Help me figure things out! I just ended a casual relationship and I'm worried that I will only continue to stop connecting to people due to my deep fear of rejection.
The extended explanation is quite long, but I've been needing to vent to a group of strangers for a while so bear with me while I rant my cerebral crazy.
posted by bengalibelle to Human Relations (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a 24-year-old female living alone in a college town after moving away from the city I went to college in. I needed to move away from the old city just to get a new start, get away from the memories of a couple of failed relationships, and be on my own and figure out what drives me. Needless to say, my romantic qualms affect me more than your average person, but I have stayed single for the past four years or so besides having some extended flings that were never real relationships. This pattern of being sexually involved with men, taking it casually and enjoying life, and then ending up caring about them, and then not having it be what I consider a real relationship, has led me to ... a strange approach when it comes to romantic relationships and I'm worried that I won't be able to fix it.
So I moved to this new city for a job, and after a few months, I left my job because I was just unhappy in it and here, in general. I have been feeling a little bit alone and misguided and furthermore, I didn't really see a future in the field I was in. Since leaving my job, I have decided on a new career trajectory that is more aligned with my natural inclinations (psychology...surprise!) have taken and aced the GRE and applied to a program that I will likely begin in the fall. Since then, I have felt pretty energetic and happy about my decision. I have a couple of friends here, and am friends with some of my former coworkers and hanging out with them is not awkward at all. But I still felt romantically (and sexually) lonely and a need for companionship.
About six weeks ago, I started dating someone I met on an online dating site. This person has a child from a previous marriage and is still not technically divorced from his wife (apparently separation works best in terms of tax advantages). We began dating although I was hesitant, because I told myself that due to my attachment style I am not best suited for casual relationships. However, I then decided that due to the timing (only five more months in this city) I could just have a fling with an expiration date and it would be easier.
Fast forward, I began sleeping with this guy and seeing him relatively consistently. The sex started off extremely wonderful, and I achieved orgasm pretty frequently (which is difficult for me) and he was generally really attentive and sweet, which I enjoyed. I think he is a bit lonely here too and we both kind of just fell into something that felt a lot like a relationship even though I don't want to get emotionally involved re: his baggage and my expiration date. While under the influence of substances, he brought up having "the talk" and I was like, well, why can't two people just enjoy their lives and not worry about it. And then he brought up how I was moving to New York and he just got out of something serious, and we both kind of decided to not bring it up again. However, we continued to hang out almost every day, talking every day, and resembling a couple. I genuinely enjoyed this, besides the fact that I am a woman and enjoy attention and sex from a man who is very complimentary, I am also an ENFP, if that means anything to anyone, and I love the beginnings of relationships and connecting to people on a one on one basis, while being carefree and exploring their interests. We had a great time together, exploring shared interests and restaurants and just being companions to each other in a somewhat transplant-y college town.
However, I just broke up with him because I felt that this prolonged time spent together was resulting in me having feelings for him, and this is something that I want to avoid. Furthermore, there were a couple of red flags that showed up. I want to know if I am overreacting or crazy or just looking for wrong things and preventing myself from connecting with people out of a fear of being hurt.
Three things: the other night he came over and started moving around my furniture and generally cleaning up my apartment. I will admit that it was messy, and for that reason I didn't really want him over in the first place. It was sweet that he wanted to clean things up, and I enjoyed the changes that he made, but I felt like he was overstepping boundaries. Considering I originally planned to be f--- buddies, I felt that this was a symbol of him kind of just barging into my life and changing things without really having my permission. And that bothered me. Furthermore, when I told him it bothered me, but then that it was nice that he did it and I suppose I could say I was lucky, he said "Yes, you are lucky. Most guys would just f--- you and leave, but I care about your environment and want you to have peace of mind." That TOTALLY threw me off.
Second thing, we were sitting and watching a TV show and a very attractive female character did a seductive sexy song and dance. FYI, I am pretty sexually possessive and generally want to maintain the illusion that I am the only woman that a man I am with desires, and so I am prone to a tiny bit of jealousy that usually is harmless unless a guy is really over the top about his flirtation or interest in another woman. I was fine with watching this, even though he was visibly ogling her, because I think a certain level of jealousy is a good sign of possessiveness. He went on to mention something to the effect of wanting to have a threesome with this woman (WHO IS ON TV, and not even real) and I was even fine with it after he asked me to rewind and watch the scene again. But THEN, he asked me to rewind it again. I said no, I want to watch the show from start to finish and stop rewinding things. He kept asking, persistently, which only served to bother me more and more. This summed up in him asking me about ten or twelve (no exaggeration) more times over the course of the next hour (HE WOULDN'T DROP IT AFTER AN HOUR) to rewind to that scene and rewatch it, and I just felt completely disrespected. First of all, if you're sleeping with a woman, why would you force her to replay a scene that only you are really going to enjoy because it objectifies a woman being sultry and seductive. WATCH IT ON YOUR OWN TIME, I even TOLD him that. I felt disrespected because any man that felt romantically toward me should have been able to discern why this was bothering me and then drop it, but he refused to drop it. Literally, he asked ten more times throughout the rest of the show and it prevented me from enjoying the show which I've been looking forward to for a little over a year (yes, it was the Mad Men S5 premier). I thought maybe he was either dense or an asshole. Anyway, my possessiveness and pride made this incident kind of rub me the wrong way, and I began to resent that I felt any jealousy at all.
After this occurred (last night), he did apologize and say that he'd gone and upset me again, but I honestly don't think he knew why I was upset, because he thought it was just because he kept asking to rewind in general and not because his desperation to ogle this woman was a total turnoff. I just tight-lippedly said that I wasn't upset but I just wanted to be alone and drove him back to his house. This morning he messaged me to talk and I basically broke up with him. It bothered me that I was bothered at all, by feeling possessive over him or jealous that he was attracted to another woman. A normal person might brush off those feelings as normal in a romantic relationship, but instead of doing that, I felt out of control and wanted to avoid those feelings and avoid the vulnerability and demonize myself for even getting attached to this guy that I've been sleeping with. I guess what really bothered me is that my affection for him made me vulnerable and susceptible to being hurt by something that he said or did or felt, in a way that I wouldn't feel if I didn't feel that affection, and it made me want to stop having feelings for him and the only way I could think to do that was to break up with him.
The thing is that we really did have a wonderful time when we were dating and before these things happened, and I'm wondering if I overreacted or am generally crazy. I will say that he never really apologized for being rude or disrespectful and that even in the context of a casual relationship, I think I do deserve better than that. But on the other hand, he was really sweet and attentive and caring before this episode, so was this just one day of bad mistakes or just the cracks beginning to show in a new "relationship"? Another problem is that I ended my last relationship for the same reason (an intense fear of vulnerability and having feelings for someone without a guarantee that there was a future), and ended up regretting it a lot. I am worried that this is a pattern and that I will only feel safe if I know that I am going to marry the person I am with or that they will never hurt, leave, or disrespect me, which completely precludes casual dating.
All of this is compounded by the fact that I don't have too many friends here and that this casual relationship was a source of great comfort and happiness to me over the past six weeks, which is making me question my decision, although it seemed sensible at the time. After all, in my mind this relationship did not have a long-term future - but when I began it, that was what attracted me to it. Am I just one of those people who can't do casual, or was my reaction to his actions justified?