Does ambivalence in a relationship = no go?
February 1, 2013 2:56 PM Subscribe
How do you deal with intense ambivalent feelings in a relationship, especially when they may be colored by a mood disorder?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Meta AskMe stuff: I've read a lot of AskMes in the vicinity of this question. There are a few standard lines, and two stand out: (1) "if you're unsure about a relationship, that's already your answer" and (2) "it's the effort you put into making things good that creates a great relationship, not just some magical love in and of itself." In other words, folks seem to say that you shouldn't overthink and force a relationship to work, but on the other hand, deliberate action is what builds a successful relationship.
Special snowflake relationship stuff: I've been struggling to rebuild a relationship the second time around with my partner (we dated for a year, I decided I needed to focus on building a life post-college and she traveled for about a year, started seeing each other as friends, we started dating several months after that and have been dating again for about 3 months) There are times where things feel really good and connected, and these are mostly times I feel the most "on" and happy. There are other times where I start to crave space very immediately, ruminate and feel disconnected. I love and respect my partner. We build each other up, and are affectionate and happy in everyday moments, generally speaking. But there are times where I get frustrated by my partner's negativity, or I start to get (hyper-)focused on my own career and plans. Looking back over the last three months, we've had moments of brightness and happiness, but my overall impression has been "pretty good." I'm torn because deep down I recognize two truths: (1) I genuinely love her and want the best for her, and (2) I just can't muster up what it takes to maintain the effort that I know the relationship needs about half the time, where I get moody and retreat into my personal space of doubt. FWIW, when I broke up with her, I struggled with a similar ambivalence, and it's been a recurring theme of every relationship I've had, really.
Special snowflake mood stuff: I have GAD, possibly bipolar, and some kind of attachment stuff going on. I tend to kind of radically re-think my entire world every 7-10 days, feel like everything that was once the solid ground to stand on is up-in-the-air, and just kind of become less functional in general (though still keep up my job etc). I'm finally getting thorough treatment and may be starting meds soon. When I first started expression relationship doubts (almost immediately after starting stuff up again,) my counselor suggested that I focus on getting some stability in my life and not overthinking everything to death. Fair point, and it's been helpful to focus on a more acceptance & commitment perspective. But now when I bring up issues, my counselor has said "well maybe there's something there, maybe it's not the best match for you now."
Point of action: My counselor mentioned letting my partner know I'm struggling with mood things and am trying to understand how it relates to being together, and that I'll attack it from a medical perspective/try hard, but also letting her know that's where I'm at with our relationship. I've told her more or less that, and my partner has been receptive and just kind of worried about me. But I feel the relationship fraying, and am fighting two impulses -- work hard to make things better and just act forcefully until I feel the way I want to, or to work towards the demise of the relationship/start wrapping up and communicate this clearly to my partner.
Question: What do I do? How can I approach this kind of impasse in a way that's healthy in terms of our relationship and also in terms of establishing the kinds of patterns for relationship problem-solving that I need to be a happy human being in this regard?