Funny stories: some things about your long-term s.o. that once upon a time gave you anxiety attacks?
November 30, 2010 7:51 PM   Subscribe

He's a silly nerd. I love him for it, but the more I find myself getting seriously attached to those things that he does, the more I find myself worrying that one day I won't be able to appreciate it as much as I do now...

I'm in a relatively new relationship with a guy, and while it's still new and shiny enough that any serious attempt at projecting the future is moot, for the first time I feel like I understand why my friend married who she did, why my mom married my dad, etc. This leads to me getting the jitters; although, as I said, it's all still early enough that I'm quite sure I'm just being ridiculous. Nonetheless, I hope the hivemind will help me calm my nerves by sharing your wisdom -- What are some things, big or small, about him/her that once gave you anxiety attacks? How did you decide you could deal with them for years / a lifetime? Or not? Funny stories particularly appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
He's a silly nerd. I love him for it, but the more I find myself getting seriously attached to those things that he does, the more I find myself worrying that one day I won't be able to appreciate it as much as I do now...

You'll find there's a lot of new things to appreciate about him as he moves through life and grows. That's love.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:14 PM on November 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Honestly the stuff that bugged me then was stuff that needed to be discussed and generally changed. If you see something, say something.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:29 PM on November 30, 2010

Your anxiety attacks will subside as your instinct for self-preservation takes over (I hope).

The bits of him that you find novel now, you will not find novel in a year, or two, or twenty.

That said, the bits of him that make you feel that you are cherished will probably still give you a subdued warm fuzzy down the road.

And that said, the bits of him that make you feel you can trust him will continue to be the object of your scrutiny throughout your relationship.

You can't know whether all these things are things you'll be able to deal with when you're older and further traveled. Jitters are normal, particularly when you're in a relationship with someone who's outside your zone of experience.

In other words, and to answer your question indirectly: you won't be able to decide whether you can deal with your partner's quirks until push comes to shove.

To answer your question directly (almost): in my experience, early anxiety attacks (do you mean that literally?) are not a good sign at all. I would pay attention to those instincts.
posted by YamwotIam at 8:32 PM on November 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

Just enjoy what you guys have together while you have it.

I feel like I say this in a lot of relationship threads, but I met someone, had those same feelings, things got pretty serious, everything was going great, I started thinking about what our kids would look like and whether I'd take his last name. Then BAM, relationship over, pretty much out of the blue and completely outside my control. It's been 6 months and I still don't really understand what happened.

Don't worry about whatever it is you're worried about. Just have fun. You really never know and there's nothing you can do now to prepare for what is to come.
posted by Sara C. at 8:38 PM on November 30, 2010 [9 favorites]

Take a deep breath, relax, and just enjoy the stuff you enjoy. Will you change your mind? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you worry that you might, you most certainly will. So just promise yourself that you'll be honest with yourself about things that annoy you NOW, things that are potential dealbreakers NOW, and let that be sufficient for your worry.
posted by davejay at 9:44 PM on November 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

Ironically I think the fact that you ask the question means that you have nothing to worry about. You will never date a perfect person, everyone will annoy you somehow. You have to decide if the things you love about him outweigh the other stuff. But this is a decision for today, not a hypothetical one. Asking if you will hate him in the future is a kin to asking what your third child's name should be. Cross that bridge when you get to it.
posted by Felex at 12:43 AM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Try to see him as a person. A label does not make him advantageous over any other person you could be dating. A silly nerd can be honest to extreme, and completely eliminate chance on cheating on you, but may lack empathy, may harbor hidden callousness. YamwotIam's words ring a lot of truth to me. In moments where you need to weight a character trait that the loving you is oh-so-much willing to accommodate vs. instinct of self-preservation, let self-preservation weight more.
posted by Jurate at 6:10 AM on December 1, 2010

If you're having actual anxiety attacks rather than just jitters, that's a problem that will exist no matter who you date. I'd address that first.
posted by desjardins at 7:45 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure what sort of things are giving you anxiety attacks, but I do know in my long-term nerd relationships the little quirky tics and obsessions that were kind of "oh, that's just how he is, and I love him for who he is" in the beginning turned into irritating annoyances that made me want to grit my teeth into dust when the relationship started turning sour.

Dear Nerdy Ex-Boyfriends,

Watching cartoons intended for Japanese ten-year-old girls when you're a grown-ass American man is kind of embarrassing. Playing video games in a different room while I'm making dinner because you're an inept manchild who lived off Lipton's Sides until I came along and you regard me as some sort of dinner-making-robot is sexist and inconsiderate. Making me feel like an idiot because I don't know, or care, how you recompile a Linux kernel is dismissive and rude. There is a difference between being shy and having obscure interests and having a social anxiety disorder and a persecution complex. These are the reasons girls do not stay with you, not because we don't like "nice guys." 

Eternally Bitter,

Your Former Girlfriend Cupcake

As long as the relationship is going good, you can accept someone's habits. But if it's sliding downhill, everything about them annoys you. This is true in any relationship, nerdy or not. Wasn't there a whole AskMe thread about annoyances in relationships that were failing? "I knew it was over when I wanted to tear her throat out with my teeth if she left the toothpaste cap sitting on the counter one more time" sort of stuff?

It's not about the silly nerd interests; it's about how you two relate to each other. A dude can play hella video games after dinner if he keeps me company and asks if I want help while I'm cooking. A dude can be a little introverted and shy if he's a good sport about coming with me to parties every once in a while and lets me go out alone without a guilt trip.

The little quirks don't mean anything when you are happy and getting along, as I hope you will be for a very long time, my dear. But they will drive you fucking insane if the relationship goes bad, and that is true with any relationship with any person of any level of nerdiness.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:52 AM on December 1, 2010 [15 favorites]

JUst be carefull you dont take on his qualities. I am sort of a nerdy guy. I am a network tech for a living. My now wife (got mrried in may)is taking on my traits. I got her an iphone and she does not put it down. She uses her netbook all the time. Now plays games like bejewelled when she didnt play video games before.

If you like the guy enough you will not just stop noticing the qualities you like about him . As long as you trully love him. YEs as the relationship gets longer you will notice his bad qualities also. You just have to see if you like his good qualities enough that his bad qualities are just minor annoyances.

This is why i feel people should wait 3 years atleast to get married. We got married at 4 years and i feel i know my now wife enough.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:13 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

What are some things, big or small, about him/her that once gave you anxiety attacks?

Pretty much nothing.

My husband and I are really well suited. There are a bunch of little things that he does that I don't love--it's really important to him that we shop for groceries once a week and buy everything, for instance, and I prefer to be more spur-of-the-moment about things--but that didn't give me an anxiety attack.

I didn't even have an anxiety attack about the big things: monogamy and religion. The first is really important to him, the second is reasonably important to me. So we are monogamous, and when he rants about how stupid religion is, I tell him to STFU.

11 years into the honeymoon.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:38 AM on December 1, 2010

- His geeky intensity in college is his passion and loyalty now
- His ability to always name a director or film I know nothing about? I make him watch them with me now if he name checks something too much, so now I know a lot more
- His desire to get in debates over anything and everything -- they're remarkable for cold, dark evenings on the couch and infuriating over the dishes I didn't wash, but adds up to an emotionally present partner
- His insistence on paying for all our media (MP3s, movies), taking public transportation rather than driving, finding weird sodas, '50s kitsch, French and Japanese pop music, the drive for international travel -- they're not only more endearing, they've become my causes too
- His bad jokes that made me groan are now the bad jokes that make my almost-teen daughter roll her eyes, and make me happy sigh that he's such a '50s-style dad
- His style (bad haircut, bad glasses) has drastically improved -- with no nagging by me
- His independent, "I don't need anyone" streak has turned into a fierce loyalty of our small family, an ability to prioritize the people and things that don't matter out
- The dropping-of-shaving-cream which was seriously the most infuriating trait? I just keep cleaning wipes in the bathroom

4 years married, 17 years since we met, 0 regrets.
posted by Gucky at 10:48 AM on December 1, 2010

I've dated a lot. I would always get the "what ifs?", think about whether or not he liked me as much as I liked him. Obsess over a trivial comment.

Then I met a guy that I was totally comfortable with. I gave him my trust from the beginning, and he has never violated that trust. I really enjoyed conversations with him, whereas in previous relationships I might get tongue-tied or there would be uncomfortable pauses/silences. He wasn't the best kisser ever, so we worked on that. He would wear black tennis shoes with white socks and shorts, so we worked on that. He would splash water EVERYWHERE when getting ready in the morning, so we worked on that. And there's stuff we worked on about me, too, of course. But I never, ever felt uncomfortable, anxious or doubtful with him. (Excited to see him, yes, but never anxiously thinking "what if?")

So I married him :) It's only been a little over six years, but we have two lovely daughters, might try for a third kid, and can't imagine not having this marriage.

Life is too short to be with someone that you are anxious about, don't trust, etc. Living life honestly, with a calmness and ease, is where it's at, and who you are with has everything to do with that. Don't compromise on that, ever.
posted by wwartorff at 6:28 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Think back to someone you dated that was unsuitable - remember all the ways it fell apart? The major deal breakers, the clash in priorities, the core incompatibilities? Makes the little annoyances in your good relationship seem like trivia, doesn't it. (Hey, that one terrible relationship is good for something after all!

And yes, nobody is perfect. Habits change. Feelings wax and wane. At first I found my husband's sports mania quite alien; now I'm checking football scores on my iPhone. My non-neatnik-ness drove him off-the-rail nuts for a few years, now he's used to it and doesn't bat an eyelash. There's a blur of days, mostly dull, with flashes of excitement, letdown, crisis, resolution, and then suddenly it's been ten years and you've been through so much together, been so many places together, have so many private jokes and stories and made-up words together. And you realize that this is love - not something conjured or arranged, but the sum of all the moments you spent in mutual orbit, through summer and winter, through darkness and light.

And remember this when you fight -- no matter how bad it is, if you can get through it together, it will make your relationship that much stronger.

P.S. How exactly do you feel about the so-called silly things in his life? Do you find them silly as in pointless and boring, or unproductive and wasteful, or uncool and embarrassing, or what? Is there a value judgment here? Do you know where you got it from? Do you know other people into the same things and do you react the same way? Dig a little deeper and you're learn something about yourself.
posted by metaseeker at 12:20 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

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