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Thread: I am obsessed with dating and finding the one

  1. #1
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    I am obsessed with dating and finding the one

    First of all, thank you to everyone who responded to my two questions yesterday. It was a much needed during a moment of weakness. I think I have dating/relationship anxiety or attachment issues. I have a dismissive avoidant attachment style, but as soon as I like someone, I anxiously over-attach. I crave to be in a committed relationship and strongly dislike being single.

    Some background. Growing up, my dad worked from home and we barely spoke. My mom was a homemaker and did everything for us. She did not cater to my dad’s every whim however, and encouraged me to be independent. I was “best friends” with a bully from 2nd to 5th grade. In 6th grade, finally hung out with a new group but they all moved away to different middle schools. In middle school, I hung out with 8th graders during 7th grade, and 7th grade during 8th grade. Needless to say, I never made any meaningful or lasting friendships.

    Freshman year of high school, I became friends with a girl who eventually turned into bully #2. She isolated me and a few other friends, so I had to find a temporary group to hang out with. For most of high school, I was a serial monogamist. I usually spent lunchtime with my boyfriend and/or his friends. When we broke up, I had to find a new circle to be around. College was a similar experience. I had 2 boyfriends in high school and 2 in college, all of which lasted about 6 months. I was always the one to break up with them, due to boredom and incompatibility. Which made sense considering I never put much thought into who I was going to get with. I also dated people in between.

    I broke up with my last college boyfriend right when I turned 21. I was single for four years from ages 21 to 25. I always longed for a boyfriend but was otherwise content with my life, just working and enjoying time alone. I didn’t really make any meaningful friendships in high school and college (or ever). But I loved being alone and doing whatever I wanted. I even said I “hated people” for a bit.

    When I was 25, I decided to try online dating. I dated three men for a couple of months. All of the others dates I went on were only one-time as I wasn’t interested. There was no in between. I broke up with Guy #1 because when I asked for exclusivity after two months, he said he had “fear of commitment.” Guy #2 kind of ghosted or did a slow fade after one month. Guy #3 also did a slow fade after three months. I was DEVASTATED after all three “breakups”. I cried and cried. I would definitely say I took it a lot harder than I “should” have for having dated someone only for a couple of months who weren’t even my boyfriend.

    I soon realized that it was because I had nothing else going on in my life. No friends or hobbies, etc. And then when I started dating someone, they became everything and everything new to me. So I decided to join meet-ups I had the time of my life for a few months. I met so many people and we tried so many things together. For the first time in my life, I felt truly happy and excited. I still aspired to be in a relationship, but I wasn’t “looking.” I had a consistent group of wonderful friends.

    I told myself that in the future when I’m finally in a committed relationship, it won’t be like my high school & college relationships. I won’t just be with anyone or break up due to boredom. I will put in the effort it takes to be in a long term-committed relationship with the person I love. Assuming of course, the relationship was healthy and someone I wanted. It was a promise to myself and not to anyone in particular.
    At one of these gatherings, I unexpectedly met my ex-fiance who became my first serious/committed relationship. Unlike the guys I was used to, he made it crystal clear that he was committed to me. We dated for 3+ years, living together for most of it, and were engaged. I was truly happy that I waited for the right man. Then right after we became engaged, he turned into an entirely different person. He was emotionally abusive—controlling, manipulative, gaslighting, disrespectful, and most of all—constantly lying. He was constantly going out and not wanting to address where he was going. Eventually, out of guilt, he confessed to having an emotional affair and doing cocaine, mixed with marijuana, nicotine, and alcohol, all of which he had never shown an interest in before.

    I tried to convince him to get help, but I broke up with him not for the substance abuse, but because he wouldn’t end the affair in the way I wanted. After speaking to some friends after we had broken up, they told me that a memory that always stuck with them was that they saw him steal a bottle of water once when we were all hanging out. I was shocked (I mean, stealing too, on top of everything else?!). I also started seeing a therapist who suggested he seems to have severe depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem problems. During this time, even though he was hurting me, he was hurting and crying a lot himself. He told me that he destroys all of his relationships like this and doesn’t know why or what to do about it. I tried to encourage him to seek his own therapist but he wouldn’t. I knew it would never work if he didn’t get help. When we broke up, I sent a long letter to his family letting them know everything. It made leaving him MUCH easier because I could rest easy knowing I loved him the best I could and did everything I could for him.

    Prior to our breakup, it was 3 months of endless anxiety. I lost 20lbs due to having no appetite. As unrealistic as it sounds, I got over him within five weeks. I still remember how I felt each week. The first week was complete depression. I couldn’t function at work and took the whole week off. The second week, my appetite came back. I was STARVING. I was still sad & empty but the fog had lifted and I have never felt so relieved and “normal”. By the fifth week, I stopped thinking about him. When a mutual friend told me they met him and he was still doing cocaine, I was surprised that I felt NOTHING. The only feeling I felt was affirmation that I made the right choice in leaving him. I was proud of myself and my progress. When we FIRST broke up, my stomach dropped when my friend said he had stolen something. No sympathy or sadness this time. That’s how I knew I was over him.

    It’s been several months since my ex-fiance and I broke up. I’ve been focusing on myself. I’ve been eating healthier, exercising, sleeping better, spending time with friends, reading, and checking out meet-ups. I’ve been feeling so much better after spending time on myself.

    I eventually was ready to date again, but as soon as I started going on dates, I felt worse. I feel empty after every date in which I feel no chemistry. Then, there was one person whom I felt great chemistry with (whom I posted about yesterday). I asked for a third date and he declined. I wanted to be the type of person to just think, “Oh he’s not the one. Next!” But I find myself thinking he’s the one that got away. I’m completely and overly attached, just like I was with all of the previous men I dated. I don’t think it’s healthy. In between the dates, I obsessively researched him online and read his forum posts. I think it made me more attracted & attached to him. I made me want him more because the more I realized how talented/intelligent he was, the more I felt he was out of my league.


    As soon as I read his text message reply declining my invitation, all of my limbs went numb, weak, and tingly. My hand started to shake. I felt extremely anxious all evening and a bit anxious today. It makes me want to stop dating out of fear of getting hurt. But at the same time, it makes me want to keep dating in hopes I’ll meet someone else to transfer my attention away from this obsession. I’m upset that there’s only two scenarios for me when it comes to dating: Either I’m not interested and he pursues, or I happen to be very interested and he’s not. It hurts. I tell myself before every date not to get prematurely attached. But I always attach quickly, if when I like someone.

    I feel so heartbroken that I can’t find the love I want. I feel like the men I like or love always end up leaving me. I usually have very high self-esteem and don’t accept less than what I want. I’m usually great at setting boundaries. But being rejected by my date yesterday really took a toll on my self-esteem. I know I’m a catch, but right now I feel like I’m not good enough for the men I like. Maybe I’m good enough for the men I don’t like. Why can’t I find someone with whom there is a mutual chemistry/connection/compatibility?

    I think I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to men I date and actually like. I have a lot of fear of getting hurt due to my obsessiveness and tendency to prematurely attach. But I also know a lot of it comes from past experiences such as with my ex-fiance (a lot had happened but too much to write). So I’m not going to punish the next man for what he did. I’m ready to be myself, to trust again, and to be vulnerable. My ex-fiance was a blessing in disguise. I learned a lot from him and learned to never settle. I think I have a lot of conflicting feelings. I feel confused and all over the place. What am I saying?! Lol

    The other thing, which I won’t get into a ton of detail since this is already so long, is that I have very few meaningful non-romantic relationships. My immediate family is not close, I have no extended family, and never made any meaningful friendships. I have a few close friends. But the problem is that I get bored very easily and tend to switch/ditch groups. Ideally, I would be married & committed to one man, but have an ever-changing social group. I don’t think this is a problem to “fix” because I’m happy with the way I am, but I wonder if this has any negative affect on the way I approach romantic relationships.

    In a nutshell, being married is the greatest aspiration in my life and I know it will never change. But I am hyper focused on the idea. I want to be in a committed relationship so badly. I want to be with the right person and I am so tired of dating and searching. I feel like I won’t be 100% happy until I find the relationship I want. I feel so empty and unfulfilled.

    Any thoughts? Do I have a problem? How much of this is normal?

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    Well, I'd imagine it to be quite annoying being engaged and then to have it fall apart or discover a person is not what you thought they were. I feel like you have unfinished business in that area and your plans ended prematurely. That can leave anyone hanging and feeling interrupted.

    I'd stay away from whichever forum you are going to and don't spy on him anymore. Leave him alone and do yourself a better service by practicing going out alone and doing things on your own. I think you are very lonely. It's ok to feel lonely. We are a social species as humans and depend on interactions with each other to survive. Our cognitive abilities and mental health thrive with positive and healthy interactions/relationships with others. Respect is key. Confidence in yourself goes a long way. Don't be afraid of striking out and enjoying some alone time - really, positively, fruitful and enlightening alone time. Date only when you feel comfortable being alone with yourself.

    Be respectful of this person's wishes. Respect yourself a little more too and have more faith in yourself. I think you need more faith. It's also ok to feel down when things don't turn out the way you want them to. Don't stay hung up on it forever though. Where's the fun in that?

  3. #3
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    So much chew on here!

    My gut thought, reading every word of this, is simple. Namely, that you sound pretty awesome. What comes through is a mix of warmth, intelligence, awareness, resolve, resilience, and verve—great stuff. So, hey, take a deep breath and celebrate that for a hot second. All that is real and forever, a delicious stew that's just going to get more flavorful, especially if you give yourself time to stir it.

    As to the meat of your ruminations and concerns: I'd say that, yes, it's all normal. And that, no, you don't have a problem. I'd diagnose it all as "you're a human" while, again, encouraging you to take a deep breath and celebrate that humanity, including the parts that feel pretty lonesome today. I'm dead serious here. Stop reading, stop Googling, stop clicking for answers. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Take a few. There's more information in those inhales and exhales than anything I, or anyone, can offer. DO IT.

    Okay, welcome back.

    Thing is, so long as you view your unmarried self as "abnormal" or "problematic" or "incomplete" you're going to be operating from a vulnerable place that isn't conducive to genuine connections. As someone deeply flawed and incomplete, in short. Since water seeks its own level, you're likely to find yourself connecting to people with a similar self-conception, which isn't exactly the stuff of partnership. In obsessively looking for someone else to "fix" that flaw or "complete" that puzzle you're likely to not connect with the people who have it in them to celebrate the full you, since they're too busy shuffling around their own broken pieces to see past their own nose. And that person who is full enough to have space to celebrate you, ultimately, is going to be the person you want to marry, at least if you're into being happily married.

    So maybe there's a way to keep your eyes on the prize, but change the steps you're taking on "winning" it?

    It seems you've been on that path before, for a bit, back when you were in the hobby-exploration phase and "truly happy and excited." What a state of being! So confident, with that confidence coming not through analysis but through the action of living. Probably the state of being you'd like to share with someone, and to find someone who compliments. Probably this is a moment to get back to that place.

    What caught my eye about that chapter—what struck me as a little detour from it, while in it—was this "promise" to yourself to put in "the effort it takes to be in a long term-committed relationship." Good stuff, there, and awfully noble-sounding. But also? So pressurized, so heady. A return to analysis, a pause on action. It turns the idea of a relationship into a abstract reward for certain behavior, which is kind of a back-step into the "flawed" and "incomplete" mindset. We can train for marathons, sure, and if we train hard enough we might win; but we can only live to get into relationships, which are a reward for living.

    Your post reminds me of a conversation I had not long ago with my best friend, who shares a similar nature to yours. We were in Costa Rica, where we meet to surf every year, renting this beautiful home. We were both single at the time—me 39, him 35. We were talking life and love, as we do, and he made a comment about how, next year, he will be on this same trip with a serious girlfriend. I replied, "I'd like that myself, but that's an impossible goal. Besides, look at the waves—let's go surfing!"

    Today I have a serious girlfriend—something I very much wanted, but not something that feels like a reward or the fulfillment of a promise I made to myself. He spent a few months still talking a lot about "optimizing" himself to be "relationship material," and spiraled into a dark place, clinging onto every "match" as the foothold toward his future self. Then he ended up moving to my city, where he's loving being alive, where we surf a lot, and where he's suddenly not so pressed to be partnered up. As a result, he's becoming a better catch because he's becoming more comfortable in who he is as opposed to who he isn't. He's meeting people without turning them into projection screens for his goals and fantasies after an hour of good conversation.

    Out of his head, into his body.

    I'd encourage some of that for you. Clench anything too hard and it snaps; grip it more loosely and it can expand. I'd make a promise to yourself to go about filling yourself up a bit more, taking this momentary low as life asking you for some self-nurture. When you're a bit more full the inevitable blows of dating won't sting quite the same way, allowing the heart to stay open but self-protected, and therefore not so thirsty. Though your last relationship didn't go as you'd hoped—and I'm really sorry about all that—I don't think its an accident that it came out of a period where you were focused on filling up yourself instead of being filled up by someone else.

    Not sure any of that helps. Lots of my words to meet lots of yours. Still, deep breaths and small steps. That's really the key.

  4. #4
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    "So maybe there's a way to keep your eyes on the prize, but change the steps you're taking on "winning" it?"

    Yes I agree. Marriage was always my goal too and I didn't buy that whole thing of "you have to be happy being single". I had a fun fulfilling life for sure being single and I understood there was no guarantee of meeting the right person of course but no way was I going to tell myself to feel happy being single and let go of my goal. I did both, I was completely honest with myself that no I would not feel totally fulfilled and happy without being married and having the opportunity to have a family. I never related to all those positive descriptions of being single and in fact I feel much freer being married - because before I was married I didn't feel free to spend my sparse free time pursuing things that had nothing to do with directly or indirectly meeting a potentially good match. And at least where I am, where I live -it's easier to be married/part of a long term couple in general than single. I'm not saying being single is bad. It can be awesome, good, all that stuff - I just knew it wasn't enough for me.

    But as BC put above - being desperate won't get you there. Being hyper focused won't get you there and likely will backfire. Becoming the right person to find the right person means that while you're proactive about meeting people and not just men -also women who might know single men to introduce you to - and not to "use" those women -to form friendships where you both can help each other whether it's with meeting people or something else. Be proactive but without being desperate. Be out there regularly meeting people, being involved in activities, and you must get out of your comfort zone if marriage is what you really want. Of course you want to meet someone you are comfortable with but meeting that person might involve getting out of your comfort zone.

    I wanted to get married in my 20s. I didn't get married until my early 40s and married someone who was wrong for me in my late 20s/early 30s and right for me 7-8 years later. Life is strange that way. I feel you, I get what you are going through and that's my two cents.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear this. Keep the focus on you. Don't try to diagnose, fix or change anyone, it's suffocating. Dating is what you see is what you get. It's not a project for you to pick apart and start laser focusing on. By doing that you are simply avoiding looking at your own issues and instead putting them under a microscope.

    For example, you mention going to therapy but them claim your therapist diagnosed them! No. Focus on you and only you. Stop making men your pet projects. When you do that and accept people as they are, you'll make better dating choices and the good ones won't run like hell when they sense your lack of boundaries. When you get healthy you'll attract healthier men.

  7. #6
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    I do see an issue with all this in the sense that it doesn't seem like you see yourself as an individual, complete person unless you are with a guy. You've never really made close friends and you always keep changing friendship groups. Seems to me like you never really invested that much in friendships, which is why you've never really had them.

    You say you don't mind about not having friends and you'd be happy to just spend all your time with your guy. But the trouble is that most people like being their own person and having their own life too. Most people don't want to be "joined at the hip" with their partner. So this kind of behavior would actually be likely to push guys away. I don't think that many people would want to be with someone who has no friends and no hobbies or interests, but just obsesses and fixates only on them. That's smothering. I think if you want marriage and so forth, this is actually a sure way NOT to succeed.

    Another thing to add that if you treat friends as disposable and just keep changing them, if your relationship ends, you end up all alone. With no friends to support you. I think not having friends is quite detrimental but that's just me.

    Then when you end up alone, you keep looking for the next guy to fill the void. It's absolutely fine to want a relationship but not just with anyone. I think it's not healthy to try to latch on to any guy the minute you're single. I doubt you were that into the guy you had two dates with but you're just so scared to be single that you put all your high hopes into him. Guys can smell a desperate woman and that might be scaring them away too.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    So I decided to join meet-ups I had the time of my life for a few months. I met so many people and we tried so many things together. For the first time in my life, I felt truly happy and excited. I still aspired to be in a relationship, but I wasn’t “looking.” I had a consistent group of wonderful friends.
    What happened to this stage of growth, and why not invest in recreating it?


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