufficient proof). Additionally acons seem to make relationships the focus of their lives.

Finally, playing roles and putting on a false mask seems to be the common habit of acons as well. This probably stems from the feeling that one’s true self (if it is even know) can never be valued. Hence acons read the needs of the partner and try to preform according to what they expect their partner to want. This, in long run, of course becomes tiring, so ending relationships might be a strategy used when one feels one can not hold on to the mask anymore.

This was my short summary of the study and I find that it very well describes what I have been experiencing over the years in my romantic relationships. In the future I plan on describing these themes as they developed in my own relationships