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I'll try to be concise.


I've been single for about five years. My last relationship was five years, and it ended amicably. Had far fewer issues in that relationship because, although she and I shared an incredible physical attraction, we weren't compatible. I had a conscious awareness of this incompatibility and it made me feel comfortable.


Met a gal about my age (mid-thirties). Dated 8 months so far. Everything is great when we're together. We have fun and are "in love". I believe that the basis for our relationship is a great mix of compatibility and attraction. (I don't want to say more here, because the compatibility/attraction most certainly are not the issues.)


Problem is, I am afraid for reasons that I cannot identify. Here are some of the specific fears: fear of relationships, fear of intimacy, or fear of getting hurt. Tried counseling, and made a very honest effort, but it hasn't helped (been going for a year). When I say that I can't identify the reasons, I mean that know exactly what I'm afraid of, but I can't understand why I'm so afraid.


I think that each fear, when taken individually, isn't really a problem. The problem comes from the collective weight of the fears. Typical stuff: fear of obligation, fear of loss, fear of an uncertain future with work, fear of not being able to provide, fear of getting hurt.


Some people say that it's because "she's not the right one", but I know this isn't true because the same thing has happened the last few times I've met someone great. I'm always comfortable in relationships that won't go anywhere.


Of course, my generalised fear and anxiety cause me to desire distance. Thanks to therapy, I'm pretty good at identifying when I feel this way, and as a result, I manage to stay close. Yes, I am aware of the literature on fear of commitment / fear of intimacy, but I want to know how other people have gotten past this. So far, I'm staying the course, but it leaves my insides feeling quite mashed.


Really don't want to lose her, but I am getting more afraid as time goes on, rather than less. I keep telling myself that it's going to get better. And again, as I said, it's absolutely nothing to do with her.


Our relationship is currently stable, although I've been honest about my feelings. I think our relationship is stable because I've backed that honesty with action: I keep in touch, see her consistently, and treat her very well. She treats me like gold and the thought of losing her makes me feeling absolutely terrible.


I known I need to stop running, but I also want this psychological discomfort to end. To reiterate, this is nothing to with her. I am only uncomfortable because I know this relationship can go somewhere.


I've grown up a lot since my mid-twenties, and I have good relationships with the people in my life. Learned that you get what you give, and as a result, this has been the best relationship I've ever had.


How do I get comfortable?

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Trauma in the past helps you try to prevent trauma in the future. However fear is a prison with an open door, if you don't move forward you keep being stuck in the same place. Without forward movement in your life you are stuck in a rut,Even if it means pain, stepping out of that prison of slothfullness equals to freeing your soul. Pain is necessary in order for our souls to grow.( i didn't invent this)

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Thank you. Like many people, I long ago experienced psychological trauma, but I am unable to see or feel the relationship (if any) between past trauma and current fear. Therefore I cannot see how past trauma drives/creates/inspires the fear.


Want to add:


She and I do not fight, and we have not had cross words or trouble. (We have had normal discussions, but they aren't/haven't been destructive. I would characterise our relationship as peaceful.)

She allows me an amazing degree of independence (which is certainly part of why I've been able to stay the course).

She is a psychologist (but she does not in any fashion act as my counselor).

She's well-aware of these issues and (probably because of her professional background) has done nothing to inflame them.

She respects my boundaries and, with this respect, I have been able to maintain closeness for much longer than usual.

Yes, I have spoken with her, and she listens, but does not analyse.

We see each other twice a week, sometimes a bit more.

We text every day.

My desire for sex drops when my fear rises.

My desire for non-sexual intimacy (kissing and cuddling) has remained high (normal for me).

She is extremely independent, but not in a fashion that indicates fear on her part.


I recognise that some, or even most, of my fears are normal, but it is their strength and persistence, along with the arising discomfort, that I wish to address. I've read "He's scared, she's scared" and several other titles. Bits and pieces resonate with me, but I still cannot seem to understand why I feel this way. Not even after hours and hours of analysis.


Again, this is nothing to do with her. It's neither greener grass nor some subconscious belief that she is unsuitable. This has happened several times now, and I simply have to stop.

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After being in and out of counseling throughout periods of my life, I understand what you're saying. You talk and talk to a therapist, spill your guts, and then you sit there and look at them lying on the floor. Like...now what do we do? Identifying your issues is only the first step in the process.


Hum, if she's a psychologist, have you talked to her about this? She will already know quite a bit about your issues and is trained in exactly how to deal with it. I'm not saying she should start counseling you, or acting artificial with you, but she will know the small phrases and actions to emphasize as they will help to quell your fears, and the small phrases and actions to avoid at all cost. This is a temporary band aid, while you explore other therapies.


If you've been to counseling for a year, then you should have a pretty good handle on your demons. Have you discussed CBT with your therapist? Have you focused on your inner voice? It sounds crazy, but you can change your internal thoughts. You have to talk to them. Don't fight them. Soothe them. Tell them "thank you for trying to protect me, but I don't think I need to be afraid anymore." Practicing this constantly will slowly change your negative internal thoughts.


Also, since your GF is a psychologist, you may also talk to her about EFT. It is an amazing tool for relationship-based emotional issues. It is an intense process, but it can also produce surprisingly fast results. Essentially, your therapist will lead you through your fears to the brink of an emotional precipice, and right when you're about to flash, he asks you to stop for a moment and then asks your GF to speak her quiet truth. When you're in this highly emotionally charged space, hearing the "new" truth about what you fear is immensely powerful. You will feel your brain shake. This will rewire your trauma based fears. It works.

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Thanks for the wonderful reply!


She flatly won't practise or engage with me in any clinical fashion. (This boundary was set on our first date and reiterated several times thereafter for good measure when I had questions that she felt were more appropriate for my counselor.)


You're right about therapy helping me understand my demons. This is probably the only reason I haven't either sabotaged this relationship or simply put on my parachute. On reflection, after reading your post (and other of your posts, and other posts by other people), I think that I'm the type of person who wants to end the relationship before I can be abandoned. If I can't bring myself to end it, then I make use distance to maintain a sense of control and/or reduce my emotional involvement. Actually, I don't think that I'm this type of person. I AM this person.


In fact, most of my distancing tactics are simply for self-protection in the face of some kind of emotional uncertainty. Being emotionally-involved makes me feel like I've lost control, and therefore, it's very difficult for me to feel safe. It's not even the fears that really get to me, because, thinking on it, I have learned (am learning still) how manage my fears. I'm several orders of magnitude less reactive to fear than I was prior to seeing my counselor.


But feeling unsafe really gets to me. When it comes down to it, I never feel safe when I'm in a relationship. It's not that I always feel sharp discomfort either, just a low-level constant hum of danger. I'm very bothered by the constant potential for abandonment, but more specifically, it's what comes after the abandonment that I really fear.


Some things I've realised during this short conversation.


1. Distancing. I use this to regain a sense of control or take an emotional 'breather'.

2. Intractable emotional pain is my most basic fear.


This has been very helpful. Thank you oldenoughtoknow!


End note: Most of my treatment has involved CBT. I'm not sure about EFT, but I can look into it!

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I just have to jump in here -- although, I really don't have much advice to offer. I want to commend you for taking control and deciding to confront your fear rather than continually perpetuating doomed relationships. I recently got out of a relationship with a man who could have been your twin, but his lack of desire/willingness to change or confront his issues resulted in the termination of our relationship. Like your girlfriend, I recognized his issues, gave him copious amounts of space, and didn't push him. At the end he said "I am bad at relationships, and that will not change." I felt very sad for him, because like you, I think he had a strong desire to connect and be emotionally fufilled.


I urge you to keep writing/journaling (whether in a public forum or not) -- I think sometimes when you see your thoughts/feelings in print, they become more manageable, and the fears seem more approachable and less scary.

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Just a few more thoughts. I wasn't suggesting that your GF counsel you in any way. That would not be healthy for either of you, or your relationship, on many levels. But, making your SO aware of your issues will only help you, as in any relationship, and I think additionally so due to your current GF's background. She is trained to see the warning signs, and her training will probably guide her towards helping you, where an untrained person would simply respond from their own instinct/demons/past experiences, and possibly/probably in a more damaging way.


If you've already experienced CBT, then you know what I'm talking about. What I've learned to be the key, is it takes a constant effort on your part. Your inner voice will not go away easily. You have to learn to listen for it every second of every day. And when you hear it, you have to talk to it. Don't let it's negative dialogue go on unchallenged. These ramblings may seem innocuous, but they are poison. You mentioned that you have learned to manage your fears, and in a way, you're right. But the way your inner voice has led you to manage your issues is not allowing you to have a healthy, happy relationship. That really fits more the definition of avoidance than management. You need to retrain your fear that is materializing in your inner voice. When you hear "this isn't going to work, I can't open myself up too far, I can't allow myself to be vulnerable, she's going to leave me someday and I'll be devastated, maybe I should leave first," immediately engage it and start responding. "Thank you for trying to protect me from harm, I think this relationship is going really well, this relationship is going great in fact, I really think I can trust her, she's a trustworthy person, I really believe she loves me, I think it is safe to open myself up and be vulnerable with her, I really don't think I need to be afraid anymore." You have to do this EVERY time your inner voice starts up, and eventually, it will subside. For me, I've seen noticeable changes in my attitude within about two weeks. It may not ever go away completely, but you will now have power over it when it pokes back into your life.


I've also used EFT, and found it to be even more powerful and a much faster alternative. If your GF is already aware of your issues, I would ask if she would be willing to go to an EFT counselor with you. Having your SO involved is the powerful part of EFT. Instead of my previous example of having your emotional guts laying on the floor and wondering what now, you have the only person in the world currently capable of pushing your emotional buttons right in the same room. When the therapist has you in a deeply emotional state, then your SO will talk, look you straight in the eyes, and tell you how she feels, where she's coming from, and why your fears are unfounded. That is a hugely powerful experience and will retrain your internal voice in a big hurry.


I hope this helps.

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Thanks for writing JustNotSure! I've been reading your journal and have been impressed by the way you handled yourself and moved on. It is so inspiring. I've been reading this site for a year or so, and the posts herein are part of what inspired me to fix myself.


I decided to fix myself shortly after the end of my third short-term relationship (I had 3 dating relationships of about 3 months). In all three cases, the gals I dated were amazing, and definitely good/great choices for long-term relationships. At first, I thought "keep dating, it'll take a while", but I realised that something was wrong (with me) after some things that were said to me during the breakup of my third dating relationship.


This is an approximation of what went on in my head:


1. "are you going to keep this up then?" ... "because if you do, you're going to be alone for a long time, maybe forever" ... "you might be harming yourself for the long-term by hardening your inability to commit".


2. "your looks and qualifications are good now, but once you're 40, or once you've been single for 10 years, women will start to wonder if there's something wrong with you, (or worse, they'll know something is wrong with you straight away) ".


3. I also knew exactly what I was doing, but I really and truly could not imagine the reasons. It was almost impossible to tell if I was accurately assessing incompatibilities with potential mates, or if I was sabotaging and finding fault where none existed.


4. You're right about writing, and it was through writing that I began to discover myself. The women I was happy dating were either not really interested, or they were poor choices for long-term relationships (poor choices because of incompatibility, not necessarily through any faults of their own).


5. I was struck by the systematic nature of my pattern of rejecting suitable partners. In my head, it was hard to put it all together. On paper, this pattern was quite plain to see.


Confronting it has been extremely difficult and uncomfortable, but over the past year I've been able to bring my negative behaviours sharply into focus and begin addressing them piece-by-piece.

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I'm just totally impressed at your self-awareness -- and not only that, but your willingness to dive into "change" yourself. Changing things that are so ingrained is not easy for anyone. It's scary and frustrating and feels completely unnatural. It's easier to keep to our habits and patterns and turn a blind eye to changes that seem overwhelming. But, because of your attitude, you will be successful. If it were something as easy as on/off switch, psychologists wouldn't have a job, and your girlfriend would be out of work.


Keep identifying those patterns and fighting against them. It may cause emotional turmoil in the short term, but will be so beneficial in the longrun.


Thank you for your kind words about my journal! It actually means a lot to me that someone so similar to my ex has read about my innermost thoughts, and thinks that I handled things well.

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