Why am I doubting my relationship all of a sudden?
April 9, 2013 8:37 AM   Subscribe

I have been dating my boyfriend for 10 months. At 9 months he finally said he loved me, but I don't know if I really feel the love from him. Out of nowhere I'm having strong doubts. What should I do about them? Is this normal?

I'm 21, he's 25 and things have been kind of questionable from his side the whole time we have been dating. He was the guy I posted about who told me to go home once when we initially started dating. He doesn't act like that anymore, things have changed considerably, but some things remain about the same.

It took 4 months before he started to want to see me more, and I didn't know if it was truly a viable relationship with how he was acting. He did change some, invited me over, we started to have a lot more fun together. Yet he didn't always contact me much besides two or three texts or a late phone call every now and then.

In fact, once we reached the 6 month mark and beyond up until the 9 month love confession, I couldn't tell if he was in love. My thought process went like this "I love him, does he love me? Are we in love with each other?" I didn't know if I felt it from him.

He told me on Valentine's Day, which was sweet but I was upset he wasn't compelled to tell me a couple months before. He then seemed to treat saying "I love you" like something you say and then get over with. He wasn't saying it when we left each other, after we slept together, just not much at all. The day after he said it I said I loved him in a text and he said "lubb you." Now we can be silly, but it just didn't seem right.

He does show his love in other ways; practical ways. Getting me something useful around the house, cleaning things for me, cooking for me, giving me gas money if he worries I might not have enough. He's like that because of caring for his mother and sister, I'm quite sure. There is no father figure in his family.

I do remember one night when we left his sister's and he said goodnight, and that he loved her... And i was overwhelmed with... Why can't you say that to me?!

We do get along well, laugh a lot, like a lot of the same things. Yet I have doubts about the validity of it all. I haven't wanted sex, partially because it's routine and partially because I don't feel loved in the end. The words don't come.

I also have another issue, and maybe I'm just crazy, but our relationship is not on facebook. Not even that we are in one. My friends have pictures, they're getting married, moving in together... And I can't even get my boyfriend to post our status. He says he wants his privacy and that everyone already knows we're together. Yet it still bugs me. Like it will be easy for him to walk away because I haven't left my mark.

He also has trouble with making me a priority or including me. I work a lot, but when I had three evenings off in a row... He went to see his mom the one night, his friends the next, and promised me he would drive out to my parents' house to see me. He always has an excuse, and this time was no different; "I'm kinda tired, think I might need to stay home and relax today." I was miffed. He ended up coming out, but purely out of guilt. Granted we do see each other 3 to 4 times a week, I always pack up and come over. But don't feel the same desire from him.

I told him I felt like the last person on the list and that he doesn't come through for me. I know he cares for his mother and everything... But I can still make time to see him with my crazy schedule. I do love him, but don't always feel loved. I don't know what the future holds. I did have a talk with him about needing him to say i love you more, making me a priority, and about the future. He said he hadn't thought very far, that he's not ready to be on his own with someone, and that marriage wasn't an option yet. I am not wanting to be married, but i would at least have liked to speak of moving in or getting engaged... Which he hasn't.

He's been trying to get me to move in with his sister who lives alone. She's kind of difficult and selfish to live with from what I gather. I got a vibe from him about our relationship when he mentioned the moving in with his sister thing would be temporary. I felt like I was temporary.

I had been silencing these doubts for awhile when I started investigating why I wasn't interested in sex, which triggered anxiety because everything I read said my relationship was over. I panicked. I ran away with the idea it was over and started doubting everything at once. Like a switch turned my doubts on full blast. I started thinking I love him, no you don't, yes I do! The anxiety escalated one night about a week ago to the point where I was in tears. I was with my boyfriend that night but suddenly found myself in the bathroom crying to my mom on the floor. My mind was telling me "you should just end it" but my heart was saying no.

I started thinking intensely about why the doubts exploded. Whether that was what I wanted. I don't know the future, which does bother me. I don't know if I feel in love, because his love is not like other loves,I've experienced. I'm not sure about it. I started seeing guys at college wondering is that what i want? Would he be more romantic? Enthusiastic? I was so upset I landed in the counselor's office at school.

That same day a guy who had struck up a conversation with me a week before saw me and waited to talk to me after class. I didn't know what to think about the contact but felt special from it. It ended with him asking for my phone number. I was testing myself to see if I wanted to date others so I gave him it. He texted me right away and asked me what I was doing the next day. I said working and eventually said I was in a relationship.

I stopped talking to him because i wanted to work things out with my boyfriend. He says he will talk to me more, tell me he loves me more, and wants me to be happy. I just feel like we never had this bond other couples have, where they are stuck on each other. They're in love, they are there for each other. He's been saying it more and texting me a little bit more, and driving to me more... But I wish he was in love with me enough to want to do those things. Yet I want to be with him... I still love him. But I wish he was proud of our relationship and showed it off. I'm at a loss. My anxiety is through the roof.
posted by Chelsaroo650 to Human Relations (50 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You're both young and it doesn't sound like either of you truly love each other. Do you really love him or do you love the idea of a relationship?
posted by Eicats at 8:45 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

You guys don't define "love" in the same way. That's not a relationship killer, but it's something you have to either resolve to be okay with or call it quits. You can't turn him into a demonstrative lover by nagging him into it, and he's not going to turn you into someone who's okay with a more laid-back style of love just by being laid-back.

It may take work to get through this, but it seems to me like your anxiety is tripping some need for drama in your head. By looking for signs that your relationship is in trouble, you're making sure you find them, which feeds this anxiety and keeps the drama level high. Even when he's taking steps toward what you want from him, you're finding this not good enough for you. It's an impossible goal.

Part of this is just being 21. Your late teens and early 20s are all about high peaks and low valleys of emotions, but even without it, you're either going to have to trust your boyfriend when he tells you something as important as, "I love you," or you're going to have to decide if it's worth relaxing your expectations about how intense your relationship should be.
posted by xingcat at 8:45 AM on April 9, 2013

The question should have been, why weren't you doubting the relationship sooner?

I think you know the answer. You've given it a fair shot, but this isn't the guy for you.

Break up. You'll be a lot happier.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:46 AM on April 9, 2013 [14 favorites]

You are too young and the relationship is too young to need this much work. It doesn't matter if he loves you. He doesn't love you enough, or the way you need to feel it. That's just him, or just him with you. Its not his fault but its not making you happy. If you were reading this post by someone else, what would you be inclined to tell the OP? Personally, I'm inclined to say end it before you torture yourself any more. Someone will love you the way you want to be loved. Go find him.
posted by billiebee at 8:51 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

It sounds like you were so insecure in the relationship you were more concerned with keeping him and making him want you that you forgot to consider whether you wanted him. Now you're secure in the relationship and the anxiety has lifted and you are seeing things more clearly.

This is really common. Sometimes you get so caught up in wanting to be wanted and needing that validation that you forget to ask yourself why you wanted the other person in the first place.
posted by whoaali at 8:53 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nineish months seems to be about how long the human brain can take a mediocre relationship before it goes "no, sorry...I tried but no."

Here is a really important thing to learn in life, the sooner the better: you don't have to have a "reason" to leave a relationship. If you don't want to be in it anymore, you're done. End it and move on. You will eventually have a relationship that you continue to want to be in day after day. You will not find that relationship if you force yourself to stay in the ones that aren't doing anything for you.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:55 AM on April 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

These are the kind of relationships that can linger way past when they should and die a slow death. When Im not sure about how I feel I picture my boyfriend proposing to me and listen to my gut answer (if you're far enough along to want to get married that is!). This has always been a great mental exercise for me. I have broken up a couple of these types of relationships after picturing my reaction in this scenario and have never regretted it. Also, regarding fb. I'm not even friends with my current boyfriend and it's to just circumvent all the craziness and drama that fb brings. I see him every day, I don't need to divine hidden meaning from his online activities. So, that might be innocent.
posted by Valkyrie21 at 8:58 AM on April 9, 2013

Maybe he loves you, maybe he doesn't, who's to know? If you don't feel it, does it really matter? I mean, if he can't communicate his love in a way that makes you feel loved, it really doesn't matter if he loves you or not.

Have you asked yourself why you love him? You have fun sometimes, sure. But he doesn't prioritize you the way you seem to prioritize him. It's unequal. It's uneven. And because of that, it's doomed until and unless something changes.

Your heart and your brain are the same thing. You wish he made you feel loved. But he doesn't. Honestly, I'd advise you to end things. He can't be what you want and need...and it's okay to want and need those things.
posted by inturnaround at 8:58 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Nine months and you're still not in a relationship status on Facebook? This guy is not actually a boyfriend who is in love with you.
posted by corb at 9:01 AM on April 9, 2013

I think every relationship comes to a turning point about eight-nine months in or so, because it's about the point where the happy fizzy limerance point is starting to wear off on the one hand, but you also know each other pretty well on the other hand, and you start thinking about "okay, hang on a second, this has been fun and all, but is this....for real? I mean....really, really for real?" Your head's cleared from that initial rush of hormones and you've also had enough experience with him to know whether the dumb stuff he's done has been just a fluke or whether it's a pattern. And you start thinking seriously on a new level about the relationship and What You Want To Do And Where It Is Going.

So the fact that you're having these doubts is really, really okay, because you're looking at it from a new perspective that hasn't had a chance to weigh in yet. You've been thinking of it from the "this is great but sort of in-the-moment" perspective, and now your brain is shifting to the "is it for-keeps" perspective. The stakes are higher now.

And the only person that can figure out how to answer that is...you. (Sorry.) The only thing I can advise you is that these doubts are normal - they're not exactly doubts, though, they're just new questions. And I know that it feels all confusing, but something my aunt told me once about confusion really helped - it is actually a good sign if you're feeling confused, because that's how you know you're really seriously thinking about all of your options. And that's good.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:05 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I always post about love languages: What do you need to feel loved? What do you give to feel love? Some love languages are: Gifts, quality time, physical touch, words of encouragement, services (like dishes and such)

One thing I often see if people trying to give THEIR love language to the partner, but NOT PARTNERS love language. If both people are giving and receiving the wrong love language, everybody feels like they are pouring out lots of love but getting none in return.

However.... you dont sound too optimistic about this. Kinda leaning towards the 'why are you with him?' crowd on this one. He also sorta sounds like either a fixer upper or not quite on the same page as you, dedication wise. You can't change him. Period. Is this what you want for the rest of your life?
posted by Jacen at 9:10 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

DTMFA. Whatever he is offering, it's not what you want.
posted by whitewall at 9:15 AM on April 9, 2013

It doesn't sound like you love him, so it's not surprising you don't feel like he loves you. It sounds much more like you think saying "I love you" is what people do when they have dated for a certain amount of time, and then you are officially "in love".

This is nonsense. Move on, find someone who you actually love for who they are, not because you have been in a mediocre relationship for a set period of time and therefore it must be "love".
posted by modernnomad at 9:18 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was with my boyfriend that night but suddenly found myself in the bathroom crying to my mom on the floor. My mind was telling me "you should just end it" but my heart was saying no.

At times like this, our hearts are like three-year-olds who don't want to stop playing on the swings, even though it's going dark and it's starting to rain and all their friends have gone home. You can try all you like to convince them it's in their best interests to go home, that once they go home they'll be happier there, that it's actually getting sort of unpleasant out on the playground now, but it won't stop them being all "NOOOOOO! SWINGS!" at you when you say it's time to go. Doesn't mean you should stay in the playground.

I'm not saying you should ignore your heart - it is telling you valuable things, like that you care for this guy and you don't want to leave this relationship. But you can honour and respect those feelings in yourself while still not letting the three-year-old in your heart dictate what to do about them. Leaving would be painful, sure; you'd cry, you'd miss him, you'd have those 2am maybe-I-should-take-him-back doubts. In the short time, staying with him would probably be less painful. What about the longer term, though? Is that going to be less painful, crying in the bathroom and constantly doubting things? Because it doesn't sound much fun now.

Sometimes you need to act in your heart's best interests, even when your heart doesn't want to look to the future. Only you can decide what those best interests are, but your relationship at the moment doesn't seem to be meeting them.
posted by Catseye at 9:18 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I do love him, this I know for sure. I think we do have different love languages and could possibly come to understand one another better... But I am seeing if he does what he says he will to help our relationship. I hsve a history of anxiety and depression and the feelings honestly are remiscent of a condition called rocd.

My boyfriend shows love in a way I'm not acquianted with. I still want to be with him, he cried at the thought of losing me. I have recently made huge changes. I'm on my own at university, my job is stressful, I'm struggling, I have no days off, and no friends to lean on since I'm new to the area.

I feel like part of it is me. I'm insecure, I have no confidence, I'm not happy, I have anxiety. I'm about to rip my hair out from stress. I feel like I am withdrawing, to some degree.
posted by Chelsaroo650 at 9:19 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

he cried at the thought of losing me

This doesn't mean much.

Breaking up is hard to do, even when a relationship kind of or really sucks.

I'm on my own at university, my job is stressful, I'm struggling, I have no days off, and no friends to lean on since I'm new to the area.

I think you might feel a lot better if you didn't have to deal with relationship drama.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:28 AM on April 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

I have recently made huge changes. I'm on my own at university, my job is stressful, I'm struggling, I have no days off, and no friends to lean on since I'm new to the area.... I'm insecure, I have no confidence, I'm not happy, I have anxiety. I'm about to rip my hair out from stress....

If you don't mind my saying so bluntly, these are the problems you need to be working on. I suspect you are focusing so much of your time, energy, attention, and worries on your boyfriend because the relationship troubles feel more tangible and therefore, perhaps, seem more fixable to you, even if they aren't.

It is really, really hard to be in the middle of the kind of upheaval, change, and stress you describe. The way you feel is a perfectly normal response to that. And I bet being in this relationship feels like the one constant thing you can rely on, even if some of that consistency comes from the problems the relationship has.

It's not worth it to hold onto this guy because he cries at the thought of you leaving. Of course he does; it is almost always sad when relationships end. But I think you need to take a deep breath and do it, so you can focus on improving your life in a million other small ways that will help you get control over all that stuff I quoted. You really do deserve better - go for it!
posted by juliplease at 9:28 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: But I still love him, I still want to be with him. I haven't felt this way until a week ago. I don't know if it is me or what but I don't want to give my relationship up. He is still special to me... this just sucks. Maybe everyone sees what I don't want to see, but I want to just fix myself and fix everything...
posted by Chelsaroo650 at 9:41 AM on April 9, 2013

At your boyfriend's age, I would have been a little freaked out by the mention of marriage, esp. if my girlfriend had been only 21. (And, in my opinion, moving in together = marriage.)

I'm wondering if he just wants a more casual relationship than you do. And to be fair, you do sound very busy, so maybe you should try letting your foot off the accellerator for a bit and just take it day by day. Mentally scale back your expectations of what the relationship "should" be. Just enjoy the times you have together without thinking about the big picture. Breathe!

As for the sex..If you're just not interested in sex with him, you should probably just end the relationship and allow yourselves to find more compatible partners. If you're withholding sex to get him to behave differently, that is very manipulative on your part and it will kill the relationship anyhow (through resentment).

Good luck. And don't move in together! : )
posted by see_change at 9:46 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

I hsve a history of anxiety and depression and the feelings honestly are remiscent of a condition called rocd.

Googling 'rocd' turned up this definition:
ROCD is commonly used to refer to fears associated with Relationship OCD, where sufferers obsessively question whether their current partner is really the right person for them, and whether they actually love their partner or not, even in the most loving of relationships.
It's not a term I've come across before, so I'm not sure whether that's the definition you mean or not, but if it is... well. I'm not saying that doesn't happen - yes, sometimes people have emotional problems that manifest themselves by sabotaging relationships which are otherwise great for them. That happens. But, you know what also happens? Very, very often? And especially, ironically enough, among people who've had bad relationship experiences before? The impulse to doubt yourself when you're unhappy, to blame all the relationship problems on your own Issues, and to believe that if you could only get your own head sorted out, your relationship would be totally great for you. If only you could fix yourself, you could fix everything!

You point to some clear, objective things here that are not making you happy and fulfilled in the relationship. These are totally reasonable things to want in a relationship, and it is totally reasonable to be unhappy in a relationship where you aren't getting them, even if you love the other person. It is not a sign of you needing to be 'fixed'.
posted by Catseye at 9:47 AM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

He may or may not love you in his way, but it's not the way you want to be loved. He's not that invested in the relationship. It is convenient and comfortable to him, but he will never put you first, and I don't think he really sees you as a long term prospect. It's hard to walk away, but end it now before you get even more entangled with him. This relationship is never going to go where you want it to go, and it will be much worse breaking up later.
posted by catatethebird at 9:48 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: What if he makes the effort to give me the kind of relationship I want? We did put our status on facebook, he said he thinks it could be nice to move in together... and he's been saying he loves me more. He says he wouldn't be with me if he didn't think we had a future... I feel like I could be rushing everything. Are we really doomed?
posted by Chelsaroo650 at 9:53 AM on April 9, 2013

Mod note: OP please stop threadsitting, this is not a discussion thread it's a place to ask questions and get answers.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:58 AM on April 9, 2013

Response by poster: Okay sorry...
posted by Chelsaroo650 at 9:59 AM on April 9, 2013

I know you won't believe my next words, but I wish you would.

You will have MUCH LESS stress, anxiety, self-doubt, and depression in your life once you learn to listen to your gut and stop discounting your better inclinations and insights as "a disorder."

Not being comfortable in public places (like the gym!) or in social situations is normal although overwhelming type of anxiety, and totally worth overcoming.

Stuffing your (very valid and deserving) needs under a rug for your boyfriend/parent/boss/etc.? This is NOT the same as anxiety, although the resulting feelings can seem similar.

Stuffing your feelings causes serious upset and "anxiety" because you are actively working against your own better interests, meanwhile, your subconscious knows and wants better for you.

You are upset because this guy might be well meaning, but after 9 months of working at it, he will never meet your emotional needs.

He's not what you want or need. You don't even want to have sex with him anymore. That's a huge HUGE sign!

Move on to better relationships. This one is done.

(and for fuck's sake, do NOT move in with his sister. I don't know the whole story there, but it seems like you'll become a convenience to be used. don't agree to be used. it won't make you happy or safe in your home, where you need to have that type of stability most.)
posted by jbenben at 9:59 AM on April 9, 2013 [21 favorites]

You're fishing for the answer that you want, and we're not going to give it to you.

It's your life. Do whatever you want. Metafilter doesn't have to like it.

But if you ask a question, take in the answers and think about them. You're very young, and it sounds like you've got a lot of growing up to do. (Which is not a bad thing. Not a criticism, seriously).

I know that you won't believe me, but it's much better to be single than to be in an unhappy relationship.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:02 AM on April 9, 2013 [16 favorites]

What if he makes the effort to give me the kind of relationship I want? We did put our status on facebook, he said he thinks it could be nice to move in together... and he's been saying he loves me more. He says he wouldn't be with me if he didn't think we had a future... I feel like I could be rushing everything. Are we really doomed?

Stop. Just Stop.

We don't live in the world of IF. You live in a world where you have doubts about your boyfriend's ability to love you in a way that you want to be loved.

Also, notice that it's all about YOU pleasing HIM. He thinks we have a futre. He thinks it would be nice to move in together. What do YOU think?

You'll notice no one here is assuring you that it's going to be okay, because it won't be. You're kind of freaked out about that, because that's not what you want to hear.

Just because you love someone, it doesn't mean that they are right for you. If you ask any spouse abuser if they love their partner, they all say yes. Doesn't make them good candidate for relationships.

It's easy to love someone who isn't right for you. It happens all the damn time. It sucks, but that's the truth.

You want to be in love, you want a boyfriend and you've got this tortured relationship, and you think that if you both "work on it" that it will magically transform and nurture you and lift you up. Bullshit.

Cutting to the chase. You may love each other, but it doesn't matter. This relationship doesn't enrich your life, and every day you spend in it just brainwashes you into believing that stressed, unhappy and anxious is the new normal.

Just break up with this guy. He's not an asshole, he's just not right for you.

As for the rest of it, you KNOW that it doesn't feel right, and no amount of wishing about it will change it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:08 AM on April 9, 2013 [18 favorites]

If you're looking around campus and thinking about the other people around, wondering if they would be better than your boyfriend, if they would be more romantic or enthusiastic, that to me is a big big red flag. You gave your number to another guy. Another big red flag. You're having major freak out moments and tears over your feelings that your relationship may not be right. Red flag. In summary, you're constantly fantasizing all the ways your boyfriend could be different. You're getting a bit of a wandering eye, you feel insecure and unhappy and uncomfortable in your relationship. Your boyfriend doesn't make you feel loved in the way that you need, he isn't as committed and invested in the relationship as you need, and all of this is tearing you apart from the inside.

How is this a relationship you want to stay in? A relationship should be, above all things, a good thing in your life. It should be a source of happiness and comfort. There are always stresses and hard things in relationships, but the good feelings MUST outweigh the bad feelings for it to be worth it, and I think it is pretty undeniable that your bad massively outweighs the good.

None of this is good, and I think all of it is a sign that this isn't a good relationship for you. Yes, relationships are work and take effort, but not this much and you should at least feel like the work is worth it. Your relationship is taking a metric ton of work and effort and thought and worry and concern and stress. No healthy relationship is this hard.

And sorry, but if I found out my partner gave their number to someone else and waited a while before confessing that they were in a relationship, I would be absolutely heartbroken and know then and there the relationship was done. How do you think he would feel if he knew about this? How would you feel if he had been the one giving his number to another woman? When someone starts not only wondering if someone else might be better but starts to actually ACT on it... well, that is how cheating and infidelity starts. The fact that you gave that other guy your number should be a signal to YOU that you're done. Part of you is already starting to move on, hence the beginning to scope out new mates. It hurts and it sucks, but I think you know that it is done. That is why you're having so much stress and upset. It isn't because you don't know. It is because deep down you DO know and it sucks.

And you can fight and deny all the responses you get here, and you can choose not to listen and refuse to take what we're all saying to heart. That is your choice to make. I just don't think that would be the best choice, and I don't think that would be a choice that is going to end well.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:17 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]

I am not wanting to be married, but i would at least have liked to speak of moving in or getting engaged... Which he hasn't.

This would be an absolutely insane thing to discuss after 10 months of dating and one month after telling you he loves you for the first time. Even more so because you're 21, and still more so because your relationship seems shaky. His bringing up marriage or even cohabitation would be a huge red flag at this point, not something to complain about not happening yet!

It would be a good idea for you to consider why you're trying so hard to force this relationship into being "serious" when you both are very young and your relationship is still new and already showing signs of trouble. Especially since he is clearly trying to slow things down, not escalate.
posted by randomnity at 11:45 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know, it sounds like maybe he just can't give you 100% what you need. Maybe you need a guy who is willing to be really mushy to you and say "I love you" a lot. If it's important to you to have your relationship on Facebook, maybe you need a guy who will put your relationship on Facebook. There are no guarantees in life and maybe the right guy is out there and maybe he is not. If you were to accept the guy you are with at face value, would you still want to be with him as is, if nothing changed? I think that's the question to ask yourself.
posted by mermily at 12:07 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Like I said, I feel I could be rushing things because of what my friends have. I always thought they were rushing things. I think I can be high maintenance, well with reassurance anyway. My parents are telling me to slow down. Before this, I felt like things were headed in the right direction. Then I got to thinking about the future. Which provoked intense anxiety over not knowing everything yet. We don't have a bad relationship by any means. I think I just need to take it easy. Life is killing me in all aspects. I need a break.
posted by Chelsaroo650 at 12:31 PM on April 9, 2013

Which provoked intense anxiety over not knowing everything yet.

You can't know everything yet or ever. You will never ever EVER know everything. And even when you think you do, something will change.

You're panicking because a lot of things have changed (you're at university, you're working a new job, you haven't gotten to meet friends yet) and you don't want anything else to change. But it's gonna.

Have you ever had stomach flu, where you fought and fought and fought against the nausea because you didn't want to throw up? And then finally you just can't, you HAVE to throw up. And after that you feel one million times better?

Replace throw up with break up, and that's you, babe. Cut the cord, hold your breath, dive into your new life. You honestly have no choice--it's gonna happen eventually, so you can either suffer and suffer and suffer and THEN go, or you can just...go.
posted by like_a_friend at 12:50 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I feel like part of it is me. I'm insecure, I have no confidence, I'm not happy, I have anxiety. I'm about to rip my hair out from stress. I feel like I am withdrawing, to some degree.

Honestly, your posts sound like they are coming from a place of intense anxiety, which is at its root a mental health issue and not a relationship issue.

You and your boyfriend have different styles of expressing love and different levels of desired intensity under which you wish to run your relationship. He sounds perfectly fine to me. Your choices are to accept him the way he is and deal with your anxiety, or to find a different partner.

50% of your friends in these relationships you're idealising will end up divorced. Don't chase what other people have like it's some sort of social contest. It isn't, and that's how people end up miserable.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:50 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm 21, he's 25 and things have been kind of questionable from his side the whole time we have been dating.

doesn't mesh with

I haven't felt this way until a week ago.

You aren't in love with him. I'm sorry. I think you want to love him, and you want to be in a relationship that you can feel comfortable and safe in, but this one isn't satisfying you in any way beyond it being a steady thing during a frantic and stressful time in your life. And that is okay. And it's okay to end it just because you don't feel satisfied, without having to actually dislike your boyfriend or for him to have really done anything wrong. In situations like this, it's better to do it sooner than later.
posted by wondermouse at 12:54 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

A few things. Please know that I will be blunt but I don't at all want to attack you or make you feel like you are a bad person or anything, however I think you should approach all of these answers with an open mind.

I was in a neglectful relationship for 2 years. I was even engaged to the man. I moved 5 hours away from my family to go to the same college as him because he said, "I'm going whether you come or not." He had a video game addiction. Yes an actual addiction. He put his video game clan, and even his NEW friends above me. He didn't introduce me as his fiance, and I made him wear a ring because I didn't trust him.

All of those issues I talked with him about hundreds of times. He would keep saying he wanted to change. He wanted me. The whole nine yards. But he never did it. He would leave presents I made for him in his car. He still wouldn't introduce me as his fiancee and I would have to correct him in front of his friends.

I still want to be with him, he cried at the thought of losing me. I have recently made huge changes. I'm on my own at university, my job is stressful, I'm struggling, I have no days off, and no friends to lean on since I'm new to the area.

My ex did the same thing. Any time I said, you need to change this or I can't be with you he broke down sobbing. He would guilt trip me in saying things like "I had a dream you left me and I wanted to die."

I also did things just to please him. "Well if I just go to a new city to go to college, then everything will be okay!" It actually got worse with us. (Better for me because I got my college degree, he dropped out, and I met my husband.)

He even sobbed when I broke it off with him finally, said he would do anything, marriage counseling, anything! Then he dated a new girl 4 days later.

You need to listen to your brain. You are saying you love him which is why you want to stay. No one here is doubting that you love him (or think you love him), but he may not love you. And isn't that the point of your question? Isn't that the root of all your doubts?

In the end, you have to love yourself first and do what is best for you. You are putting all this love and attention onto him, but giving none to yourself. If he did love you the way you love him, he would be making an efforts. If he does have a different "love language" than you then it may not be a good match. Personally I think you need to focus on yourself.

Nine months is hardly anything really. And trust me, like I said I understand where you are coming from. I am nearly your age - 23. I was 19 when I ended my last horrible relationship. It was hard, but it would have been easier if I listened to my head (and my dad) when it was telling me things weren't okay.

Also know you can't fix him, you can't make him love you. You need to love you.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:12 PM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]

Like I said, I feel I could be rushing things because of what my friends have. I always thought they were rushing things. I think I can be high maintenance, well with reassurance anyway. My parents are telling me to slow down. Before this, I felt like things were headed in the right direction. Then I got to thinking about the future. Which provoked intense anxiety over not knowing everything yet. We don't have a bad relationship by any means. I think I just need to take it easy. Life is killing me in all aspects. I need a break.

It's not about rushing things. If you're in the right relationship, your need for reassurance is nil because it's obvious that the guy is into you. If you have to ask, he isn't.

I agree, take a break, from ALL OF IT.

Put the relationship on hold, take a week off (if you can) and go home and let your folks take care of you.

Go to bed and sleep for 24 hours. Eat your favorite homemade meals. Play with your childhood pets. Read books for fun. Watch stupid stuff on TV.

Don't talk to anyone on the phone, go to movies. Stay off the internet, especially Facebook and Twitter.

If, after a week away, when you return, everything seems a lot better, then you were just cranky and needed a nap.

But what I think you'll find is that when you're not around this guy, and when you feel the love of your parents as they soothe and care for you, your memory will jog and you'll remember that love is supposed to be about being cared for. Love shouldn't be a second job. Relationships aren't hard, they're easy. Because you can say what you want to say, and you feel HEARD.

Or, you can wear yourself to a frazzle and waste some time with this guy. You're young, but for the love of all that's holy, please don't wait too long to get out of this.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:19 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

I get the impression you have a tendency to perhaps artificially inflate and maintain relationships when there's no genuine connection there to begin with, probably out of sheer desperation to be in one. Maybe your depression and anxiety make you think you should be grateful and take what you have now, because you might not be able to do better.

Do you really want to move in with this guy, or do you just want him to want you to? Do you really want to marry him? Or do you just want to be happy living with someone and eventually happily married to someone? You're only 21. It's really okay if that someone isn't your current boyfriend.

Also, I'll just come out and say it: his suggestion that you move in with his sister sounds very strange. Read up on co-dependence. Make sure that isn't happening to you.
posted by wondermouse at 1:31 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're too young to stay among all those red flags.
posted by _paegan_ at 2:08 PM on April 9, 2013

Response by poster: Wondermouse, I thought him asking me to move in with her was also strange. I think jbenben was getting at the same thing. My boyfriend has trouble with boundaries with his family. A lot of what comes between us is him not having enough energy to have a relationship with me because his sister is lonely, or his mom needs money. She's been waiting for disability for years. He acts as a caregiver and her bank. They were poor with no father and she raised three kids alone and they have nobody but each other... they left their relatives in mexico.
posted by Chelsaroo650 at 2:29 PM on April 9, 2013

have you and bf ever taken the meyers-briggs? i think your temperaments are probably rather different and that might be a big cause of the disconnect here. i think it might be good for you both to take and it can lead into a conversation about emotional/verbal expression. i am not at all convinced your bf is a dud but just not terribly emotionally expressive and rather independent. you seem to be more caught up with following social conventions and getting upset when he doesn't. that is something he can work on a little but basically is something you'll need to accept about him. or find someone else.

also, i do think you are creating all sorts of drama here with flirting with that other guy and giving out your number, and making a big deal out of facebook statuses and marriage talk. fb is not real life, and while you've grown up with it, honestly it is silly and a way for people to brag and constantly compare themselves to others. anyway, you can post all sorts of pics of you two so really what is the big deal?

as for marriage you are really young, have not been dating long and it seems crazy to even be talking about it at this point in your relationship. i think you need a reality pill. seriously. i don't mean to be mean here but i think you are creating problems in your relationship because you feel insecure in his love. that is a great way to sabotage your relationship and i think that is what you are doing.

rather than creating drama, i think it would be helpful if you sit down and have a long talk about communication styles/emotional expression with your bf. don't tell him how you want him to act but try to understand how he communicates and feels and tell him how you communicate/feel. tell him you feel insecure in his love. listen to what he says and then i think you basically need to either accept that he is not as expressive and socially conventional as you or find someone who is. good luck.
posted by wildflower at 2:32 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of what comes between us is him not having enough energy to have a relationship with me because his sister is lonely, or his mom needs money. She's been waiting for disability for years. He acts as a caregiver and her bank.

What I'm getting out of this is that neither of you is in any position to be in a serious, committed romantic relationship. Neither of you has time or energy for the other, but you're probably both lonely and depressed about your situations in life. It's pretty easy for two lonely and desperate people to sort of fall into a relationship with each other and find some sort of comfort and commiseration in that, but it the kind of thing that tends to fall apart once you start thinking more realistically about long term goals and where you really want to see your life go. I think you are trying to force this relationship, and your boyfriend, to be something they cannot be.

People will tell you to break up until the cows come home - it's so easy for us to say that - but at the same time, most of us know that you'll never do it until you personally come around to feeling ready to do that on your own. Sometimes, it can take several awful years for that to happen. Many of us have been in a similar boat. It's a hard road. It sucks. But when you finally do experience a good relationship, one where you finally understand what it means when people say relationships can actually be kind of "easy," and you're not on an emotional rollercoaster... well, I don't know how to end that sentence. But hopefully you know what I'm getting at.
posted by wondermouse at 2:56 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Hi. You know, I could point out counter-examples to your concerns - like how I wasn't "in a relationship" on Facebook for 1.5 years of my relationship with my partner - but in your case, I don't think these counterexamples will help.

You sound super anxious. Are you having fun living through that anxiety? Is this emotional stress really something you want to deal with on a daily basis? All the time? If so, why? What is the actual benefit?

Listen: when I was 21, I was not in a relationship. Any dating or relationships I did around that age were really casual. I spent many stretches of those years single. Many of my friends did, too. We hung out and did friend things and had adventures and went to school and junk. Dude, I am 30 (gasp!) and umarried. It's totally cool. Marriages that take places before the age of 26 have a much higher chance of failure; statistically speaking, this is your time to not rush things.

You don't have to be in a relationship. It is not mandatory.

Based on how absolutely stressed you sound, maybe you'd have more fun if you took a break from this relationship, and from concentrated dating, and went off on a few adventures - the zanier, the better!
posted by vivid postcard at 3:10 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh, hey, also: you do realize that this anxiety, given how intense and deeply rooted it is, is not going to magically go away if you a) move in together, b) get engaged, or c) get married, right?

Those events are not magical cures for bad feelings - if you are worried he doesn't really love you now, do you think a shiny ring is going to change anything?

Or are you then going to worry that he got you an engagement ring under duress/false pretense/to get it over with, and fundamentally continue to fret over the same thing?
posted by vivid postcard at 3:24 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I was going through years of not dissimilar crap to you, my sister said something to me which really resonated; Relationships shouldn't be this hard. Which is not to say occasionally they won't be hard work, but if you're constantly expending that much emotional energy trying to figure out what he's thinking, what he wants, how to get him to come around, how to get him to want to be with you...no, just no.

Once I finally got out of it, I decided that I would never again being relationship which required me to constantly second guess my partner and twist myself into a pretzel to try and get him to want to invest in the relationship. He was either in, and actively showed me, or he wasn't and I was done. No game playing. Once I decided that, life became much easier. I even told my policy to potential boyfriends. Life's too short, this one is done. Move on.
posted by Jubey at 4:17 PM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

You want a relationship that is different from the one you have.
posted by sm1tten at 4:23 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Reading your past questions, there seems to be a trend in the relationships you have had/guys you were dating. This, along with other issues from your childhood, perhaps it would be a positive step for you to purposely be on your own without a relationship for a year or so, while at the same time seeking therapy to work out any issues that may be contributing to your anxiety and the type of men you are drawn to.

I agree that this relationship is not meeting your needs, and likely won't. Step aside, take awhile to get to know yourself, your needs, and what you want in life and in a relationship. In the long run you will be way ahead of your friends who commit before they know who they are themselves.
posted by batikrose at 5:19 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

The more I look at this, the more I wonder... what are you truly getting from this? I can get a general guess what he is getting, but... oy. If you want something to love you unconditionally, get a puppy. If you want a solid relationship, get your emotional state as good as you can, sit down and make a detailed checklist of who you are, what you really truly want. I cannont overstate how important it is for you to like and love yourself. It helps all the things you do go better.

Start the therapy, please. Your college fees pay for this. Most college therapists are pretty good, from my experience. This may lead to you spending time alone, working on you. I think it will be good. Yes, it is a lot like ripping a band-aid off, but it will pay off in the long run.
posted by Jacen at 7:46 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think I can be high maintenance, well with reassurance anyway.

I could argue that I am the same. I like/need to be told frequently that my partner loves me, and I feel the need to frequently tell him that I love him. "Do you love me?" and "I love you" are things he and I both say a LOT, on top of loads of out-of-the-blue "Oh my god I love you" statements. Both of us know we desperately love each other. We both just feel happiest when we say it a lot. It isn't high maintenance or need. It is how we express and feel loved. If one of us didn't have that need, then it probably would seem high maintenance and maybe annoying, but he and I work because we speak the same language in terms of expressing love. In the same way we are both extremely affectionate and grabby and touchy and snuggly. Having been with people who don't feel the same way I know that can come off as high maintenance as well.

The thing I think you're not really clicking in on is that you are allowed to want and need whatever you want and need. You need to be not just shown that you're loved through his doing things for you, you need to be told that you're loved, and you need affection and enthusiasm and romance. Your boyfriend doesn't communicate love in the same way so you are never going to feel truly happy in this relationship. This doesn't make him a bad person, it doesn't make you a bad person, it just makes the two of you incompatible.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:15 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

All of these answers say some things that are very very true. But I think we're forgetting that some lessons can't be learned from the reading, they have to be lived. And it's clear to me from the OP's waffling against all this wise, well-meant advice, given kindly, given warmly, given firmly, given harshly, that this particular lesson is going to have to be lived.

I predict that you and this guy will stay together, and you'll both figure out ways to fit with each other, to follow each other's rules. Until one day, in a few months (or maybe longer), you suddenly realize how cramped you feel, how much you've contorted and stifled yourselves to fit together. You'll want to grow and find out what you'll grow into unimpeded, independent.

And then you'll have to break up. And it will be hard and hurt and you'll probably pull that band-aid off realllly slooowly because it's so hard to believe you'll ever feel that way about someone else again.

But then, alone, you'll have time to reflect on relationships and how they ought to be, and you'll come to realize a few things. And if you come back and read this thread you'll be shocked it was all written here and you read it all even before you ever went through that whole experience.

And if you see a friend in a similar situation, you'll try to tell them how it is. To save them the time and the heartache! But they just won't listen. Cause they have to learn it for themselves.
posted by Gravel at 1:19 AM on April 16, 2013

Response by poster: Hey everybody... I have thought about things a lot, and I think these doubts are here for a reason. He and I have fundamental differences. He smokes pot and cigarettes... I do not approve of either. This has bugged me for a long time. He's not pursuing an education, and he seems like all talk. He is always late for work and acts like he has no time when he has evenings off every day and a whole weekend off. He always said he couldn't have a kid or even think of getting married. I should've known better than to think we were on the same page. He didn't get his license until he was 23 and I've tried to get him to take control of his life but he won't.

I always felt he had excuses. I always thought he was kind of selfish. He never seemed to be head over heels for me and there was constant questioning from my side the whole time we have been dating. He has a tendency to plan things and leave me out. He was evasive for 4 months. He was irritable. The running thing for the first 4 months was "Im sick, we can't hang out." It happened literally every week but he seemed
Perfectly fine.

I have felt the pangs of rejection often. We didn't spend thanksgiving together, he never invited me. He didn't invite me over for christmad either. His sister was the one who said i was welcome. My parents always thought he should see me more... I thought when he fell in love with me things might be different but he still can't work with me. It all seems too little too late. I've built resentment and harbor pain. My parents say he's a slacker and that may be true... Yet it still hurts and sucks to leave. He has so much shit to figure out. He says he thinks I'm just not ready. I don't think that's true, i don't think he is. I can't keep hanging on with two text messages a day and no i love you. It just makes me feel like crap. He still cancels on me. Usually when he has to make the drive and he never stays over when he's at my place. I've been in love, and it was returned once. I didn't guess it was there, it was. I have to let him go. I love him, but I'm not in love. What a thing to find out after pining for him this whole time. I'm sick of pining. I am hurt... I appreciate the answers. I've been in denial.
posted by Chelsaroo650 at 5:45 AM on April 18, 2013

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