How much should you be ready to change in the relationship?

I have been lately thinking about relationships in a more philosophical level. The main question that bothers me is – how much should you be willing to change yourself for the sake of the relationship. I am going to use my own example in order to illustrate why this question bothers me.

I am someone who wishes to feel secure. I am used to looking for security outside of myself. Now, I am aware that this might not be the wisest thing to do. I am even aware that subsuming to this desire might be the basic problem in my life. Yet, I find it hard to accept that I can never rely on my partner the way I would like to rely on a man.

My therapy based self approaches the matter from the perspective of growth, telling me that, this might just as well be something I need to learn myself. My boyfriend is there in order for me to get rid of this complex. However, to what degree can you really get rid of such an existential fear? Will I ever feel convenient with someone who is quite unpredictable? Should I not just find someone who helps me to manage this fear, by acting responsible and reliable? Would that be just indulging in my complex? Creating a co-dependent relationship?

Psychological literature likes to talk about independence and self-sufficiency. I am a little bit doubtful about all this. My way of thinking goes – if you are aware of your weak spots, why not to find a partner who can compensate for those? I guess, unlike many other people, I have never thought that my partner needs to be very similar to me. Contrary, I like when my partner is different, I like when they add something, when they have different perspective. I like it. Therefore it is very difficult for me to understand my partner, who constantly complains over our differences.

I feel I cannot trust him

Last time I wrote about another reason why people might be commitment phobic. After looking a bit to my childhood and the constant insecurity I felt, I am pushed to look at my relationship from that perspective as well. This will be entirely biased picture, because it is written from the perspective of my fear.

I have essentially chosen a partner who I feel I cannot trust. He is someone who gets annoyed very easily and has mood swings. He occasionally takes his moods out on me, blaming me for those.  Additionally, as I mentioned, he also sometimes during the fights threatens to leave. He sometimes does not pick up his phone. He sometimes disappears when in another country. He is reluctant about planning the future.

I am just now realizing how much fear I have had throughout all these years. How little trust I have had. How insecure I have constantly felt.

This did not strike me as weird, because apparently I am very used to this. Furthermore, it felt like a huge development, because my boyfriend has something my mother never had – warmth and caring nature. I felt like finally, if I behave, I am in for a rare treat – his unconditional love.

It is funny really, because all the drama and fluctuations were I guess something I expected. I somehow thought they were a sign as to how much we both loved eachother. That our relationship was something very special where we could connect on a deeper level. I rationalized for myself, that I did not need firm commitment. It was development relationship. We were there to push eachothers buttons and we will see what comes out of it……

Yes, indeed, it has been a deep relationship. It still is a deep relationship. However, I am also starting to understand that drama and emotional fluctuations are not necessary for a deep relationship. All the drama happens when do relatively emotionally unhealthy and fearful people get together. When neither one trusts the other.

So we both have commitment issues. Obviously. We both have trust issues for various reasons. But I am starting to understand that I am scared. I am so terrified of this insecurity. I would like to have a safe place in this world. A safe place I never had. I am also understanding, what happens in our relationship contributes to my fears. I am also starting to realize how his behavior has continuously pushed my buttons and how some of it is far from healthy.

Another common reason behind chasing the unavailable

From what I have read about chasing unavailable people, a lot of resources suggest that it has to do with your self-esteem, your wish to seek for unrequited love etc. Conquering the unavailable person should stand for the proof that you are lovable.

I could always to a degree relate to these explanations, but not quite. I kept wondering why, even though I was constantly working with my self-esteem and my lovability issues, my addiction to unavailable guys never went away. Until I discovered the reason behind my addiction….

So in my childhood I could never be certain of my mother’s reaction on things I did. Sometimes when I got a bad grade, she was quite forgiving and even comforted me. Sometimes she would get furious. I had no way of predicting her reaction. Just as I had no way of knowing the rules of the game.

Such an insecurity led me to always check for her reactions. Desperately wanting to know how to make her happy. I came so accustomed with this insecurity that I started to equal this with how relationships should be.

When I love somebody….I go to the mode of proving myself. I need constant insecurity. I need constant feeling that I cannot be sure of their feelings and reactions towards me. There needs to be some hope in the air, so that it would not seem like a desperate pursuit. I need to feel that it is possible to be in their good graces……but I should not be certain of their approval and love.

So this is why I am running after unavailable guys. I am trying to reverse the pattern from my childhood where I will figure out the rules of the game and finally know how to earn my mother’s constant approval.

Finally ready for commitment

Something interesting is happening. I feel that I am finally ready for commitment. I want marriage. I want kids. I want to be able to look at my partner and say – this is a person I will spend most of my life together with. I want family holidays. All these things that I somewhat treaded and yet secretly wanted for years. However, something is different these days, I know that I am willing to do a lot of work for that.

However, my readiness also unfortunately lets me know that, my partner is not ready. The most important thing he is not ready for, is to sacrifice things for the relationship. I am of conviction that relationship always means sacrifices. It means work. You do the work. You sacrifice the immediate benefit for long-term benefit.

My partner’s position somewhat confuses me. I have no idea where he stands in terms of commitment. However, I think there is a reason why I feel so unsafe. I look other couples around, who have no problems getting encaged, married and wonder – why is it so difficult for me? Am I doing something wrong? Or is he just not ready? Will he ever be?

I have been suppressing my feeling of desperation for a while. Five years is a long time to be together. Especially without making any significant commitment. Without still making future plans. The most stupid thing is, I do believe that my partner honestly does not want to deceive me. I think he honestly thinks that one day he might be ready. However, the question is – when?

Struggling with patterns and standing still

Something that I have been struggling with lately is – feeling that there is no progress in my life. They say that doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for different kind of results is insanity. I feel that, with slight variations, I am doing the same things over and over again, without realizing it.

Patterns are a difficult thing to change. My pattern is hoping that somehow somewhere outside of me is this universal love, in the shape of a man, and I just have to meet him. When I finally meet him, I will not feel alone and unsafe in the world. I will finally feel like I belong somewhere, like I have a family……Ultimately I am just looking for the feeling I never got when I was small. I want to feel that there is a warm place waiting for me. That I am expected and welcomed.

Unfortunately, the shape that I want this all in, is suitable for a child, but not for a grown woman. I am still lacking the full realization that, it is my job to create this sense of belonging and sense of family. I am just hoping that somehow, naturally, it will all fall into place once there is this right relationship…..

The fact that I can critically talk about it, shows some progress. In my experience however, we can understand something rationally and still continue doing this. It is emotional understanding that matters. Do you understand why you feel the way you feel? Do you condone your feelings or do you accept those as part of yourself?

So currently, I am still on the level of rational understanding. I understand that, there is this lack in me. However, I am critical towards this lack and I am putting myself down, because I should have it all figured out by now.

Insecurity

If one could choose one word to describe my life so far- it would be insecurity. As much as I would like to believe that I am poor victim of unfortunate circumstances, I somehow understand that there has to be some of my doing in this insecurity and instability as well.

I have no idea if what we feel inside tends to reflect outside in our life. However that would be painfully accurate description of my life. I feel that the last moment of security was before I left my home-country six years ago. Ever since, everything has been in constant movement and transition.

The stupidest thing is, I have no idea how to solve this. I am getting the sense that I have to first solve my inner turmoil, but I have no idea if this will actually help me to turn my life around. I have made an experience that changing my inner experience about how I felt about my appearance for instance helped me to get that far where I normally do not care about it. So I wonder if maybe the same will happen with insecurity, once I stop caring about it, changes will also happen outside.

So far, people have been passing companions in my life and I feel that I have no idea when the next one will fall out. I cannot hold on to my work either, because it is really insecure. I have changed apartments 6 times during last six years. My boyfriend, as mentioned has a nasty habit of sometimes disappearing and being extremely moody, so you never know what comes from there either. So, no wonder I feel in flux. However, what would be the solution. If you have any ideas, feel free to contribute.

Inconsistency in relationships and push and pull pattern

Me and my boyfriend started our relationship with a very strong push and pull dance. It was so extreme that we went from being together every day to not communicating for three months. My boyfriend likes to present this as due to my intimacy issues, but the more I develop in my therapy, the more I understand that he has very deep issues of his own.

I been wondering for some time why I feel as if we are not really a real couple. There is an ambivalence to the relationship. No direct future plans. No strong commitment such as engagement or buying real estate together. Furthermore, he makes his plans alone- announcing me sometimes in the last minute when he is going for his work trip or that he has planned one week of his vacation without me.

For a long time I was OK with such a pattern, because as my BF so helpfully pointed out, I had my intimacy issues. However, I am getting increasingly frustrated about this situation these days. The most problematic thing seems to be that my BF cannot understand what the problem is. In his mind, since he is sometimes very giving it compensates for him taking his ‘own time’ (disappearing for a week when he is in a work trip).

I have been driving myself mad by focusing on trust issues. It is true, I have trust issues, but I am also understanding that there are some reservations to trusting someone who does not pick up his phone. Or someone who vacillates between being super loving, to being passive-aggressive and distant. I am just left confused. Not understanding what he wants. He is consistently inconsistent. This makes it very difficult for me to believe any of his future plans, especially regarding family. Am I to trust him or am I to decide that his inconsistency is the end of our relationship?

Abandonment threats and feeling of betrayal

I already wrote about abandonment threats in the relationships. Now I would want to make a follow up as I have tapped further into what feelings it evokes in me.

So, I am always getting a sense betrayal when someone threatens me with abandonment. It feels as if unless I behave the way they want me to, I am useless. There is little respect towards me, my persona and my wishes, instead there is a wish to control my behavior and if that does not work out, then I am useless.

I am not saying that, this is what is happening in all these situations, what I am saying is that, this is how it feels for me. This feeling is very much connected to the message I got from my mother- either be the way I want you to be or otherwise there is no use of you at all.

I cannot yet comment how many people in my life have actually treated me in this way, I feel I am too close to this emotion. However, I do know that I have frequently been used by people. Some of these situations have been no brainers, where it was obvious that the other person took advantage of me and the others were a little bit more complicated.

Now it is my role to connect with this feeling so that I could actually correctly interpret other people’s behavior and not project to them what my mother did to me.

why I so desperately long for guys

In my experience a lot of people that have experienced lack of love in their childhood have some means to compensate for it. My boyfriend for instance strives for career excellence in the hopes of feeling adequate some day. Me, myself, strive for the love of all the males around me.

Actually I am quite ashamed to admit this, because it sounds vain, selfish and superficial. However, does any addiction ever sound good? Anyways, I have been obsessed with male attention. I have read many books about how to become more attractive and I have dedicated at least some of my therapy to ‘getting rid of my unattractive sides’.

Behind this obsession lies the belief that if I am loved by many males around me, I finally feel safe and as if I belong somewhere. No, mine is not the typical, I want to feel more attractive. Rather it is- I want to be sure that if I am left one day, there will be another male that will pick me up and I do not ever have to be afraid of feeling insecure again. I can feel safe about being accepted and never being abandoned.

So, my obsession about the attraction of the opposite sex is merely a way of assuring that I will never be alone again. Even if my current relationship does not work out, I want to be sure that someone will pick me up.

There has always been something really scary about being alone in the world for me.

Threats of abandonment in the relationships

I am noticing a certain pattern in my relationships which has persisted for quite a long time. Namely- I tend to have several people in my life who have reverted to the situations where they threaten me with abandonment.

The first one was my mother who on a regular basis told me to get my stuff and leave. This was usually followed by other threats such as- and do not dare to go to any of your friends or otherwise I will find you there and you will not want to know what happens then.

My partner is pulling the threat of abandonment on me on a regular basis as well. Usually this reaction is related to him starting to feel very ashamed whereby he tells me that, we should just break up. This reaction is usually brought about by my accusations that, the relationship is not moving anywhere.  My partner then tells me that if I am not happy and if he is really so bad boyfriend I should just leave.

Finally, my best friend pulled this stunt this summer. She was angry at me for criticizing her about pushing her opinion on me. Hence she told me- if you think I am really so bad person, we should end our friendship.

All the three people and their reactions are probably connected to them feeling ashamed. I can relate to this. However, it also feels from where I am standing, that these people, whenever they feel criticized, pull the abandonment card. This leaves to me very little opportunity to have an impact in these relationships. To varying degrees, none of these people allows comments on their own behavior whereas they are very vocal about my misgivings. This as a result also means that they are controlling the situation- they call the shots, because the other side learns quite quickly not to confront them unless they want to risk with the abandonment.  I am just now realizing how frustrated and angry I have felt for this lack of control.

At this point I have stopped all my communication with my best friend. I have also made it clear to my mother that the abandonment tactic does not work anymore. The only one left to handle is my boyfriend with whom I have tried calm conversations, but am feeling less and less hopeful that these actually lead anywhere.