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?