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Indulge me some more riffing, if you will...

 

So, here's a thought experiment. Imagine, without getting too loopy or cinematic, the rough outlines of the woman you see yourself with. Yeah, she's hot, lights up all those synapses: boils the blood, gets the insides of the cheeks quivering, all that. She's also kind, compassionate, curious, passionate about some of the same things you are, along with all sorts of things that are fully hers. She's got her sh*t together, carries herself with grace, goes about the business of living her life in a way that commands respect. And so on and so forth.

 

Okay, now ask yourself this: If the above woman was a friend of yours, who you cared deeply for, would you set her up with you, as you exist right now, in the world and in your skin? Would you point her to James1982 confident that he could respect and cherish her, deliver what she needs? Would you believe James1982 to be worthy of her and all her awesomeness?

 

I'll leave it there for a moment, curious to hear your response.

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You remind me of a guy I almost met many years ago through a dating site. We had a great first conversation. He called me again to make a plan. He owned an art gallery in our major city. He called me at work. I had to keep things low key while on the phone at work but thought the call was just to confirm a plan to meet in person. Within a minute or so he said I sounded "different". I explained I was at work and typically couldn't do longer personal calls -he repeated that I sounded "different", ended the call, and we never met.

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Indulge me some more riffing, if you will...

 

So, here's a thought experiment. Imagine, without getting too loopy or cinematic, the rough outlines of the woman you see yourself with. Yeah, she's hot, lights up all those synapses: boils the blood, gets the insides of the cheeks quivering, all that. She's also kind, compassionate, curious, passionate about some of the same things you are, along with all sorts of things that are fully hers. She's got her sh*t together, carries herself with grace, goes about the business of living her life in a way that commands respect. And so on and so forth.

 

Okay, now ask yourself this: If the above woman was a friend of yours, who you cared deeply for, would you set her up with you, as you exist right now, in the world and in your skin? Would you point her to James1982 confident that he could respect and cherish her, deliver what she needs? Would you believe James1982 to be worthy of her and all her awesomeness?

 

I'll leave it there for a moment, curious to hear your response.

 

 

 

I would as I know he is thoughtful, kind, caring but at the moment, no I wouldn’t because I think he’s still hung up on his ex...

 

You offer some great advice thank you

 

In a previous relationship I do feel I was ‘settling’ we were good to hang out with yet things were missing for example she was as keen on going on holidays - in three years we never had one!!!

 

We finished and I met my current ex a month or two down the line. Instantly i was hooked and knew this is what I had been waiting for... she is attractive but not you know 10/10 I don’t want to give the impression I am looking for this model miss universe type - I’m not! Just someone I find attractive looks wise yet makes me want to pick up the phone and reply to her message straight away etc

I find i can just take it or leave it with others - pre and post this break up.

 

She treated me bad like took drugs, guys messaging her, didn’t respect or support me, and some other deep stuff...

Yet every day 10 months at most she would just disappear on me... I’d message her and she would not be interested in meeting to talk things thru, just told me we don’t get on we always argue etc etc (arguing true but most people do) it felt like an excuse to get out... after a few days of messaging her I would just stop and go no contact and then wouldn’t ever hear from her again... until I happen to bump in to her (around 4 months down the line each time) and then she would message me.

 

The last time she actually turned up at my place 4 months later of NC begging me back

 

I guess I kind of liked the chase for once... when I gave in a few months later I’m back to NC again constant thoughts of who she is with etc it’s not healthy but I can’t switch off

 

Maybe I just need to get help, don’t talk to other women because it’s not fair. And try to get my head right

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Sounds like a plan, or a start to one. I mean, you just went and diagnosed it yourself. You would not introduce a great woman to yourself right now, so expecting to connect with one—well, no. You need to get the hooks out first, get the head on straight, the heart cleared of some corrosion.

 

I'm about your age, turned 40 in the fall. It honestly took me until just a few years ago to be able to see what I wanted from romantic partnership—like, being able to write down the essentials in a short list, which, for the record, included weapons-grade sparks. Most importantly, it took me to just about 40 to believe I was deserving of that whole list, in the vacuum of myself. Had to become someone I'd introduce a wonderful woman I cared about to, without reservations. Had to fall in love with some parts of myself I hated, I guess you could say, so I could be fully open to being loved, and loving.

 

Fortunate cookie stuff, I know. But genuinely sweet stuff—like, well, cookies.

 

From the little you've offered above? I'd say you've had two relationships, back to back, that epitomize the shortcoming of "settling." They are different sides to the same coin, no? Neither ever really offered enough of what you want and need, but you rationalized it: in the former with the head, in the latter with body.

 

Is what it is. Not a crime, not a personal failing, but just life being lived, experience planting the seeds of lessons. You strike me, right now, as being half-serious about watering those seeds (getting help, letting go of this woman, etc.) and half wanting to avoid that irrigation work (recognizing you'd jump right back in etc.). Well, to that I say it's time to go all in on the former, with more diligence than you have in the past. Forty is a great time in life, to stretch this metaphor right to its saccharine breaking point, to get serious about that mode gardening.

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So you have basically admitted it is you, not the women you meet. You mentally sabotage them before really getting to know them. There are a lot of people of both sexes doing the same thing. They say they want to meet someone and have a relationship but they never get past the chatting phase because they seem to always find something that is wrong. If you look hard enough you can find fault with anyone. Less chatting and meeting sooner is probably a good idea. That way you get to know the real them in person.

 

Who hasn't compared a new interest to an ex? I think everything you mentioned happens all the time to people but in your case it seems to have gone on a really long time.

 

Where to start with therapy? Does your work provide any short term outside counseling like part of a well being program? Do you attend church? Does your insurance cover mental health?

 

Your first step is with your doctor. Surprisingly enough they can steer you towards a therapist. Give the office a call and see if your doctor can call you back when they get a chance.

 

This is all totally fixable. Perhaps getting out some of the baggage that got you here will help. 20 years is a long time...

 

Lost

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Thank you I appreciate your posts.

 

It feels like a drug and the supply has just been turned off. Now I’m going cold turkey not through choice as I wouldn’t of split up with her. We were in the process of going abroad with my job, completed the visa application etc etc then I noticed she was constantly online on WhatsApp which rang alarm bells... then what do you know excuses for not meeting up until the messages to me stopped... then all of a sudden it’s over again...

 

If I was to go back no one would respect me (I’d they still do) my mum even said I’d be on my own if I went back.

 

I’m tired now of this being my life... this break up feeling that everyone on here has been through... that panic and constant brain chatter, over thinking, panic attacks, sleepless nights, fantasies of who she’s with etc etc well I d had that every year for the past 5 years.... I am a fool and no one to blame but me.

 

I’m exhausted

 

I do need to fix myself and I’ve been looking up therapists but how do you know who to choose etc. They’re not cheap either but I am going to speak to one, once I work out which one. I don’t know how it works to be honest

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Thank you I appreciate your posts.

 

It feels like a drug and the supply has just been turned off. Now I’m going cold turkey not through choice as I wouldn’t of split up with her. We were in the process of going abroad with my job, completed the visa application etc etc then I noticed she was constantly online on WhatsApp which rang alarm bells... then what do you know excuses for not meeting up until the messages to me stopped... then all of a sudden it’s over again...

 

If I was to go back no one would respect me (I’d they still do) my mum even said I’d be on my own if I went back.

 

I’m tired now of this being my life... this break up feeling that everyone on here has been through... that panic and constant brain chatter, over thinking, panic attacks, sleepless nights, fantasies of who she’s with etc etc well I d had that every year for the past 5 years.... I am a fool and no one to blame but me.

 

I’m exhausted

 

I do need to fix myself and I’ve been looking up therapists but how do you know who to choose etc. They’re not cheap either but I am going to speak to one, once I work out which one. I don’t know how it works to be honest

Ask your physican or call your insurance for some referrals. Then find ones that are taking new patients. Call to ask for a consultation, as you are looking for a therapist.

 

Then "interview" the therapists. Ask what their philosophy is, what you can expect from them.

 

Google them to see if they have any reviews. Try to make an educated guess.

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Probably just because it would take this pain away give me a rush. Don’t want to be on my own. Im worried I won’t find them feelings again

Probably power too I feel hurt and can’t believe it’s happened again.

All I keep thinking is I’m here feeling awful and she’s there on a massive high with someone else

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No it’s the same pattern it will be ok for a few months then once the novelty wears off no doubt I’ll be back here again... see I know the problem I just got to go cold turkey

 

Yeah I do like my own company like the lockdown it’ll fine with it, I find it chilled out and no pressure I should be out and doing something - you know FOMO lol

 

But life’s better with two right who wants to be alone

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No it’s the same pattern it will be ok for a few months then once the novelty wears off no doubt I’ll be back here again... see I know the problem I just got to go cold turkey

 

Yeah I do like my own company like the lockdown it’ll fine with it, I find it chilled out and no pressure I should be out and doing something - you know FOMO lol

 

But life’s better with two right who wants to be alone

 

I wasn't alone when I was single -I had friends, family, coworkers, co-volunteers, etc. My sister loves being on her own and single. She was married for 20 years then had a boyfriend for 7 -she's only in her 50s and loves hanging with a couple of friends, her daughters, her grandchildren, she works hard (when there's not coronavirus), she loves to sing and she's pretty and has no interest in dating again. It wouldn't be for me but yes she wants to be uncoupled.

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James,

 

I am a do it yourself guy with everything, including at one time mental health. That was until my wife of 20 years cheated on me. I was reluctant to speak to a therapist but my work had a short term 3-4 sessions get you started type of thing that had all kinds of financial help, therapists, life coaches and the like so I set up an appointment and went. It was a pretty big eye opener and the guy I spoke to was straight with me and really helped me see that wishing things were different and putting my hopes on her snapping out of it was foolish. I eventually saw my MD and he prescribed a very mild med to help calm my brain while I sorted everything out. I do not take pills either but I did as he suggested and it helped.

 

Getting that outside perspective from someone that is experienced is very helpful. Give your doctors office a call today and ask the MD to call you back. Give them a quick rundown and see what they suggest. You are not the first person to go through this exact thing and in fact if you read through posts on here you will see your story over and over again.

 

This woman you have been dating is broken and you got caught in her gravitational pull but now is the time to break orbit and get as far away from her as possible.

 

Lost

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No it’s the same pattern it will be ok for a few months then once the novelty wears off no doubt I’ll be back here again... see I know the problem I just got to go cold turkey

 

Yeah I do like my own company like the lockdown it’ll fine with it, I find it chilled out and no pressure I should be out and doing something - you know FOMO lol

 

But life’s better with two right who wants to be alone

 

I think quarantine is a good time for you to grow up a little. The FOMO, wanting someone that doesn't want you, not being realistic in expectations, all good to address now and move forward with life, a much more confident and happier man.

 

Which will make you more attractive to healthier prospects. Its a misnomer that all good looking girls are crazy or dumb [emoji4]

 

The best women are looking for equals, not projects. That's where it's better to be together.

 

I can't speak for others, but I'd rather be alone than with a boa constrictor or a rat, just to name couple of my exes[emoji23]

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I think quarantine is a good time for you to grow up a little. The FOMO, wanting someone that doesn't want you, not being realistic in expectations, all good to address now and move forward with life, a much more confident and happier man.

 

Which will make you more attractive to healthier prospects. Its a misnomer that all good looking girls are crazy or dumb [emoji4]

 

The best women are looking for equals, not projects. That's where it's better to be together.

 

I can't speak for others, but I'd rather be alone than with a boa constrictor or a rat, just to name couple of my exes[emoji23]

 

Awesome!! No cockroaches??? ;-)

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Im worried I won’t find them feelings again

 

This is how the cocaine user feels when the bag is empty. It's a mirage, of course, this feeling. Need to feel those exact feelings again? All you have to do scrape up some money, buy some more cocaine, and do a line. The thing that seems so magical—the high—is actually basic and very easy to come by.

 

Wonder if you can see "them feelings" you're referencing above in the same light. Powerful, sure, but not that special. Not healthy. Making the choice to quit—be it cocaine or a connection like this—doesn't mean you never get high again. Means you free up space to figure out how to find a better version of that high, a sustainable version that actually nourishes, rather than depletes.

 

It's totally doable, if you decide, for real, it's something you want to do. Yeah, there's going to be some withdrawal, some loneliness, some fear. Six months, give or take. But if you commit to six months cold turkey—no nonsense with her, no swiping to erase or replace her—I think you'd be in for something truly wild—the difference between black and white and color.

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Just want to thank people that posted replies to me. It’s nice people take time to do so and help. Even reading the posts feels therapeutic

 

I’m trying to do this cold turkey, trying to block out these negative thoughts that don’t help me.

 

I think I panic, everyone I know are settled, families etc and I’m back flying solo, and I know I shouldn’t but the thought of her moving on having kids and I’m still searching for a partner and not any further forward really worries me

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Just want to thank people that posted replies to me. It’s nice people take time to do so and help. Even reading the posts feels therapeutic

 

I’m trying to do this cold turkey, trying to block out these negative thoughts that don’t help me.

 

I think I panic, everyone I know are settled, families etc and I’m back flying solo, and I know I shouldn’t but the thought of her moving on having kids and I’m still searching for a partner and not any further forward really worries me

 

Can you imagine if you had kids with this woman and she was kicking you out every few months? Imagine the upbringing those poor kids would have had.

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I think I panic, everyone I know are settled, families etc and I’m back flying solo, and I know I shouldn’t but the thought of her moving on having kids and I’m still searching for a partner and not any further forward really worries me

 

What bolt said. I mean, if you're genuinely feeling the pinch and pressure to get on that "settled" bandwagon it should be all the more inspiration to get out of this sandbox. You've had 5 years of the opposite of settled with this woman. That is what you plus her equals.

 

I'm your age—hit 40 back in October—and while I've never been pressed for marriage and kids, I did find that partnership because very important to me. I wanted something deep, expansive, saucy and secure. Once that was isolated—for real—it made it somewhat easy to let go of an ex who, in another life, I could have enjoyed a fraught 6 months to a year of post-breakup heat with. Stumbled around a bit when dating, being a human, but when I couldn't honestly think of someone as a partner I found I could let it go.

 

No need to "block out" the negative thoughts. Let them in, explore them, get cozy with them—without reacting to them. That is how they lose their power, how you heal, shed this husk that is no longer serving your wants and needs. Think of a wound. Yeah, you can keep it covered in a bandage, but that's just step one. Stays open, raw, sensitive. Eventually you need to take off the bandage and let in oxygen, so it heals properly.

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i understand....

 

But! one thing that remains true you cant make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

 

A great spouse doesn't just happen because you're married. Its the whole enchilada..... if they suck as a date, as a SO, they're gonna suck as a spouse.

 

So what's a person that wants better to do?

 

You gotta cut off the wrong person. do not try to fix them or hope if you put in more, they will come around. See the writing in the wall for what is and move on, or you'll just end up wasting more time.

 

Your goal can't be to marry because everyone else is doing it. A marriage is not a trip to Turks & Caicos or the latest trend.

 

I always figured, when I find the right person, I will. but not before. Not out of some panic. To me, that's just more time wasted... and a lot of hurt.

 

People think its just the break up that hurts. But that's just the part everyone sees... Its being with the wrong person that is truly painful; the dissatisfaction, the worry, the negative feelings, the suffocation, the loss of hope and despair of what your life is and what you thought it would be, the longing for more with some embarassment and shame thrown in to really make it messy.

 

Sure, a single person might have moments of those feelings, too. We all do, even married people.

 

But when you're single it can change in a dime!Lightening could strike at any time. It only takes one. And you're the one telling your friends, 'I met someone!' All you need do is be ready for it.

 

Success is where preparation meets opportunity.

And that my friends is for all things in life... you just keep working, keep ploughing through. When its right, whatever it is, it will find you.

 

Maybe your love life isn't going so great right now. I know this pandemic isn't helping. But when one area isn't working, focus on another area. Build up your career or a hobby, reconnect with your family and friends in a way that you haven't in a while.

 

Nothing good comes from panic. Panic is fear and ignorance. Calm, calculated movements... that's strength and awareness. See the person you want to be and emulate that. forget what everyone else is doing. FYI- The crowd is usually wrong.

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I agree Lambert although I think there has to be more emphasis on proactivity and less on "it will find you"

 

I remember in the 1980s my sister and best friend both got engaged and were over the moon (well ok sister did, best friend was about to be). I felt like crap. Yes I was only 19 or so but I wanted that too. Badly. I bought a bridal magazine to look at maid of honor dresses for my sister's upcoming wedding and walked around my city staring at men - wanting to be noticed, to meet a guy. Desperate. Ridiculous right? I got on a subway and a man sat next to me, started chatting me up, asking about the magazine. I overshared about my sister's wedding. I was so desperate for attention I didn't notice he'd put his arm along the back of the seat and was about to touch me. He was probably in his 30s, creepy. Nothing happened. I came to my senses and discreetly got up and walked away. Obviously he was inappropriate but I was so desperate my common sense went out the window.

 

By contrast once I became the right person to find the right person I was able to choose from a position of reasonable confidence. My husband is not perfect. Not perfect looking, acting, whatever. Of course he isn't. We've been quarrantined with our son since March 14. I am shocked to be honest that I feel like I love him even more - even though I have times of exasperation, frustration, even though most nights now he's sleeping in our son's room because my son is having bad reactions to the quarrantine/virus fears - and yes we miss the intimacy of course. But I love my imperfect husband, love his shaggy/unkempt hair, love that he reminds himself to shower lol (because of the quarrantine). I love that he showed my son a Carol Burnett skit right after I made him play "All I ask of you" because I was reading an old magazine article about Andrew Lloyd Weber. And that none of that should have happened because on my watch son would be in bed not doing laps around the apartment at 1030pm.

 

It's all an imperfect mess. He's my imperfect mess, I am his. As my son now says because I taught him over and over about his many toys/property "It's not perfect but it's still wonderful."

 

When you become the right person and are proactive from a position of confidence you'll look for a person not a spark, for a person not a certain look or body type, and you will sparkle to that person so that together you will spark.

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Some great advice in this thread. I know I gave some dating thoughts earlier in the thread. However, given that you've said, as a 3rd party, you wouldn't recommend a female friend date you at the moment, I agree with others that you shouldn't date just now.

 

I think the drug analogy is very very good and I've been there myself with a girl I dated 3 years ago - huge highs followed by huge lows depending on whether she happened to be hot or cold with me at that time. I think even at that time, I recognised how unhealthy that was but, like you have for the past few years, I didn't have the willpower to stop chasing the high.

 

A couple of other thoughts I've had:

 

Firstly, can you avoid any possibility of contact with her? I'm assuming you've blocked her number / social media etc anyway, but I know you've said that in the past, she's begged you to come back when you've just 'bumped into her'. I don't know how far apart you live etc but could you avoid 'bumping into her' by not going to any places that she frequents? So there's no chance of you getting tempted by the high again? Kind of like someone who's trying to come off a drug would avoid places where other people would be taking that drug and might offer them one.

 

Secondly, how's your life outside of dating and relationships? Do you have things going on that give you a lot of pleasure - friends you really enjoy seeing, sports and activities you really enjoy doing etc? I ask this because I think having a fulfilling life in general is important for self esteem and for not placing too much importance on the attentions of a woman.

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