OMG he's not crazy!
September 27, 2011 8:13 PM Subscribe
I'm dating a guy who is different from everyone I've ever dated before (in a good way) and because of that I don't know how to build emotional intimacy with him.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
My most recent past relationships (in the past decade) have followed a predictable pattern. My three most recent past partners were all similar in that they had big personal problems. I am an empathetic person and a good listener, and these lonely men would open up to me and "fall in love" quickly because I was the only one who understood and listened to them, or so they said. I have also been in therapy, which makes me more empathetic to people with problems. But I couldn't rely on these men in return. It seemed like they only wanted me because they thought I could solve their loneliness and other problems. When I turned to them for support, they would put me down and accuse me of being too clingy. I ended these relationships when this would occur, and then completely lucked out when I met the guy I'm now seeing, who I will call "Dave." After almost six months of talking to him daily and seeing him weekly, I'm pretty sure he doesn't have any hidden creepy problems.
This is a slow-moving relationship. By this time in every other relationship I was living with or engaged to someone who clung to me like a life raft. But I'm not sure how to bond with someone who isn't needy and has such good boundaries that he doesn't tell me his problems. It has occurred to me that my past relationship experiences have made me overly serious and that I no longer know how to just have fun and create a fun experience for a guy, and that maybe if I figured that out, I'd be seeing Dave more frequently and we might be a bit further along toward commitment. But I've been trying really hard not to be too needy, and I might have given him the impression that I'm taking the relationship more casually than I am. I'd like to be able to express more affection for him and let him know he's special to me without coming across as too needy. How do I do that?
To me, he's one of those mythical, fabled Healthy People and I feel like I won the lottery by meeting him. I haven't shared any of this with him, though, because I think it would make me seem like a drama queen. Even if I have been in the past, I don't want to be that way anymore. I want a healthy relationship with a healthy guy.
Dave has long-term friendships, is independent, has a good job, and has a close relationship with his family. By contrast, the three before him had left scorched earth in their wake before me, were very needy of my attention, weren't working or worked sporadically, and hated their parents. All three had substance abuse problems, too.
The truth is, I can't believe a guy who has his shit together likes me. I don't want to screw this up by trying to bond over the sorts of things people with lots of personal drama bond over. Metafilter, please tell me how to create real intimacy with this guy I like and respect so much, who is easygoing, private, and just plain good-hearted. Maybe I just need to focus more on having lighthearted fun and not overthinking things...how do I do that?