Relationship anxiety and extreme emotions. What am I going through? Would like insight/advice/opinion on this.
January 4, 2010 7:56 AM   Subscribe

I have been in a long-term relationship and suddenly started having panic attacks about the relationship. The panic attacks became so severe that I've concluded I physcially cannot be in a relationship anymore. But I would like to figure out what these emotions are/what's causing the panic attacks.

My boyfriend and I have been together for 2.5 years. We're both in our mid-20s and this was the first serious relationship for the both of us (first relationship for me).

I became very insecure about our future 1.5 years into the relationship and frequently asked my boyfriend if he thought about marrying me. At the time, he told me he couldn't think about marriage because we were both so young, and I interpreted it as he didn't love me enough. I tried to end it thinking maybe we weren't meant to be but I couldn't as I loved him very much, and he wanted us to stay together. I then said to him I can wait for him a bit longer but if he ever felt like he was unsure about me, then it wouldn't be fair to string me along anymore. 6 months later (at the 2 year mark), he suddenly broke up with me because he told me he wasn't sure and it wasn't fair to me. The break-up was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. But I respected his decision and the fact that he was honest with me. To me, I felt that his uncertainty wasn't the only thing I doubted about and I felt at the time it was best for the both of us (i.e. inter-racial relationship, conservative parents who had no idea about the relationship, we were both argumentative and still immature). 2 months later, he asked me to reconsider because he realized that no one can be 100% certain about the person they want to marry, but you should be as sure as possible. I agreed and we got back together. We had a very great/happy month after, and then I decided to tell my parents. Surprisingly, my parents were very supportive, but my mom also said to me "I think you deserve the best." And for some reason, after that conversation, I started having debilitating panic attacks. My whole body ached and it wasn't long before I started becoming severely depressed. I became afraid of our relationship. I started doubting if he was right for me. My friends always mention "the one" and when you meet "the one" it sounded like some magical feeling overtakes you and you know that he's the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. I never really understood that, but I started wondering if we were right for each other. I went through months of self-questioning: do I love him, do I want to marry him, what if there's someone else out there since I've never been with anyone else. As I went through these questions, my anxiety became worse and my panic attacks became routine. But I felt happy when I daydreamed about raising children with him and felt extremely depressed when I suddenly become overwhelmed with the same doubts and questions. I became terrified of not having him in my future and felt compelled to make a decision because it was unfair to him for having all these questions/doubts in my mind. These anxiety attacks were especially bad whenever I was not with him and I almost needed to see him or be with him to re-affirm my feelings for him. I almost mentally broke down during Thanksgiving break at my parents' house. My parents thought it was a good idea to take a break from my boyfriend and work on myself. I did that for a month (still on the "break") and became much calmer. I became more "ok" with not being with him and the anxiety subsided. I've been really confused. Sometimes I'm certain I love him, sometimes I'm determined to end it. Sometimes I'm certain I'd be happy to spend the rest of my life with him, but the fear of these panic attacks makes me not want to see him, hear from him, or have anything to do with him anymore. So what's going on? What's causing these polar emotions?

I've come up with 2 theories:
1. my doubts of him/since it's my first relationship, I have a desire to explore
2. the initial break up was so painful that I became afraid of becoming attached to him again

I believe I should figure this out since I could very well start having panic attacks in any future relationship (not just with my boyfriend), it'd be helpful if I knew how I could deal with them.

If you suggest therapy, could you recommend good therapists in the AETNA network in NYC?

I hope this wasn't confusing...

thanks for everyone's input!
posted by frozenyogurt to Human Relations (32 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
.. but my mom also said to me "I think you deserve the best." And for some reason, after that conversation, I started having debilitating panic attacks.

The best is very hard to find, and the search might cause anxiety.
posted by the Real Dan at 8:10 AM on January 4, 2010

Helpful tip: imagine your life without him. Spend some quality time doing this away from him, when you're calm and free from outside pressures. Does it seem better or worse? Why? What is it about him you:

- like
- trust
- want to commit to
- dislike
- cannot tolerate

I ask because your OP talks a lot about the past, but your question is really about your future. Your past is instructive, of course, but your future is what matters. People are allowed to change, and people are allowed to change their minds.

Also, in your OP, you talk a lot about what other people think, and this question is another iteration of it. I accept that your question is explicitly about your insecurity, but the solution isn't really to solicit other people's opinions. It's finding a way to develop your own. Don't feel compelled to decide x or y if not deciding is still a perfectly reasonable course of action. You are fully entitled to love who you want without duress.

Finally, you also say "what if there's someone else out there?" Lots of people have these thoughts so it's nothing unusual. But as a general rule, if you're seriously considering x because they're available and you're seeing long term commitment as a bit of a hedged bet, go back and think more carefully about what you want from a relationship and what the other person can give you. Forget comparisons with other, hypothetical people. They aren't especially helpful in telling you that your current beau is/isn't the one. The question is more absolute, rather than comparitive.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:11 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry you are in so much pain over this. Relationships are rough and since this is your first serious one, they are usually the hardest to figure out. I think therapy is a very good idea (sorry I have no referrals). You might be codependent if anything but they'll help you figure it out.

Just know that this is so very, very, very common for all of us and it passes and does get better. Try not to rush marriage no matter who you're with or your age.
posted by stormpooper at 8:16 AM on January 4, 2010

Have you ever thought about what you wanted out of life before you were in this relationship? By that I mean did you have any idea regarding at around what age you wanted to get married, do you want children, do you want to be a stay at home mom or work, do you want a career and if so what kind, do you have certain things you definitely can't miss in life like backpacking through Europe?

Therapy could help you figure out what you want out of life with a relationship seen as a variable in that life. It might give more perspective on how this particular person would or would not fit into what you want for yourself and if it is worth pursuing a relationship with them (or finding someone else more compatible with your goals).

Its your life, so it really is all about you. You sound a little inexperienced, so maybe you just need to get out there a little more before you really figure out what you want.

Also, be aware that the mid 20s can be a wierd time because a lot of your peers will start to do the settle-down dance. Try to not compare yourself with them, or at least recognize when you do compare yourself with your engaged peers or whatever that it really doesn't affect you or mean you are doing it wrong. I'm in my mid 20s and one of the very few un-engaged people in my circle, so I understand very well if something like that is adding to the panic attack causes. THE STUFF ABOUT "THE ONE" IS BS! Even when you meet the one you marry, you still need to put in the work to delvelop the relationship over some amount of time before you actually marry them.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:17 AM on January 4, 2010

One thing to consider: you began to panic not only when your mother made that comment, but also when you no longer had to worry about his feelings for you. There is a reason your mother's comment was able to pierce you so thoroughly at that moment. It sounds a bit like you really shifted your anxiety from worrying about his feelings for you, to worrying about your feelings for him. Perhaps you had been deferring your own anxieties at the beginning because it was easier to worry about his feelings than your own, and now that you're sure of him, and sure that things CAN go on without disaster from your family, you're feeling the depths of all the worries we feel about the limitations and risks inherent in a life.
posted by fullofragerie at 8:26 AM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

A couple of things.

First of all, you are equating a lot of things that are not equivalents here. Just because you love someone doesn't mean you should be with them - plenty of people who are in love with each other break up all the time because they are not right for each other in essential ways. This may or may not be the case with you.

Second, there is no The One. Sorry, there isn't. This is a fairy tale magazines sell you. Do not buy it. There are billions of people out there, and you'll be compatible with any number of them.

Third, just because you love someone doesn't mean you need to marry them. I mean geeze, this is your first relationship and you are in your mid 20s - what's the rush?

On top of that question, I think you should also spend some time thinking about what marriage actually symbolises to you. From your post, it sounds like you think it's the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval or something - like its some kind of hurdle you need to cross to be validated as a worthy or worthwhile human. It isn't. It is also not a guarantee of anything - identity, worth, fidelity, or a picket fence - except possibly some very nice china if you're into that sort of thing.

In general, I think first love is the hardest breakup, and what you're describing doesn't seem too far off normal to me. (Mine nearly killed me. Not kidding.) The problem with that key breakup is that you don't have the experience to know you will survive it. Every emotion is crushing and terrifying and you're really, truly not sure you know how to breathe through all this pain. it's horrible - but in my experience it's never that bad again.

At the end of all this, I think that regardless of the fact that you love your boyfriend, you've basically outgrown this relationship, and what you're experiencing now is a manifestation of the fear around the breakup. My suggestion would be that you break up, ramp down the drama with no contact, and go through the process of learning that you will survive and be OK again, either with the support of your friends or with a therapist.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:26 AM on January 4, 2010 [13 favorites]

THE STUFF ABOUT "THE ONE" IS BS! Even when you meet the one you marry, you still need to put in the work to delvelop the relationship over some amount of time before you actually marry them.

Seconding this. Notice how romantic comedies always finish with a happily-ever-after, young-couples-move-off-into-the-married-life-sunset ending?

Reality is something different indeed.

Walking away from a relationship that just isn't right can be an incredibly difficult and terrifying thing - it's hard to know that the path you choose is the 'right' one.

I don't know you beyond what you've posted above, so this next bit might be total crap - take it for what it's worth: I get the feeling that there's more out there that you want to discover, and you're not ready to settle down. That's perfectly ok! You need to choose the path that's right for *you* - if your friends want to settle down, marry, spawn, whatever, that's what *they* want to do. Be happy for them! Go off, explore the world, have adventures. You're still very young, and it's a big big world.
posted by swngnmonk at 8:31 AM on January 4, 2010

Response by poster: WeekendJen: I have thought about that actually. I've always wanted to get married later - early 30's. I'm pretty career-minded. So I want to apply to business school this year, travel more, volunteer abroad, etc.

In general, what we want for our future is very similar - marriage, children, career (I don't want to be a stay-at-home mom and he understands that), and he's always been supportive of what I want to achieve in my career. He actually encompasses most of what I want in a husband, at least that's what I think for now. Howver, we don't agree on the present, he's more about saving and does not like to travel or work abroad, whereas I'm more about enjoy the freedom of my 20's and seeing the world. I do somewhat feel tied down because of him, not that he's clingy but mentally I don't enjoy myself as much if I were to do all these things without him while we're in a relationship. I recently feel like in the 2 years we've been together, I've put a lot of this on hold (except for developing my career which he's helped a lot), but I haven't been able to travel as much or maybe spend a year abroad to work for my firm. There are days I regret it, which makes me very sad to think that about our relationship. The more I feel this way, the more I feel guilty towards him, and the more I feel I need to let him go to be fair to him. He deserves someone more dedicated right?

Muffinman: I spent a month without him and I felt calmer and happier becuase my anxiety subsided - which is why I think I want a break up. But I also feel a lot of pain thinking about the break up and extremely sad. I am hopeful that in 5 years, when I've done what I wanted to do (b-school, travel, volunteer abroad), maybe I could be more certain of him? I don't know. I'm confused...I'm not even sure if on/off relationships like this really work...But right now I"m not very ok with the possibility of losing him forever...

It's true, since I don't have a lot of experience, I absorb a lot of what people say.
posted by frozenyogurt at 8:36 AM on January 4, 2010

You're not supposed to be okay with the possibility of losing him forever, it's supposed to hurt. It's perfectly normal to feel a lot of pain thinking about the break up.

All of these things still don't mean that staying together is the right thing for you, or for him.
posted by DeltaForce at 8:46 AM on January 4, 2010

frozenyoghurt: There's some good advice from others up there about what marriage means and the myth of the "only fish in the sea", but what I take from your post and follow up is getting to grips with the (admittedly hard question) of whether it is the breaking up with x or the being alone that is the source of the sadness.

From what you write you want to break up but fear both the quality of your decisionmaking and the finality of breaking up.

Normally the first trumps the other two. No two relationships are the same so anecdata needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, but I've seen a lot of friends split painfully from their first/first meaningful loves and go onto happy relationships elsewhere. I don't recall hearing one rue the loss of the earlier love.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:14 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I usually don't like AskMe's tendency to recommend therapy for everything. But I think it makes sense here. You need to separate out your conflicting feelings of love and anxiety (and conflicting anxieties - you've got multiple worries here) and try to think rationally about what you want to do. A good counselor can help you do that, without telling you what to do.

About the idea of somebody being "the one." When you're in love with somebody, it certainly feels like that. You become very attached to that person, and they're not remotely replaceable. They're the only one that's them. That's what being in love is. But that doesn't mean there a magical "other half" of you out there that you have to find. When you fall in love with someone, they become that.

If you do break up (and I'm not saying you should), you'll each eventually find other "ones."
posted by nangar at 9:16 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're very young, and you're certainly fairly inexperienced. In light of that, all this stuff about him being THE ONE and the idea that you have to decide whether you want to marry him sounds a bit like crazytalk, although maybe it's common for people in your community to get married young.

I empathize with a lot of what you're saying: I ended up marrying my first serious boyfriend in October, after seven years together. When I was in college, and more insecure about making choices that were in my own best interest, I let a lot of opportunities pass me by (study abroad, et cetera). But eventually, we reached an impasse: I wanted to go far away for graduate school, and he needed to stay home to finish his degree. So I moved across the country without him.

It was one of the best decisions I ever made, both for myself, and for my relationship. It helped me realize that I needed to take care of myself, first, to ensure that our relationship was a healthy, viable entity. And I realized that the best relationships allow us to take risks, to take care of ourselves. It was hard being long distance, but we soldiered through. The irony is that, previously, I don't think I would have even asked about the distance thing. I had to be brave, but in the end, he wanted me to do what I had to in order to be happy.

And perhaps, if I had asked and he wasn't willing to work it out, it would have indicated something else: that what we both wanted from a relationship, in an immediate sense, was fundamentally different. In that case, I really believe that it would have been a good choice, for both of us, to break up, too. I wouldn't want either of us to be stuck in a relationship that was unhealthy for us.

But my SO and I have always taken these decisions as they come, and taken our relationship one day at a time. Is he making you happy now? Is your relationship, overall, a source of joy rather than pain? It seems foolish, to me, to forgo opportunities in the event that your relationship might one day be what you want.

And, to address what your friends have told you: doubts are normal. It's healthy and human not to be sure sometimes, particularly when you're at a crossroad. My relationship has been much more about building upon shared experiences than any sort of lightning-strike moment of realization. Some days, when we're annoyed at each other, I still have my doubts. But overall, I know that my relationship--as it stands--gives me far more joy than it doesn't.

I'm sorry if this hasn't given you any concrete answers, but just keep in mind that you're young, and allowed to change your mind, and to struggle with balancing different needs. If you don't want to get married until your thirties, there's nothing wrong with dating someone you care for now and then making an ultimate decision later. Stop pressuring yourself, but do take care of yourself. Be sure to go after the things you want in life, and don't feel embarrassed or ashamed if they don't match up perfectly with what your friends or parents want for you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:21 AM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]

Learning to trust your own decisions is a key part of maturing as an adult. And like most growth opportunities, it can be really painful.

If you're having panic attacks, seeing a therapist would probably be a good thing if at all possible. "Panic attacks" are much more debilitating than ordinary doubts and self-questioning.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:02 AM on January 4, 2010

Whoa. It sounds like you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself to figure everything out right away. Relationships trigger really deep feelings. Attachments to people, especially lovers, can unearth all types of crazy emotions, and you can not simply box them up pretty and figure it all out. So yeah therapy will probably be best way to start to get to the core of what is being triggered. Panic attacks are usually unexpressed emotion that on some level that can't be contained anymore and literally start taking over your body. The good news is that once your feelings come to the surface (hopefully in therapy, in a safe place for you to do this), you may find peace.
posted by Rocket26 at 10:11 AM on January 4, 2010

I think you should spend a week not thinking about the relationship. Just have your feelings, but don't analyze them or try to come up with any answers.

A lot of people will say you're young, and while they aren't wrong, it's probably a good time to be realistic about what you envision being a good life for yourself -- do you want a family? does he want a family? Do you think he'll make a good dad? When? How? How much money will you guys need?
posted by anniecat at 11:03 AM on January 4, 2010

I'm going to recommend a site I found here at AskMeFi, MoodGym, for some light cognitive behavioral therapy. It seems you and I have a lot of the types of doubts that stem from our thinking habits. There is nothing wrong with you or your doubts, but this site (free) can help you develop the tools to be able to face your concerns without the emotional hijack anxiety can create. In a short few days, I've already found much help with mine.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:23 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

OK Cool, so you have thought about what you want. From what you wrote it sounds like the relationship isn't working for you right now because you shouldn't feel held back in your 20s. You definitely do not want to regret not doing the travel / volunteer / etc thing while you can.

Thus it seems your major hurdle is the pain of a breakup (and it does suck and hurt and all that). I'm not too good with parsing out breakup emotions, but other people here have offered some good advice and being open to therapy is good.

As a final data point: You never know what will happen in the future. Me and the dude I am currently dating are actually on our second go at the relationship thing. We broke up and didn't talk or see eachother for 3 years before we started dating again. The first time around we were on different pages (like you and your man) and when we met again, we were more compatible. In between the first relationship and the second we each did our own thing. I'm not saying that you will get back together with this guy or that you should, just that it could happen in the future if its the case that you need to leave and build your life up in the now.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:26 AM on January 4, 2010

I had something similar happen to me once, complete with wildly polar emotions. Ultimately, the panic, and the relief I experienced after the breakup, was telling me that I really didn't want to be in the relationship.
posted by yarly at 11:33 AM on January 4, 2010

You aren't going to be able to figure this out until you get a handle on your anxiety. In the short term, probably the best thing is to take a break to deal with your mental health. Don't try to think your way out of this, you'll only give yourself another panic attack.

I'd say that your fears have nothing to do with the relationship itself - the main problem is that you are faced with making a permanent, life-altering decision. Maybe you've never had to do that before -- for the most part, we like to keep our options open. When making big decisions, the usual advice is usually to not jump into anything too soon, try a lot of different options and find what is best for you. You may have internalized this and now it's an expectation you have for yourself, but this is very bad advice for you, because you will quickly become overwhelmed in endless processing -- when you look into your heart to search for answers, all you find there are shifting sands when you desperately want to find a firm, unchanging foundation that will guarantee your decision about what you really want.

Examples of guarantees: the idea of "the one"; the panic attacks pointing you out of the relationship; your parents; various procedures for imagining what you want out of life; in fact, all of the advice here. You might settle on one of these for a while, but then you'll start analyzing it, eventually discover a problem and conclude that it's not the ironclad guarantee you thought it was.

There's no end to this. You need therapy to learn how to accept the absence of a guarantee; or even better, to learn to be OK with deluding yourself that there is one, like everyone else does.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:07 PM on January 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: when you look into your heart to search for answers, all you find there are shifting sands when you desperately want to find a firm, unchanging foundation that will guarantee your decision about what you really want

You might settle on one of these for a while, but then you'll start analyzing it, eventually discover a problem and conclude that it's not the ironclad guarantee you thought it was

this is very true. I find myself constantly changing my mind about everything, doubting what I want for a brief moment is really what I want. None of my thoughts are very solid and unaltering.

the only thing I know is the idea of this relationship is giving me anxiety attacks, I don't know why I have these anxiety attacks, but I want to stop feeling this way and thought ending the relationship was the only solution, but what if once therapy helps me cope with the root cause of anxiety and I realize this was all a mistake?
posted by frozenyogurt at 1:18 PM on January 4, 2010

what if once therapy helps me cope with the root cause of anxiety and I realize this was all a mistake?

If breaking up turns out to be a mistake, it's OK. It will suck and you will have regrets, but that will not stop your life and you will have learned something about yourself along the way that will make you a better partner the next time around. You will at some point in the future meet Mr. Right #2 and the regret will fade to pleasant memories of your youth. Again, there isn't just one person out there - there are many, mnay brass rings on this particular carnival ride and you do not need to cling to the first great guy to swing around.

Mostly you just sound really scared to make the wrong choice because you might have regrets. You will have them anyway. That's how life works. They don't destroy your life, you know - the just put kinks in the path.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:50 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

what if once therapy helps me cope with the root cause of anxiety and I realize this was all a mistake?

I don't think this is an issue, because the root cause of your anxiety -- the reality that the anxiety about the relationship protects you from facing -- is that there is no correct answer which you could get wrong.

Do some research on anxiety disorders, read about other people's experiences and definitely get some professional help.
posted by AlsoMike at 5:44 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am confused. Why do you need to decide if you want to marry him now? You're in your mid twenties and you don't want to be married till your early 30's. I think you're panicking because for some reason you are thinking that you need to make a choice that you're not ready to make, and that I don't believe you need to make yet.

PhoBWanKenobi essentially said a lot of what I wanted to. I think you should feel free to travel, to do your year abroad with your firm. If you have to break up with him to do it, then perhaps that's what must happen, but that doesn't have to be the case. It doesn't have to be one or the other.

It seems like you've suddenly taken a very black or white view of things, which can lead to panic because life is not made up of situations that are only black or white. You do not need to decide right now if you will marry him or not. You do not need to choose between him or being free to travel and explore and grow. You might need to, however, decide if you will be happier in this relationship for now, or out of it. I don't know how to advise you on going about that decision (breaking up or not has always been an easy decision for me). Perhaps that is where a therapist comes in.

My boyfriend and I are very much in love with each other but we're young (23 and 22) and are taking our time building our careers while living quite far apart. There was a chance he would end up in Australia for a year or two (we're both in the US right now) and while the prospect of severely cutting back on our opportunities to see each other was a rather unhappy one, the idea of demanding he stay in the US was just... wrong. Now is our time to take chances!

As others have said, a relationship should be a safe place from which you feel comfortable exploring the world. My boyfriend is like my home base. My security blanket. He makes me feel more confident about doing this whole medical school thing, even though it means not living near him for at least another 3.5 years.
posted by quirks at 6:05 PM on January 4, 2010

what if once therapy helps me cope with the root cause of anxiety and I realize this was all a mistake?

You will then, if the therapy is actually helpful, be fine with being a person who occasionally makes mistakes.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:34 PM on January 4, 2010

--Can you let yourself really, truly feel your feelings without pressuring yourself to make a decision? You let him have the space to think about the relationship. Can you give yourself the same space to think, without pressure from yourself?

--If so, what do you enjoy doing? Basic things, like a favorite food, a walk, music you love. Let yourself be in the moment and enjoy every day as it comes. Look up mindfulness.
posted by kathrineg at 7:00 PM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: thanks for all the suggestions.

I'm just very...confused...

I made up my mind to break up with him because I didn't want to deal with the panic attacks, and also, I worried/felt like maybe I don't want this relationship or love him anymore. Yet, when I saw him to have the talk, I couldn't do it at all. I couldn't say it, and I just wanted to be with him, so I followed my heart and just openly talked about emotions without mentioning "wanting to break up". And when I'm with him, I see a person I want to I'm so dramatic.

But the next day, when I'm alone, I start having the same pressures, doubts, and concerns again - I feel sometihng's wrong, I"m not sure I want this, etc. It's a vicious cycle.
posted by frozenyogurt at 7:46 AM on January 6, 2010

Perhaps the issue is that while you do want to be with him, you also want things that you feel preclude being with him - the experience of being with someone else, travel and study abroad, etc. That kind of conflict when you feel you've reached a crossroads in a relationship is very stressful.

Frankly, giving up your dreams to be with someone is always a mistake. The kinds of relationships that make it through the long haul are the kind that will survive business school or a year abroad. If my husband came downstairs and said "I want to go to Tanzania for a year to teach school" I'd be fine with that. I would miss him and it would be hard and there would be obstacles and a lot of planning to make it workable, but I'm on his team and if that's what he wants to do, I'm certainly not going to put up barriers to that.

I think you would benefit from some therapy as a safe place to work this all out. Struggling with the big questions of self is sort of what your 20's are all about, but that doesn't make it easier. You could probably use some help.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:05 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

And when I'm with him, I see a person I want to I'm so dramatic.

I think you need to think about your feelings toward him (when you're around him) if marriage were not part of the equation. What do you like about him? How does he make you feel? If you knew for certain that your future was uncertain--there was no possibility of marrying him or having a permanent commitment, would you want to be with him, the person he is right now, for the time being?

Otherwise, what people said upthread: break-ups are supposed to hurt. They're not easy, and if you do break up, you'll have to adjust to the thought of life without him. It will be hard, but you'll move on. And when you do, I promise you (like, seriously, wanna bet ten bucks on it?) that you'll find other people who have traits that you like enough to see them as your husband. I know it seems impossible now, but it's true.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:09 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: If you knew for certain that your future was uncertain--there was no possibility of marrying him or having a permanent commitment, would you want to be with him, the person he is right now, for the time being?

my heart says yes but with fear - fear of my mind. my mind, well, that's a whole different story - it's telling me no it's impractical, you're wasting your time, you're young you should enjoy life and not be bogged down by relationship worries, your friends have a positive outlook why can't you, etc.

I was a math/science major in college and that's trained me to "try" to be logical, so most of the time my mind prevails...
posted by frozenyogurt at 9:11 AM on January 6, 2010

Response by poster: like for example, I just received a call from my boyfriend asking me what I was doing tonight - simple question right?

my immediate heart reaction was let me cancel my plan or come see you after.

my followup head reaction was what are you doing I thought you wanted to break up so keep some distance!

my head is not understanding what my heart wants to do. Is my heart just in denial of what my head is saying and trying to spend time hoping the thoughts in my head would go away? Or does my heart really want what it wants...?

my questions are endless...
posted by frozenyogurt at 9:20 AM on January 6, 2010

You're not being logical--you're panicking and overanalyzing. I really think therapy is a good idea.

In terms of the immediate situation, it sounds like you need space for yourself. If you have plans already, follow through with them. He'll wait.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:39 AM on January 6, 2010

This sounds a LOT like this, specifically this.
posted by tweedle at 7:08 PM on May 30, 2010

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