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Love / Need / like a drug / addicted. When is it real?


Rosebud

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I have spent 6 months with someone who is a 'commitment phobe'. I didn't use this term before, until reading tonnes of threads in this section of the site, just following stories, reading responses, outcomes. A lot of what i read hit home and was very familiar to me. Scarily familiar. Some of the stories are warped versions of my story, or versions of my story with a twist.

 

I guess i'd just like to share a bit more of my story and have some feedback and learn from your experiences of what love is, what love demands and what gives rise to it.

 

I've been with someone who I love spending time with, we laugh, we play, we go out, we go on dates, we're comfortable with each other, we both find each other sexy and attractive, the chemistry is perfect, we have a great sex life, our relationship has changed form a lot since we first met. It intrigues me, i'm wanting to know how it would progress further if i carried on seeing him. The more i see him, the more i like him, and the more we are in sync. He says he has "a lot of love for me", and I can feel it too. He's emotional, loving, considerate, kind and honest. Whenever I have a major problem, he's there for me, he would drop everything to put me out of my misery in times when i am in need or feeling low. And me too, I've always been there for him when he's been feeling low. This the closest I've ever been to a real relationship in 6 years. (I'm 24, and he's 35). So it's not something I want to lose.

 

It's just some times the commitment-phobe in him comes out and that's the time i get anxiety. When we have a small fight, he runs, in fact, when anything goes wrong - it's almost as if he's looking for a signal to run. And i say to him: How could you make such a big deal out of this? When he's in a bad mood, he'll start some major nitpicking. E.g. when I left my stuff lying around his flat a couple of times (in early stages), it drove him nuts. He flipped out and said this will never work. I was hurt at the extremity of his reaction. And after we had a fight i simply said: Please, relax, thank you for telling me, I can change that... this is not a big deal. And i did change it. And then it was resolved, and it was never an issue again. And he was pleased about that, almost surprised, as if he didn't think i could resolve such a minor issue. I listen to his needs and I respond. I view minor setbacks and glitches as resolvable, but he views them as something to freak out over. And there's a little part of me that gets hurt inside, each time i see him freak out.

 

So, the last time that happened, I broke up with him. Or he broke up with me. We had a tiny, tiny bicker over something trivial. And he got irritable and said the same reckless words ''maybe this relationship isn't right''. I started out angry, and told him i must be worth very little to him if he can walk away from our relationship over a bickering. I know he didn't mean it, it was said in haste and i knew he'd regret it, but i can't stand hearing the words, each time. Over a bickering... over a small bickering. Initially I went mad and said GO THE F* HOME THEN!!! LEAVE! GO! And of course he didn't - because he never meant it in the first place. We had a drink after that and had a bite to eat and it was as if nothing happened. We had both calmed down. But i knew it was going to be an ongoing issue so i brought it up albeit calmly. I tried to explain to him - no relationship is perfect. We haven't had a fight in 3-4 weeks, why is one small fight such a huge deal? I put it down to his commitment issues. And said I guess this is all because I'm more committed to this than you are. He saw me crying and he looked at me as if his heart was shattered and cried too and said "I can't stand seeing you upset". And therefore that we should end things so he can work on himself, and that he'll call his doctor about seeing a therapist about his issues first thing tomorrow morning.

 

I'm confused about things now, I'm confused about my feelings, I'm confused about love. I don't know if I am in love with him, I certainly feel a strong pull towards him. We care about each other immensely. We love being in each other's company. I live with my parents so i have never stayed over at his house, but every time I am over there, he begs me to stay... what would it take for you to stay over? He always asks. He says he needs me, and that I need him, that we need each other. He even asked me if I'd like to move in with him when I had arguments with my parents at home. I don't know if this is an addiction that he can just shake off, or if he loves me. He asks ME often 'Do you love me?' Well we've never said those 3 words to each other, so i always avoid the question. I don't know why he wants me to say it so much, when he can't say it himself. Once I asked him if he loves me, and he said, "there have been fragments of it, fleeting moments" and i said 'like that time when ... ' or 'that time when...' And he said yes, yes, and 'the way you looked at me when...' and we had exactly the same moments in mind. But I think to myself, is this love?

 

Overall i've experienced very mixed signals. I've met his parents, his friends, he's extremely proud of me as a person and likes showing me off. But we just sometimes get stuck in a rut and get confused. I don't want to waste my time with the wrong guy, or stay in a relationship that is 'bad' for me. But I'm finding it hard to find the strength to walk away.

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You are wasting your time with the wrong guy. Anyone who runs at the first sign of trouble is not the guy you want a long term future with. I'm sorry to tell you this. I can say that you can find 'a lot of love' for someone else and it will be real and you'll both work toward progressing your relationship. Commitment-phobes are very manipulative. They know how to charm you but not get so series. It's plausible deniability. They can't be at fault when things go wrong. They can't take the heat. They dip out of the relationship. An adult who wants a relationship will look at themselves and say 'What can I DO better to make this happen?'

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It IS something, and as your title suggests, it may be love, addiction, fears of abandonment, many things wrapped up together. There are many ways we love one another. Whether it is love is the secondary question.

 

The primary question is: do I want to make this emotional chaos a permanent part of my life?

 

And: what is it about myself that is attracting a commitment-phobe? Am I comfortable being emotionally intimate with someone else? Being known fully by someone else? Sometimes when we are with someone who avoids attachment, it is because we ourselves fear attachment and focusing on their inadequacies allows us to avoid having to see this truth about ourselves.

 

Whether you love each other is besides the point.

 

I'm sorry. These are hard questions at a challenging time, when the dream and the joy of being wanted are also so compelling. Please continue to listen to your inner voice. It is telling you something.

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Thank you for reading my post and for your compassion towards this. It is indeed really hard and exactly right, the compelling dream of wanting and being wanted is very hard to resist and trade in favour of being sensible.

I guess the reason i wanted to figure out whether i love him is because i dont feel this way (the way i do about him) about people very often. If it is love, i wanted to know whether it's worth the effort and the struggle of this push while hes going through a rough patch. As he is very determined to change and always tells me i'm absolutely right when i point out his inadequacies. I just don't know when this will happen.

I want to be able to sit back and just enjoy it for what it is... but i get scared too as its been 6 months now and i dont want to be making a mistake. I want to be sure he wants this as much as i do. But from reading other people's posts on here, ive realised putting pressure on anything is not going to alter a commitment phobe's actions.

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OP, you are right about the whole thing. You can't put a timeline on his readiness. Also, you want to choose him, not keep him because you enjoy the fact that he has chosen you. If and when you let this go, you will again feel wanted by someone else.

 

What may be a new idea for you to consider: While he is undergoing an emotional overhaul, he is unreliable in his ability to be responsible for a relationship with someone else. He will change. The traits with which he is compatible also will change. When he no longer needs fixing, he may choose someone else. You, who are choosing to stand by someone who needs to be fixed, also may choose someone new, once he is fixed.

 

I suggest you accept that you will love more than one, and that you will require your life partner match to be someone whom you love so well that they don't need fixing to have your full heart.

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Thanks for this advice.

 

I think the reason it's been so confusing is because he is constantly changing, and thus so has our relationship been constantly changing. It's had some serious highs and some serious lows. When things are going well for him he appreciates me in a different way to when he's on a low.

 

Feel overwhelmed and i also feel sad over it ending. I want to write him an email telling him about all my reflections but not in a way that obsesses over him or us, but just how i think things went and expressing what i liked and what i enjoyed about our relationship and what worked and what didn't and how i feel about life in general. i dont know if that's a bad idea, it feels natural because of our friendship that developed, but at the same time if i received a cold response i'd probably feel uncomfortable.

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I suggest you write that as an essay to yourself, first. Then, if after a time you feel you want to write something, use a paper and pen. Not email. It will force you to say something in a way that (1) would represent you well with the passage of time, and (2) will not require a response.

 

The friendship needs to end as well.

 

I am sorry, it just does. You two are stuck in an input/feedback loop and that loop is part of the addiction. The sooner you break it, the easier the recovery.

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Broke up and haven't been able to handle it. Severe anxiety attacks for a few days and then i caved in and called him up last night. I had not sent him any texts or emails prior. But on the phone i laid all my misery out and just told him exactly how bad it's been for me. I dont know if this was a mistake or not. It probably was a mistake. He was nice about it, but what else can he do, I guess.

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Broke up and haven't been able to handle it. Severe anxiety attacks for a few days and then i caved in and called him up last night. I had not sent him any texts or emails prior. But on the phone i laid all my misery out and just told him exactly how bad it's been for me. I dont know if this was a mistake or not. It probably was a mistake. He was nice about it, but what else can he do, I guess.

 

You'll have moments like that but you'll be okay. It sucks in the beginning. Six months of fighting and no mention of the direction, future or love is a dead end relationship. And I have to echo that being with someone who's "fight or flight" instincts are always 'flight' becomes draining, tiring and a real turn off after some time. If you're always the one resolving things and catering to his fragility then you'll come to think there's something wrong with YOU, as the other person is way too casual and can take you or leave you. Its not a healthy choice when you can absolutely find someone who loves, values, honors and respects you.

Don't beat yourself up...just go back to not talking/texting/communicating and keep moving on. Time heals. It IS painful so I can't diminish that. But it'll pass.

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