Why do I keep stringing people along/breaking their hearts? Or...why do I not seem to be able to love deeply?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
This question is about more than why I'm so flaky when it comes to breaking up with people. I'm also confused about why I keep dating people I'm unsure about in the first place, why I never seem to be sure about anyone, why I feel like I never care about anyone as much as they care about me, why I stay with people so long when I know I don't really want to be with them anymore, and why letting go of them is so hard even when I'm sure it's the right thing to do.
I'll try to unpack all of that the best I can, but truthfully I'm confused about it all, am just starting to realize that the problem most likely lies with me and not the people I'm dating, and I'm worried that I'm actually a narcissistic, selfish, person, with expectations that are too high, and some kind of attachment issues.
If you want the childhood stuff: raised by a single mom (smart, independent, self-conscious woman), with some contact with my dad (alcoholic, empty promises, poor communicator, moody). Neither of them modeled good relationships to me (mom always seemed antagonistic towards her partners, never stayed with anyone very long, found fault in everyone, dad had explosive fights and multiple divorces).
Then came me. I've never had my heart broken (except maybe once...the girl who unknowingly turned me gay made my heart ache and ache, but she was never aware of this, and we never had any kind of relationship. That unrequited love was the closest I've ever come to feeling heartbroken though, and I hardly knew the girl), but I've broken many a heart. I always feel bad about it, and string people along for extended periods of time, not wanting to hurt them (even though I'm aware a clean break would hurt less in the long run). I think the other problem is that I end up staying with people for a while even though I know they're not quite right for me, and then feel attached to them even if I don't want to be with them anymore. I watch people I date sacrifice for me, and be really good to me and really in love with me and imagining our futures together, and I see how hurt they are when I don't reciprocate, and I don't know why I never feel that strongly about anyone. I'm starting to feel like maybe I lie on an autistic spectrum or something.
That said I'm very loving and caring in certain ways...I love animals deeply. I've always been very sensitive to the plights of underdogs or oppressed groups. I've volunteered with terminally ill people and felt a lot of compassion. But somehow, when it comes to my personal relationships, I encounter a block where I just can't quite care about people the way they want me to.
THis happens to a certain extent in my friendships as well. I don't make concerted efforts to maintain friendships, and friends have expressed to me that they would like me to be more present and less flaky. I often cancel plans because I just don't feel like socializing. I have two best friends who live in different cities, and we're very close and can tell each other everything, but they both also feel comfortable going for a month or so without talking and still feeling like we're right where we left off....our friendship survives long periods of not talking.
However a lot of friends don't function well like this, and I'm terrible at keeping in touch with friends both near and far. It always seems to be my friends who initiate plans, and often I find myself dreading the hang out as the time for the plans draws near, and often canceling. I do have some depression and social anxiety, I'm on an SSRI....I also do really love being around friends who I feel really comfortable with.
Sorry this is so all over the place....I've tried to write a structured question a couple of times and couldn't seem to figure out what I was trying to ask/describe....and this seems to be the only way that this stuff will get out of my muddled head and onto the green.
So basically I feel like I love my friends but don't put much effort into showing that/hanging out with them, which makes me kind of a crappy friend.
Relationship wise the same kind of thing happens, but a little differently. I like to spend a lot of time with the person I'm dating, but feel uncomfortable committing to anything with them, and it seems that they are always way more into me than I am into them. When I realized I was a lesbian I thought that maybe that had been the problem, but now I've had a few relationships with women and the same pattern keeps emerging. There was one guy I dated who I felt like I could marry/have kids with someday, but he wasn't interested in sex and I ended up breaking up with him after a long time. It destroyed my self esteem for a little while, as he couldn't explain to me why he didn't want to have sex, and didn't want to go to therapy or anything about it, but I knew that he truly loved me, and he was devastated when I broke up with him.
I don't even quite know what I'm asking anymore. I guess I wonder why I don't ever feel as deeply as most people seem to. Why I'm always the one breaking hearts. Maybe it's because I only date people who feel safe...who I know won't break up with me, and maybe that's why I always end up breaking up with them. But I never really encounter anyone who doesn't feel 'safe' who I really like (besides that one girl, who I was too terrified to even talk to)...but I don't want to go through my life never loving really deeply, and I don't know why I don't find more people to love deeply. I guess I did feel really in love with this one boyfriend who didn't want to have sex, and still miss him and mourn our relationship, but I know that I don't want to be with him because of the physical problems (I'm gay but still am attracted to a small percentage of guys...).
I don't even know if this question will make it up because it's so rambly and incoherent and almost seems redundant...I don't know. I'm in therapy....we've established that I do have a fear of rejection...but I feel like the people I date are scared of rejection too but are willing to risk it and be with me.
It sucks to keep hurting people. I'm really bad at breaking up, and I go back and forth a lot. And don't get me wrong, I have felt in love with the people I date, it just always seems to fade, or like....I feel like eventually I always end up breaking their hearts for some reason.
Not that I want to have my heart broken, but I'm beginning to feel like an emotionless robot who goes around getting people to fall in love with me and then slowly and painfully ripping their hearts out. And these people are all good, well intentioned, genuine people who don't deserve me to hurt them real bad. I always feel like they fall for me way faster than I fall for them, and I usually break up at that point, but then I do still want to be with them I just don't want it to be so serious, and then eventually I come to feel comfortable and good with them, but it doesn't last that long, and then when I do get that feeling it's like I knew it from the beginning but maybe denied it or forgot for a while or something.
I don't expect relationships to be in the honeymoon phase forever. I like it when they settle into a comfortable routine. My therapist says I attach and partner well. I am very open to communicating...
One thing is that I feel like I can't always deal with the emotions of my partners...especially where they concern me. I can deal with someone being stressed out, but when they get mad at me, or upset with me, I really can't handle it. The one boyfriend who I saw myself with...we rarely fought, and he never really got me at me for things. But it seems like the girls I've dated are often mad at me, and often the reason is because I'm not caring about them enough, or spending enough time with them...I feel drained and beholden a lot when I've been in these relationships. I feel like I can never quite provide them with the amount of love and caring that they want, even though I come across as a very loving and caring person, and even if I do love and care about them.
I'm worried that I'll never find anyone I want to spend my life with who wants to be with me too. I want to get married and have babies someday and I'm worried that nobody will ever feel right enough for me, or that I'll never be able to give people what they need. I do give a lot of love and caring in my relationships, but I never feel selfless, and I feel like my partners seem selfless a lot. They still have a lot of self respect, but they just seem willing to sacrifice so much for me that I don't seem able to reciprocate. I feel really selfish and maybe I am. How do I stop being so selfish?
This was all spurred on by an email I got from an ex where she ripped me apart...just told me what a selfish jerk I was and that I don't consider other people and was generally a sucky person...I guess I want to take a hard look at myself and figure out why I make people feel like that, and how I can start changing it.