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Trust Issues Destroying Me


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Hi there, ENA. Long time lurker, first time poster. There are so many wise people here, I wanted to share my struggles and see if anyone can assist me. 
 
I (27F) am in a new (4-month) relationship with a man (32M) I am totally in love with and envision spending a long time, if not forever, with. He is an incredible man. I’ve met his family and friends, we have discussed moving in together in the next year or so, and have exchanged many hopes for the future.

However, ever since starting this relationship, I have had CRIPPLING anxiety revolving around fears of abandonment, betrayal, and jealousy. This is nothing new for me. I have experienced this problem in every one of my relationships, two of which were 3+ years long. 

I have diagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have a history of clinical depression as well. I have always been insecure and anxious, since early childhood. I was bullied in school, abandoned brutally by my high-school clique, and grew up with a well-meaning alcoholic mother and emotionally avoidant father who divorced when I was 13. I grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by failed marriages and Hollywood. There’s “trauma” in there but nothing I’d consider extraordinary. 

My problem is that I have developed these core beliefs about men and relationships that I do not know how to change. At the same time, I am a complete romantic and crave everlasting love.
 

My anxious brain has me convinced that all men will or want to cheat. I believe that I WILL be betrayed by any man I am with given enough time, whether it be an emotional affair with a coworker or a drunken mishap with a female friend. I’ve basically convinced myself it’s inevitable that real, forever, loyal, committed love doesn’t exist. And it’s all I want. 
 

With my current boyfriend, I worry myself SICK when we are not together. Especially if he is out with friends or at work late. He knows all about my anxiety and is incredible at reassuring me and at being patient with me. I have had a few too many emotional outbursts and jealous conversations, and I am just waiting for the day it finally pushes him away. 
 

On the one hand, I am aware that it’s all me, my own responsibility, and that he’s done nothing to warrant any of my mistrust. I go to therapy twice a week. I am going to the doctor today to try a new anti anxiety medication. I am starting a new workout program to increase my happy hormones. On the other hand, I feel out of control. Like nothing I do can change my brain. Like I am doomed to always be the crazy, jealous, insecure girlfriend.

I cannot keep living like this. I don’t want to ruin this relationship because of my issues. But I don’t know how to convince myself that these core fears aren’t real. I know it COULD happen, I could be cheated on or could lose someone I love to a coworker, but I’ve convinced myself I WILL. 
 

So please, ENA, tell me. Do all men cheat or would, given the opportunity? Is there a way for me to live a life where I am not constantly worried about being lied to, about the man I’m with sneaking behind my back? How do I stop being obsessive? Stop wanting to check his phone and vet every female relationship he has? 
 

Is there hope for me? 

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What has your therapist suggested for homework or in how you navigate these fears? 

If he (or any partner) does cheat have you thought about what you would do? How would you cope? Walk yourself through it. I think you’re stuck in somewhat rigid concepts of what cheating looks like and aren’t sure how you will cope.

The reality is anyone can cheat, as you noted. You are the other half of the equation that gets to decide how you handle that.

And even if someone does cheat and hides it from you, would you be strong enough to walk away? Plenty of cheaters are liars and won’t ever admit to cheating. You may have your suspicions but ultimately you likely wouldn’t be happy in the relationship. Be strong and know that if a relationship is waning and you’re not being treated well or no longer loved, you’ll move on. You are not stuck here forever. That’s what I meant by rigid. Loosen the reigns a little and tell yourself you’ll manage through whatever life throws at you. 

 

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1 hour ago, BeachyKeen said:

 I go to therapy twice a week. I am going to the doctor today to try a new anti anxiety medication. I am starting a new workout program to increase my happy hormones. 

It's good you are taking care of yourself. Distance yourself from negative people including anyone who has drug or alcohol problems.

Try getting a complete evaluation of your physical and mental health from your physicians. Rule out physical causes.

Make sure therapy is working to replace self-defeating thoughts and behaviors with productive and healthier thoughts and behaviors.

Try not to live in a romcom simultaneously with paranoia about infidelities  

You'll need to reflect at some point if you want to continue to live in the past or move forward.

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There is nothing that warrants your trust issues for now. So how about giving him a benefit of a doubt for now? I get that you have issues but it will destroy your relationship in the long track. Worst of all, it will destroy your mental health. Because you cant live like that. Constant doubting, obsessing over stuff, it will drive you mad. 

Also your whole concept of love is "obsessive" one. He is allowed to have friends, even female ones. That doesnt mean that he would cheat. You need to stop being so preoccupied with that. That means not thinking on that as much as possible. Busy yourself with other stuff. Do you have some kind of hobby like yoga? Maybe your own networks of friends? Does job preoccupy you? Every time you want to think about infidelity, do something that will distract your thoughts. You will do something productive while not even thinking about him. Because again, it wont do you any good in this or any other relationship if you continue what you are doing now.

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3 hours ago, BeachyKeen said:

With my current boyfriend, I worry myself SICK when we are not together. Especially if he is out with friends or at work late. He knows all about my anxiety and is incredible at reassuring me and at being patient with me. I have had a few too many emotional outbursts and jealous conversations, and I am just waiting for the day it finally pushes him away. 

Consider whether you crave everlasting love but don't crave enough getting to know an actual person who you don't put on a pedestal - where it's not about the abstractions of romance and everlasting love but real nitty gritty life that has its ups and downs and isn't always exciting in the way you're describing but exciting to those who actually crave the daily experience of a healthful long term relationship.

Because you know your needy/clingy/self absorbed "please reassure me that you just had to use the bathroom for a long time when you didn't text me back right away!"- is a real turn off, it's unromantic and it's kind of boring too (I've been on both sides, most recently on your boyfriend's side and it's why I stopped dating that person many years ago- and he was in therapy as well and was smart like you -knew what he was doing and prioritized his fears over treating me with respect as opposed to the needy/prying questions).  

I'm really sorry for your struggles.  I understand and you're very insightful.  But then you have to choose to act on your feelings and decide whether to choose your negative comfort zone or the risks of a real relationship.  Moving in together in the future means nothing unless you're both on the same page as to why -it's not a step of progression commitment wise or emotionally unless the couple makes that decision.  And you won't feel more secure even if you're sharing living space.  

You stop with therapy, with baby steps, with choices that reflect facing the fear instead of subjecting this person to your fears when it's not his fault.  Then from a more balanced perspective you can decide whether he is acting in a trustworthy loyal way and you two need to be on the same page about boundaries and what's appropriate and not.  For example I'm not a fan of one of my husband's coworkers because she has a past that raises eyebrows and so I don't like when she calls to discuss work.  But it's irrational -she is married (again), he likes working with her, the end, and they have to have work related calls.  I don't check up on him, I don't think I've ever checked his phone and we've had smart phones since 2015 and commputers/ipads for much much longer - I trust him. If I didn't I wouldn't have married him. 

And please don't hurl all those negative stereotypes about "men" -it's offensive.  My husband is a good person as is our teenage son. My parents were married for 62 years before my dad died and he was a hotty as a teenager when they got together.  Loyal.  My inlaws- RIP -same exact thing.  Married over 50 years. It's as bad as the cliche of women keeping men on a short leash which you're trying to do in your situation.  So you know the answer already and asking the question is not a good look for you.  Treat people as individuals.  And I'd seek therapy -to come up with ways to stop treating this person you say you're so into with suspicion and distrust.  Ask yourself though if you prefer the safety of your negative comfort zone over being with him

And if there are specific situations where you feel he has behaved inappropriately certainly you can evaluate those, yes?  Good luck.

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Actually, you shouldn't even be in a relationship when you have emotional baggage bag you're dragging around. It's self-sabotaging and not fair to a person you're supposed to care about. Get an appt. ASAP for cognitive behavioral therapy. 

How would you like to have a partner who looks at you when you come in from working late with a tingle of pain in his eyes? He's searching for clues you've been with a man, looking to see if your hair is disheveled, if that phone in your purse has a love message from a wild lover. And then he starts an argument about if there were also male co-workers that stayed late, and grilling you about if those men stopped at your desk to chat. Would you deserve that treatment. Would you want to stay one second longer with someone who is making you pay the price for a crime you never committed?

Learn to keep your mouth shut about that nonsense and fake it until you make it. There are no guarantees in life, so you must focus on the things you can control, which might make you feel better. Here is a list:

Choosing to date someone who:

Has a relationship history that shows he's capable of being faithful and wants longterm.

Puts daily effort into our relationship.

Shares my ethics, dating goals, life goals.

Has all the traits I want in a partner.

For yourself? You also have the control of being the best girlfriend you can be. Write out what that would mean and stick to it. 

If after all of that, he walked away, tell yourself every day that break ups are upsetting, but you would survive and can handle anything because you have a good support system set up of family and friends, and a fulfilling life with interests and hobbies. If you don't have what I've just mentioned, make that happen as part of setting up a healthy lifestyle everyone should aspire to.

Good luck and keep us updated on your progress.

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If you keep with interrogating him you are in danger of becoming an abuser. I have to presume you don't want that.

When you feel the urge to question him or beg for reassurance, there are a few seconds when you have time to make a different choice. No, you don't "have" or "need" to interrogate him. That's your anxiety speaking. You can tell yourself (out loud if necessary) "that is my anxiety trying to speak. I choose not to give in".

I also am curious to know what your therapist recommends.  Because if you keep this up you WILL lose him, and it won't be because of cheating.

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I think you have long-term PTSD that you may benefit from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).  I am not a doctor, so you may want to discuss with your therapist about this.  But I am surprised you haven't been given any tools to work through this emotions when they pop up.  My son's therapist gives him exercises to do when he gets a "Blue" (All of nothing, the world is ending thought) Thought.  Things to do if he starts to feel a certain way.  Breathing exercises help. 

But ultimately, learning to love yourself is the biggest difference.  Parents who only show you instability sets up a horrible foundation for you.  And trying facing your fears.  So what if he cheats?  When you explode into pieces or evaporate into dust.  Cheating is a statement about the cheater, and not a reflection of you.  It's not the end of the world if someone does.  You kick them to the curb, pick yourself up, and move forward with whichever way you decide is best for you.

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Maybe ask yourself if you yourself would want your gender to be considered horrible because well, just because. Or if you would want to be personally considered horrible and interrogated based on the actions of others. 
 

I think at this point you are not in any headspace for a relationship. You don’t want to harm another human being . 

Edited by Seraphim
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Yeah, this could lead to some negative effects in time. You're aware of this, I'm sure.

Good you're in therapy.  Have you been in it for a while?

First off, No, not all men cheat.  I have 4 boys and none of them have done that.  Same with my 3 brothers.

Second, I do also feel you're not in a good mindset to be involved again ( at this time).  You should be feeling more 'happy' and ready within.  Comfortable.

You have only been involved with this guy 4 months- which is 16 weeks.  Good, he's been made aware of your insecurities and yes, as I mentioned, it can very well cause some negatives in time.  Pushing him away due to your actions/reactions ( assumptions etc).  I've been there.  it was no good.  Is VERY hard to 'build' a successful relationship.

So, yeah, the work needed is in you.  You need to work through your challenges and the way you view men.  To see that there are many good, decent ones.  But, that there are also some messed up ones.  And often, we don't know much about them until we experience them- this goes hand in hand with being involved - which is by choice.

So, some things to think on.. Do you honestly feel you are okay in this?  Do you feel comfortable around him?  I feel maybe that's a No. 😕 . As, there's no need for assumptions or wanting to go through your new bf's phone.

So, is some serious consideration on where you're at and some thoughts on what you should do necessary?  I think so. 

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On 3/4/2022 at 12:22 AM, BeachyKeen said:

So please, ENA, tell me. Do all men cheat or would, given the opportunity? Is there a way for me to live a life where I am not constantly worried about being lied to, about the man I’m with sneaking behind my back? How do I stop being obsessive? Stop wanting to check his phone and vet every female relationship he has? 

Are you aware that seeking reassurance like this^^^ enables your anxiety? Coming here asking us this^^ is you looking for reassurance like a baby cries for it's pacifier. This is what needs to stop. If you break this habit, it's one step towards getting this under control. There is hope, but it takes hard work on your part with CBT or behaviour therapy. Medication only masks it, it's not a cure and you shouldn't be taking it for long term or your condition will only worsen. When you have a breakdown like this, you need to call a doctor right away or write down your thoughts on paper, then take it with you into your sessions.

Edited by smackie9
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