I am 34 years old, and for the first time in my life, I am embarking on a 'normal' relationship. My insecurities are causing me extreme anxiety, and I'd like your stories and insight and tips on what I might be being realistic about, and what I'm not. Apologies for a long explanation inside.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
1. I was married at 19 to a controlling man. He was kind, but very conservative in his values. He finally understood that we would not work, and while I basically just walked out on him one day, the divorce was amicable. We do not speak ill of each other, and he's since even apologized for not trying to rectify some of his actions: not prioritizing me over his immediate family, etc.
2. I come from a conservative South Asian culture that isolates and does not enable women to feel empowered or independent. After my divorce in 2007, I did not know how to emotionally be independent, and have spent the last few years trying to figure that out in the most difficult way possible...
3. ...a relationship with a man whose insecurities and ingrained bitterness and resentment ended up making me more co-dependent on him and feeling like if I was ever alone the world would end. This relationship ended when I also walked out on him (a month after we had moved in together). I could have handled that break-up better, so no excusing my behavior there. It was a three year relationship fraught with vengeful, ugly passive-aggression on both sides that left us both with deep regrets. We still care about each other's well-being but wouldn't touch each other with a ten-foot pole.
I spent a year after that dating casually and found myself most comfortable around men who my friends said were complete losers - when they were being kind. I'm good-looking, smart, very well-educated, well-spoken... quite the catch when my insane moments of insecurity-based jealousy aren't causing passive aggressive behavior. This was a repetitive occurrence in my relationship in #3. Granted, some of it was exacerbated by his own insecurities, but I do think that I'm self-aware enough to recognize my terrible flaws.
New guy (B) is well-adjusted, confident, smart, has lots of friends, very socially active. We've known each other for two months and got very comfortable very fast. He's naturally cautious, and while we are exclusive, we have no other labels.
I am insecure about the fact that I have close friends here, having recently moved to this city, and in the eight months I've been here have found that making friendships is very hard to do. I'm an introvert, and shy, and have often been mistaken for snotty when all it is is that I'm quiet. I do have friends that love me - they're just hundreds of miles away. B's extreme socialness makes me insecure that he'll see me as lacking - and a part of me is jealous that he seems to make friends so easily, and has so many. I've met some of them, and they all love me, and vice versa. This not-having-friends-and-why-is-it-so-hard-for-me-to-make-them issue is probably the biggest one tearing me apart right now. It means I have a lot of time on my hands, causes me to sit at home and overthink and worry about everything. I have signed up for various activities and meetups, but this new insecurity/ anxiety that I've developed has me paralyzed...
... and this is it. What has me almost in a panic is this sudden feeling that I am INCAPABLE of being in a normal relationship because I don't know how.
B was on vacation last week with his friends (a group of guys and girls, all of whom I know and trust). Yes, I was more than a little jealous that I couldn't go (it had been a trip organized before B and I met). On the first night there, B was super excited, missing me, and made the mistake of telling me that he was in some silly drinking game that involved him taking his pants off and putting some girl's bikini on, while touching noses with another girl. I KNOW I can trust him, and I know (and like) the girls involved. He even said he wished I was there because it was fun that he wanted to share with me - but I proceeded to be extremely passive-aggressive... for the REST OF THE WEEK. The scary part? It wasn't because I thought he'd do something stupid. Granted, part of me was a little concerned because I still don't know him well enough to know where his boundaries are with drinking games involving women, etc., and if I'd be comfortable with it. But really, it was because I was jealous and feeling left out because I wasn't there and he was having fun without me. He reached out to me a couple times, and when I responded in ultra-polite, dismissive tones, he shut down. He knew I was being passive-aggressive.
When he came back (he did bring me back a little present, took me to dinner his first night back) he told me how extremely annoyed I'd made him because he'd never been with someone so jealous/ sensitive/ passive-aggressive and he didn't like how it made him feel. I was slightly concerned that he didn't understand that part of my concern was because I didn't know what his boundaries are (he'd told me a girl did a body shot off him at a party while he was married - that, for example, is something that would make me flip out). It ended with him reiterating that nothing's changed, but this isn't behavior that he would be able to tolerate in a relationship. I know that he does really like me, because he's repeatedly said that he's never wanted to make time for someone in the two years since his divorce that he's been dating, and that I'm also the first girl in two years that has met his family (I have, they love me, and they are delightful). I'll also say that he dates a lot, but moves on very fast because he doesn't waste his time (or someone else's) if he sees what he calls 'red flags', so I'm surprised he hasn't already moved on.
I've finally met someone I enjoy being with. I want this to work out, and knowing that he's a well-adjusted individual makes me even more insecure about... my insecurities. A couple other things have happened in the span of two months that he brought up (his having female friends that he hangs out with one-on-one - which I am now more comfortable with after he made the effort to make me comfortable; and one occasion where he didn't want to show me a boat that he owns because it was dirty, and I got peeved about it because I know his other friends have seen it and been on it). It's too early for me to be doing this and for him to have to talk me off a ledge when it happens (his words). I'm terrified that he's going to walk away from me because I'm not cool enough, or I'm boring. And the crux of the problem is that my jealousy stems from me 'weighing' myself against others. Like, I don't want him to have fun without me. Or how come he went with a female friend to lunch and not me? Or how come he showed other people his boat but not me? It's irrational and stupid and I HATE myself for it.
Yes, I have begun therapy for this. But it would help me to know if there's ANY part of this that is legitimate early in dating someone. Has anyone else had such awful insecurities, and anxiety because of it, and has overcome this to build a successful relationship? Are there ways to deal with this panic I feel that I'm a self-fulfilling prophecy and that this relationship WILL fail because I can't keep my thoughts rational? I don't want to lose him, but if I do, I don't want the next guy to have to suffer the same consequences. I'm in a panic now because I feel like I'll be alone forever, that I drive people away because I'm too needy or clingy. Thank you for your insight, MeFites.