Overwhelmed and Seeking Perspective
February 18, 2011 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Is it automatically wrong to stay with someone if you have doubts regarding the ultimate strength of your compatibility and ability to stay together for the long-haul? For once I want to try to relax and see where things go, but I don't want to be hurtful to this wonderful woman. It is a bit complicated, since we broke off our engagement 2 months ago, we are both women in our early-to-mid 30s who each want a child at some point, and I have serious anxiety problems which paralyze my thinking, and which make me feel extra immature when faced with overwhelming questions like this.

My girlfriend and I got engaged last year, her family was super-supportive and excited, and it seemed like an exciting idea. But it instantly created so much stress for me (and therefore us) that we decided to call it off, but remain in a relationship and continue living together. This actually really helped bring enjoyment back into the relationship. But I still fear how much time I spend worrying if I am making a bad decision staying with her, despite how well we get along and how kind/funny/generous she is, and how big our plans are for the future.

I don't want to waste her time, but I also don't want to destroy something good unnecessarily. One aspect is also that we are both in our 30s and each of us have some interest in having a child at some point (my fears of biological timing for both of us strengthen my usual stress, but I don't want to fall into the trap of letting this issue guide these big decisions. But I don't want to waste her potential baby-making time while I figure this out.) I do have anxiety problems and strong guilt issues and obsess over variations of these kinds of things in every single relationship I've ever had. I am rarely a calm, relaxedly-committed partner because I am always fearful that I cannot promise "forever" and it eats away at everything.

The thing is, after breaking off the engagement, I began to think that maybe I don't need to be 100% sure, and maybe I don't have to have an immediate answer. That maybe for once I can just try to relax and see where this relationship heads (while keeping the baby-making in mind to some degree). I do have an escape fantasy that involves an ancient ex-girlfriend (who remains a good friend--really, my only true friend--and who I have a unique bond with), which makes me feel even more guilty about any "stringing along" aspects, even though I objectively see that that would end badly and I try to keep those thoughts out of the mix as much as possible. I mention this just to be honest about the things going through my head doubt-wise. My girlfriend knows that I am a stress-machine, and that I obsess about things to an unhealthy degree, but I try to keep the most obsessive aspects of it to myself. I try to be as honest as possible in my life, but in this case, I feel like extreme honesty is crossing the line into cruelty and destruction for all involved, especially if all I need is a bit of time to relax and reassess.

My anxiety and perpetual guilt about destroying everyone's lives (thanks, abusive mom and dad) make it difficult for me to make fraught decisions in a mature way. So my question is: does it sound like I am right about considering being a little gentle with myself for once and giving myself some breathing room to see how things go now that the wedding-pressure is off, or am I deluding myself and really I need to make an immediate choice in order to be a good person in this situation?

(A few more elements which may be relevant: 1) We are planning to move to a slightly smaller, artsier city in the next year, and I still think that would be fun to try. Would it be wrong to do that if I am not 100% sure what is going to happen, or is it okay to go with the flow? 2) Our sex-life has taken a nose-dive, and we have not had sex for months, due only to my issues. I can't tell if it is because of the stress or if that waning of attraction -for whatever mysterious reason- is closely related to all these doubts. We're working on that, but I'd feel terrible about ruining a good relationship over the vagaries of sex and its often-changing attractions. 3) She is an incredibly strong person, and is willing to face the fact that this might not work, despite being deeply in love with me. She would be crushed, but would work to be okay, and would wish me well if I felt I had to leave. I just wish I could find a way to be more passionately fulfilled by this wonderful, smart, strong woman. Can I give this some time or is that obviously wrong?)

I am looking into therapists and finally want to wrestle with some of my problems head-on, but I am fearful of getting just one perspective from a future therapist, and would really appreciate some different views and ideas and experiences regarding these overwhelming things. It would really be appreciated.
posted by wombat stork to Human Relations (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
To me it sounds like a change-of-life-crisis. Engagements, broken engagements, babies. That's a lot in a few months and would add stress to any relationship.

But it instantly created so much stress for me (and therefore us) that we decided to call it off, but remain in a relationship and continue living together.

On this point, what's important to ascertain is if this stress was caused by the engagement itself, the prospect of getting married, or the usual stress and worst and best of people that come out when planning weddings. Realizing which of these or even other possibilities it is would be good to know, because it will provide you insight as to whether this is a general issue of some sort or something more specific to your feelings about your girlfriend.

Lots of people become lifelong partners without marriage --- straight and gay --- that maybe the marriage part isn't for you, even if the longterm marriage-relationship is.

And, most importantly, when you're not a huge ball of stress, are you generally pretty happy and pleased with your life?
posted by zizzle at 6:57 AM on February 18, 2011

You can give it some time. Your girlfriend knows you and knows what you're living with in regards to your anxieties, she loves you and is okay with that.

But. BUT. "Looking into therapists" is not enough. Your anxiety is seriously impacting your life and happiness and the life and happiness of those who love you and those you love. "Looking into" is a precursor to therapy, it's sending out feelers, it's the idea that something somewhere might help you in the future. You need help now. You, preferably, need help yesterday.

The idea of future help is a crutch. You're looking into it. It's there somewhere. And yet, you're already dismissing your future therapist, whom you haven't even found yet. Go. Get therapy. Find someone you like. Don't "look into it". Do it. Fear of "forever" is paralyzing, I get it, but nothing has to be forever. Marriage, therapy, even children eventually grow up. Enjoy the moment, if you love this woman, give it time and see how it goes while you get regular therapy.
posted by lydhre at 7:04 AM on February 18, 2011 [10 favorites]

Would it be wrong to do that if I am not 100% sure what is going to happen, or is it okay to go with the flow?

I think that's the crux of your question. You seem afraid of locking yourself into something if you can't guarantee the outcome. You're even afraid of talking to a therapist in case your therapist isn't any good.

Think of it this way: instead of having complete faith in the relationship lasting or the move being a good idea, you need to have complete faith in yourself bouncing back if things fail.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:13 AM on February 18, 2011 [10 favorites]

This whole relationship is gradually being adjusted, remixed, and revised to revolve entirely around your issues. I could see why you'd be loathe to give up a situation like that, even if you're not particularly emotionally or sexually fulfilled.

But eventually something will happen that causes the tide to turn -- she will need something from you, and her needs will have to (at least temporarily) take priority over your qualms. Will you be able to, in all fairness, be a good partner to someone at a time like that?

I know there is more to a good partnership than perfect emotional/sexual fulfillment, but it sounds like you're wary of providing those other kinds of support for fear that you'll be obligated to also love and desire this woman.

It's not always enough to love or be loved by someone. Timing, for example, is very important. You are not the person you are trying to promise to be. You keep pace, hoping to eventually catch up, but this kind of growing and maturing is best done on one's own, not in constant reaction to another person's needs. You owe it to yourself to learn how to cope with your anxiety problems independently of anyone or any relationship.
posted by hermitosis at 7:17 AM on February 18, 2011 [14 favorites]

Two things.

1. This is hard for some of us, but: stop results-relationshipping. By that I mean: a relationship is not "leading someone on" to more relationship. Your relationship is what it is today. No one knows where their relationship will lead, unless you have taken vows. (Ha, and we know how those go, but I mean conceptually.) We are allowed to live with, sleep with, date and romance people for the experience of doing so. There is no promissory note! You're finding out if you want to be married, on the one hand, yes! But also you're living a day to day existence and that's what the entire relationship IS: now, and how you treat each other.

2. Gonna be blunt here! You're not "working on" your sex life if you're not sexing each other. That's the manner in which you work on it. The course of treatment is that one of you has to get on top of the other.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:24 AM on February 18, 2011 [12 favorites]

I have suffered from similar obsessions in past relationships (worrying about not being able to promise 'forever', never being able to decide whether the relationship is 'right' or not) and have since been diagnosed with 'Pure O' OCD. I'm really not trying to diagnose you from across the Internets, but you could have a read of this and see if it rings any bells for you (probably the second half of the article is more relevant), and if so then maybe that could help to guide you when looking for potential therapists etc. I've done a lot of reading on this condition now and am finally getting a hold on it through a great therapist and low dose of SSRI, so PM me if you want to discuss further at all.

I've also found mindfulness meditation to be really helpful for being able to separate yourself a bit from the obsessive thoughts and stop them causing such an immediate emotional reaction, although it's not a quick fix and you really have to stick to a regular practice to get any kind of long term benefits.

Good luck, I've been there and it isn't fun, but it can also definitely get better with the right kind of help.
posted by amerrydance at 7:32 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you're trying to talk yourself into loving and wanting to commit to your girlfriend, and I would guess that at least part of the motivation may be the feeling of "If I can just be in a normal loving relationship than all of these personal issues/fears/anxieties will dissipate." If this is the case, then the more you press yourself to be in love, to be committed, or to be sexually attracted, the less any of those things will feel right. This doesn't rule out the possibility of love or commitment or good sex, but it does rule them out during the acute period of crisis, which it sounds like you're going through.

I would suggest taking some time off from your girlfriend, maybe even move out for a few months, so that you can get enough mental space from your relationship to take on personal issues without the severe complicating factor of the relationship. You know, divide and conquer, you can't fix everything at once. Then if things go well, return to her - and if you go this way tell her that what you're doing is trying to put yourself and the relationship on a sustainable footing, otherwise both are doomed to fail.

Naturally I may be totally wrong and of course YMMV. I usually feel really nervous about posting this sort of advice online as I neither know you nor am I therapist, but this situation sounds rather familiar to me, thus this comment. Good luck!
posted by tempythethird at 7:32 AM on February 18, 2011

Relationships are about being with someone you love, who supports you and whom you want to support. You have that. It sounds like you have something very good. The fact that your relationship improved after you canceled the wedding seems like a good sign to me. Yes, it's worth relaxing and giving your relationship a chance.

Sex is important in (most) relationships. Talk with your partner about your sex life and see if you can resurrect it.

Now, you both want to have a child... and a child is a commitment much like marriage and having one involves lots of uncertainty. So you need to be on firmer ground before that can happen. Both for the sake of your relationship and to prepare for your child, please be serious about seeking help. Don't let the move in your future delay this. Ask your friends or your doctor for therapist recommendations. If you can afford to pay for a few sessions out of pocket, interview at least 3 and pick the one you feel the most comfortable with.
posted by mvd at 7:37 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You wrote....
Is it automatically wrong to stay with someone if you have doubts regarding the ultimate strength of your compatibility and ability to stay together for the long-haul?

There is no such thing as a general answer to a relationship question. It is highly dependent on the situation.

She is an incredibly strong person, and is willing to face the fact that this might not work, despite being deeply in love with me.

Well, there you go then.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:38 AM on February 18, 2011

You should probably get therapy, all other things being equal, but I think your root problem here is simpler than the ones therapy solves. You just need to get over the idea that your feelings of doubt in and of themselves indicate a problem in the relationship.

I have a friend, she sometimes has problems eating. It happens when she's stressed. She's had periods of her life when she ate almost nothing and lost tonnes of weight. She has been helped a great deal by the realisation that her feelings of being hungry don't necessarily bear much relation to her need for food. For most people, they do. Not her. They have more to do with how she feels about herself. Now, she is better at making sure she pays attention to the amounts she eats, rather than how hungry she feels. It's a bit annoying, because hunger is a nice shortcut around keeping track of when you last ate and how much. But the shortcut doesn't work for her. The thermostat is broken. It is better to do things the laborious, inefficient way than to rely on faulty instruments.

Now, for most people, their feelings of doubt about a relationship give an indication of whether the relationship is working. They're a shortcut. From what you've said, I don't think they're working that way for you. They're a manifestation of general anxiety; the relationship part is just a hook. They respond to the wrong things (if the bother about being engaged was really about whether the relationship was good for you, they wouldn't have been diminished by your calling it off), and they seem to have more to do with your own wellbeing rather than the state of the relationship. So you need to start taking from them the information they do provide - like whether you need to be taking better care of yourself, slowing down and generally giving yourself a break - and not responding as if they gave you information about the state of the relationship. Doing that just encourages the anxiety to spiral, and you need to be regulating it down. You'll have to get information about the relationship yourself, by reflecting on the facts of the matter.

The good news is that the information you need to be getting is actually pretty minimal: basically, whether this person is actively making your life worse. Are they harming you, physically or emotionally? Do you dislike spending time with them? Then break up. The rest is up to you. Love is something people make. It feels different at different times. It means different things when you're twenty to when you're thirty-five to when you're eighty. Think of it as a project you're doing together. You won't do it perfectly, but you'll do the best you can until you can't any more. You have a broken thermostat. But what you need most isn't a thermostat, it's a spade. Or knitting needles. Pick your craftwork-related metaphor as it pleases you.
posted by Acheman at 7:40 AM on February 18, 2011 [17 favorites]

A lot of what you write sounds like it's a symptom of anxiety. I agree with lhydre that you should make addressing that your top priority.

And yes, you don't have to break up with her just because you're not ready to marry her. Just be very honest so she has the info to make her own decisions.
posted by salvia at 7:42 AM on February 18, 2011

My anxiety and perpetual guilt about destroying everyone's lives (thanks, abusive mom and dad) make it difficult for me to make fraught decisions in a mature way.

Your girlfriend is dating you, and loves you for a reason. She is not with you out of any sense of obligation or requirement. She has the power to stand up and walk away at any moment, and she has chosen not to do so. If only the rest of us could be so lucky! You are not wasting her time, and it's a huge testament to the strength of your relationship that she has stayed with you in spite of your anxiety attack and brutal honesty with her. Clearly, she sees a future, where the two of you are together.

If you're dating her while secretly harboring an express intention to dump her, then yes, you'd be wasting her time -- I'm pretty sure this is not the case here. It's insanity to feel guilty because you might want to leave the relationship at some nebulous and ambiguous point in the future. Relationships end all the time for all sorts of reasons -- your best bet is to enjoy what you have now, and work toward building a solid foundation for the future. If it fails, then so be it -- at least the time you had together was enjoyable!

Let's call this the Heisenberg Principle for Relationships. You can never be 100% sure of anything. However, for all intents and purposes, being 99.9% sure is perfectly adequate.

You might get married, live happily together for 30 years, and then suddenly be killed in a tragic blimp accident, leaving your lover alone and depressed for the rest of her life. There is a finite possibility that this might happen to you. However, it's nuts to break up with her because of it. You have absolutely no idea what the future holds, and you can only make decisions based upon what you know now.

(That all being said, if one of you is feeling deeply unsatisfied by the relationship, you do owe it to the other person to call it quits...unless there are kids involved, in which case the moral calculus becomes much more complex, and the discussion changes entirely.)
posted by schmod at 7:53 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Would it be wrong to do that if I am not 100% sure what is going to happen,

No honest, grown-up person is ever 100% sure of anything, because it's simple reality that there are no guarantees, especially when it comes to long-term future stuff. A certain amount of letting go of this need to know absolutely 100% that everything will work out is necessary.

I am fearful of getting just one perspective from a future therapist,

This is a symptom of your anxiety. I have had therapists who were able to give me more than one perspective. I have had therapists who gave me perspectives I didn't agree with or didn't find helpful, so I changed therapists. Choosing a therapist does not mean you are committed to that person for life. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

By not dealing with your abuse and anxiety issues head-on, you are still giving power to the people who abused you. You're letting them continue to live in your head. Maybe you can evict them all by yourself, but I assume you've been trying to do that for years now. Therapy can shortcut this process and give you the tools you need to start having your own life.
posted by rtha at 8:34 AM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]

Assume that you would just get one perspective from a future therapist. [NB: Unlikely.]

That perspective is still a perspective you do not currently have, and is therefore valuable.

One of the skills learned in therapy school is how to reflect what a person is saying, in ways that offer the client an opportunity to see how she sounds, the words she uses, the metaphors she constructs, the stories she tells. There are a number of ways to do this, but I know from my own experience as a client and as a counselor that one of the most fundamental benefits of therapy is the feedback from someone who's trained to hear the underlying themes.
posted by catlet at 9:31 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do have an escape fantasy that involves an ancient ex-girlfriend (who remains a good friend--really, my only true friend--and who I have a unique bond with), which makes me feel even more guilty about any "stringing along" aspects, even though I objectively see that that would end badly and I try to keep those thoughts out of the mix as much as possible.

Yeah, this is it. This is what's hanging you up. We all go through that romanticizing of an ex, and I'm not sure exactly what makes people snap out of it. Sometimes after a long time it goes away on its own. Sometimes you run into them again and realize that the person they are in reality in no way matches the construct you've taped together in your head of their good qualities, plus some qualities they've never had and will never have. Sometimes you meet someone who immediately obliterates those feelings. (But not usually, I think. These things take time)

Look, your ex is probably not good for you. There's a reason you broke up. You're forgetting a lot of stuff you need to remember. We all get just this one lifetime, and you already experienced some of it with your ex. Why not let it be? Just let it be as good as you imagine it, and don't revisit it in reality. Close it off, like your childhood, as a finished chapter.

Really getting over your ex is step one.
posted by Nixy at 9:33 AM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would not want to be in a relationship with you at this stage.

Hermitosis is very wise. Especially the part about how this all revolves around you and what happens when your partner needs support?

Hermitosis is also correct that these types of issues are best worked out alone.

You are not yet ready for partnership or commitment. Get out of this relationship and then give yourself time to relax and explore therapy.
posted by jbenben at 9:44 AM on February 18, 2011

We are planning to move to a slightly smaller, artsier city in the next year, and I still think that would be fun to try.

Moving is a lot of stress, pretty much always. Be careful.

I can be a stress monkey sometimes. I have to remind myself to relax, and I have to be careful to not overburden myself. I have to know when to give myself a break. I have to be very careful about my expectations about myself, and what I assume other's expectations of me are - because honestly, it's my assumptions of what they want and expect from me that causes much of the problem. Sounds like you have yourself sprinting on a hamster wheel and you don't know how to slow down or stop.

Go easy on yourself for a bit. Sometimes a person can get so attached to their stress that they don't know how to let go of it, and they create more stressful situations through their attitude (I'm not blaming, I'm just saying). Being mindful of how much pressure you are putting on yourself, on behalf of others or not, will help you gradually shift your mindset into a calmer, less blame-and-expectation oriented place.
posted by griselda at 10:07 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

A friend once told me a story about a long-married couple of his acquaintance. Every year on their anniversary, they would pull out the paperwork necessary to file for divorce, look at it, and discuss if they wanted to sign and submit it. Every year to that point, they had decided instead to continue their marriage, which they then celebrated by opening a celebratory bottle of wine.

My boyfriend and I have been living together for six years. We're moving across the country together, and saving for a house together. But we're not getting married, because neither of us finds a promise to stay together for the rest of our lives reassuring or satisfying. The promise that mattered to us was complete honesty (and you are right that doesn't mean sharing every passing doubt or insecurity).

The point of these stories is that not everyone craves a forever commitment in a relationship, and that's 100% perfectly ok, so long as it's ok with your partner (and it sounds like it is, for you. Yay. That's usually the worst issue to solve, so you're on the right track.).

In fact, for some of us, that sort of commitment is terrifying and anxiety-making, no matter how much you love someone in the moment. But that doesn't mean that you can't have a long-term, stable and loving relationship. (I mean, even having a kid together can be understood as an 18-year commitment to actively co-parent, not necessarily an "I will love you forever" sort of thing).

For me, what works is asking "What's plan B?" If I met someone new and shiny, what would we do? If we move to a new city together and break up, what would we do? If we had a child together and then drifted apart, what would we do? If our sex life never recovers, what would we do? Be concrete. How would you divide up furniture? How would you meet new friends? Could you co-parent from different houses in the same city? Would you consider an open relationship?

Once you realize that the answer to none of these questions is "have our lives ruined beyond all repair", it's much easier to move forward even if you're not forever committed.
posted by psycheslamp at 11:56 AM on February 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

She obviously loves you.

You obviously love her- this question contemplates breaking both your hearts for her own good, it sounds like to me. (Am I understanding correctly?)

If I were her, what I'd see as love would be if you focused your self-sacrificing energy towards making yourself healthy and happy through therapy and anything else it takes (the gym has worked for me, oddly enough).

You trying out therapy for the sake of our relationship even though therapy is new and scary for you? Swoon!

You unilaterally deciding to split us up instead of trying self-improvement first? Kind of exasperating.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:55 PM on February 18, 2011

Oh man, you sound so so much like me. I have wrestled with this question of "am I deluding myself and really I need to make an immediate choice in order to be a good person in this situation?" a ton and it has been this huge stressful guilty obsessive thing for me.

I am actually doing a lot better on this front, and what really helped was realizing that the way I was approaching things-- feeling like it was all on me, that I was being terrible by stringing along my partner and not making a decision, that if I did say yes and "promise forever" with some doubts and then eventually it didn't work out that I would be a horrible person -- was not just being excessively hard on myself, but also really kind of being patronizing to my partner. Rather than thinking, "I'm honest with him about how I'm feeling so I will trust him to make his own decisions and look out for his own emotional wellbeing," I wallowed in guilt about how horrible I was for wasting his time by taking so long to make a decision, but then terribly fearful of committing to marriage without being able to feel confident I wouldn't ever leave him and break his heart-- so it didn't matter that he said he wanted to marry me, I wouldn't let him marry me for his own good!

So I've tried to change that approach, both by fighting off the guilt (a mantra that helps me with this is "Hurting someone who loves me doesn't make me a bad person"-- if I'm honest with him about the possibilities of him getting hurt, and he chooses to take that risk, then it doesn't make me a bad person for letting him) but especially by having more open and honest and direct conversations with my partner, talking about my doubts, listening to his feelings and thoughts, and then trying to trust him with his own choices about his life. I know he knows how I'm feeling, my doubts and concerns, that he's heard me say "I don't feel totally sure about getting married, I think I'm becoming more sure but I also doubt I'm ever going to be as confident as many other people are when they get married"-- and he's said that he understands, that the uncertainty is okay with him and if we get divorced that's okay but he still wants to give it a shot, and that although he's not willing to wait forever for me to decide, he's willing to keep waiting for now-- and I just need to keep reminding myself to respect his choices and his ability to look out for himself.

I am still not quite ready to commit to marriage but I think I'm getting a lot closer, and I know I am a lot less stressed about it... because now I'm mostly just focusing on deciding if getting married is what I want, rather than it being this giant moral question about whether it's "the right decision" or whether if we get divorced I will feel guilty forever for having made the wrong choice and wasted his time and broken his heart. It's his time and his heart, so I need to let myself see it as his choice and his responsibility. I need to treat him like an adult, rather than watch over him like a child who has decisions made on his behalf for "his own good." And I'm doing a much better job at figuring out what the right decision is for me, what I want, when I'm less distracted by these other questions. (And I also think that moving away from the kinda-patronizing way of thinking about him has improved our relationship too.)

So yeah. I would really recommend that (if you haven't already, which it sounds like you mostly have) you just be as open as possible with your partner about how you're feeling, including all the doubts (you don't need to go into excessive detail about the ex-girlfriend, it's up to you to figure out how much you need to share to feel like you're being fair to her about where you're at emotionally)-- and listen to what she says-- and if she says "Yes, take some time to figure this out, I will let you know if it's taking too long but for now it's worth it to me for the chance of us ending up married" (or, eventually, "Yes, I'm okay with getting married even though you're feeling unsure and can't promise me forever, I love you and I want to try even though it may end someday") then respect her choices and let her look out for herself, and try to let go of that sense of responsibility and fear of doing the wrong thing and hurting her. You love her and you want the best for her, but your job is not to make decisions for her. Your job is to be honest with her about the risks and let her make what she thinks are the best decisions for herself-- and to let go of the excess stress and angst so that you can make what you think are the best decisions for yourself.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 5:16 PM on February 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

Thank you all so much. You've given me some really helpful ideas here. I agree with those who strongly encouraged therapy, and I set up some appointments with a couple of people. I think my first step needs to be getting a handle on my anxiety. I realize I have to try all avenues open to me, and therapy is the big one. I also made an appointment with my doctor to talk about the anxiety to see if some medication might ease the panic and help me short-term at least. Finally, I don't think leaving and being on my own is quite the right step here, only because leaving is what I usually do and it feels like a comforting though...but I don't think it's the right step right now. Being thrown into total despair at this point would not encourage me to get help. My girlfriend is extremely supportive of this therapist plan, and I feel optimistic about it helping. If I feel like it would be helpful for me to move out for awhile and work on things myself, I am open to that, but I think it's worth seeing if I can improve things without throwing everything into even bigger chaos for both of us, and making simple daily survival into an uphill battle. But if it seems like that is the only way to make real progress, I will do that regardless of the difficulty, and we've roughly sketched some possible plans for that just in case. Basically, this thread made me realize that my anxiety is really off-the-charts in many ways, and absolutely dominates my life. That actually gives me hope for seeking help, and trying to find a way forward with my girlfriend. I am going to give it my best, and then see what happens. Thanks for all your thoughts.
posted by wombat stork at 12:38 PM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've actively found a couple of therapists, and have an appointment with a psychiatrist. I have a few questions related to this in another thread. I would appreciate it if anyone had any input, considering these issues. Many thanks, folks. You've sincerely been life-savers.
posted by wombat stork at 7:46 AM on February 26, 2011

Sorry, this is the link.
posted by wombat stork at 7:47 AM on February 26, 2011

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