He can walk out at any given moment……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The fine line between vulnerability and neediness

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

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

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

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.

Hanging on in a relationship without the future

This blog has based on my radical honesty. So, I am going to continue posting about the issues which seem like washing my dirtiest laundry publicly. So today I am going to say that I knew already several years ago that my relationship is not going to work out. In fact, I was just too embarrassed to admit this both to myself and to other people.

What exactly was I so embarrassed to admit? Mainly how jealous I felt of other people who seemed to have functioning relationships and even have families. I thought, well this might be my last chance, so I better make it work. For long time I felt that way.

I am not going to say that my ex was a monster and I was an angel, because that was not the case. Rather, I was never completely in the relationship and neither was he. Yet, we dragged on this relationship for nearly six years. I cannot speak for his motivations, but I can only be honest about mine. I had a growing feeling of hopelessness three years ago. I had other guys hitting on me…I just never thought they would and could accept me. I assumed, they would all run away if they saw what I was like. I thought, I better be happy if anyone was willing to deal with all my issues and problems and bare it out. I thought, in fact, I should be grateful for him for sticking around.

I never dared to go for guys I was into and who were actually available, because hell, it would never work out. No way could I pretend to be normal and hide my emotional issues for so long that they would commit. I had tried in the past and it always ended with the disaster. Hence, I was tied to someone who was as messed up as I was, in a dysfunctional relationship with little hope for improvement.

Neither of us I think had any illusions when it came to the functionality and a future of this relationship. I think we both knew it lead us nowhere. Yet, fear is a powerful motivator.

Attachment types and the bumpy road towards secure attachment

If anyone is wondering what I am talking about here, then you can find a better description of these types here (https://jebkinnison.com/bad-boyfriends-the-book/type-anxious-preoccupied/). Anyways, I started my therapy by being fearful-avoidant type. These types often crave intimacy, but find it difficult to accept when offered. This is the most disturbed type out of all the attachment types and is developed as a result of childhood abuse (mostly). There is little written on how one can change their attachment type or how difficult it may be. So I am going to contribute to this obvious lack of literature here.

So throughout my therapy I have peeled off the protective layers in my psyche so that I could finally face my issue without the intense walls. These walls served a good purpose during my childhood and helped me to deal with my life, but nowadays prove to be problematic. At this point I have reached the ‘level’ where I could categorize myself as anxious preoccupied type. The difference is that now I have lost the protective layers, defending me against abuse and just have a high need for intimacy and love. I have somehow managed to resolve the part of my childhood which made me extremely distrusting of others and forced me to carry a mask and have begun to trust others more and more.

Where I however still struggle quite a bit is in trusting myself. Trusting my ability to manage alone. Trusting myself to be attractive enough for others so that they would stick around. I am still anticipating abandonment and I do not trust that others are there for me after I have not communicated with them for a while. I dare to be more of myself around them than ever before, but I still think that they could walk away any moment. Furthermore, I still think that a lot of their behavior is about me and not about them. Someone being a bad mood – surely it is because of something I did and not something to do with some outside hinder. Someone not responding to my facebook message – surely it is because they do not like me.

Theoretically it is interesting how transforming from fearful-avoidant towards secure for me includes first becoming anxious-preoccupied type. I still have some way to go, unlike I thought couple of months ago. In fact there are still some quite big challenges ahead of me, but I believe I am somehow moving to the right direction.

The types of relationships you have with trust issues

I am currently working through what I believe to be the last part of my therapy – trust issues. As I am going through this, I am also starting to notice an interesting pattern in my past relationships. Largely my relationships can be divided into two. An important note here is that I am talking about the relationships that actually existed and not the one’s I was having in my mind with all these unavailable guys. Anyways the two types can be described as follows: the relationships with somewhat emotionally available guy who was clearly more interested in me than I was in him and the relationships with guys who for some reason were not very emotionally available or interested in getting to know me.

This revelation seems currently big and transforming to me so let me continue by describing those two types of relationships in further detail.

Lets start with relationships with guys who were emotionally available, but not really completely down to my alley. So I have two guys in particular in mind when thinking about this category. Both in a way are sweet guys who showed affection towards me. Approaching them was easy, because I could see that they were interested in me. Naturally I had some anxiety, but still I ended up dominating these relationships big time, because I was the less interested side. I could flat out disrespect these guys, because sometimes their emotional availability seemed like a weakness to me. Furthermore their keen and loving interest towards me made them ‘low’ in my eyes. I always connected it with approval seeking and to a degree, I think it also was. Both guys must have sensed that my interest towards them is somewhat smaller than their interest towards me and tried to compensate it with some forms of approval seeking. Naturally, at the time I had no idea what was going on. Oh no, I went around and lamented about some perceived betrayals that these guys had brought about also describing all the moments that they hurt me. Little did I know that I probably hurt them much more.

So lets now focus on the other group. See these guys were safer, because they actually did not seek for deep emotional connection. Instead, they somehow felt also safe in a more superficial relationship. They were not interested in what I felt or even to some degree who I was. Rather they were negatively surprised that there was more to me than the nice and shiny exterior which I presented to the world. It became to annoy them because it meant work. All the feelings, all the layers of meaning – that was not what they signed up for. I was left confused and frustrated, not acknowledging that this was exactly what I signed up for. Their unwillingness to go and explore made me feel safe. They could never find out about real me, because they did not have skills nor interest to do so. Instead, I would know everything about them and again, dominate the relationship.

In both cases I was in control. In the first example because I did not have equally strong feelings towards the guys and in the second case, because the guys never knew the real me. The topic itself is wide enough so I will probably need to eloborate in further posts about some underlying issues related to those two types of relationships. However, for some reason I suspect that these two types are not only characteristic to me, but also to some other people that struggle with letting go of control.

Attracting people with a fake personality

So, this is the topic that I am still exploring about myself, hence my thoughts might not be completely clear at this point.

Lets start by saying that I find myself disconnected from a lot of my earlier friends. Why? Because I am starting suspect that there was never an authentic connection there. There was a connection built on me playing the role of achiever and successful person and never actually showing everything that was behind this mask. Unfortunately once people who mostly hanged out with an achiever type of personality find out how broken you are, there is very little common left.

I have tried to force relationships based on false grounds my whole life. I never thought my real self (whatever that is) was good enough. I am still exploring where this feeling came from, but it probably had a lot to do with my mother’s constant criticism and bullying. The fact is, I never dared to tell anyone how afraid of social crowds I was, or how I was depressed on a regular basis wondering why no one loved me. I thought – who would like such a person?

I still struggle showing my face to the world. Most of the time I do not. I cover it up, I try to look more successful etc. What would I say? Hey, I feel like I have faked my whole life, but here is the secret truth about how I am really feeling about myself and my life? This is a real challenge for me. See I know I cannot continue pretending and hope that I will bond with people I actually like and who I actually care about me, but I also do not want to degrade myself.

Here comes another unfortunate aspect of my rejection issues. People, who actually do know me and like me seem to not be the kind of people I want to associate myself with. All I can see is their low self-esteem and their issues and my own reflection in them scares me to the core. See the problem, I guess is, I do not want to be me. My long standing rejection from both my parents and the world has led me to want to be someone else. Which I was for many years. But it hardly led anywhere but this feeling of disconnect and misery, as I was not really accepted nor loved for who I was.

So as you can see, I am still struggling.

The positive side of letting go of someone you love

I have had to breakup with a guy for whom I moved to another country. With whom I planned kids together. With whom we talked about which house we could live in. Long story short, we both struggled with certain commitment issues at this time which resulted in me feeling less and less secure about the future and in the end deciding that I could not live in a half relationship anymore. It was too insecure and painful.

There were several years where I questioned my choice. It took me two years to get over of him. His shadow still follows me when I am thinking of a potential life partner. However, if I had to do everything over again, I would do the same. I would let go of someone who is ambivalent and cannot make up their mind about their feelings towards me.

There is a certain positive aspect about letting go of someone you love which I am only starting to understand now, years later. Namely, the knowledge that you can do this. It seems like a stupid one, but once you internalize it, it is actually a very powerful message. See, I was in a foreign country with few if any friends and yet, I let go of my ex. To me that says – no matter how much I love you, I am going to let you go if you cannot decide if you want me or not. If you were to consistently treat me disrespectfully and not work on the relationship, I would let you go. I know I can leave you behind even if you are the love of my life.