I don't want my worries to swallow my beautiful relationship!
September 9, 2013 6:38 PM   Subscribe

I am in a healthy, mutually loving, supportive, challenging partnership with a wonderful man. I feel very fulfilled and excited and trust my partner's mutual feelings and commitment towards me. But, as has been the case in other relationships, I get these sudden worries and insecurities that this will not last--that he will leave me. I end up pulling back and becoming self protective rather than what I would like to be: open and loving. My partner is patient with my insecurities but I know that having to deal with these worries all the time begins to deteriorate even the strongest relationships, and it's just not the way I want to be. (more inside)

I notice that I get particularly worried in situations in which my SO is not openly demonstrating excitement toward me or affection. I am sensitive to anything that might be interpreted as lack of a attraction or disgust. Objectively, I have every reason to interpret my partner's feelings toward me as quite the opposite of disgust or lack of attraction. He and I have worked closely together for a year and a half before ever dating and have definitely been through very difficult times together, have seen each other behaving at our worst and our best and have deep respect for each other. I really feel that we encourage the best in each other, in terms of what we each value in ourselves.

Growing up, my parents lived together for most of my childhood but had an icy relationship and my father's disgust toward my mother as a parent and person was quite evident to me. I have always been closest to my father but see that I tend toward some of the same weaknesses that my mother does. I have always unconsciously worried about being my mother, of being deserving of that disgust. I know that at one point, my mother and father were in love, but clearly that love died. And I have experienced another relationship in which a person was deeply in love with me at one point and later was quite indifferent. I have a hard time not experiencing my current relationship as just another version of that, though I admittedly do see significant differences.

Bottom line: I have this underlying belief that all love will fade and everyone will leave me. Realistically, I know that both of those things may be true, but that that's no reason to be unable to enjoy the present moment in which my life is rich and filled with love. I would like to hear advice others have on how to be open to this relationship and feel good in the present without letting my beliefs about the inevitable end eat away at it. I suppose advice about how to better love myself, which I suspect underlies some of this, would also be helpful. Thank you.
posted by sb3 to Human Relations (9 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I go through this, too. I spent a lot of time blaming daddy issues and abandonment issues and being hurt by men. And I did the same things you did. Built walls, shut down emotionally, etc. Until I met someone I felt comfortable sharing those insecurities with. And when I did, one of the things he said was "I'm not your past." He was right. He's the present and the future. And the nice thing about the present and the future is that unlike the past, we get to decide what they will be.

Something I've figured out is that I can't control how I feel - but I CAN control how I react and how I let it affect me. Let yourself feel those pangs of neurosis - they're normal. But sit with them and talk yourself through it before you get to the emotional shutdown point. That is really a point of no return - I personally become visibly despondent and unreachable and I know that can't feel good for my partner. I've started reacting to my internal neuroses with random acts of affection towards my significant other. I'm not really a person who will just hug and kiss my guy out of nowhere - but I sure do love receiving that attention. So when I'm feeling anxious or neurotic, or if I'm about to talk myself into a downward spiral of cynicism (which I excel at), I sit with it for a second, tell myself to knock it off because I'm really doing this AGAIN?!!?, and give him a hug or peck. And then he'll reciprocate. And it turns an almost shitty moment into a good one.

It's hard to let people love you when you don't totally love yourself, and I'm trying to figure that one out myself. But one thing I will say is, he's not your past. Give things a chance to be different for you this time.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 7:08 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Read "Attached". You will learn about your attachment style and your partner's attachment style. This will greatly benefit your relationship.
posted by speedoavenger at 7:16 PM on September 9, 2013


I have experienced another relationship in which a person was deeply in love with me at one point and later was quite indifferent.

Roughly a 100% of people over 25 have had an experience like this! You may have some baggage left over from your parents' relationship but this past romantic relationship is a non-issue.
posted by rada at 7:33 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find it's slightly easier to cope with relationship insecurities if you get them solidly out in the open. Not just mentioning once then going back to hiding and wishing it away; making it something you and your partner are able to discuss casually, regularly, whenever it returns, with care and respect and a little bit of bored humor. It can disarm it, as well as present the necessary counter evidence: a partner who loves you enough to treat your insecurities with care.
posted by ead at 7:39 PM on September 9, 2013


"my father's disgust toward my mother as a parent and person was quite evident to me"

I know you're close to your father, but it's possible this reflects some part of him that isn't perfect. Everybody has weaknesses; that your father behaved that way in regard to his wife is not ideal, and says something about him.

It's possible that you've found a partner who is better at being in a long-term relationship, with someone who has the strengths that you have, than your father was.

Also - many "weaknesses" are strengths that aren't applied well, or that are in environments that aren't suited to them. People exhibiting them aren't bad.
posted by amtho at 8:15 PM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have always been closest to my father but see that I tend toward some of the same weaknesses that my mother does. I have always unconsciously worried about being my mother, of being deserving of that disgust.

Not knowing anything about your parents but based on what you've said here, I'd submit that it's extremely unlikely anything about her mother that made her "deserving of disgust" from her husband. I'm not saying your father is necessarily a Bad Guy here, but it's more likely that they were a poor match and/or not able to do the work they needed to do to make things work.

Do you think it's possible that you being "aligned" so closely with your father is having a harmful affect here? If you identify with your father, it's easier to uncritically accept, at least on some level, that it was ok to treat your mother with contempt, and thus ok to treat a partner with contempt based on their weaknesses. But it's really not ok, and not something you should have to expect/fear in your relationship.

I'm not saying you shouldn't be close to your father, but remember that he is just as flawed and complex a person as any of us, and you don't have to have the same kind of relationship as he has with your mother.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 9:32 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


"my father's disgust toward my mother as a parent and person was quite evident to me"

I know you're close to your father, but it's possible this reflects some part of him that isn't perfect. Everybody has weaknesses; that your father behaved that way in regard to his wife is not ideal, and says something about him.


Or, just as easily, it reflects imperfections in your mother. It really doesn't matter because every one of your relationships is a new relationship separate from that of your parents. The reason that's so hard to escape — that so many people put themselves in the role of their father or mother — is because of a lack of awareness of the moment. When your mind wanders, keep bringing it back to what you see in front of you.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:49 PM on September 9, 2013


You are not your parents. I struggled with this when my father left my mother for another woman when I was in my late twenties and had been married for only seven or eight years, despite my husband's earnest (and increasingly frustrated) reassurances.

One way to look at it: by believing your partner will someday leave you, you are doing him a great disservice. I finally realized to my great regret that fearing that Dr. Tully Monster would cheat on me was an insult to his integrity and a refusal to acknowledge just how much he loved me and the sustained, persistent nature of that love and commitment.

I've also come to see that my father's behavior reflected badly on him, and him alone -- not at all on my mother. There was nothing she could have done. What I tell myself now is that he was simply not the man we all thought he was.

This is the kind of situation where discussing it with someone objective, like a counselor, would really, really help. It's a hard thing to deal with, particularly for daughters.
posted by tully_monster at 10:55 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Read about the abandonment schema. Embrace your weaknesses, and know that you are lovable even with flaws. Don't fight or suppress the warm fuzzies you feel when your partner is loving towards you. You've deemed him trustworthy, so face the terror of fully engaging in this relationship and realize that the only thing to fear is fear itself.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:34 AM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


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