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Thread: Avoidant attachment or something else?

  1. #1

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    Avoidant attachment or something else?

    I am quite a late bloomer to relationships and just recently had my very first one. It only lasted for 3 months before he ended things. I find that I am really, really struggling with this because the reasons he gave for ending it are... well... kind of lame and wishy-washy, in my opinion.

    We clicked instantly when we met and I thought that we had great chemistry, that things were going really well. He was more into me than I was into him in the beginning (this was the first time I had felt like this, or had someone show this level of interest in me, so I wasn't sure what to do with it all). He said a number of things in the first few weeks that indicated that he saw at least relatively long term future potential for us as a couple, and that he was more seriously interested in me than anyone else he had met since his last LTR (for instance, he disabled his dating app profile, but had never done that for anyone else he had dated).

    When he ended things, the reason he gave was that there wasn't enough chemistry, that he didn't feel that special "spark" right from the beginning, and that he just got swept away in the excitement of a new relationship (which, uhh, isn't that the "spark" he was saying wasn't there?). We get along seamlessly (and he later admitted we have great "platonic chemistry") and he seems really invested in the idea of remaining friends, and he also outright stated that he did not end it because he found me unattractive. I'm just struggling to really wrap my head around what he was actually thinking or feeling here, because it's not making sense to me and I keep feeling there might be something 'more'.

    I've been reading about attachment styles for a while now, but I could never quite figure out which one I was because I'd never been in a relationship before - I just knew it wasn't "secure". It didn't really come out until the relationship ended, but I'm quite sure I'm the anxious attachment style, which means I'm likely to find myself in a relationship with an avoidant partner. I'm wondering if that's what happened here, because it would fit the stereotypical avoidant pattern of only being interested in me in the beginning, losing interest when I started to reciprocate interest and it would start getting serious, finding nitpicky reasons to end it, and having an idealized vision of relationships that ours didn't measure up to.

    He has a lot of traits that fit the avoidant style, but also some that don't - he deliberately withdraws from people when he's depressed, he used to try to suppress his emotions, he was open with me about some things but never about how he felt about me/us/the relationship, in the past few years he's had a series of short relationships (I think ours was the longest), and he knows he has a tendency to end things if he's not obessively into the person. But he only had one relationship where he felt like that, and it was one where she clearly wasn't into him. He's still not quite over it. On the flip side, he has been working on himself and on trying to feel things more (he's aware that that's an issue), he is open about some things, and he is actually wonderfully emotionally supportive, both as a romantic partner and as a friend, and he's expressed a desire for close connections with others.

    I guess maybe I'm just trying to grasp for reasons why it wasn't a personal rejection of me or something that I did wrong, that our relationship was actually just fine and it's his issues that sabotaged it. Not only was he my first relationship, he was the first person I ever even liked in a romantic context. I've never had to deal with this sort of rejection before. My brain doesn't know what to do with it except want to curl up and die.

  2. #2
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    I think you maybe over thinking this a tadge and analysing him a little too much , but there is a no harm in a little self exploration , just don't get too hooked on who he is as a person and his life .

    3 months is a typical point of things ending .. it is the crossroads ..do I go on with this person or do I go on alone . 3 months is about right to realise that things will not progress in a romantic way so try not to beat yourself up over this ...you dust yourself down and get back in the game .

  3. #3
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    Well I totally understand having your first relationship and everything like that. We've all been there. Your first relationship usually tends to feel really special and stays a fond memory because it was the first experience. I'm sorry you're hurting but I think if you're going to keep dating, you'll have to realise that sometimes there are no actual reasons necessarily for a break up.

    You say you're looking for reasons that it wasn't anything bad about you and it wasn't personal. Well, you have the reason your ex gave you and I think that is the actual real reason and you should try to accept it.

    When people say "I just don't feel a spark", that's what it means. It means they like you as a person and find you attractive, but for some reason they're just not falling for you. There are a lot of people in this world who are nice and technically suited to us, but it doesn't mean we're going to fall in love with them. I think feelings are complicated and we can't always control them or explain them. Sometimes you just feel that click and chemistry and sometimes you don't. We can like various people but for whatever reason some will progress from like to love and some won't.

    Actually it's common for people to change their mind about someone around the three month mark because that's when they know enough about the person to know if there's a future or not. It doesn't mean you did anything wrong but your ex probably realised that his feelings were not progressing and he didn't want to lead you on.

    I think you're over analyzing and pulling out psychological terms and stuff like that. I mean, sure, your ex may be avoidant but just because someone breaks up with you doesn't mean they have issues. It just means they don't want to date you and that doesn't mean anything bad about them or you. It just means it's not meant to be. And even if your ex does tend to break up with people "too quickly" because he's not crazy about them, well that's kind of normal, isn't it? If he's looking to fall in love and he doesn't fall in love and ends it, that's actually what most people would do too.

  4. #4
    Silver Member Skeptic76's Avatar
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    As far as I’m concerned breakups suck even when the reasons are clear and universally justifiable. I left a toxic marriage with a cheating wife and I was DEVASTATED. So for what it’s worth I understand your struggle and current “curl up and die” mindset.

    I couldn’t say what was on that dude’s mind but I will say that you sound very self aware and emotionally intelligent. I trust your introspection and your willingness to talk about what’s going on will serve you well in the long run.

    Hopefully you get the insight and comfort you’re looking for here. Best wishes!!!

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  6. #5
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    He probably wanted a different kind of chemistry. Three months is short so it's at a stage where he realised it wasn't going to go the way he would like. It happens, don't worry you'll get past this.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear this. It sounds like you just need some experience. There's no need to play sour grapes and research all sorts of reasons he is defective. Sometimes people are not a match it's that simple. In that case you just move on. The time you are wasting trying figure him out is time you're not meeting other more compatible men.

  8. #7

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    Oh dear, going through something similar now. We dated for > 1 month, I felt so much connection, it felt all so easy. But he, and this I know, is suffering from intimacy issues and finally told me he is not ready for a relationship. And I found myself overthinking it way too much. See before that I only was in 1 serious relationship which was for 12 years, so I have almost no dating experience and cannot wrap my head around the thought why is it that you can just turn down something that hasn't even started, no issues, just great time together, and I wasn't even pushing for a "serious" relationship, was very empathetic about his fears and feelings.... And often he told me how good he felt with me, so where has that gone?

    What I found is there is no answer that is satisfying, not one that will set your mind at ease, because you have to find that within you. And definitely contacting him and staying in touch doesn't do you any good, I tried that and it only got me spiraling back to the overthinking phase, as much as it felt good at first, staying away is the only way I find I can heal.

    I also fear that I will not find that level of connection with anyone else, to feel that you can just be yourself 100% around someone who enjoys that. But that's just emotional side, the rational side is that since he decided he wants to end it, he did not value it as much. And that thought does hurt and it makes you think just how subjective your experiences are. I mean, you feel one thing, you believe the other side feels it too, but the actions and decisions made by the other side, shows you otherwise. It is a good lesson, to be more careful giving away your heart, to carefully oberserve and believe the actions, not the words. And trust that if it happened once (for me, 3 times altogether ;) ), it can and will happen again.

    Having said all that I still would like to understand what is going on in his head ;). I mean, I couldn't keep dating a person if I did not feel a spark after say 3 dates, and we had more of them. I would actually prefer if he said there were some things he did not like about me, that I could understand. But feeling scared of intimacy, closeness? This I do not understand...

  9. #8
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    It could have been a million different reasons.

    He could have been sincere in the fact that he felt a lot of hope in the beginning but after spending time with you, didn't feel it was the match he thought it was.
    It might have even been something totally out there like a woman trying to contact him that he had hoped to date initially.
    Who knows?

    As much as it stings though, it's something you're going to have to accept that you'll never truly know the whole answer. You will also have to do your best to not take it personally.

    Feeling heartache is tough and I'm sorry you're going through this right now. I hope if anything good comes out of this, that you will gain experience and learn how to possibly deal with things better next time around.

    Hoping you feel better today.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    No one wants to hurt you after a handful of dates. They barely know you. You barely know each other. So these "what's their defect?" theories can't hold much water.

    Keep in mind there are many variations of "It's me not you": "I'm not ready, I'm stressed, I'm very busy, I'm afraid, I was hurt before" etc all all variations of the same theme. The same insincerity he used to get into the dating situation is the same insincerity he used to exit. It's really that simple. Try not to impose old relationship theories and issues onto new dating scenarios.
    Originally Posted by shecat
    I would actually prefer if he said there were some things he did not like about me, that I could understand. But feeling scared of intimacy, closeness? This I do not understand...

  11. #10
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    The most important thing to grasp when developing the resilience for the slings and arrows of dating is that most people are NOT our match. Even when we feel chemistry for them. That's just natural odds.

    Simpatico is a needle-in-a-haystack rarity, and that's because most people don't own the capacity to view us through the right lens. That speaks of natural limitations, not of any reflection on us. So don't internalize it.

    You get to decide whether to damage yourself with experience or whether you'll learn how to thrive despite breakups. There are no 'good' breakups, and we all suffer from them. I'd make it my private goal to surprise everyone, including myself, with my resilience and ability to bounce back to keep on searching for my RIGHT match. I'd prepare myself for the fact that true love is RARE, or what would be so special about it?

    Head high.

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