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What others Think


Trinity11
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Hi bit of a strange one.

I am dating an extrovert who suffers from anxiety (we are in our 30s)

Theres a reoccuring issue which is he is fixated on what others think of our relationship. He believes that I act differently in a group of his friends (I am new to his city) than I do with him. He says while I'm fine talking with members of the group, but when it is all of us, this is when he thinks I act differently?

He believes this leads them to think there are issues/we are not happy and he doesn't get that couple-y feeling when out. I tell him it's not their business anyway and I doubt people really think about our relationship that much and we know things are great (we are happy) so what does it matter? This does not soothe him.

Im not really sure what he is talking anyway, as I don't think I act differently at all aside from perhaps being a little more shy as I don't have the history/friendship level with his friends as I do with mine (who live in my previous home state)

I asked him what he expects as maybe it is just I am not aware/not giving him enough attention (I've been single for some time) but he wasn't really able to give me an answer.

He sometimes mentions that people will think the same thing about his previous relationships - so I suspect it's some past baggage he is insecure about?

 

Has anyone else dealt with something like this? It kinda gets me down when he suggests we can't/we aren't good hanging in a group.

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It sounds like he is having doubt about the relationship, but is masquerading them as what "other people" might think.

 

How long have you been dating? What is his proposed solution to this - not to bring you around his friends anymore, or? Finally, is he being treated for his anxiety?

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Seems very vague. Does he often spout off or bring issues to the relationship when he hasn't fully formed his thoughts?

 

I think this is a mild red flag. Take his thoughts into consideration but be a bit wary and don't jump off the deep end with him. This seems like a mountain of a molehill and a non-issue. He may be verbalizing or thinking outloud. Some people do that more than others.

 

Give it time and see what else he thinks.

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Not sure what makes him an extrovert. Also, what you are describing sounds like much more serious issues than just anxiety.

 

Fixation on what others think is a deeply rooted insecurity that you cannot ever fix or soothe away. In fact, the more you try, the more you are validating his insecurities and making them bigger. Basically, you can't reason with someone who is on some level disordered.

 

What you are missing is that he is using you as a punching bag for his issues and has done exactly that in his other relationships as well. So nothing new in his behavior and he has done nothing to fix that outside of finding another punching bag. The reason I say that you are his punching bag is because he is blaming you for his issues - you aren't doing something, but he won't tell you what. He is making you responsible for his feelings, which is actually emotional abuse and it's working as it's making you question your behavior. He blames you and it makes him feel better and in control, meanwhile you feel awful.

 

He is displaying some massive red flags so much so that regardless how great you think things are between you otherwise, my advice to you is what you don't want to hear - RUN.

 

What you are dealing with is tip of the iceberg. Lots of people have issues, the ones to avoid are those who make those issues your problem and blame you for them - precisely what this guy is doing to you and it's not his fist time doing it either. No doubt he has lost relationships because of that, but he doesn't seem to care or want to change his behavior, which means you can't help him or change him either. Your relationship can't be that great or wonderful when you have a partner making wild accusations against you and using those accusations to beat you up emotionally and socially. Please think on that long and hard.

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He expects PDA....holding his hand, being absorbed in him in front of others. He's full of it...he's diverting what he really thinks...he jealous of your socializing with others and not paying attention to him. He's being a big whinny baby. Good reason to say "Uh I don't think this is working out..."

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Thanks for your replies everyone. We have been friends for 6 years (in different states) and have been dating seriously for only a few months, we currently live together.

 

Mrs Canuck, He is not being treated for anxiety as while he knows he has it, i guess he feels it's manageable himself? I once suggested speaking with someone with no luck. Perhaps he does think about how we fit, but I do too at this stage.

 

Smackie you may be right, I am probably not affectionate/attentive at all because it is pretty new to me to be in groups as a couple and I don't want ppl to feel uncomfortable.

 

Rose Mosse, he's def thinks out loud a fair bit when processing, I don't so it's something I'm getting used to.

 

Dancing Fool, you make some excellent points. Insecurity is for sure a cause, I just don't know where it comes from (baggage?) What makes it difficult is that he won't be direct with what he needs or would like (ie affection). You are also correct he shouldnt make me feel responsible for his feelings, we are both learning about each other and both trying to be better people, although this is one issue that I'm a bit lost over.

Edited by Trinity11
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He is being passive aggressive and that's a serious personality issue that doesn't change with people. People either tend to prefer direct communication or be passive aggressive and if you don't speak passive aggressive, you are in for a very miserable time with him. Blame shifting is classic passive aggressive behavior.

 

Ultimately, when you are friends with a person, you see a very different and limited side of them, a carefully presented facade in limited doses and when you are in an intimate relationship, you are bound to see a completely different person. Sometimes it's good, but quite often it's not so good. My point is don't base what's happening with him now on how you knew him before. The two sides may not be on the same planet.

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You are living together and have only been dating a few months. He's blaming you for his insecurities. But can't give clear examples of what you're actually doing.

 

As an outsider reading this, I think you're in pretty deep with someone you don't know very well, has mental issues, doesn't want to seek help, but expects you to change.

 

What are you expecting to happen here? The only person you can change is yourself. And even when we want to change, it's still really hard. What has you so invested with this guy that you are even tolerating this situation? Why do you need to change for him? This is

 

That's what you need to ask yourself. Your actions seem like those of a person that is desperate for a relationship. Do you worry you won't find better?

Edited by Lambert
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He wants to be validated that you love him and are proud of him and happy in the relationship, by acting this way when you are out with your friends.

Holding hands with him, staying close to him, complimenting him in front of others.

Those kinds of things would make him feel loved, valued and appreciated and the type of relationship he wants.

 

Are you okay bending more to what he needs and behaving more like a close couple in a group as he suggested? Or will you find it suffocating and not something you're comfortable with?

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Dancing Fool- Very true!

 

Lambert- I'm quite happy in my life and being single but this has been years in the making, covid was the catalyst for us getting together and giving it a real shot. Theres a time frame on this test run. I do find it odd to be worrying about whether other people think your relationship is going well or not though.

 

SherrySher- Potentially bang on the money, I'll give it a shot, it doesn't make me feel uncomfortable at all, I want my partner to be happy, but as I've been single for basically my whole life it's not second nature to me.

Edited by Trinity11
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I went back to reread the first post and had a thought. Is he close to any of his friends and are any of them negative towards your relationship in general? I wondered why someone would be so sensitive to the way they are being perceived as a couple in a group and if there is some truth and validity (which I'm prone to believing there is) in his concerns, is it possible that there is one person whom he knows who is putting seeds of doubt or planting a lot of negativity in the way he perceives your relationship? How well do you know these people and how big of a role do these people play in his life?

 

I'm asking to get a better idea of who these people are in the first place. Second, does this happen around one specific group of people or specific individuals or does it happen consistently around different groups - for ie, a group of work colleagues at a social versus friends at a bbq. You get my drift about the different groups of friends.

 

Are any opinionated family members also a part of these groups, vocal or negative individuals?

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Hey Rose Mosse, thoughtful questions. It happens around different groups of friends, not just one, he's known them for years whereas I don't know them that well.

 

When I met his parents I definitely acted differently but that's because they joke about stuff that I find far more open than any other family I've encountered which shocked me a little in the beginning. He cares how his parents perceive our relationship too. Having said that, a lot of his anxiety is caused by his upbringing/family, they are often a cause of stress as most of the time they do not get along. I feel he seeks approval that I've seen first hand him not getting (rather than a thank you for a job, "what about" is common), so he rarely let's them do anything for him.

The only thing I know about his past relationships is that more than one girl he has dated has gone off with someone else he knows, and one of those girls was quite a disfunctional relationship (it was years ago).

Potentially it's rooted in trust issues?

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Hey Rose Mosse, thoughtful questions. It happens around different groups of friends, not just one, he's known them for years whereas I don't know them that well.

 

When I met his parents I definitely acted differently but that's because they joke about stuff that I find far more open than any other family I've encountered which shocked me a little in the beginning. He cares how his parents perceive our relationship too. Having said that, a lot of his anxiety is caused by his upbringing/family, they are often a cause of stress as most of the time they do not get along. I feel he seeks approval that I've seen first hand him not getting (rather than a thank you for a job, "what about" is common), so he rarely let's them do anything for him.

The only thing I know about his past relationships is that more than one girl he has dated has gone off with someone else he knows, and one of those girls was quite a disfunctional relationship (it was years ago).

Potentially it's rooted in trust issues?

 

Maybe. He may be overall an anxious or distrustful person. In my experience these things don't necessarily get better with time and they may get worse. If you're more confident and less anxious or extroverted and have high self-esteem, you may find that you can't understand him or the way he thinks a lot of the time. I think you should keep an eye on your own anxiety.

 

Either way, take care of yourself and make sure to stay in contact with good friends and your family members. Don't spend so much time around his people or switch things up now and then. Stay safe too out there.

 

I wasn't quite sure what you meant by this. Do you mind elaborating?

 

I feel he seeks approval that I've seen first hand him not getting (rather than a thank you for a job, "what about" is common), so he rarely let's them do anything for him.
Edited by Rose Mosse
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  • 2 weeks later...

Rose Mosse

Yes he's def a generally highly anxious person. He's strong in his opinions and yes sometimes I really don't understand him.

I thought the "different with friends" was a PDA thing, but now from what he's said it's more of a backing him up/time spent with him/laughing at his lame/crass jokes thing. I really don't get what he expects, I don't think I act differently than I normally would (although now I guess I'm not single so that's a transition)

I would say I'm quietly confident, however my confidence dips at times of conflict, as I don't know how to deal with him when he is strong with his overthinking and views, I am not sure how to de-escalate. I feel he expects me just to know how/read his mind sometimes.

He is in a time of transition with friends and work due to covid (and I am in a new city & don't know many people)so it's a strange time.

 

As for the parent that he seeks approval from... He might work on the yard for instance, but rather than the parent saying "oh thanks that's great, you have got through a lot!" The parent will just harp on about another job that needs doing without acknowledging the work he said he did.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Rose Mosse

Yes he's def a generally highly anxious person. He's strong in his opinions and yes sometimes I really don't understand him.

I thought the "different with friends" was a PDA thing, but now from what he's said it's more of a backing him up/time spent with him/laughing at his lame/crass jokes thing. I really don't get what he expects, I don't think I act differently than I normally would (although now I guess I'm not single so that's a transition)

I would say I'm quietly confident, however my confidence dips at times of conflict, as I don't know how to deal with him when he is strong with his overthinking and views, I am not sure how to de-escalate. I feel he expects me just to know how/read his mind sometimes.

He is in a time of transition with friends and work due to covid (and I am in a new city & don't know many people)so it's a strange time.

 

As for the parent that he seeks approval from... He might work on the yard for instance, but rather than the parent saying "oh thanks that's great, you have got through a lot!" The parent will just harp on about another job that needs doing without acknowledging the work he said he did.

 

I just saw your post now. I'm not keen about the way he forces you to bear the brunt of the blame and he seems excessively insecure. I'm sorry but you cannot keep walking on eggshells around a person who is deeply insecure and broken.

 

Keep telling yourself that you are your own person and you don't have to keep taking the blame for someone else's insecurities or issues. We are all responsible for our own actions and thoughts and what we say but there's a limit where you have to draw the line and stop accepting all that blame especially if no matter what you do you aren't able to justify those claims coming from him.

 

You de-escalate by remaining compassionate and leaving eventually if he refuses to seek treatment or change, or you don't sense he is as vested or committed to the relationship as much as he is willing to blame or criticize you without communicating better. Start thinking when it comes to making sense of your reality or your relationship.

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