Relationship patterns when you feel unlovable

I have always held this deep belief that there was something fundamentally unlovable in me. Low and behold multiple experiences with guys who were not all that smitten with me did not help with it. I translated these experiences with these guys always in one way – yet another proof that I could never be loved.

There were multiple reasons why these guys were not smitten by me, but I always gave them one interpretation. Some guys I did not even like that much, but in the moment of break-up it all became down to me thinking I was unlovable and trying to hold on to the relationship as strong as I could. It was not rational and on several occasions my former partners indeed saw that there was no point in attaching oneself to the bad relationship.

But then there was another thing. I subconsciously sought out guys that had problems with vulnerability and intimacy. You know the group of people – for them feeling their feelings seems either threatening or promises to bring about many negative feelings from the past. So they have decided not to feel.

Normal people do not date people that are blocking their capacity to feel. Normal people don’t think that if they just put in enough effort, somehow their unemotional dates become loving partners. I dated these guys and spent enormous energy in trying to convince them that I in fact was worth loving (not that I actually believed it myself).

So what did I do? Well, people pleasing is the most common pattern…but then there is also achieving and proving your value through being good in everything…but then there is also the kind of power dynamic where both sides know that you are the one that needs this relationship more….And whoever needs something more, has to make sacrifices, right? I mean, if you are dependent on getting their love, you better make it worthwhile for them to be with you. And then of course you have these awkward moments where they have again showed you their lack of emotional involvement…be it then by telling you that they are not sure if they love you….be it by suddenly disappearing and reappearing…where your natural instinct should be to walk away….albeit people that do not think they are lovable instead try to fight harder to get the love of a person that has shown them that they don’t love them.

This is a highly tumulus circle and let me tell you…if you feel unlovable inside, you are not going to choose a loving partner. I mean – there has to be something wrong with a club that accepts me as a member. You choose someone who is ambiguous at best, but at worst looks down on you for trying to win their love.

How to distinguish between friends with benefits and dating?

When I was still little….I mean in the end of my teens and beginning of my twenties, distinguishing between serious intentions and not so serious intentions was simple. Men stood up, invited me for dates and then we would have this first awkward kiss and everything felt clear. Nowadays I feel nothing is clear anymore. We are talking about new dating phenomena such as submarining, ghosting, benching and what not. The ambiguity is just…….

What has perhaps confused me the most though, is that the men that I thought pursued only some kind of friendship with benefits scenario with me seemed to be of the opinion that they were offering more and moreover, are upset about my lacking input. Perhaps I am old school, but I sometimes really cannot shake off this ideal where you just go out, on multiple dates (and no the guy does not have to pay) and then it progresses and both of you know that it is serious. But how do you know?

Well, I have thought about it a little and for me there are really three indicators. The first indicator is that there is an idea of shared future or future plans. You are interested in each other’s future goals and at some point, you even start to discuss the commonalities between your future goals.

The second thing is that there is consistency. You don’t have to figure out where they disappeared for days or weeks on end. There is also coherence in what they are saying, they don’t tell you one thing on one day and the other thing at the other day.

Finally, there is a certain common life that you are beginning to have. They let you in to their life and you don’t feel like an outsider or just some occasional visitor. They want you to be part of their life and you don’t have to force your way in.

So, what happened then with these guys that were so disappointed by my lack of effort? Well from my side, I did not see those three elements. The idea was often that we meet on an irregular basis (not necessarily only for sex), that we are free to go wherever we want in our future (no future planning) and I knew bits and pieces of their life, but I was never really part of it. So I naturally assumed that these guys were only interested in some kind of loose friends with benefits scenario which I on several occasions declined.

The idea of those guys that somehow I should have put in more effort to obtain something more with them or somehow push things further surprises me however. This is still something I cannot quite make sense and will be exploring further. How can someone who is acting inconsistent want that the other one invest all their effort and time in them – where would they even come up with this idea? (Also a disclaimer, I think both women and men inhabit this low effort behavior and have these expectations of the other side needing to invest more to catch their attention)


Is commitment fear a real thing?

Commitment fear or intimacy issues or however you want to call this is something with which I have a long experience with. I have been in both the receiving end of it and the perpetrator myself. For someone who has never experienced it, it might seem weird that someone would actually escape from love and connection. Since I have the advantage of knowing how the inside of commitment avoidant works, I feel I can perhaps shed some light into it.

Commitment fear usually works like this – people cannot sustain a long period of intimacy with someone. They might be able to enjoy closeness for a short while, but the thought of being intimate with someone over a longer period of time makes them panic. This panic inside is very real, it is a mix of entrapment and abandonment.

The way it worked for me was that I assumed that in order for someone to stick around, I needed to behave exactly the way they wanted. The whole relationship hence became about their wishes and pleasing them. I hardly asked questions on if they are fulfilling my needs. Naturally such focusing on the other person was carried by my deep seated abandonment. I was so afraid that if I do not try to constantly please them, they will walk away.

However, let me tell you, such kind of pleasing and focusing on other people is exhausting. Especially since you are not only dealing with pleasing, you are also trying to control your fear of them walking away. So you need to escape at times, because you get too exhausted. The longer you are together with someone, the more exhausted you get. The more you feel entrapped and the more you need to escape. Your periods of escape become longer and longer. Eventually you zoom out of relationship almost entirely, because you cannot handle the pressure anymore.

This was pretty much how it worked with me. After every relationship I felt defeated and I knew something was wrong with me. There was no grand celebration of having seduced someone and then checked out of relationship, rather there was a strong feeling that there was something wrong with me. Naturally I never demonstrated this feeling to my former partners. I never explicitly apologized. So when it comes to them, they might go around with the idea of me somehow considering this my win.

So, I have this personal experience of being commitment phobic. This experience also makes me say – never get involved with a commitment phobic. Seriously. The more you try to help them, the more exposed they will feel and the more they will try to escape. The whole premise behind their people pleasing is the belief that the way they are is unacceptable. So instead they need to put up a false self which is usually tailored for you. It is easy to fall for this false self. I have never had problems getting guys interested in me, because of my ability to play the role of their perfect girlfriend. The problem is, this role is not sustainable.

Finally however, there is something to be said about people who fall for commitment phobes as well. I might be now slightly too harsh, but I would say that most of my exes actually did not care enough about who I was. They were happy with me playing the role of ideal girlfriend. It did not arise any suspicion in them that I was doing all the right things and that I was so good at pleasing them. I would suggest that a person that falls for such kind of behavior after their twenties, probably has some quite deep issues of their own. I know that I personally want to get to know people I am dating with. That includes me wanting to know their not so popular opinions, their wounds, their not so perfect character traits. Furthermore, I am not getting put off by someone exposing some unfavorable character trait. I should probably mention that none of my exes has a family at this point, which I find interesting………Or well, forget the family, most of them don’t even have a functioning relationship.

Dating ‘normal and healthy people’ after childhood abuse

I dare to say that an average person, by my age, has still not endured a lot of trauma and drama in their lives. I feel that some people are slowly getting there, having their marriages falling apart, dear ones dying etc., but…. Why do I care about the extent of trauma someone has gone through? Why would it even matter?

See there is this guy that is interested in me. He is pure and innocent. I can see that he has had a good childhood. One can see this from how a person behaves. There is certain optimism and idealism to him. Decency. All really nice qualities….but…..

I feel dark compared to him. No, I am not a bitter person, but I feel that my childhood and other traumatic experiences have left me with this darkness. This corner of knowing what bad people are capable of. Knowing what bad I am capable of. I have gone through personal hell and back. I have been extremely dysfunctional and fought my way through it all.

It is not that much that I believe he cannot understand. I believe that as an empathic person, even if one has not gone through it all, one could potentially understand. It is more like I am afraid I will make him corrupt. I will somehow spread the disease of darkness and trauma and rob him of his chance for someone who is as light as he is.

I don’t think he will reject me because of what I have gone through, it is not that. It is more that I am afraid that this darkness in me is looking for a way out and I will end up hurting him. Getting bored of him. Looking for some dysfunctionality. Wanting some strong emotions and wanting some messedupness. Wanting someone who can reflect me my messedupness and my past hurt.

So I really do not know. I think dating after dark experiences in life is tricky. Especially when you have spent so much time trying to overcome those and feel you have succeeded. You consider most of your previous pals to be annoyingly dysfunctional, but the new people are just too untainted.

How to deal with guys that disappear and reappear

So, because I had an experience with a guy that disappeared and also partially because my ex had this habit, I have thought about this topic lately quite a bit. I think the most difficult for me to accept is the fact that ultimately I was not as important to those guys as they were to me. This is a tough pill to swallow and I have been trying to avoid accepting it. Somehow we always try to deceive ourselves thinking as if he – just is denying his feelings, he loves me, but does not know it ….fill in the blanks. On one hand deception serves to avoid feeling bad about ourselves in this moment, but on the other hand it is also what keeps us in denial.

I lived in denial with my ex for years. Something in me refused to admit that he just was not committed to our relationship. It was easier to think that I am over-reacting or I am needy or whatnot. Well, I was all these things as well, no doubt about that, but still it does not erase the fact that my ex was never as invested as I was.

I have one male friend who keeps appearing in my life once in a while with occasional short messages. To me his behavior has always been somewhat confusing because I am thinking – well what kind of a friendship is that? I mean what is the point?  Until today I realized. I bite every time. His messages make me feel important and I invest emotionally and write a really nice and loving response. That is why he keeps messaging to me occasionally…I mean who would not want to have some dosages of love for so little effort?

The same applies to my ex and the disappearing guy. I mean if you had a chance to get your dosage of love and even your sexual needs met without fully investing, would you say no? I mean everything would be right and nice, if I did not emotionally invest. If I managed my emotional investment the same way these guys do. I mean lets face it, a guy who writes to you a short message in every four months does not invest anything. It would be stupid of you to them treat him as dear and close friend.

So, I have been emotionally investing into people that have not done the same with me. Not at least to same extent. This is a difficult topic however, because I do not want to be a cold person. I want to be a warm person, but I need to learn how to make my investments to other people correspond to their investments to me. Furthermore, I need to understand why I am so gullible that one facebook message can somehow turn me over and I can instantly become loving and caring. I can now clearly see that I am in a habit of overinvesting and letting both my partners and friends take advantage of me in that way. But I have no idea how to correct this nor how many friends I have left at the point where I have critically evaluated my investments.

So to go back to the original topic – the way you deal with the guy that disappears and reappears, you do not get invested emotionally. He has proven you with his actions that he is not that invested. I mean if he can disappear, his investment is not that high. So, you hold yourself and do not get invested either. You do not behave like me with my friends by giving him love whenever he makes appearance again. Instead you treat him based on his actions and he has just acted like a casual distant acquaintance so this is the kind of spot he should have in your life and in your heart.

Intellectual friendships and avoiding intimacy

Today I understood something. I have quite a few intellectual friends. You know, people with whom you can discuss the matters of the world. You can analyze. It is exciting and interesting….. Sometimes I feel I am mentally exhausted however. I feel I would just want to be with someone who does not ask me to intellectualize things. Someone for whom I would not have to constantly be interesting and exciting….

So I was thinking about it and about myself and reached to the conclusion that I have used this same intellectualization in order to protect myself. It is much safer to talk about some random intellectual topics where you do not really have to give much of yourself. I mean, you can even talk about relationships in an intellectual manner. The topic is absolutely irrelevant, the point is that you are scared of revealing too much of the real you, because then people might either reject you, or in my case even worse, hurt you.

I never really understood before how these friendships were there to protect me from really opening myself up and becoming vulnerable. I still have a lot of fear around exposing myself to any kind of harm, because of familial relationships and years and years of bullying. Because of this very intellectual quality of my relationships I have a lot of male friends. I guess males feel safe around me, because I am not trying to invade to their safe zone and force intimacy on them. I allow them to be intellectual if they want and do not necessarily push them to something else.

I think intellectual friendships are fine and necessary. This is not the question. The question is, can you also do something else than intellectual friendships. When people ask you personal questions, do you freeze or become uncomfortable? I know I do. I know I also become uncomfortable when people seem too excited or interested in me. All of this is just pushing on my walls which are there as a result of so many negative experiences from the past.

So I guess I will continue to work on myself and try to overcome the intellectualization and actually be open to other types of friendships as well.

People who do not care

I have an acquaintance who takes pride in his independence or perhaps I should rather say non-dependence. I have known him for four years, met him on a weekly basis and I have no doubts that he would not care much if we did not meet anymore. I am pretty sure he would have this attitude towards almost all people in his life, so it is not only reserved for me. Why am I talking about this right now?

Because this is my mum. This is the image she conveys. I suspect she would not care much if I just left her life one day. or well, deep down she would probably hurt, but she would do her damnest to show how indifferent she is. She has blocked all the feelings which are related to caring about people so deep down that I really get little impression of her caring whether she has her daughter in her life or not. One might assume that if she has this attitude with me, she has even worse attitude with her acquaintances and friends.

It never really hit me as strong as when I started comparing people in my life and seriously there are some people with whom it is obvious that they do not care. For whatever reason that would be. I think a lot of my past has been dedicated to trying to make people who never really cared much to care about me. By caring I mean here truly people who can see you, the real you, do not try to change you into someone else and genuinely care about this person underneath. I do not mean people who need to put on an image of themselves as caring and generous, I mean sincere caring even if no one is there to witness their kindness.

The interesting thing is that I bet my mum and my friend are even proud for being so independent. For caring so little, because it makes them feel strong and in control. From where I am standing, this is not a virtue. Rather it speaks of the shallowness of your character and it speaks of total alienation from your feelings.

I am slowly reaching towards an understanding that I have kept many people close to me that did not really care all that much. I guess I was conditioned to consider this normality. Maybe it even felt safer. Maybe I felt more independent. These days however I look at my relationship with my mum and I can honestly say I do not care much about her. When she complains about some illness of hers, I do not care. It is sad, but her attitude of needing not to have any emotional entanglements has put our relationship that far. Furthermore, I felt she was using my emotional entanglement against me when she threatened to leave me on a regular basis. So these days when she does it, I can honestly say – well go ahead. But I think it is a rotten relationship where you can just say – fine you want to leave me, go ahead I do not care. Or should we call it a relationship at all?

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.

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.