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Thread: I can't seem to fully engage emotionally until relationships have ended

  1. #11
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    Originally Posted by mustard
    Mostly due my comittment issues. I had a bad divorce ten years ago that turned me off on the idea, and my parents werent very good role models of a healthy partnership. There were some communication problems, but it was mostly about my reluctance to escalate formal commitment. We basically lived together, she's essentially a part of my family, and our lives were pretty well integrated. It made total sense to move in together but i just couldn't do it.
    Perhaps, she is not the right girl.

    If you think that you have commitment issues, then maybe you should consult a therapist to work through your trust issues.

  2. #12
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    Originally Posted by bluecastle
    A lot here to unpack, I suspect. If you drift into something in a state of emotional unavailability, and have that state validated by another, the odds are very slim that the dynamic suddenly evolves into total availability, into something that doesn't feel like drifting. Reason is simple: How can you take a woman seriously who is taking a version of you seriously that you don't even think is so hot, so serious? If a shadow version of yourself is what gets her "fully on board," you're going to be prone to questioning that, surrendering to it. It's like having a mirror held to you that reflects back an image you don't much like, at which point respect (of yourself, of the person holding that mirror) is basically annihilated.

    I say look at this moment, tough as it is, as a gift. I'll spare you my story, but I went through something shockingly similar: same age gap, same initial expectations, also three years. When it ended, and the smoke started to clear? My whole thing was that if I was going to ever be in a state of heartbreak again—which I was open to, since I wanted love and partnership and all that jazz—it was not going to come after (a) significant time spent on the fence with (b) a woman who would put up with that shellshocked version of myself. To get to that place—well, it required me to get a bit more serious about growing up and scraping some corrosion off the emotional pipes.

    You got divorced at 31, which leads me to think you got married to a youthful love. Can't help but wonder: In seeking someone much younger than you, could you have been trying to replay that story with different results? It's hard to feel like you're growing alongside someone, and able to keep growing authentically, when you have to grown backwards a bit to connect.
    The age gap wasn't an issue because, as I said, the relationship was almost purely sexual. I didn't seek out a younger person and didn't intend it to become what it did. We had an incredible amount in common though and I found myself reaching out to her seek advice and get her opinion on things. I was also very new to dating again, having spent the previous few years abusing alcohol and then being a sober gym rat. It was a time of intense transformation for me and I her presence was a reassuring one. The age difference didn't really become an issue at any point in our relationship, outside of a few practical matters about life-long commitment, which were acknowledged and dismissed. To be very honest, I have never felt more comfortable or accepted with a woman in my life, and that was wonderful. This ease I felt around her might have resulted in complacency on my part. I'm very surprised she stayed on that ride for so long.

    I have to admit that I do not consider myself middle-aged. Being quite bookish growing up, and with a socially awkward father and an emotional hurricane of a mother, I never fully realized the realities or intricacies of interpersonal relations or the sorts of things that I consider adulthood, and am resignedly mystified by them. I'm totally ignorant about the process and emotional sensation of adult decision-making. I have no idea what that feels like or how it should work.

    I might not have considered myself fully invested in the relationship because I felt quite infantile in it, having remade myself almost entirely in the few years preceding meeting the girl. New job, new body, nearly new everything. Thank you for your very insightful post.

  3. #13
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    Originally Posted by LaHermes
    At the heart of the matter Mustard.

    "I had a bad divorce ten years ago that turned me off on the idea, and my parents werent very good role models of a healthy partnership."

    and

    " but it's very hard to let go of the idea that since it has happened once, it could happen again.
    "


    Until you work through these issues and make peace with them I fear relationships are going to be difficult for you.

    It isn't IMO about being what you call a loner.
    Originally Posted by Hollyj
    Perhaps, she is not the right girl.

    If you think that you have commitment issues, then maybe you should consult a therapist to work through your trust issues.
    I'm setting up therapy. This behavior has to stop.

  4. #14
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    You seem emotionally blocked. I'm not sure if I'm reading this right - you're stuck in limbo. Maybe these are commitment issues as the final byproduct but if it is, go through those layers in private with yourself or with a therapist and ask yourself those difficult questions about your past. You may have left out a big component which I'm learning about myself... forgiveness. It sounds very trite and holier than thou but I'm starting to practice more gratitude and forgiveness for big and little things that don't always go right in life - also forgiving myself for the mistakes I've made (though they be few and far between... just kidding).

    It sounds like the relationship was a bit neglected and it happens. It is ok to feel sad.

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  6. #15
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    Originally Posted by Rose Mosse
    You seem emotionally blocked. I'm not sure if I'm reading this right - you're stuck in limbo. Maybe these are commitment issues as the final byproduct but if it is, go through those layers in private with yourself or with a therapist and ask yourself those difficult questions about your past. You may have left out a big component which I'm learning about myself... forgiveness. It sounds very trite and holier than thou but I'm starting to practice more gratitude and forgiveness for big and little things that don't always go right in life - also forgiving myself for the mistakes I've made (though they be few and far between... just kidding).

    It sounds like the relationship was a bit neglected and it happens. It is ok to feel sad.
    I do feel blocked, like things build up and then some event happens and it's all there. I agree that the relationship became a bit neglected or taken for granted. We'd spent a lot of time together under quarantine and I felt a bit restricted generally, but not because of the relationship. I spent a one or two nights a week at my place just to make use of it and have some alone time. On one occassion, my ex wasn't feeling well and I went back to my place. I asked her if this was okay and if she'd be alright on her own, and she said it was fine. ONly after the breakup did she reveal that she really needed me there, and felt unimportant. She says she didn't want to seem needy by asking me to stay.

  7. #16
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    Do you mean to say that you were spending 4-5 days and nights at her place at a time? Or most of your time there? That seems exhausting. Why, do you mind me asking, were you spending so many nights over there? It's good to recharge and spend the majority of time at your own place. This seems to be a bit of a gray area - both of you were neither living together but pseudo-living together.

    I don't think it falls completely on you. If she needed you there, she could have communicated it as well and both of you should be balancing your time a little better or not joined at the hip, so to speak. She needs to stand on her own two feet also and not expect you to be a mindreader. Ultimately her issues are her issues. It's not on you to fix her. Work more on communicating clearly. If you're not sure you can always ask someone if they'd rather have your company or be alone. Past that, it's not on you to be her safety net or parent. Don't slip into that unhealthy place. I feel like you're assuming a lot of the burden and guilt in the break up.

  8. #17
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    I am carrying a lot of guilt. Yes, I spent at least 4-5 days and nights at her place for the last three months of the relationship. It was easy and for the most part conflict-free, but I do need a little breathing room. With everything closed and cold, rainy weather, the only real way to get some alone time was to go back to my own apartment.

  9. #18
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'm not sure how she didn't feel stifled herself. There should be some degree of independence in the relationship too. I'm not a fan of one person solving another's issues or swooping in to micromanage in a relationship. Both of you are adults. She can take care of herself.

    Take care of yourself now.

  10. #19
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    Originally Posted by Rose Mosse
    I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'm not sure how she didn't feel stifled herself. There should be some degree of independence in the relationship too. I'm not a fan of one person solving another's issues or swooping in to micromanage in a relationship. Both of you are adults. She can take care of herself.

    Take care of yourself now.
    I keep thinking of other ways I could have handled our conflicts. Just before she called it quits, I'd had a conversation with her about her weight which almost certainly pushed her over the edge. Over the course of our relationship, she'd made comments about how she feels like I'm out of her league and that when we go out in public people wonder why I'm with her. At first I thought she was complimenting me or seeking some reassurance, but over time I began to see it was a real issue. She is carrying about thirty to forty extra pounds and it wasn't an issue for me. I tried to tell her that I thougth she might feel better about herself if she made some positive changes and that I'd support her in this. She asked me if I would find her more attractive if she were thinner and I answered honestly, saying that yes, I would enjoy being able to see more of her hips and musculature, but that I still thought she was gorgeous. Though she was very upset, her early response was promising, counting calories and joining me on bike rides. Over a few days, something went south and she became almost inconsolable at one point. She said I didn't love her unconditionally and that she would never be confident with me.

    I was trying to help and I repeatedly said I wasn't considering ending the relationship over this issue. I don't know what else I could have done. I obviously could have let it slide but I felt like we were at a turning point and that her insecurity/inadequacy would worsen over time. I tried very, very hard to have an extraordinarily sensitive conversation and I failed.

  11. #20
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Ok this is a valuable lesson. The woman you are sleeping with (or hope to) is always beautiful and fine just the way she is. You now know that the answer to the "does this make me look fat?" question is Never, under any circumstances, "well sorta".
    Originally Posted by mustard
    She asked me if I would find her more attractive if she were thinner and I answered honestly, saying that yes

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