Problematic relationship

Postby Aleister » Thu Jan 21, 2021 2:30 pm

Hi to all.

I am new to this forum, and in a problematic relationship for about three months now.

I am a divorced 43yr old man/father of two, having been through all stages of a relationship. My current girlfriend heartily accepted my situation and through our first discussions she opened up a bit about her personal family problems and some of her psychological issues and some autoimmune (controlled kind of) health problems, as well as bad past relationships. She’s a casual pothead as well.

Sharing these with me, brought the ‘healer’ out of me. I simply fell in love with her, and showed her (at least I tried) the good aspects of life. I showed her with my affection that not all men are bad, I try to prove her that she’s a remarkable personality that deserves to be loved, and most of the times she ‘d stare at me, “wondering”, how could she actually be such(?) Unfortunately It seems that her past made her enclose in her emotional safety shell being unable to show or develop her good feelings about me.

The thing is, I refuse to be described as ‘needy’. We humans have emotional needs. We seek attention, approval, acceptance and love, and it’s our right. The more I showed her affection, the more she would pull back. In her own words: “I can’t process or put in order all these feelings that I’m actually feeling about you. It’s too much information”. Still.. I have needs too. I need ‘something’ in return. Am I needy about it? One day I told her: ‘I missed you today / was thinking about you’ in a sweet way… and she acted like she didn’t know how to respond, how to process it.

After a three day period of constant crying alone (yes, we men cry too) thinking all these, I decided to pull back and take steps back emotionally (self-protection), communicate less, less texting, less meeting, and it works (for her). But for me as person who am not afraid to be emotionally exposed, it’s like hell. I’m falling deeply for her, and if you rightfully say ‘go your own way, dumb her’ I’d find it impossible!! Though.. I feel this relationship is like a car on it’s way, where currently “I took away my feet from the pedals”.. slowing, and slowing, until inevitably stopping (feeling things for her in the near future) , and I don’t want this to happen.

I proposed her to seek therapy (I am, and I love the trip of exploring myself), and she is “thinking about it” but I know she won’t do it for now. My therapist said that my girlfriend probably feels ‘threat’ by my good feelings for her due to her traumatic past events/childhood. Yep, she definitely needs help but she projects that ‘independent’ type of hard-working devoted to her work, living alone, woman, who needs help by none.

Now…Should I be instead with a person who’s not afraid to mutually show our feelings? Or stay..and fight it with my girlfriend? The more I stay.. the more I’ll feel for her, damn me I already love her (she has sensed it, and doesn’t feel good about it) and eventually I’ll hurt more in time, since there’s no mutual expression of feelings. I’m so confused, and sometimes I feel so immature about all this.

Some advice/opinions please?
Aleister
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Thu Jan 21, 2021 3:00 pm

Aleister wrote:Now…Should I be instead with a person who’s not afraid to mutually show our feelings? Or stay..and fight it with my girlfriend? The more I stay.. the more I’ll feel for her, damn me I already love her (she has sensed it, and doesn’t feel good about it) and eventually I’ll hurt more in time, since there’s no mutual expression of feelings. I’m so confused, and sometimes I feel so immature about all this.

Some advice/opinions please?


Three months and you have identified that she should go to therapy, because why exactly? It wasn't really clear.

If there existed such a thing as a 10-point "neediness" scale, it sounds like you are a 9 or 10, needing a constant connection and reassurance. She sounds like she is a 2 or a 3, with more limited emotional needs. The only reason I'm not saying she is a 1 is she is not a Buddhist monk.

I know this is hypothetical, but would you agree:
-1- Different people can have vastly different degrees of "neediness"?
-2- It's okay for people to be very needy or not needy at all, i.e. a 1 or a 10?
-3- If two people are very far apart on the scale then the relationship will most likely not work, and that's okay.

If we say that most people are around 5 or 6 on the scale, I might see people seeking therapy/counseling if they felt their "neediness" was negatively impacting their life. But, what if it is not negatively impacting their life? What if they are happy with their degree of "neediness" or lack thereof?

In your case, it sounds like the two of you are way far apart. You are seeking to explore and possibly be a bit "less needy"? Is that correct? And you think she should go to therapy because she is not needy enough?

If I'm in your situation I accept her for who she is. I don't push another person of 3-months towards therapy because I'm not happy with how they express their feelings for me. To me that screams it is not a good fit. Instead, I own it 100% and focus on me and what I can do to avoid a similar situation in the future.
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#2

Postby Aleister » Thu Jan 21, 2021 3:24 pm

Thank you for your quick reply.

You focused too much in the 'punish the needy' factor, and missed several other keywords. I can't quite disagree with you, but we're talking about a woman who has accepted and admitted already the fact that she has issues with expressing her feelings due to past trauma.

In addition, you said: "you think she should go to therapy because she is not needy enough?" is distorting and far far far from what I described as my 'need' from her: to start expressing her feelings (which she has) whatever they are.
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Thu Jan 21, 2021 4:18 pm

Aleister wrote:...but we're talking about a woman who has accepted and admitted already the fact that she has issues with expressing her feelings due to past trauma.


In a 3-month relationship admitting that you have issues is not the same as saying that you wish to work on those issues. To some extent, is she not saying, "This is who I am?"

You placed in bold that you recommended she go to therapy, but she won't do it for now.

In addition, you said: "you think she should go to therapy because she is not needy enough?" is distorting and far far far from what I described as my 'need' from her: to start expressing her feelings (which she has) whatever they are.


YOU NEED her to start expressing her feelings, so she should go to therapy...for you?

I mean, you can certainly rationalize that it is for her own good, that it helps her with an issue she has accepted. Or you can rationalize that it helps you both, that it will help the relationship. But ultimately it is about your needs, no? She is not meeting your emotional needs. You need her to start expressing her feelings. Just because she admits, "I struggle to express myself," it doesn't then follow that she wants actively work on that issue.

It is similar to the boyfriend that 3-months into a relationship decides he doesn't like that his new girlfriend is fat. He wants/needs a girlfriend that is better at meeting his perception of what is attractive. Therefore, he proposes his girlfriend go to the gym or hire a personal trainer. He rationalizes that it is not for him, but to help her. After all, she admits and accepts she is out of shape.

In your case, it is not physical, but mental. You are rationalizing that she needs help, she knows she needs help, so you are just being the good boyfriend, encouraging her to get the help she needs. But it is not some altruistic, selfless endeavor. The same as the boyfriend wanting a girlfriend to lose weight, it is self-serving while framing it is caring.

I don't know. It can be difficult to balance these types of situations. Just my experience, but in an already strained relationship, proposing ways another person can change or "improve" after 3-months typically doesn't work out very well. It generally strains the relationship further.
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