Why I am uncomfortable with dating – inability to say no

So, for the past days, I have been mulling over my potential issues related to online dating and the guys going into chasing mode. I think I am starting to finally understand what my problem is.

I do not know how to say no. In my childhood saying no was not really something that was acceptable. Me defending my interests or borders was interpreted as aggressive and rebellious and this was to be pushed down the minute it was seen. By the age of seven I had become so docile that when visiting someone I was afraid to ask where the toilet was. I was afraid to say when I had some pain or when I did not want to eat what was offered. Basically, I was afraid of creating any kinds of waves or attracting any kind of attention to myself.

This inability to say no lead me becoming a victim of child molesters. These guys know their game, they know whom to choose as a victim. Even though I was never sexually abused as a child (at least I think I was not), I became a head target for 50 year old guys, simply because they sensed my inability to say no. So all kinds of things happened from these guys touching my knees to dry humping. Luckily since I was never alone with these guys and never agreed to go anywhere with them, the worst never happened. However, I need to thank god that I was not particularly popular among teenage guys, because I swear to god, I would have just plainly done everything they told me to do.

So when I talk to guys in the internet, I suddenly become this little child again. I cannot tell them when they have crossed the borders. I am too scared to make any waves. I am too scared to make myself heard. So I am afraid that as I go on a date with someone, this pattern will just be exaggerated and I will just plainly agree doing whatever these guys want me to do. This has happened plenty in my relationships, why would that be any different on dates?

So I need to somehow take care of my vulnerabilities before I can go any further with my dating.

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Modern dating and fake intimacy

I have never dated….Here you have it. Dating has never attracted me and with the kind of trust issues which I have, web platforms were the last place where I would look for someone…Seriously.

Lately, I have pushed myself. What surprises me about online men (mind the term) is the quickness people want to do their business. No, I do not mean some random guys wanting to hook up with me (although even there I am amazed by their lack of flirting skills) but guys who allegedly look for serious partner. After one conversation, somehow guys start sending me good morning messages. They start writing to me after they have returned from a party on Friday night. To me it seems weird.

However, where I am seriously lost is, do only I think it is weird? Is it my distance and trust issues lashing up again? I am sure that part of it is true. However, I think this is not only it. There seems to be some desperation for creating some false intimacy. People seem to long for closeness, but they do not really want to do things that would lead to that closeness. It is like you want to go to the store and say – I would take this package of intimacy, please.

I feel uncomfortable with that. My relationships have always taken some time to develop. I think relationships need time to develop. You cannot just strike a conversation online with someone one evening and then the next day act like this was your partner. I mean where does this come from? Are people not really themselves aware of the problems with that behavior?

It is kind of like one night stand, but for intimacy. One night love, perhaps? You have clear needs that need to be satisfied, but you do not really have the patience to take time to ensure the long-term satisfaction. Instead, you go for something that seems to be more like an instant gratification. But, unlike with one night stand, where people understand that this is temporary and that this is not an OK behavior for relationship, one night lovers seem to be of the idea that this is it. This is how love is supposed to function. You can actually skip perhaps even meeting the other one face to face and just go to the phase of the relationship where you have someone who would emotionally support you and be interested in you and everything you do.

This is just the beginning of my musing on that topic. I will reflect longer about my own emotional issues behind these occurrences.

Being attracted to someone’s potential

I recently heard a sentence – “I do not deserve you, you are worth someone better than me”.  It is actually quite painful for me to elaborate on this sentence, but since this blog has as its main purpose to be as honest as possible and perhaps motivate others with my honesty, I am going to go ahead.

See this sentence is not a compliment. Whenever you hear this sentence, instead of convincing the other person that they are great, what you should do is to analyze it further. What they are telling you is that you deserve someone better. That means, they have noticed that they are not treating you the way you should be treated. If you start convincing them at this point that they do deserve you, what you are telling them is – actually I do not really respect myself enough to ask for what I deserve.

My reaction to that sentence was a bit of both. I did agree on the underlying message and told the guy that I think he is a bit of a work in progress. I also tried to communicate that I do believe in him. However, what is so attractive about a guy who you consider to be work in progress? I mean if you now think that after hearing this sentence I told him, well OK, feel free to seek me out when you feel you are ready for anything substantial, you are wrong. Even though I agreed with him in terms of me deserving something better, my subconscious obviously was too afraid to let go of this guy who I thought had so much potential. So instead, I got myself into a situation…..

So what is it about getting attached to someone who is nothing but a vague promise of commitment? Does it still reflect my commitment issues? Does it reflect the problem with self-esteem? Honestly, at this point I do not know the answer. I do know however that when I hear the following sentence again, I should not ignore this.

recreating my early feelings of instability and unsafety

I am doing a lot of rethinking about my life these days, hence so many posts.

I have been anxious lately. Perhaps it is about my ex moving out soon. Perhaps it is my work stress. Perhaps it is my financial struggles. Perhaps it is some of my addictions. Perhaps it is my love interest blocking me. However, as I zoomed in to the anxiety, something really different started to uncover.

Namely, I am used to living my life, being controlled by someone unstable. Being dependent on someone who was not really dependable. I am used to feeling at least some level of anxiety all the time. I mean I had to constantly watch my steps. I developed a certain self-regulation mechanism where even when my mother was not a round, I was mortally afraid of her judgement. I still am. Only these days I rationalize it as me objectively screwing up.

So what do I do? I recreate this early childhood feeling of being dependent on someone non reliable. I choose either guys who constantly judge me. Or guys who are unreliable and unpredictable. Or maybe both in one person. Anything to recreate this early feeling of not being safe in the world. Hell, I even chose an unstable career which is based on me constantly getting scrutinized. Little did I know about how many of my choice in this life were defined by this constant feeling of insecurity and constant feeling of being unsafe.

Obviously it is not really something you fix with one day, but I think me understanding this already takes me closer to perhaps solving it. Perhaps being able to create a more secure life for myself. I feel that so far I have sabotaged all the kind of security there potentially was in my life. I feel that me realizing that I have been sabotaging it is a breakthrough. I am looking forward to being able to create a more secure future for myself.

me and my imaginary boyfriends

Today I am going to tell you about this perverse habit of mine to get security from imaginary relationships. So lets put it like this – I am anxious person. Future insecurities scare me. We are talking about me thinking at least two three years in advance and worrying about things that might happen. I am a neurotic person. So what do I do?

I escape into imaginary relationships. I just imagine my new love interest to be this pillar of security. Mind me this new love interest might be a person I have only talked once or twice, but somehow imagined that there was some connection.  Thinking that there might be something between us, oddly makes me feel secure. Like there is some kind of support – even though lets face it, there really is not.

That is how I get attached to guys who might have long ago forgotten about my existence. I get attached to them and I hardly evaluate whether they are into me, whether they are secure enough etc., because to a degree what they are like does not matter. It matters what role I ascribe to them in my head. Often times when the reality does not conform to my imagination, I really desperately keep hanging on to my imagination.

But lets take a concrete example. I had this internet acquaintanship lately which got really close. We had not met each other in real life, but I really thought that there was a strong connection. Granted he was giving off mixed messages, but well I ignored those. Then suddenly he disappeared. Like literally disappeared. Instead of reevaluating this guy and saying to myself – well this guy is really instable, I kept hanging on to the idea that we might some day have a relationship. I mean does anyone normal really want to have a relationship with someone who has disappeared on them?

So yeah, I am not really sure what to do with this pattern. I hate people who say that being conscious about your patterns is somehow already half way to the finish line. It is not! These patterns are subconscious and it takes a lot more than mere knowledge about your patterns. Furthermore, it feels a bit frustrating that I still struggle so much with building healthy relationships even after all these years.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mutual support in relationships

This is a topic which has caught my attention lately, partially because I had an interesting conversation with my ex lately. Namely my ex has always thought that I am needy. On this occasion he went on to explain to me how no grownup man wants to deal with a woman who needs to call him when she has problems around the house. We were discussing on the occasion where we had a floodage and I called him to ask for our landlord’s number. He was away and I considered it extremely weird that he showed no interest later as to if the problem got solved or not. My ex, however explained that it was needy from me to expect that he would show interest. Furthermore, he also finds me calling him to ask for help in solving the situation needy and a sign that I am not really an independent grownup woman.

This discussion got me thinking if I am indeed needy and if perhaps there are things I need to change about myself. I do know that I have higher need for emotional support than an average woman perhaps. However, even after all the thinking and self-analysis I could not get myself to support his comment. To me, it seems that there is no value in the relationship where every time I want to call my partner for help, I have to first carefully think if actually I should not do this. Maybe me calling and asking help with this particular problem presents me as needy. Furthermore, maybe I am actually needy and helpless for asking for his assistance and support?

I have come to value highly emotional support and being there for one another in relationships. I will probably never start to understand what is the value of having a relationship when there is not mutual support. I mean even with my friends I would ideally hope that there is support when needed. The interesting part is that it is not that my ex does not show any support towards me, it is more that he can support me when he feels like it (when we were in the relationship). However, his giving is related to his state of mind and not my needs. So one can never say that he is not helpful or giving, it is just that he needs the idea that no one depends on him.