How to overcome fear of rejection in relationships
April 30, 2011 8:53 AM Subscribe
I’m a 28 y/o woman who has finally found someone that I admire, who loves me dearly, and isn't a huge pain in my ass --and I'm hoping to make this last! Please help me to not ruin this wonderful thing!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I've been dating my boyfriend for a year, after being friends for 5 years. We are living together for the last 3 months and he’s said he wants to marry me and have kids with me. He’s charming, has a lovely and close-knit family, is sweet to my brother and friends, stable, grounded, secure without being arrogant, loving, funny, joyful, and hardworking. We’ve similar ideas for the future on 'big issues.’ He’s without doubt the best person I've ever dated, one of the best I’ve known. Plus, he's completely hot!
Of course he has weaknesses but they seem to be the kind of weaknesses that are not destructive to me emotionally. Weaknesses I relate with, rather than reel from. Most important: he doesn't have the (terribly destructive for me) habit of storming out of the house or stonewalling when there is conflict.
But I'm scared I’m ruining it! Whenever we have conflict, or even difference of opinion now, I become convinced that this is the beginning of the end. I have begun asking him if he wants to break up with me. I already know this is a major turnoff. How can I stop this compulsion? He says he wants me to get control of this fatalistic nonsense and that he’s looking for progress, not perfection. And that it’s not ruining things because I bring so many strengths to our relationship. Great but…
The goal seems murky because honestly I have no idea what a healthy relationship is like. I understand year one, with its continual ramping-up of intimacy. But it's the time after that, when you have to individuate to remain sane-- that makes me nervous. I'm fixated all the time on any possible lessening of the intensity of feeling he has for me as the first sign of him wanting out. I worry someone more exciting will step in and take my place.
About my abandonment obsession, I love time to myself, in fact I crave it. When I was single I traveled by myself and loved to read alone. I was alone, not dating at all really for a year before my boyfriend and I started dating and that was the happiest I’d ever felt up to that point. So it's not that I'm not self-reliant. It's that I'm always afraid that after they know the real me, they will lose interest and abandon me. And it's like a tic to be always hanging around against my will, being irritable because I have no alone time.
Some background information if interested:
Past Relationships: All followed a predictable pattern from outrageously ‘perfect’ seeming if a bit enmeshed (no more than a year) to highly stressful and destructive (by first anniversary till breakup). I have usually picked bad partners: immature people, alcoholics, people with poor impulse control, people with intimacy problems, people who become abusive when angry. This is the kind of person I tend to be attracted to, and this is the kind of person that makes me act really stupid, in the style but not the degree of someone with BPD. I’ve lived with 4 men. Current boyfriend is the only one I’ve ever really chosen as well as the only one who seems at least as mentally healthy as I am.
Family of Origin: My parents had a hostile marriage and separated twice (infidelity), then fought DAILY for 10 years until divorcing when I was 16. I was closest to --and after the divorce lived with-- my father, who was quite warm and very involved with my sports and some with my academics. However he was explosive when angry—for example he frequently reminded me that he "doesn't have to be my father". This horsed me up pretty well, but not as much as my mother, who was very cold and uncaring to my brother and I. She was mostly involved with obtaining various plastic surgeries and furthering her (very successful) career. She has lately begun living with a man she met on a 'confirmed millionaire' dating website, and has told my brother and I that we are not welcome at his house because he doesn't want to become involved with a new family (I know!).
I pretty much have two questions but feel free to weigh in one part of either:
1. Reasonable Expectations
What are some reasonable expectations for a loving committed relationship at one year? How much time spent together is normal? How does one transition from alone time to together time, and back. (In my family these transitions were only accomplished using outbursts of rage). What is a day in the life of a healthy live-in relationship like? Is there any website or something where I can watch videos of healthy people relating or role-playing or something. How is vitality and health expressed in long-term relationships? What are the clues things are okay? What are real, rather than stupid, things to worry about if I notice them?
I know I've experienced a bunch of rejection/abandonment and that's why I have these issues. I'm sure people will say go to therapy, but I've done that--it was powerful and enlightening but I think I’ve gotten all I can out of that kind of exploration. I’m pretty insightful about why I’m messed up and learning that stuff helped a lot of my behavioral short circuits. Are there some techniques I can do at home to rewire my residual maladaptive thinking/behavior for good?