Help me be less insecure
June 23, 2012 9:35 PM   Subscribe

Insecure as hell. Hope me

I'm in a fairly new long-term relationship with a guy nine years younger than me. He's gorgeous, brilliant, sexually dominant, an entrepreneur and scientist, loving and wonderful -- basically perfect. Also, he's just a fantastic person. He loves to build community, I love his friends, and I love his amazing family.

I'm also insecure as hell because I know he can do a lot better than me. I'm older, I struggle with depression and anxiety, I'm not close with my parents (history of abuse), and I could be in much better shape. I'm getting my PhD; he's already got one, and in a more interesting field. I'm starting a company; his has already gotten funding.

He has low self-esteem because he has really severe ADD and grew up with learning disabilities and is a bit overweight -- but OMG, he's so amazing. I'm afraid he's going to figure this out and dump me.

I think this insecurity actually makes me *less* fun to be around, because I'm afraid to be myself around him. I get really insecure sometimes. I get on his case when he's inconsiderate and sometimes overreact.

He says he wants to marry me; he's been in love with me since a week after we met; he wants to have children with me. Over the past couple of months he has gotten what he calls "baby fever" and thinks a lot about getting married and having children with me. (I've always been ambivalent on the issue of children, only wanting them if I met the right partner, etc.)

I want this to work so incredibly badly. I am as sweet and fun to be around as I can be. His friends really like me and tell him not to "screw it up". I cuddle and hug and am affectionate. I'm conscious of trying to add value to his life, every day, and in every way I can.

Problems we have: We're not as emotionally intimate as I'd like -- our conversations seem to fall flat a lot of the time. His ADD can be very challenging -- he gets distracted really easily and talks over people and has a lot of social anxiety. Our communication is not as good as I'd like and we don't seem to be able to negotiate as well with each other as we each can with others.


- How do I think about this so that I don't get these ridiculous panic attacks at the thought of losing him?

- How can I be myself more around him and not so afraid that I'll lose him?

- How can I communicate better with him and build emotional intimacy?

- How can I make plans that will build emotional intimacy between us?

Talk me down from the ledge, Mefites!
posted by 3491again to Human Relations (33 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
How long is "fairly new?"
posted by Miko at 9:43 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

This sounds like something that can't be figured out via a glib AskMe answer. I think you need to find a way to unravel this self-critical thinking (I don't like to reference past questions, but your history of Ask is chock-full of questions just like this one), and I think that one-on-one with a professional who is well-versed in techniques to do this would be your best bet.
posted by xingcat at 9:44 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I was about to write something similar to xingcat.

It doesn't sound like he's OMGSOAMAZING and you're not. It sounds like you guys are equally matched and he REALLY likes you.

I hope you can start to recognise some of the self-critical thought patterns you've demonstrated here in this post so you can work on changing the station in your head off of KFUCK'ed radio. He LIKES you. He wants to MARRY you. He wants to have KIDS with you. Trust what he's telling you.

And if he loves you, then there's nothing to be lost in being yourself. Talk to him about this - tell him you feel intimidated by him, and want to figure out how you can both relax and enjoy this relationship. I'm sure he feels your insecurity and hesitation.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:50 PM on June 23, 2012 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Miko - about seven months. And yes I'm in therapy. I'll probably always be in therapy.
posted by 3491again at 9:51 PM on June 23, 2012

I could be in much better shape. a bit overweight -- but OMG, he's so amazing.

Don't you realize that he could be thinking the same thing about you? That despite what you perceive as your shortcomings, he could be thinking "OMG, she's so amazing!" too?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:01 PM on June 23, 2012 [14 favorites]

eh, give it time, bring it up in therapy. He's definitely not perfect, so don't put him on a pedestal. Pay attention to those little whisperings you hear about the communication issues and ADD - those can be real relationship issues, and every bit as challenging for a partner as your issues might be for him. I don't think AskMe can solve it - stay with it, don't ask too much of yourself, be sure you're getting what you need, and keep talking about it in therapy.

As far as panic attacks over losing him - don't fear what your life would be without someone else. No one else is in the position of making or breaking your life. It works out or it doesn't; if it doesn't, it's for good reason as that spares you a lot of misery trying to make something work that won't. Never forget to ask yourself if you're getting enough out of this relationship, if you're getting what you need and want. Don't ever, ever be afraid to lose anyone. You will be all right, no matter what happens.

As to the emotional intimacy, well, if you're doing all the usual relationship things and having good conversations and sharing important moments as they come, you don't have to do anything specific to "build" it. Give it time, don't rush things. But I really wonder what you mean when you say your conversations "fall flat." If you don't have that much in common, that's important to note. If he isn't the same kind of gushy chit-chatter you are, that may just be how it is. And that doesn't even mean you're not emotionally intimate, it just means maybe his verbal expression isn't as central to his life as yours. Anyway, you seem to be saying you require verbal displays of feeling, and that's important to note. Are you getting enough of it? If not, it's not your fault and not necessarily your responsibility to "build." If he's not giving you something you need it's OK to acknowledge it and say so.

It could be that you've been so undemanding in this relationship so far, because of your perception of this imbalance, that you haven't revealed enough of yourself to actually achieve intimacy in the first place. How can he respond if he doesn't know who you are and what you need?
posted by Miko at 10:02 PM on June 23, 2012 [17 favorites]

If you are both serious about making it work, then you should do couples therapy. It's amazing for learning the best way to communicate with each other. I don't mean that it will make you both perfect but it will really help you both be perfect for each other. It's not embarrassing or weird. You truly learn a lot about one another and you get some real strategies for when communication just breaks down and you aren't sure where to proceed.

It sounds like you are up late thinking of all the ways you can mess this up, and that's not a great thing to do! You are a successful person, and you should be proud of yourself. I always joke that if my husband married me, I must be a genius because he's the most misanthropic human ever and hates stupid people. :) Accept that he loves you and wants to mix your genes with his to spawn! That's a pretty good sign that he thinks you're swell.
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:03 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Chiming in with the others - you sound pretty equally matched. You've outlined his faults but act like he's perfect, but you seem to be doing just fine on your own.

I heard the best relationships are the ones where each person feels like they're the lucky one in the relationship. You both sound pretty lucky.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 10:17 PM on June 23, 2012

Also....I know it's hard, but try not to worry about "losing" him - try to focus on enjoying the time you have together. He might break it off tomorrow or you might be together for fifty years, but won't it be nicer that, if it does end, you have enjoyable memories of good times instead of just several months of anxiety?
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 10:19 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm afraid he's going to figure this out and dump me.

In one small part of the universe, I've never seen a question asking about doing this, and I've never seen anybody provide it as an explanation or answer. "Well, he's just finding people who are better than you, that's just the way it goes. Sorry, but you'll get over it. It sucks, but it happens to everyone sooner or later." This basically never happens.
posted by rhizome at 10:23 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have something for yourself, that isn't about him or with him or because of him? Like an interest or a hobby or a charity or a project, all for your own enjoyment? You say that you're just starting your own company (congrats and best of luck!), but is there something that's less stressful and more easily enjoyable that you like to do, that you're proud of? Find something to be passionate about that is just special for you. Then you'll have something to feel proud of that is entirely your doing, and something you can talk about that you can feel confidently "yourself" while explaining it. Instead of worrying about how lacking your life is in comparison to his, fill your own up! When he shows curiosity and interest in it, you can make it part of your relationship together, or if he never shows interest, you can rely on it to make you momentarily happy regardless of whatever his problems may be at the time.

In your question, the way that you write about yourself, it sounds like you're just running yourself ragged trying to be the best girlfriend you can possibly possibly ever ever be. Try shifting that focus - try being the best friend to yourself you can be. You respond to him when he's focused and passionate and involved with the world, so it follows that he would respond in kind to you.

And yes, considering your family history and his esteem issues and all of that messy stuff, couple's therapy sounds like a really good idea too, especially if you're going to start adding to your own family. That sort of stuff crops up and it's important that you're sort of armed and prepared to deal with the long-term fallout. Therapy is really good for that.
posted by Mizu at 10:27 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Please be careful of getting closer to him and still not finding what you want. You sound like you would try to blame yourself - but sometimes someone is like a blazing star and then you get really close and... nothing. Some people have no real depth or aren't ready to share it or just cannot. You sound like a very intelligent person. You could be nervous and repeatedly telling yourself that everyone else says things are great so they must be because you are starting to understand that he isn't good for you. I hope I am wrong but you should be ready if not and know its not at all your fault, and there are many more people out there who could be great for you.
posted by meepmeow at 11:11 PM on June 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

A lot of this is your depression & anxiety talking, which I'm sure you realize. Since you've already mentioned therapy, I'm going to assume this is an active topic with your therapist.

How do I think about this so that I don't get these ridiculous panic attacks at the thought of losing him? According to your description, he is brilliant, loving, scientific, and someone who values family, friends, & community. Trust that he is smart enough to know what is best for him and that he sees you for who you really are, which is probably just as wonderful as how you have described him. If you really believe he is as intelligent & perceptive as you've described him than he is well aware of who you are & clearly digs you.

How can I be myself more around him and not so afraid that I'll lose him? The fear will fade with time. Not to be cliche or glib, but just be yourself. Easier said than done, I know, but if you find yourself squashing an important impulse, silencing your own voice, or deferring to him when you have a different preference or perceptive, take a beat & go with your initial thought/feeling. This, of course, is different than the times we need to exercise self-control and put our needs aside for someone else, but that should be the exception not the rule. Your needs should be equally met and your thoughts & feelings should be valued equally, as well.

How can I communicate better with him and build emotional intimacy? Someone upthread mentioned couples counseling & I think that's an excellent suggestion. When it comes to daily living though, this is going to take a leap of faith. Be honest. As difficult and scary as it maybe, communicate your fears and worries. For all you know, he has similar things going on but is afraid to pull back the curtain because it might scare *you* off. This takes time, practice, and bravery, but it will pay off big time. Also, it sounds like this might be a weakness of his. So, he has some stuff to work on, too, and part of this may just be his personality. You clearly adore him, but you need to realize that if something is falling "flat," it's probably not a reflection on you, and could actually reflects one of his flaws. As I'm sure you know, part of loving someone is recognizing his imperfections and embracing those as much as his awesome parts.

How can I make plans that will build emotional intimacy between us?
Aside from specially designed couples exercises or just living life, I don't think there are specific plans that build intimacy. If you are living and sharing your life with him authentically, emotional intimacy will grow. Also, remember, this isn't all on you. You are in a partnership and he needs to take partial ownership of this relationship. The best, and I would argue the only, way for the both of you to do this successfully is to be genuine and honest with each other. Talking is key. Also, if you can silence those undermining voices in your head, knowing when to just be with each other and enjoy the moment will build a different type of intimacy.

It sounds like you both have an amazing relationship, and you need to realize that yes, this can happen to you & someone can reciprocate your feelings, eyes wide open and seeing you for exactly who you are. Logically speaking, you have received extremely positive responses from him, his family, & friends. All those people can't be wrong. Our insecurities, on the other hand are liars, albeit very convincing ones, whose persistent whispers can overshadow all the good stuff. Do your best not to let this happen. All evidence suggest you have something wonderful. Practice giving that more weight than all those negative thoughts which do not add anything and simply detract from life. When those thoughts start to tug at you, take a breath & ask yourself, "Is this enhancing my life in any way or just making things more difficult?" If it's making it more difficult, switch your focus to something that you enjoy for a few minutes. It can be something as simple as a song or a picture. Keep that with you longer than the negative crap and you'll get better at letting the unhelpful, negative stuff go. Good luck & congratulations on finding someone & something so fabulous. Enjoy!
posted by katemcd at 11:14 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Whoah, hold up! You don't even know each other very well. What do you want? Do you love him? Are you happy around him? Does he support you when you're down? Has he demonstrated at all that he's trying equally hard to add value to your life? You deserve that just as much as he does.

But.. He's so perfect and amazing that you feel insecure and bad about yourself? That doesn't sound fun. (And are you good with the "sexually dominant" or have you just accepted this behavior since everything he does is part of his overall amazing perfectness?) I'd say listen to your intuition because it's telling you to be cautious here. He should make you feel valued and appreciated for who you are, not like you have to constantly work overtime to be good enough for him and fit into whatever expectations you perceive he might have. Maybe you guys are a great match but it seems like it would take quite a lot more time and patience to tell.

I mean, go back and reread your own question. This relationship is making you feel terrible and have panic attacks! Why is that, really? Is he emotionally distant and frequently putting out subtle signs of disapproval that constantly have you working harder to be what he wants? I don't know, if I met a guy who had all these great qualities on paper and shitloads of money and was handsome too, but we lacked a real emotional connection.. and he said within a week that he loved me and then started talking "baby fever" soon after that.. I would run like hell
posted by citron at 11:14 PM on June 23, 2012 [9 favorites]

Adding to my post because that last sentence was way more harsh than I meant it to be. I'm just concerned because stifling so much of who you are and feeling like you're not enough has to be exhausting in a relationship. I wonder why this is happening and why you make it sound so much like you're not equals, when you are, and you deserve to be treated as one.
posted by citron at 11:24 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm afraid he's going to figure this out and dump me.

The only time I have EVER experienced this was when I realized that dating a guy twenty years older than me, who was significantly less attractive than me but put a lot of emphasis on physical attraction, who didn't answer my phone calls for weeks at a time, &c. &c. was maybe not quite in my league. We were actually extremely emotionally intimate but with time I realized that our lifestyles weren't lining up at all. So even then, it wasn't about finding someone objectively "better," it was about finding a better fit with my goals/interests. Usually when something like this happens, it's about a life change or a repressed need or emotional confusion, not just finding someone "better." He really likes you-- give him a chance to!
posted by stoneandstar at 11:49 PM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Hi! My husband is 9 years younger than me, incredulously (to me) in love with me, gorgeous and amazing. I know where you are coming from here!!

- Clearly this is your Life Partner, and it is out of your control, and beyond your ability to comprehend. Go with it.

- Start a tradition of working on your issues together. Mr. jbenben and I had it SO EASY before our son was born last year that we got a bit blind-sided. We've worked through it because our new business venture is very successful right now, but honestly? I wish we had taken parenting classes or sought other professional help 6 months ago, because man! Children change things. We're good, but it was harder than it needed to be.

- I divorced my first husband because I realized I did not want to have children with him. Your guy wants children with you. I wanted children with Mr. jbenben. There is no other "endorsement" you need or require - accept and feel blessed. Feel blessed. You are blessed!


My husband and I knew each other for two months, dated for two week, and were then married. It's been 4 years now, we have a GREAT SON we both adore. We have a thriving new business together.

If you have you enough life experience and there are no red flags you perceive about him - proceed. Don't let your shitty upbringing get in the way. I didn't. And I am forever grateful I embraced Good Fortune when it appeared in my life.


UPON PREVIEW -- I was not, and am still, not worried about what will happen to my life if my marriage does not work out. You seem to be in a different head-space. My advice may not apply to you. Develop some equanimity - this is key to moving forward comfortably.

Meditation may help with this more than therapy. Likely you have a great thing here, but you MUST realize you'll be fine, regardless. It can't work out unless you have that level of personal equilibrium. Work on attaining this by realizing you are fine now, and safe no matter what happens. Because this is TRUE.
posted by jbenben at 11:52 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, it's normal to not quite be "yourself" to the fullest extent when you're still at less than a year (people with insecurity issues usually take longer than usual, but it sounds like you both might be wrestling with this, so the pacing isn't too unmatched). Just keep expressing yourself at a rate you find comfortable. You both sound really enthusiastic, which is a good sign.

I realized that I wanted to comment on this question because my boyfriend and I started out much the same way-- both kind of insecure but really, really happy right off the bat. It was because we both realized we had found someone who both understood our struggles but also made us feel like being a better person (instead of wallowing). Sometimes this just happens! Feeling confident in yourself can only help, because you'll be the "best" version of yourself, and inspire him to be, too. Also, it's a blessing to find someone who isn't afraid of commitment, but if he's moving too fast for you it's totally okay to express your adoration of him but let him know that you need more time to work things out.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:54 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your value judgments on yourself in your post really make my head spin!

I am older = I am not as good as he is
I could be in better shape = somehow worse than him even though he too is overweight
I am not close to my parents = as if this is your fault or something that reflects on how good a person you are?!

I'm getting my PhD, he already has it: you know, once you get up to the highest possible rung of education.... does it really makes sense to still find something to hate on yourself about? Do you really think what year you got your PhD in makes you "worse" than him? Do you think that people who only get bachelor's degrees or master's degrees (or god forbid, no college degree) don't "deserve" to date people with a higher degree or more letters after their name? And whether the field is interesting or not is completely in the eye of the beholder, I think it's very telling that you've decided that the field you are dedicating yourself to studying for many years is "not as interesting."

I'm starting a company, his has already gotten funding: hm, what if your company was funded tomorrow? Does that suddenly make you good enough to date him, even though it has nothing to do with how well run the company is or how good the product you're selling is? Do people who date each other have to have exactly equivalent net worths and own companies of precisely the same age and size? I'm just not following your train of thought here - it sounds like scraping the bottom of the barrel for excuses.

All of the above is meaningless. The point about your conversations falling flat is a huge red flag. Forget the value judgments and think a LOT more about that.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:57 PM on June 23, 2012 [14 favorites]

Sounds like you're putting him on a pedestal he may not deserve to be on - if you say the conversation falls flat a lot of the time, is this a relationship that's going to be fulfilling for YOU in the long run?

From here, it sounds like you're so worried about whether he'll like you that you haven't fully hashed out whether you really like him, if that's the case.
posted by namesarehard at 2:20 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I didn't read all the other answers, but it sounds like your problem is more in your head than in any actual mismatch. Like, he could have written a parallel askme, saying

"My partner is so gorgeous and brilliant, she's a phD student and starting a business, I knew from the first week that I was in love with her, I've told her I want to have a family with her, but she seems a little hesitant. I wonder if she is hesitant because we are mismatched -- I do have a phD and my own business, but I have ADHD, am a little pudgy, with learning disabilities and low self-esteem. Sometimes she gets really cold; sometimes I do something dumb and she gets really angry with me. Is she going to dump me? Please tell me how I can keep the love of this amazing woman."

Anyway, my point is, it doesn't sound like your problem is in the external world -- it sounds like your problem is the thing you're creating in your mind. SO, the answer would be to use your mind and emotions in other ways. You say you're in therapy. Do you get some nice, rhythmic exercise? It can do wonders for anxiety. Do you eat well and take vitamins? How about meditation? An MBSR class could be really great. Or try lovingkindness meditation, which the Buddha supposedly invented to neutralize fear (and which usually makes me feel like I'm on a pink cloud).
posted by feets at 4:19 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel like my standard answer to 'how can I feel better about myself?' is 'volunteer!'

Sunday afternoon at the soup kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, literacy training, girl scouts, outreach related to your phd. Something that gets you out into the world, out of your usual routine and mileu. Something that gives you a sense of accomplishment! Something that takes your mind off of how much better off someone (or everyone, in some cases) is than you.

That, and therapy. Bring up the topic with your therapist whether it's comfortqble or not. And then also explore why it was hard to address in therapy if it was. Because that might be really telling.
posted by bilabial at 4:40 AM on June 24, 2012

What does it mean that "conversations fall flat?" When You are excited about something, does he not share your excitement? Do you take away from this that what you want to talk about is somehow lesser? If you want to be more emotionally intimate, the next time this happens, explore with him why the conversation didn't seem to happen. Tell him how that makes you feel.

Similarly, don't take your "panic" about losing him as some sort of deep insight about your relationship, but as a feeling. How pervasive is it? Have you ever had this feeling of panic before? What were the circumstances? Become curious about it. You objectify his inattention but you take your own symptoms as appropriate.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:49 AM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

Secrets are what destroy relationships. Tell him you feel this way sometimes. Don't make a huge production about it, but work it out together. If you get married and have children it will be the first of many challenges you two solve together.
posted by milarepa at 5:36 AM on June 24, 2012

Best answer: Some impressions:

"He says he wants to marry me; he's been in love with me since a week after we met; he wants to have children with me." You're nervous because he seems to idealize you rather than really know you, and you are afraid of being "found out" (of course you are idealizing him up the wazoo as well - "basically perfect".)

and then: "I get on his case when he's inconsiderate and sometimes overreact." How inconsiderate is he? You're overreacting (if you are) because you're holding your (anxious) feelings in most of the time and then, when he gives you actual "reasons," you explode.

The "inconsiderate" seems to be part of this picture: "he gets distracted really easily and talks over people..." You give him a pass on this because of "social anxiety" and "ADD," and you think that those "diagnoses" (i.e., his) are higher status than your "diagnoses" ("depression" and "anxiety") (just as his relative youth is higher status than your relative lack of youth) (and his "funding" vs. your "lack of funding", his completed Ph.D. vs., his nice family vs. -- etc. etc.)

My impression is that there is a kind of superficiality about him, a skimming the surface sort of quality, that may be subtle, and actually invisible to most others, but when you (try to) get close, it becomes apparent, and it is scary -- because you are desperate to merge with him, because that is the way you have decided you can leave your own perceived/felt yuckiness behind forever and live The Good Life and (finally) feel that maybe you're not so bad after all (this is the Trophy Partner syndrome, of course).

My gut reaction is that you both have built your individual personality-edifices on shaky foundations and you are right to feel insecure that the recently constructed joining of these structures is bound to be shaky and may collapse. The conversations that "fall flat" are scary because they reveal that very superficiality. The conversations have to fall flat, because you are both afraid of being really "known" (because being known = being Found Out). It would be very, um, edifying, to hear more about these conversations and at what point they fall flat.

In your post, you emphasize the external: the jobs, the degrees, the popularity, even the "community building" (as opposed to friendships and other more intimate forms of relating to others). Even the "sexually dominant" (as opposed to: Mutuality).

But this: both of you "could be in better shape" and "a bit overweight" -- horrible signs that your "insides" may reveal the yuck (= inadequacies, and, dare we say Rage that may lurk behind all the pushing, striving, to be Perfect Scientists, Students, Entrepreneurs (that are, of course FUNDED (i.e., the world recognizes and values what you think, what you put out there, what you secrete) (as opposed to your secrets).

So -- you are both, to a certain extent, hiding, but he's better at it than you are. You have the hideous, terrifying burden of Blossoming Self-Awareness. You've come this far and you can't go back to the Garden, so you're panicking and you want help and fast!

What should you do? unfortunately, there is no easy answer. There's just continuing to explore (7 months is a very short time, despite the occasional testimonial to the contrary).

The best exploration is poking and prodding the boyfriend (nicely) to see what happens -- at the time the conversation is about to fall apart, at the time he is inconsiderate, etc., you stop and TALK about what's going on, and you see if he is able and willing to DISCUSS what is going on. In other words, you don't settle for the superficial, but go down in there and see what is inside of him. You see if he, finally, underneath all the perfection and community-building and funding, can relate to one other person (you) in a Real way. You will also see if he is willing to work on this, or if that's too scary for him. You'll see if this relationship is ultimately a one-way street or really does have the promise of mutuality.

Good Luck. As others have said, if it doesn't work out, you are a real, whole person and will find a suitable partner whom you trust is really there for you.

posted by DMelanogaster at 7:28 AM on June 24, 2012 [7 favorites]

Being able to talk with him in a way that builds emotional intimacy is the other side of the coin of taking him down from that pedestal.

From here, you're both equally great and flawed human beings. You're both doing the PhD thing and business thing, you both have mental health issues, you could both stand to lose some weight. Youth is not something that makes anyone better than anyone else, and nine years is not that much. I don't get the sense that he can do better than you. More importantly, that's not how real, adult relationships work. People aren't constantly looking to for some kind of third-party's-view-based upgrade, to see if they can "do better." They're looking for someone they love, and that's it.

In order to be able to do what you're asking here, you need to admit to yourself that he has some red flags as a relationship partner. You need to be questioning whether you want to be in this relationship, whether he's someone who makes you happy to be with. When people are trying to justify themselves based only on whether their partner wants them, they freak out and lose perspective, as you are doing and complaining of here.

He clearly has red flags. He talks over people. He told you he loved you a week in (too soon), and now he's telling you he has baby fever seven months in. You've posted several relationship questions, many of which share the same theme as this one: you don't feel secure in your relationship with this guy. Apparently you also posted anonymous ones which "led to a chorus of DTMFA," and while I don't know which questions those were, I feel safe in saying there were some big problems which caused that mass reaction. He never filters himself and he ignores your feelings. He doesn't compromise, even on issues that are fundamental to you.

The most important thing in a relationship is how you and your partner interact. There are lots of highly intelligent and successful men out there who are sexually dominant, and if you need to find another one, you will. I'm not saying you do need to find another one -- this question, like your others, is actually very vague about what's going on in your relationship, which makes it difficult to judge. But you definitely appear to be judging it based on the wrong things, namely, those pedestal characteristics of his success and sex appeal. He's just a guy. The important thing is that he needs to make you feel like this is a mutual endeavor that he's committed to -- because if he is not, I promise, this is not a relationship you want to be in.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:27 AM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

There's a ton of stuff that other people have addressed but here's the part that I have personal experience with: is he on medication for ADD? I feel much more secure when my husband takes his medication. He's better able to focus when we talk so I feel heard, he's not as impulsive with his words so we are much less likely to argue, etc. If he's never been on medication, it is like night and day.
posted by desjardins at 9:22 AM on June 24, 2012

It is hard for me, over the course of your other questions, to feel very gung-ho about this relationship. It seems somewhat fraught with pressure and insecurity and I don't know, I'm not telling you to just give up but I am afraid there's a certain amount "forcing it" going on. I'm also kind of wondering about the efficacy of your therapist.

Anyway, here are my responses to your questions; I am a person with anxiety in a LTR person I think is so frackin amazing so, indeed, i can relate to some of your feelings:

- How do I think about this so that I don't get these ridiculous panic attacks at the thought of losing him?

I remind myself that I was while having him in my life makes my life better, my life was okay before I met him, and it'll be that way again. Maybe even better than okay. My boyfriend is my partner and we bring equal awesome to the table. I believe my boyfriend when he says he's into me; do you believe yours? Is there something about his effusiveness and rapid ascent to "baby making' that seems inauthentic to you?

- How can I be myself more around him and not so afraid that I'll lose him?

This, I think, takes time; after a few months, the "new" feeling wears off enough that you don't feel a constant need to show your best side. And perhaps the partner is key too. I am more easily and more quickly comfortable just being myself with my current boyfriend than with previous partners, and I think part of it is that his personality makes me feel secure. Does your boyfriend do things that make you feel like he'll "wake up and smell the roses" about you, or is this just your insecurity talking?

- How can I communicate better with him and build emotional intimacy?

This may be a better question to ask him. What does he need from you to be able to make that kind of connection? What exactly is lacking? Or, alternatively, it may be that he just isn't the type of emotional partner you need or want him to be. My boyfriend and I have different communication styles but we compromise - for example, he is not as talkative as I am, so I try to make sure that conversations don't become one-sided while he makes sure that I know that even if he isn't saying much, he's still engaged.

- How can I make plans that will build emotional intimacy between us?
Again, this is a better question for him. My boyfriend and I have a lot of interests in common, so we indulge them. We also make a point of trying new things together. But it's also time. Intimacy isn't built in a day, or a month, or even in a year. It's a process of growing together.

Let me ask you; does he think your relationship has these problems that you do?
posted by sm1tten at 11:33 AM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Woah, from basically perfect to he gets distracted really easily and talks over people and has a lot of social anxiety all in one question! I think you need to think very hard about who he actually is vs. what your fantasy of him is.

- How can I make plans that will build emotional intimacy between us?
First you need to tell him that you're concerned about the level of emotional intimacy in your relationship.
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:43 PM on June 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you everyone, for giving me so much to think about. I feel really unsure in relationships (And sm1tten, I have some doubts about my therapist too. I'll probably ask about that in another askme.)

To respond to a few points:

sm1tten, if he doesn't have the same concerns about emotional intimacy, what does that mean?

OsoMeaty, how do you approach the question of emotional intimacy? Do you just say, uh, I feel like we don't have enough emotional intimacy? How would he respond to that? Is there a more positive way to put that?
posted by 3491again at 6:45 PM on June 24, 2012

Brené Brown has written two books and done an amazing couple TED Talks that I have found helpful in my similar circumstances and strongly recommend. Her work has been as helpful to me as 15 years of really good therapy.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 7:31 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

3491again - check your MeMail, I sent my response there.
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:40 PM on June 25, 2012

I don't think it's necessarily a death knell if he doesn't have your concerns about emotional intimacy, because he may also simply not have your needs and he may be fulfilled in a way that you aren't. But... if he's blithely thinking that everything is hunky-dory in the relationship that's an issue to be addressed. All communication is not verbal and I'd be surprised if he didn't know if you were unsatisfied with some aspects of his personality, etc.

Of course, verbal, direct communication about your needs is ideal and best. Have you tried that?
posted by sm1tten at 7:39 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

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