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My insecurity is killing my relationship
April 23, 2014 1:52 AM   Subscribe

So I've spent countless hours on this corner of Metafilter and yet, I need your help. My boyfriend and I -both 25- have been long distance for about 7 months. We knew each other two months before me leaving. I'll be moving in with him in a week when I move back to my home country. Long distance has been incredibly rough. First year of law school and being in a semi-wholly alien culture has been rough. A lot of factors were thrown into the mix: my being on new anti anxiety meds, I had just gotten out of a terrible relationship where I was cheated on. I love him a great deal, but the idea of moving in with him scares me to death.

I've tried pulling out of the relationship a few times but it's never worked because to him the reasons seemed silly. I'm on the far end of the 'possessive, jealous' spectrum. I'm incredibly uncomfortable going out in public with him because I worry about him looking at other girls. As far as guys go, he's less lascivious than most guys, but my need for security is so so strong (I had an unstable upbringing) that I feel I can only do justice to a relationship if my guy were completely honest and had only eyes for me. I just feel really threatened if I suspect he finds another female attractive.
I've had therapy since I was 18 and I'm pretty confident on what I value in a relationship...that my guy only have eyes for me. I wasn't looking for anything remotely serious when I met him. I've been open about my needs and he's been trying really hard (he cut off all social media because it was causing fights in our relationship) to make me feel secure. He had a habit of telling white lies and he was into NLP/pick up artistry, but he's been trying really hard to not do the former anymore and the latter is a thing of the past. He's a bit contradictory...for instance, he was in a two year celibate relationship because his girlfriend was religious and he really is the best boyfriend (a girl who isn't me) could ask for. That said, I don't want to change who he is (because I believe you can't). I just want us to be happy, that's the bottom line. The last thing I want is for us to be in more pain (because of the long distance, and because of my insecurity).
He really wants to make it work, and I do too. But this whole year has been so emotionally draining that I don't know if I could cope with not having things work out with someone I'm living with. I've also been mildly self harming (for the serotonin) and upping my dosage and being spontaneously weepy. I know what I would tell myself if I were to comment on this post: leave. It's too complicated, you're young, it's long distance. You're not in the right frame of mind to be in a relationship. Also, objectively speaking, I've been growing more and more insecure/unreasonable lately. I got really insecure when he went out for a movie with his best friend, his best friend's sister and her boyfriend (he made sure to tell me beforehand) and wanted to break up because of it. The problem is, I know I'm being unreasonable, and I'd rather believe we're a bad fit than that I'm a nutcase. I do think we could be a better fit, and I wonder if I have what it takes emotionally to compromise (my mind says find something easier! my heart says you don't know what you're doing) and build the trust (as he says we need to do).

I know what I'm asking for in a relationship is a lot and there are very few guys who could meet my needs. Effort has not really been a hurdle to me though. I know this is the 'high highs and low lows' relationship we all have at some point. But there's also the fact that when time allows, we talk for four or five hours straight late into the night. He flew 28 hours to visit me for three weeks and we pretty much spent most of our time in bed. We're so close it feels like he's physically a part of me. To make things more complicated, he's the only guy I know who doesn't watch porn (which is a deal breaker to me) and god knows (actually I've been trying to keep count) how many of them are left.

I just feel so vulnerable right now that I'm wary of growing even closer. Any thoughts, beyond or at least in addition to the inevitable 'break up'?
posted by kinoeye to Human Relations (7 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: I'm so sorry you're going through this. However this needs to be more focused on a practical question in order for it to work here. Please check your MeMail, or contact us if you have any questions. -- goodnewsfortheinsane

 
I feel I can only do justice to a relationship if my guy were completely honest and had only eyes for me. I just feel really threatened if I suspect he finds another female attractive.

This is not a thing that can ever happen. Humans do not work this way. If they did, commitment would be easy. Instead, commitment is making the choice to be in a partnership with someone despite the fact that the world is filled with other attractive people. Being committed does not mean you stop finding other humans attractive. For most people, being committed means making a choice to stop acting on that attraction.

I know I'm being unreasonable, and I'd rather believe we're a bad fit than that I'm a nutcase... my mind says find something easier!

You are not going to find something easier because what will make you at peace with a relationship as you are today -- a partner who looks at no other people and finds no other people attractive -- does not exist.

he cut off all social media because it was causing fights in our relationship

Honestly, what is "inevitably" going to drive this man away is not the attraction to another person you so fear, but the restrictions you are placing on him to manage your fear. You know your action -- the social media, the movies, everything else -- are unreasonable, but instead of managing yourself, you're managing him. I can't imagine things will improve for him (or you) if you move in together. Your method of managing your fears will either kill your relationship or leave you with someone who is so miserable with you neither of you can be happy.

You sound like you're in a ton of pain and panic, but I agree that moving in with this man is not going to fix that. A better therapist might, though, to help you better manage your anxiety, gain better relationships, and learn to not make your shit your partner's shit.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:12 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


Please don't move in with him; this relationship needs a TON of work before either of you are ready to take that step.

Besides how the idea of living together makes you panic --- and that's one heck of a red flag, all by itself! --- there's his finding your reasons to want to pull back to be "silly", plus of course your jealousy. It doesn't matter if the only reason for slowing down or breaking up is "no reason, I just want to": ANY time one partner wants to break things off, for any reason or no reason at all, is acceptable not "silly". And your overpowering jealousy: where is your cutoff: is he supposed to look at the ground whenever a woman *you* consider attractive passes by, or ANY woman? Is he allowed to TALK to women you don't know, or only a pre-approved list?

I'm sorry, but between his possessiveness and your jealousy, this whole thing is a disaster in the making. I'm not saying you should break up, but definately don't move in together ---- and if you want this relationship to work, try couples' therapy.
posted by easily confused at 2:41 AM on April 23


What is likely to happen is that he will just stop telling you things that might set you off. So he won't tell you about meeting his female friend for coffee, or about going dancing in a mixed group, because he wants to avoid a fight. That will feel much worse when you do find out later.

Even if he moves in, starts working from home, and never leaves your side, there is always the potential for jealousy. There will always be another female in the street, on tv, or in his head, for you to flip out about. You really need to get help for this (I also wonder what is wrong with him that he is putting up with this after just two months of non-long distance - most healthy people would have run screaming).
posted by tinkletown at 2:59 AM on April 23


Your title is very apt and it's helpful that you recognise that your insecurity is killing your relationship. Your insecurity is also slowly killing you. You must spend hours thinking about your relationship and your boyfriend and assessing all of the ways it can all go horribly wrong.

You have my sympathy, because I have this tendency too.

However, this is no way to live.

Even if you could, theoretically, find this perfect boyfriend who would never ever want another woman, who would swear up and down that he only was turned on by you, who never looked with any sort of lust or appreciation at another woman, would that be enough for you?

Considering what you wrote about your boyfriend giving up his social media accounts and your distress at him going to a movie with friends, I am relatively certain that you wouldn't find satisfaction and happiness even with a theoretical only-have-eyes-for-you boyfriend. There would still be things that you would worry about.

Whether or not you decide to continue in this relationship, I think your happiness would be greatly improved by accepting that all of us have pasts and presents and futures that are our own. We cannot control other people's thoughts and actions. Trying to control all of another person will not make you safe and will not protect you from heartache.

There was a Dear Sugar column that I read a while ago that really resonated with me, and her basic point was that happy relationships are based on the realisation that love is not a competitive sport.

Right now, it seems like you are trying to squeeze your boyfriend into a smaller and smaller (metaphorical) box in the hopes that this will give you security. This will not make either of you happy or satisfied.
posted by brambory at 3:11 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


I've had therapy since I was 18 and I'm pretty confident on what I value in a relationship...that my guy only have eyes for me.

That's fine for you to value, but, as DarlingBri makes very clear, it's not something that's achievable for humans. Something is going to have to give at some point, and it's probably going to be the relationship - unless you're prepared to do a lot of hard work on yourself.

I think the best thing you could do for this relationship (and for every relationship in your life, current and future, most likely) is to channel the time and energy that's currently going into worrying about and trying to control what your dude does and doesn't do and who he does and doesn't look at into working on yourself in therapy.

I believe that it's possible for you to get to a position where what you want out of and value in relationships is achievable without you actively needing (or even feeling the need and all the associated anxiety around that feeling) to exert such a high level of control over your partner's behaviour. It's going to be really hard - harder, even, than trying to make your partner do all the things you need him to do currently in order to feel secure - but I honestly think this is the most worthwhile thing you could spend your time on.

Also, if you had the "what I value in a relationship is that my guy only has eyes for me" conversation with a therapist, told them everything you told us here about how this is manifesting in your behaviour, in your emotions and in your relationship and your therapist thought that this was a reasonable and achievable thing to want out of a relationship, you should consider seeking a new therapist.
posted by terretu at 3:15 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Some thoughts:

I feel I can only do justice to a relationship if my guy were completely honest and had only eyes for me. I just feel really threatened if I suspect he finds another female attractive...

Echoing DarlingBri above, this does not exist. We humans are programmed to find many potential partners attractive, not just one. This is a deeply unrealistic expectation that you need to fix before moving forward.

I've also been mildly self harming (for the serotonin) and upping my dosage and being spontaneously weepy....Also, objectively speaking, I've been growing more and more insecure/unreasonable lately.

Does your therapist know this? Because these issues sound more pressing and serious than your boyfriend issues, IMO.

As far as guys go, he's less lascivious than most guys...he's the only guy I know who doesn't watch porn (which is a deal breaker to me) and god knows (actually I've been trying to keep count) how many of them are left.

I feel like having this negative opinion towards men in general is probably not helpful.

I know what I'm asking for in a relationship is a lot and there are very few guys who could meet my needs.

Relationships are not just about having your needs met. They're about being happy with someone and making them happy, too.

I know this is the 'high highs and low lows' relationship we all have at some point. But there's also the fact that when time allows, we talk for four or five hours straight late into the night. He flew 28 hours to visit me for three weeks and we pretty much spent most of our time in bed. We're so close it feels like he's physically a part of me.

Those nice things you're describing are just the 'high highs' of the relationship, not independent data points.

Any thoughts, beyond or at least in addition to the inevitable 'break up'?

Sure. Break up, then get therapy for you insecurity issues and do not date anyone again until your possessiveness and jealousy are fully under control.

posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:20 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


There was a Dear Sugar column that I read a while ago that really resonated with me, and her basic point was that happy relationships are based on the realisation that love is not a competitive sport.

I just ordered this book online this weekend (probably from a suggestion here) and it should be required reading for every Mefite posting (or thinking of) a relationship question.

Anyway, more specifically, I would be worried about moving in with the guy as well, technically you've only known him 2 months in person, and as you know, you have a barrel of issues to process as well (which is good, that you are working on them!).

The whole "I know what I need- for him to have eyes only for me" was definitely a twist at the end of the sentence which is why everyone keeps mentioning it. It's fine to say "absolutely no cheating" or "even things that resemble cheating- flirty texts, etc etc", depending on where your line in the sand is... but the whole his eyes, mind and body can only belong to me is a bit much.

I don't think you need to break up per se, but like with his celibate girlfriend, you need to create some space between you where you can keep working on your issues. I suggest living alone or with roommates and just continuing to date him when you return to the same city.
posted by bquarters at 4:10 AM on April 23


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