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Posts Tagged ‘Long Distance Relationship’

I’m trying to take stock of the dating lessons I have learned over the last year. I can honestly say I am not the same person I was 12 months ago. I have had a lot of positive personal growth and still have more to do. (Personal growth should never stop in my opinion.)

Consistency is a big lesson I have learned. For me consistency builds trust. When behavior and availability is consistent, I trust more and can open up more. Inconsistent behavior and availability makes me think a person is flakey and can’t be depended upon. I don’t go into jealous girlfriend mode and wonder about cheating or who the guy I am dating with is spending his time, but I do wonder about his interest and sincerity.

Not all consistency is good either. There were two guys who would always text late at night. With one it made sense because he worked evenings, but with the other it didn’t make much sense. Instead, I began to wonder about his actual motives and finally decided it was more physical than emotional. (I don’t think I am ready to get married tomorrow, but I know I am not interested in a purely sexual relationship.)

Making excuses is something I don’t always realize I am doing when I am doing it. My awareness is improving, but it remains a challenge. I tend to make excuses for the person I am dating. This ranges from instances when my feelings get hurt to when they are not responsive. My self-appreciation is increasing and I am starting to realize I deserve to be treated with consideration, respect and eventually love.

Passion isn’t an indicator of love or genuine interest. Again, there’s a difference between physical attraction and compatibility and an emotional connection. Just think of how many hook-ups are alcohol induced! These are mostly physical connections with no real depth to them.

I don’t think strong passion is something that is always present in a relationship. Attraction and passion ebbs with high and low periods. That’s where other elements kick-in that make you want to invest the effort to keep the relationship going. This is when it takes both people investing effort to keep the relationship going and alive.

A big lesson learned is that actions should match words. I’m included in this bucket too. If I review my past, there are definite times when I just went with the flow of a relationship because it was easier than breaking up or because I felt guilty. Wrong move! You can’t force emotions.

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I broke up with my boyfriend the other week. I feel horrible for breaking up, but I know it was the right decision. He’s an amazing guy, but there are certain differences and behaviors we can’t bridge. I guess it’s more of me not being able to bridge or accept those differences.

I’ve talked about concerns with his drinking and those concerns came to a head one recent weekend. It made me realize that I don’t want to be someone’s caregiver in that way. I most definitely want to be someone’s lover and not a potential lover’s mother.

The break-up was as good as a break could be. There’s sadness on both sides, but I know his heart is broken more than mine is. I don’t think he understood how deep my concerns where when we talked about them before the break-up happened. Now he is running through the what-if scenarios. I HATE hurting people. Too often I compromise myself in order to avoid hurting someone.

What I find interesting is the selective memory that follows a break-up. I find myself remembering only the amazing qualities and fun memories. I guess it makes sense in a way because you aren’t seeing or dealing with the stuff that you don’t like.

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I’m learning my relationship fears are not fears that most people share with me, so this one comes as no surprise.

When do you plan a vacation with the person you are dating? Let me rephrase, is it smart to plan a vacation that will cost a couple thousand dollars per person when you aren’t sure about the future of your relationship? I don’t think we will break up tomorrow, but I don’t know about 4 months from now. I’m not that secure in the relationship or with my judgment to know this relationship will last for whatever time period.

When I think about planning a vacation together, I begin to think of the vacation as an obligation. (I’m terrible with obligations.) My mind creates these crazy scenarios of us breaking up before the vacation, but having to go together because of the money we invested even though we hate each other. There’s also the anxiety of spending a full week or more together 24 hours a day. I enjoy my space. Yes, I get lonely sometimes, but I also enjoy the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want.

I know I want to be deeply in love someday. I also know at some point I need to let go of my fears and just run with whatever emotions, hopes and dreams I might have. I’m just not there right now and so I keep building my wall.

My compromise on the vacation issue is to buy vacation insurance. (Feel free to laugh, I am.) Obviously, the man I am dating isn’t thrilled to hear my fears or my compromise, but it works for me.

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Sometimes I wonder what’s the matter with me? I have a protective strategy where I disengage and push emotions deep inside until they are almost hidden everyone – me included. I’m concerned I have turned this into more of a daily behavior than an “in case of emergency” one.

For example, I thought I was falling in love with the man I am dating. Perhaps I did, but somewhere along the way I pulled back and I don’t know what I feel. I know what I am supposed to do and say if I love this person. I also know what this person expects of me. This allows me to continue on in a muted state without much visible difference in the way I act. I don’t think this is normal. Yes, everyone has their ups and downs and every relationship does too, but this is different. I feel like a scripted character.

Here’s where the problem becomes complicated. I don’t know if I am feeling this way because I am scared of committing or if I am not into the relationship anymore. It’s hard to know when you don’t trust your judgment.

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I remain confused. I was going to say conflicted, but confused is more appropriate. Maybe overwhelmed.

I’ve been dating the same man for almost 6 months now and struggle more and more each day. I don’t struggle because he doesn’t like and I don’t struggle because I don’t like him. It’s the exact opposite. Caring about this man creates a level of vulnerability I am not comfortable with.

I should step back and say this is the first time I am in a significant relationship with someone who wasn’t a close friend for a while. I did date two other men, at different times, for about eight months or more each, but I knew those relationships weren’t going anywhere. I wasn’t in a place emotionally to get emotionally invested and so I haven’t had to face these challenges before.

All relationships are tricky for me. I grew up in an unstable household where there was mental illness and substance abuse. Along with the mental illness there was also emotional abuse. I learned early on to control my emotions and especially my expectations so that I wouldn’t get hurt. I learned to ignore my wants and needs because it was easier to ignore them than to deal with a fight. I became a fixer and learning to blend into the background at the same time.

Now I am finding it hard to express strong wants and take the risk of exposing vulnerability. Emotion and anticipation were weapons wielded against you, so it was best to remain protective or guarded. This is my default coping mechanism. My subconscious works overtime thinking of ways to protect myself in the future that I am not living in the moment and enjoying the current experiences of new relationship.

I’m trying to change my default coping mechanism, but know it will take baby steps.

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I’m not quite as confused today as I was a year ago or even a few months ago, but I am still confused when it comes to dating and relationships.

The first issue I am facing is a no-drama, healthy relationship. Most people will read this and think I am crazy, but remember my crazy family, upbringing and even previous marriage. The man I am currently involved with is drama-free, attentive, mature and considerate. He’s not perfect, but I don’t want perfect.

What I wasn’t expecting was a feeling of “boriness”. Coming from a drama-ridden and chaotic perspective, healthy and drama free can feel boring. We laugh and enjoy spending time together, but there’s not that adrenalin rush that comes with crisis. While I LOVE the no-drama and healthy aspect of dating this man, it is different from what I am used to and I have to put in effort to change my perceptions.

Although I know there are a bunch of similarities between myself and the man I am dating, I am wondering which differences are big enough to create concern or discord. For example, he’s a process and needs to think about things before responding. There are times when I will ask him about something from his childhood and he will say he needs to think about it and get back to me. I’m completely the opposite and can jump quickly between topics and recall memories or throw out random thoughts. My thoughts may not mean anything to else, but my processing time is quick.

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I had an odd experience this weekend I am still trying to process and understand but will admit to being bothered and concerned about it.

Let me start with my past … I’ve written about my divorce, but not one of the biggest reasons behind it. I discovered my husband at the time was having a long-term affair. The discovery was devastating and him blaming me cut deeply, but overall, the discovery was freeing. It was the catalyst I needed to decide the marriage was over.

It took me a long time to resolve my feelings of not being worthy enough and it takes a conscious effort to not judge other men by my ex-husband’s actions. Unfortunately, in limiting my emotional exposure over the past few years while attempting to date, I found myself involved with men where the above pattern was repeated. It was as if I surrounded myself with men who wouldn’t value me so I wouldn’t be as hurt when they didn’t because I expected it. I finally reached a point where I know I deserve more. There’s risk in believing and trusting in someone, but I don’t want to miss out on the wonderful experiences because I’m hindering my emotions.

The man I am now dating has a similar history with his ex-wife where she was involved in a long-term affair. He too has struggled with leaving his past behind him and had some deep wounds to heal. I thought those wounds were healed until this weekend.

My date got drunk, not intentionally, but he was definitely drunk and regressed into an insecure and scared place in his head. He asked an indelicate question during an intimate moment. Essentially, he asked if I would have the same feelings if I was intimate with someone else.

I was shocked, hurt, sympathetic and worried by his question and need to hear me validate my feelings for him. The next day I brought up his question and my concerns, and although he said he only has a small insecurity or fear I don’t know that I believe him.

I’m worried he needs me to emotionally invest in him – not want, but need. Needing someone to emotionally invest and reassure you of their intentions or their feelings for you isn’t healthy. Although he hasn’t expressed jealousy, I know I can’t be with someone who is jealous or doesn’t believe in my words or displays of affection.

This is a big red flag for me and I am trying to not over-react or disengage just yet. I haven’t processed it all and really don’t know what to think.

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Ever have the experience where you’re dating someone and are enjoying it only to hit a plateau and wonder what the hell you are doing and why? I typically hit this point three weeks into a relationship … typically. I’m dating someone who lives a few hours from me and I think the distance between us, and the limited time spent together, delayed the blah.

For those who don’t know or understand what the blah is, it is a pivotal phase where I figure out if the effort invested in dating someone is worth it. I will do pro and con comparisons and even look for issues and characteristics I don’t like. (Sometimes the thought process is much less logical.) It’s almost as though I am looking for a reason to not like the person.

The blah doesn’t last long as the relationship fizzles or I decide to suck it up and continue in the relationship. Continuing in the relationship doesn’t mean I resolve to become highly involved with the other person or enter a committed relationship. Instead, it’s knowing what my needs/wants are and recognizing there’ good and bad associated with dating anyone.

This leads me to another question I struggle with … when are you settling versus recognizing when a behavior, characteristic or whatever isn’t as important as you thought it was?

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First, let me explain what the “relationship thing” is. I am exclusively dating a wonderful man, Tim, and I love him, but I feel a bit caged and uncomfortable. I’m not sure if these are normal feelings or experiences and have tons of thoughts and “what ifs” running through my head.

Tim has casually brought up the topic of him dating with his two children to gauge their reaction. Surprisingly, the kids have been amazingly open, interested and supportive. In fact, last week they asked my name and a bunch of other questions including when we will all meet. This blew my mind. While Tim and I talked about me meeting his children as a future to-do, I’m not sure I am ready to meet his children. How do you know when the time is right?

I’m not sure I am ready to be in a committed relationship. I care very deeply for this man, but feel he cares more than I do. I know one of my coping mechanisms is to pull back or disengage and so this is one reason my emotions aren’t on par with his. What I can’t say is if this is the only reason.

I’m scared he sees me as someone I am not and am worried if I can live up to this ideal. I’m also worried about meeting his children and then us breaking up. I know it’s his responsibility to protect his children, but I don’t want to be the person to hurt them.
Is it typical for one person in a relationship to love the other more? Is this a bad thing regardless? Maybe it’s just a difference in defining emotions and love.

There’s also the finance worries. My ex wasn’t financially responsible and I know this is an issue for me. I was reminded about how irresponsible my ex was just a few weeks ago when a collection agency called me about his student loan. Anyways, financial responsibility is huge for me. I have a good job and make a good salary, and I don’t want to support someone financially because they can’t manage their money.

I think Tim is financially responsible, but am not sure. He only has one-month of emergency savings and this bothers me a lot! There are several reasons why this may be the case, but I don’t really know the details. I do know he bought a home recently and remodeled much of it. (This wasn’t just a cosmetic remodel and involved quite a bit of work.) He could very well consider his home his emergency fund or retirement plan although this is a risky assumption.

We’ve talked about finances a bit, but there’s obviously a lot more we need to talk about. How deeply do you dive into these topics and then when in a relationship? I honestly don’t know. I didn’t have these conversations with my ex (a good indication why he’s an ex) and don’t know what’s appropriate when.

These are just a few struggles. Trust me, there are more. My boundaries are definitely being tested.

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I’ve found myself exclusively dating a wonderful man, Tim. How wonderful is he? Well, for starters I haven’t given him an alias or nickname and I have introduced him to friends. Both of these are significant as I tend to use nicknames when talking about men I am dating and keep them compartmentalized in my life. Yes, a therapist would have a lot to say on both of these, but it is what it is or was what it was.

It’s been hard to write a new blog posting because I don’t know exactly how to process and talk about the relationship I find myself in. I don’t want to be the constantly “chipper and happy I’m dating someone cliché.” The thought makes me cringe.
I’m not one who gets swooped up in love and romance, but here I am swooped up.

I’ve had my moments of panic and I’ve had moments of disconnect. I’m testing personal boundaries and am scared, but I realize I have to take some chances, believe in my judgment and believe in Tim.

ARGHHHHH! There are so many thoughts swirling in my head and I don’t know how to write them out. I’ll try to sort some of them out and make a post in a few days.

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