Why does nobody want me?- my strategies of getting commitment

I notice myself ending up in similar situations with my two last boyfriends. I notice struggling with commitment and at times their unwillingness to commit. I notice certain bitterness as to me having to put in more- do more work. This bitterness is soon replaced by more desperate question- why do they not want to be with me fully? What is wrong with me?

Surely the bitterness about me having to do the chasing is just a defensive reaction, meant to protect my fragile self-esteem underneath. I do not want to feel unwanted, hence I demand to be wanted. I make demands to my boyfriends. I want to make them commit.

Unfortunately it has not happened yet that someone will be convinced and forced into committing. Well, OK, that is not entirely true, there are millions of marriages where one side was not overly joyous to commit, but the bottom line is that there are consequences to forcing the other side.

I, too have made my ultimatums, I have tried different strategies- waiting, pleasing, becoming increasingly controlling etc etc. I have to admit that in the end, none of these well though through strategies work. They did not work with my ex and they are not working with my current boyfriend either. It takes some self-restrain to distance oneself from these strategies and see the real problem underneath.

My real problem, of course is, that I am so vulnerable to what these guys think of me. Furthermore, I choose guys that are hard to catch, because somehow, catching them should prove my value. I am chasing guys in the relationship in a similar fashion as I am chasing them outside of the relationship. I take a bigger responsibility for initiating commitment, making it work, getting real. Needless to say that this causes, as I mentioned resentment and most importantly, nobody cares about my investment. My bigger investment does not make the guy with some commitment issues want the commitment more. It does not make him realize what an asset I am. If anything, it helps them to lose respect in me.

So, as to now, I will try to get my self-esteem in place. I will try to refrain from question- why does no one want me and instead ask the question- are they worth wanting. This however, will be something new and different for me and I also assume a very difficult transition to make.

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Relationships with no intimacy

Today I am going to talk about something that was very difficult for me to take- my breakup with my ex. With time, I have come to see this from a different angle than once we broke up. I can start by saying that my ex was someone I imagined my future husband to look like and I made many plans in my head. I have not established such a future with my current boyfriend for many reasons. Partially, because my breakup from my ex and my therapy pushed me to the state where I was hardly able to function on an everyday level, much less to think and plan the future. As I am coming out of this state, I have started to slowly assess my future again. This new state has made me rethink many things in relation to what I can say was the most serious relationship of my life.

My ex and me, we preformed our relationship. Our relationship was all about the future- discussing potential house where we would live and the children we could have. It was nice planning something so beautiful with someone. However, I often caught myself from the thought that something was wrong in this picture. Yes, we had common ideas about the world, fitting value systems, I was attracted to my ex, but something, nevertheless, was missing. I can now suggest, that what was missing, was intimacy. Our relationship was that of two highly preforming individuals joining together. We were not opened to the whole range of human experience, rather our relationship assumed that both of us would be such highly achieving individuals. There was little interdependency.

What do I mean by saying that we performed the relationship? I have a friend who despite having been together with her boyfriend for six years has yet to tell him that she loves him. They have a house together and they are building future together, but there is no verbal exchange of love. This relationship could no doubt suit to some people, but I might assume that where there is so little exchange of intimacy on a verbal level, there are also heavy defenses. You do not want to make yourself dependent nor vulnerable. You want to share your life with this other individual, but you want to do this from a safe position. You want to avoid emotional collapses and dramas.

I am not idealizing drama ridden relationships here. This is another extreme, which is definitely not better. I can only say from my experience with my ex, that running a relationship where both or at least one side has a high need to feel safe and in control, is challenging to say the least. It all depends on what one is ready to give and if giving away control seems to be like a more dangerous option, then obviously there is no question. Even though such a relationship might look like marvelous union on the surface (I think mine and my exes could have), they feel at least somewhat empty inside. It is an ideal case of having all elements at place, but not having this crucial clue that brings it all together- emotional closeness and intimacy.

If I was perfect daddy would have not left me and mommy would not be so annoyed with me all the time….

I am a self-development yunkie. Even my therapy started with me trying to shape myself in a way that everybody would like me. You know, get rid of the edges, so that I would finally be loved by everyone. It took me quite some years to understand that well, the actual problem was not that some people did not like me, the real problem was that I so desperately wanted them to like me.

I have gone through multiple products to make myself more beautiful. I have read more self-development books than one can imagine. I have gone through numerous guys. I have been a high achiever academically and also to a degree at my work. At the end of the day none of this matters.

Do not get me wrong, of course these things matter. I think I have a relatively OK career (though instable) which I have taken quite liking in. I am also more or less happy with my appearance etc etc. This is not the point though, the point is, if you are hoping that these things will make you feel loved, you will be in for disappointment.

Anyways, now, I understand clearer than ever before, that actually I was trying to make my parents happy. I was trying to convince my dad to officially admit that I was his daughter (he denied it publicly) and I was trying to make my mother less annoyed. Yes, my mother, who was constantly annoyed and critical. Nothing was ever good enough, nothing sufficed- she was just regularly angry. We had quite frequent fights and they always ended in a same way- me begging her to forgive me and promising to change.

Being perfect has been the central motive in my life for so long, that, well honestly I am pretty lost without it. I am slowly, but only slowly, coming out of this, but I have yet to replace it with something else. I am noticing that the greatest passion in my life so far has been to be better- to be more liked, to be admired.  I have done many things just to get admiration and validation. I have no idea what is there besides this passion. What else can I get passionate about?

Daddy issues

Sometimes I feel pain….. Sometimes I let someone else decide on how I feel about myself. I get hooked on to unavailable people and try to win their sympathy. I chase unavailable guys in the hopes of getting redemption. Just another lipstick, different haircolor, surely then they will notice me.

When they give me attention, I am always yearning for more. It seems like a saving grace. A little bit of light in this dark world. When they decide that they do not want to play with me anymore, it is me who is hurting. I am there to be played with. I am there to take these little flirts more serious than the other side.

It all started off with my father. My absent father. My father who walked in and out of my life as he pleased. He would show up at our door unexpectedly, bearing gifts and then he would leave. I never knew when he was coming again. I tried to contact him with no success. He never responded to my birthday cards.

My father had a weird relationship with me too. He somehow wanted something from me. He wanted redemption. He wanted to feel loved. So whenever he showed up, feeling love deprived, he would get to be the star. He would feel good- after all there was this human being who seemed to always be happy to meet him. That meant something….or did it?

Later he wanted to make amends and announced that he wanted to meet with me more regularly. We were estranged, but my father had hoped that I was still this five year old girl who would give him love freely. No, now it was conditional. I did not have trust. My father was disappointed. That is not how he had imagined this. He did not want things to be heavy. He wanted things to be like they used to be. He would show up, receive his yearly dose of love and disappear.

Things were so heavy that he lost interest. Too much was needed from him. Too many meetings, too much effort in reestablishing trust. After all, he was never good with getting close to people. So he did what he had done plenty of times before when things got complicated- he disappeared.

Now he had a daughter that wanted something from him. That was not exactly how he had planned it to be. He wanted to have the relationship on his terms.

So the daughter kept wondering- why did daddy disappear again? Was there something I did wrong? It must have been. After all daddy cannot be unreliable or selfish. So the only reason for him to disappear is because I did not open up. I let him down. I let myself down and now I never get to have a relationship with daddy.

But I can have a relationship with other unavailable guys. I can imagine every single one to be my daddy. Once this one will love me, I will choose another one. My aim is to win over every single unavailable guy so that I would finally feel loved. I would feel close. This yearning in my heart will die and I will be normal again.

Pleasers and controllers and changing the relationship patterns

I have lately witnessed some common patterns in my relationships. Overall, these patterns are rather complex, so today, I am going to focus on one aspect in these relationships- criticism.

As I have already mentioned, I recently had a huge fight with my best friend, which started from me criticizing her behavior towards me. Now, this is a friend who has been quite critical of me for years and has told me many constructive and not so constructive things that she thinks I should change. When confronted about her own behavior, however, my friend pulled the- if you do not like me we should not be my friends anymore card.

Something incredibly weird happened, when I confronted my boyfriend about the very same thing yesterday- his extensive criticism towards me and my behavior. My boyfriend went to the mode of- ‘but you knew how I was when you met me’. Note, that he was defending his right to criticize me, by noting that he was already critical when he met me and that I should respect him the way he is.

Now, both parties have also on and off accused me of being oversensitive and unable to take criticism. Therefore, I find it extremely weird, that when faced with criticism themselves, their reactions are far from reasonable (either take me for who I am or leave). Even funnier is the fact that both have on separate occasions criticized each other for being defensive and unable to take criticism.

Now obviously me choosing such people in my life is pointing to the problem of my own. Namely, my deep-seated belief that I am not enough and that I have to change in order to be accepted. I am not going to explain how this pattern started, but rather go further with explaining how such a pattern between individuals works.

You have two actors- one is the advisor/controller and the other one is victim/people-pleaser. Now, both sides have a low self-esteem, but they handle it in a different manner. On one hand, the victim hopes that once they have gained the approval of other people, they will feel better about themselves. The controller, on the other hand, hopes that once they feel in control, they will stop feeling so helpless and weak all the time. These relationships work, because the victim is trying to get the approval of the controller and the controller feels secure enough about its superior position.

The problem is, that I am not willing to take such hierarchical relationships anymore. I have noticed that my self-esteem has increased sufficiently so that now I can actually choose which criticism I take. This is the first thing that will annoy the hell out of people with controlling instincts, as I have observed. They will think it is arrogant and dismissive. Now the second thing is that I am not willing to hear constant criticism anymore. I have been around people who do not criticize me on a daily basis and it feels really good. I felt accepted and I also felt better about myself. Finally, the last thing is that, I am becoming more critical myself and will also confront them about their behaviors, which usually sets off an aggressive reaction whereby they are trying to direct the conversation back to my issues. If that does not work, the ultimatum (you either accept me or we will not be together) is given.

Hence the once working pattern in my relationships is obviously challenged. While I am emancipating myself, the controllers in my life are desperately trying to get back their control.This was more obvious with my friend, but I am also seeing clear signs of such a behavior in my boyfriend. Now, I am not saying that either one is a bad person, rather that they have just established a pattern with people, that seemed to serve them well and are now upset, because it is not working anymore. These patterns are as much my doing as they are theirs. The situation where I do not agree with these patterns anymore, obviously puts a strain on the relationships. In fact, for me, there are only two possibilities in these situations- either the person next to you accepts that you are not willing to fulfill the old role anymore or you end up parting your ways.

Learning to confront people

As the former people pleaser and a “nice girl” I have yet to get the hung on confronting people. I am making my first steps, but as the conflict situations are highly inconvenient for me, it usually looks clumsy to say the least.

The first problem of mine is, that I really tend to get overly defensive when I sense that someone is crossing my borders. I have been all too often regarded as someone who can be stepped over easily, so now I automatically assume that the other person is out to get me- that they have it out for me. This, naturally, might not always be the case at all and they might just be unaware that they are crossing my borders. I usually do not lash out on people, but I do have a mental dialogue about how inappropriate behavior this other person is exposing. I guess it is normal for people, who have once experienced a great deal of manipulation and controlling to expect certain maliciousness from other people.

The other problem, I experience, is that I tend to “disappear”. Since confrontations are difficult for me, I sometimes rather pull away and distance myself from this other person. Furthermore, it is sometimes difficult for me to understand, what exactly is the problem. I just get the sense that I do not want to be around this person, but I rarely trust my gut. No, I have to figure out what is really the problem. It is highly likely, that if you are a people pleaser, you have been taught not to believe your own feelings and instincts. You need to hear someone else confirming that the person X is indeed behaving badly. Even that might not always be enough, you might continue to analyze the situation and try to find new ways of looking at it just to somehow find the magic switch as to how to make it right. After all, conflicts and furthermore, risking to be unliked by someone, is highly anxiety evoking for you.

The third problem that I have with confronting people is that I am not yet sure as to where exactly my borders lie. I can switch, reconsider- they are not very firm. This might be confusing for those around me as well, and they might see me as highly unpredictable. After all, I am switching the rules on a constant basis. This is also part of the process of growing out of people pleasing mode- you need to see what actually works and does not work for you and it takes time.

Finally, I get highly inconvenient when I try to confront someone and they react aggressive towards me. It is quite likely that as a people pleaser, you might have attracted number of people that enjoy having all the control. Controllers are highly inconvenient with being confronted and being told no. That was my lesson with my best friend. As I told her no for the first time, she made a scene about it and we continued talking about my complexes in connection to the situation. Talking about her behavior was impossible. Afterwards, as I pulled my distancing act, however, I was accused for not talking about the problems in the relationship and instead avoiding her. This is a no win situation, as I discovered, there is no way of talking yourself out of there as there are people that really cannot take confrontation. When you look around, you often notice that most close people in their lives are extremely submissive, so they actually do not have to hear the word no all that often. As of average person, they might also react defensive at first to your confrontation, especially if it is a new rule you are trying to institute, but they tend to warm up to the idea eventually and then things can be discussed. However, that assumes from your part, that you hold your ground and do not “give up” with the first sign of disapproval.

In the end all I can say, that for me this process of learning how to confront people, has definitely been valuable. It is an ongoing struggle, but apart from (temporarily) conflictual relationships, you also experience a sense of freedom and control. This feeling is really intoxicating and totally worth the trouble.

I am finally becoming the person I wanted to be

I am finally becoming the person I have always wanted to be. No, not that I literally dreamt of how exactly I should be, but I am finally starting to feel some self-respect. This visit to my home country has made me see how much I have changed during these four last years. I started off as a dedicated people pleaser, believing that being liked by others and submitting to them was my way to happiness. Now I can actually feel certain amount of personal power, feel like I am not living on the mercy of everybody else anymore. Like I have agency….

Yes, I still have very strong abandonment issues. My recent fight and fallout with my best friend has shown this very clearly. However, it has also showed to me that I am capable. That I can choose how I want to be treated and do not have to take bad treatment from other people. It is incredibly empowering.

As I have been so concerned most of my life about how others perceive me, I have never asked myself how I want to be treated. I have been just so happy if someone takes a liking to me, is able to tolerate me. Now I am noticing things about people, both positive and negative, which I never noticed before. I was just constantly so concerned about what they thought of me, that I never really saw them. This has made me not so good friend either- being rather concerned about them giving me feeling of validation, not actually caring who they are and what they need.

From the other side, I notice how dysfunctional treat and see the other people. These people become tools for their own needs. They do not perceive people the way they are, rather they perceive people in relation to what they give to them. I am so happy that I am slowly coming out of this dynamic and I am even happy over the fight with my best friend. I am happy about our fall-out. Yes, I also do feel fear (what if I never find a new best friend again, what if no one wants me), sadness (we shared so much), self-doubt (did I do right by confronting her), but over all I feel sense of empowerment.

I have a voice!

In the end I post a song that describes how I feel now

Falling-out with a friend

Faithallen in (faithallen.wordpress.com) is writing that together with therapy, some relationships might end or at least change its face. I have never experienced it to such a degree as currently with my best friend.

Our friendship has always functioned in a way that she was the one put-together, giving me advice on various matters and getting to have the upper hand in the relationship. I was the needy one, in need of advice and support. What is happening is, that together with not being so needy, I have started gaining my own voice. So couple of weeks ago I confronted her about her behavior where she was forcing on me her advice and opinion (on a regular basis) by saying that I would appreciate if she in the future would refrain from such a behavior. Naturally she did not take it well, moreover, she pulled the martyr card by saying how she is not allowed to tell me anything, because I am so sensitive, and how I am not taking her good advice.

So I concluded that our relationship has functioned in a manner where I always looked up to her- she was the one whose life was together. This form of relationship meant that I hardly ever criticized her or gave her advice, whereas she had always felt even invited by me, to give me advice and criticism. So I understood something I had missed throughout these years- she cannot accept criticism. She cannot accept someone saying that some of her comments or her behavior is not OK.

The whole drama escalated at some point when she started wondering why I have not contacted her. So I had to tell her, that I found her behavior problematic. This only started the long series of accusations towards me and ended with her declaration that I should have just told her if I do not want to be her friend.

This is something I find extremely difficult to take- people that cannot take any negative comments on their behavior. You drawing your borders and saying- I have heard you advice and criticism, but I choose not to take it, is not acceptable. This is due to the fact that this criticism is not given on your behalf. This advice is given to make them feel better about themselves, as if they would help the bystanders, then these bystanders would start loving them more. Somehow, they would earn the love of these people.

As I choose not to be the helpless victim anymore, the advisors in my life also need to take a new role. They need to face the fact that I am having my voice and also might confront them about their behavior. This might be extremely difficult to some, as I have witnessed with my best friend.

How my boyfriend needed to learn not to give

As follows I will focus on some topics in my relationship, which have been areas of growth. I will start with the most important lesson that my boyfriend has had to learn and will continue with my own lessons in the following posts.

My boyfriend loves being a hero. Some might think, don’t all guys, but I can say from my experience that I know very few other guys that would go to such an extent with projecting the image of super-hero. He does not necessarily have the James Bond quality in him, but he is more the nurturing-loving hero type. His acts of giving are however related to his wish to be noticed, admired and appreciated. He wants to feel OK about himself and has chosen giving to others as a prime method for achieving this goal.

Now this relationship has been a disappointment to him and I am saying to partially in a humorous way. See whereas I am good at looking up to my boyfriends, I have little patience for truly vain guys. My boyfriend, without the doubt is vain. He is vain in a little bit more refrained manner, but he is no doubt vain. So naturally when he did not get the kind of admiration and uncritical appraisal he was expecting, he started to get angry and resentful. In his mind he was giving so much and got very little for it.

What I did, instead, was trying to turn his attention to why he needed to give that much. Frankly, there were times where I felt really inconvenient with his constant giving. Furthermore, I also did not feel comfortable with giving him constant praise and no criticism at all. His acts of giving had a secret hope in it, that if he gives so much, he will never ever be criticized again. See, underneath, he felt that he was worthless. Because he was worthless, he needed to earn someone’s love. This love could be communicated only by his partner not ever showing disapproval. Signs of disapproval would reinforce his feeling of worthlessness and make him feel that he can never be loved.

In my experience, guys like my boyfriend dream of a girl that would look up to them and never critically challenge them. This girl should be silent about their wrongdoings and function as readily available source of admiration. I am going to go overboard here and say, that this is not actually what these guys need. Speaking for my boyfriend, I think what he truly needed was someone to be aware of his shit and still be OK with him. How are you ever going to feel better about yourself if you are constantly performing for someone?

So, the biggest lesson for my boyfriend has been, how to give less. How to give because he wants to give and not because he believes that will make me blind about his wrongdoings. How to believe that he is OK for me also without extensive giving and that I can actually appreciate him as a person. He is still struggling with accepting that he, as a person and not what he does, can be valuable. He has numerous times told me that I am using him and that I am only interested in what he can do for me. This, I think, is mostly projection about what he feels inside himself. I am often times quite blind to the things he does and frankly care more about his capabilities as a conversation partner and as a loyal friend than any massage he gives to me. However, I think he is finally opening up to the idea that he can have a value in himself and I am happy for it, since it puts less strain on the relationship and makes him more independent.