I'm scared.
June 16, 2008 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Please help me lessen this fear I have of getting hurt so that I can feel like myself and enjoy my new relationship.

I've been seeing someone for about two months now. When things were still quite casual and I was still uncertain about whether or not I wanted to pursue a relationship with him, I did not fret about how things were progressing. It wasn't until we officially became a couple (when he started to refer to himself as my boyfriend) that I started to worry. I have to admit that when we first became a couple, I was still a bit unsure if I could have a relationship with him, but I decided to give it a go and I found myself growing more and more fond of him.

I really do like him and enjoy spending time with him, at the same time, I find myself endlessly doubting his affections for me and worrying that he's going to end things at any moment. I suppose I feel this way because we're a bit different in that he's more of an extrovert while I'm more introverted, so I feel that I'm boring, especially compared to his friends and the people he normally hangs out with.

To lessen my anxiety, I try to focus on the facts: he calls me everyday, he's still quite affectionate, he suggests places to go/things to do in the future, etc. And yet, I will still take certain things he says and interpret them to support my fear that it'll soon be over. Things such as his comment that with my language skills I would have great job prospects in NYC (which is so far away) or his question about whether or not I am prone to crying (we were talking about sad fiction, and no I haven't cried in him from him). I recognize my ridiculousness in this, and yet I can't stop it because I'll think that there could be a shred of truth in all of it.

I have not really brought up these anxieties to him at all. I did mention one time that when things became official, I found myself being nervous around him for once (he responded that he always felt comfortable around me) but that was it. He seems like the type of person who does not let things get to him so I don't want to overwhelm him with these anxieties that I feel have more to do with me and my insecurities than with him. Sure, I could bring up the subject and he could offer some reassurance, but I don't think that would be enough. I had gone through the same thing in my previous relationship, and it really wasn't until I was outside of that relationship that I could see that my ex really cared about me. I don't want to repeat this. It's so tiring.

I know things are really quite new. It has been a long time since I was in this 'new relationship' state, and even then, it was someone I had known a long time. Being in a relationship with someone I'm still getting to know scares me a bit, but I do know that I want to be with him.
posted by blithely to Human Relations (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Woah! You're piling a lot of emotional investment into a two month old relationship. You need to back off the throttle and relax a bit.

If you don't reign in this paranoia you're going to wind up complicating what should be an otherwise enjoyable relationship. Worse, your fears could become self-fulfilling if in your behavior your wind up driving your boyfriend away.

The good news I think your feelings are pretty natural and everyone has them at some point - both men and women. There is no clear solution but here are some thoughts:

- Assess your self-independence. Are you okay on your own? Do you have interesting hobbies. Are you okay spending time by yourself. Do you feel like you accomplish things (reading a book, doing a project, cleaning) when your own your own? What you're aiming toward is a more complete personal life. Right now it sounds like you're defining yourself through your relationship with another person. That's neither health nor attractive. You should work on being your own person.

- Ask yourself this: What if he dumped me? It's a two-month relationship. Even if all of your fears came true you'd still be okay. You'd be who you were before you met him - and perhaps that is what is scaring you?

- I wouldn't mention this to your boyfriend for a few reasons: 1.) it will needlessly complicate the relationship, 2.) he's already doing a lot to show his affection toward you - if you make it seem like that's not enough he may think that he can't keep you happy. 3.) Since he is already doing his part, asking him to fill-in extra parts of your own shortcomings isn't fair. You'd be asking him to do double duty, being a boyfriend and a life-coach.

- Relax. There are lots of men out there. Chances are this relationship WILL NOT lead to marriage - most of them don't. So try and have fun with it.

- Work on your own self image. I promise that if you build confidence with yourself that you relationship fears will disappear. Challenge yourself, change your habits, re-arrange your furniture (seriously, it helps) - do whatever feels right to grow as an INDIVIDUAL, and stop defining yourself by your relationships with men!

Good luck! You'll be fine!
posted by wfrgms at 11:43 AM on June 16, 2008 [3 favorites]

The best way to stop being insecure about being boring is to be less boring. Tell jokes. Always have an interesting anecdote. Flirt effectively. Introduce him to new things. Be upbeat. Be lively. In short - do whatever it is that other people do that you'd find attractive about them. You can let him erase the doubt in your mind by reassuring you with comforting words which will last about 15 minutes before the anxieties set back in, or you could do something about your anxieties. That way, the next time you start to worry, you could counter that worry by saying, "I told that corny joke today and he laughed his head off" or "We spent half the night giggling like schoolchildren." If you can learn how best to keep him happy and content, then there will be zero basis for anxiety, and anxiety is a lot easier to fight when there's no rational basis and evidence to the contrary to work with.
posted by reebear at 12:33 PM on June 16, 2008

I know exactly what you're going through, and I know that telling you to "just relax" will make absolutely no difference. Listing all the ways that he showed affection made no difference, because it was like a gaping void that no one could ever fill. Nothing was ever enough, including repeated reassurances from him. Once I realized that NO ONE, no amount of affection could EVER fill this void, I was able to accept that maybe this void was an illusion, something I made up about myself. It will never ever be filled so I can stop worrying about it.

What else made a difference for me:

1. getting help from a therapist
2. getting medical help for an anxiety disorder
3. meditation [or prayer if that applies to you]
4. finding other things to focus on (per wfrgms' first bullet point above). especially ACCOMPLISHING things, like learning to paint, or planting a garden.
5. learning to ask very directly for what I need instead of waiting for him to guess. "I want you to hold my hand." Don't white-knuckle it, you'll make yourself more miserable.
6. learning not to test him by what he does/doesn't do for me or to gauge my worth by how much he calls or how often he initiates sex/affection
7. taking breaks from talking to him every day (before we lived together)
8. accepting exactly who I am. I can be needy. I can be anxious. I can be insecure. I've found someone who is willing to be patient with me as I work through this. (btw we're getting married)

These things can be really difficult and it will take a lot of soul searching. Feel free to mefi mail me.

P.S. Regarding the insecurity about being "boring" - my fiance has ADD so pretty much anything less than constant stimulation bores him. I had a complex about this for awhile, but OTHER people don't find me boring, and *I* think I'm quite interesting. Plus, he's with me, he's committed to me, so there is obviously something he enjoys about me. Extroverts often like the seriousness of introverts because it balances them.
posted by desjardins at 12:41 PM on June 16, 2008 [7 favorites]

If you can learn how best to keep him happy and content, then there will be zero basis for anxiety

This is some of the worst advice I have ever heard. It's not your job to make him happy or content and you will run yourself into the ground if you base your happiness on his. He is going to have bad days, you are going to have arguments, and there is too much unpredictablity in the world that you can't control. You are NOT responsible for his moods or whether he likes you or not.
posted by desjardins at 12:44 PM on June 16, 2008 [3 favorites]

You can let him erase the doubt in your mind by reassuring you with comforting words which will last about 15 minutes before the anxieties set back in, or you could do something about your anxieties. That way, the next time you start to worry, you could counter that worry by saying, "I told that corny joke today and he laughed his head off" or "We spent half the night giggling like schoolchildren."

Baaaaad false dichotomy here. Your choices don't only include reassuring words (which do, actually, have their part to play in life) or "becoming less boring". Both these options keep your happiness just as hooked to his (and more generally, to other people) as it was before. The key is to begin, however gradually, the process of unhooking.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:53 PM on June 16, 2008

Jeezus, you might as well be writing my biography (with proper pronoun changes).

I'm in a two-month relationship, which is sadly a record stretch for me thus far. Based off past women, I'm constantly nagged by the fear that she will throw out the 'let's be friends' line for no reason. Everything else you've said more or less applies as well.

Are you a neurotic person in general? If so, that's controlling your fear of rejection more than hard evidence. Every time you picture the scenario in which he stops calling or drops you like a hot potato (lord knows that how I keep seeing it -- the most callous dump possible!), you have to shrug it off. Better yet, counter your scenario with a real event from the past two months that demonstrates he's nuts about you.

Don't let past relationships define this one; otherwise you might as well believe in the Gambler's fallacy too. Every time I left town for a week or more, I got dumped upon return. The girl I'm seeing is on vacation now, and I have to keep reminding myself that she has not met my former flings or compared notes with them.

So yes, I'm focusing heavily upon the psychology of it all. To summarise: assuming this guy of yours seeks a long-term relationship as you seem to, if you can't think of a real reason why he would dump you this early on -- being 'boring' doesn't count; running a bordello in your apartment might -- then just sit back and enjoy his company as he is yours.

Also to summarise: I'm living proof guys think about this just as much as girls. For all you know your guy is posting an anxious question about you to his web forum of choice.
posted by spamguy at 12:57 PM on June 16, 2008

PS. Given we're pretty much in the same boat, feel free to mefi-mail me if something else pops up.
posted by spamguy at 1:04 PM on June 16, 2008

Read Desjardins' comments over and over. She has a good deal of insight, learn from her experience.
posted by MiggySawdust at 8:02 PM on June 16, 2008

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