Practically all intimate relationships with men What are you afraid of?: Practically all intimate relationships with men

By Elizabeth on Tuesday, January 5, 1999 - 05:31 pm:

    First off is that having sex will drive someone away from me. Why shouldn't I? It happens. It happened the first time and it's happened since. Worse is when you get addicted to the sex but the person himself is sorely lacking. You see through it all and want to keep on but it just gets depressing to have sex with them. You try to put your feelings aside, but they are there again about 10 seconds after orgasm. I luckily don't usually find myself in the clawing out for love position, maybe it's just that I'm the one who gets irritated first/never lets my guard down. Hey and that's another thing to be afraid of, that I'll never be able to let my guard down without getting totally toasted over the fires of emotional hell.

    #2 Being trapped in a bad relationship that holds me down. Woo hoo was that ever fun. To wake up alone at last and not even know who you are, who you've become over the past few years. Like a black hole torn out of my life. Sick.

    #3 (the popular) I'm never going to really meet anyone like I want. That the person I want is a figment of my imagination. I've been dating for a few years now out of a long term relationship but all I've found were dork-boys. They are either older than me, smart enough, and totally messed up or younger than me, sweet but too dumb and not really mentally stimulating. I have friends who are married with great husbands, but will I ever meet one of these men? I fear that I am not going to becuase I don't want to have children and it seems like most nice men want to. It's crazy. I'm sure some of this has to do with my own fears of intimacy, but Christ! I'm so fed up with it all. Trust issues, abandonment issues, if only someone would tell me the magic words to get over it all.

By Harloquin on Tuesday, January 5, 1999 - 08:53 pm:

    I dont want to belittle the emotion you are sharing here, but I think most of us have argued with the issues of abandonment, trust, insecurity, and most of us can throw in inadiquacy (I know I can't spell) and a few others. The result is that we have a society full of scared people that in many cases would rather attack each other than be open and honest. I think that is the most frightning part of our condition, and the only way I have found to deal with it is to ask myself "Is what you are looking for worth the price you may pay?". I hope there is another way, that someone else can share, but that is how I keep from closing myself off compleatly. It is all I can address to your third point.

    As for your first point, perhapse you can filter your sex partners better. I have found that I really have two types of sex partners, and those that fall into the "I am not intrested long term" catagory, I make sure not to have relations with too frequently. I have found that repeated intimacy over a short period of time builds emotion where I do not want it.

    As for number 2, I think that if you have gone through it once, you are less likely to have it happen again. I hope that is the case, at least.

    Not sure if any of this helps

By R.C. on Tuesday, January 5, 1999 - 11:46 pm:

    Elizabeth -- How are you when you're alone? Meaning no intimate relationships w/men for an extended period? That 'downtime' is always good for self-assessment. If you know you're afraid of intimacy/that's half the battle. And using sex to keep people at arms length works incredibly well for some folks. Sex can be a terrific distraction from what you're really feeling. Or not feeling.

    There are a million books out on 'intimacy issues'
    but I'm not a big fan of self-help lit. (If the shit really worked/we'd all be so healthy & whole that we'd just float away into the ether!) But I will suggest asking yrself a few questions/for starters:

    1. Do you have any abandomnent issues w/yr parents? Lose a parent to death or divorce? Have a parent who was physically present but zoned out on drugs or booze? Any physical or sexual abuse in yr past? It's all textbook stuff/ but those things can create major problems w/fear of bandonment &/or self-esteem.

    2. When was the last time you felt genuinely emotionally secure & safe in a realtionship w/a man? Who was he & why did me make you feel that way?

    3. When did you 1st start fearing being abandoned or betrayed by someone you loved (a lover or otherwise?)

    4. What steps are you willing to take to address the issues raised above? Therapy? Joining a support group? Reading books on the subject? (if you're into that.)

    I'm a big fan of journals. If you don't keep one already/you might want to start. Write to yrself every day. And take some time to be alone w/you. No boy-toys or grand romances/no drama or agnst becuz there's someone in the wings you wanna sleep w/but haven't had the chance to get next to... Just you dealing w/yrself & where yr head is at when you're alone & there's no t.v. & no music & eventually/the only thing left to think abt is you.

    Writing down my thoughts/& taking the time to seperate my thoughts from my feelings/has always been helpful to me over the years. Maybe it will help you.

    I hope you find some peace.

By Elizabeth on Wednesday, January 6, 1999 - 01:26 pm:

    Wow, what great outpourings from both of you.
    Harl - I don't think you're belittling at all, in fact I think your points about all of us being unable to really be honest w/ others etc. are really really great and quite smart. Your assessment of #2 is probably accurate, since I haven't been with anyone significant in a few years I reckon I just begin to wonder

    R.C.: To tell you the truth, when I am alone I am usually pretty satisfied and happy. I guess I fear that I like being alone enuf that I'll never have any more relationships. I like being in control of my life and not having to do things I don't really enjoy to satisfy others. Probably part of the crux of my situation: I think I go with people who don't really interest me and then try to be super-girlfriend, giving too much to try to please the other one and ignoring whether I am really happy/satisfied/interested just getting off on the giving. It's tough because I am outgoing, smart and confident (seeming) and people often respond positively to me, yet I am convinced that they 'don't like me that way' due to a lot of experiences w/ men I've had who wanted to be around me 24-7 but not as anything more than friends. I guess to some extent I am always surprised anyone wants to be with me in a more than friends way which is probably stupid. I don't see myself as more than a 'buddy' I don't know why. Anyway, the point of this is that it leads me to date 'acceptable people' but not ones I really like because quite honestly I feel like I rarely (never?) meet men I am blown away by - stinks but true.

    1) Abandonment? You bet. Never knew my Father who left when I was 3 mo. old. My stepfather (ages 8-21) and I never got along, always in a war for my Mother's love. He eventually left (he was a vicious fuck) and I felt joyful I prevailed. He's an alchoholic. Yippie.

    2) Maybe never. I spent my one long term relationship waiting for the other shoe to drop. Three years, nothing happened. The longer it went on the more scared I felt. Trusting someone is really hard for me. Believing I can rely on someone besides myself a big challenge. On the way to work today I began to wonder if I need to stop looking outside of myself for emotional stability and start looking inside more. I just get tired of always having to be in control. It would be such a releif not to be the responsible one. I feel like relying on others often leads to disasterous results. I felt more secure w/ the last beau I had who for some reason I never wondered if he was cheating on me etc. That was a big change. I have to tell you I'm routinely drawn to wimps so it is not like these guys are loverboys, I do think it's mostly in my head. I will say though that he and I were not the most compatible ever, I just never felt deeply for him no matter how I tried to convince myself, it was always 'he's a nice guy', not a lot more.

    3) The first time I ever had a beau I fooled around with he cheated on me. I wasn't ready for sex yet, but there was much nudity. I found out on my birthday by counting the condoms he had in a box by his bed (I had suspected something). I was totally shocked by his behavior. Floored. The first time I ever had sex that person also abandoned me, he was just traveling through, I decided he was it, I don't know why, part of my own desires to be abandoned I reckon but still he could have had some mercy. He was a player, full of seductive lines. I live with a crushing fear that my Mother (my only real family) will die (she's not sick or anything). I don't like it.

    4.) I've been in therapy a lot of my life and I'm farther along than I have been certainly. I don't think my shrink is so good with 'relationship issues' to be honest tho. She advised me to dump the only person I've been involved with long term (it ended but not badly - he was and is a good person) and to stay with someone I just couldn't feel deeply about. I often feel frustrated because I just keep thinking all I have to do is find the key to this thing that holds me back and I will be able to escape. I'm not afraid of seeing my own demons, they just won't come out and fight me! Shrink says much about my Father issues that need resolving but I feel like doesn't really give me many tools/advice to really fix them. I just don't know if meditating is the answer (hers). It seems so inactive. I have a spiritual side and do keep a journal most days. I've recently been thinking of joining a church but I'm not a christian or jew - maybe unitarian? Also am on a chat for Al-Anon but I feel like it's not quite right for me. I don't know if I'm dealing with the same stuff in the same way.

    Just writing this out has helped me identify some things. In 1999 I'm going to attempt not to sell myself short. My fear is that it means I'll have nothing. Maybe I need to learn how to sell myself realistic?

    Your comments were really great, esp yers R.C.. I send you many thanks - perhaps you have dealt with something of the same?

By R.C. on Wednesday, January 6, 1999 - 07:17 pm:

    We all have. I think yr fear is the biggest problem. Ultimately/you can't know what love is until you fall like an avalanche for someone who
    falls for you just as hard. And you're severely in love & wildly happy for a time (meaning more than just a few mos.) Then SLAM -- you get cheated on/or dumped.

    Sure/the pain's excruciating -- but you live thru it. And after obsessing over all the signs you missed & the mistakes you made & the bad habits you overlooked/you reach a point where you can say "Cool -- that was the hardest thing I've ever done/but I got thru it." And if you were happy w/that man & felt truly loved & valued by him/the fact that it ended badly doesn't diminish what was good btwn you while it lasted. Next time around/you're (hopefully) smarter & more self-aware. But there has to be a next time -- if you don't let yrself grieve the break-up & get all crazy for a while/then you just sort of shove it all into that closet in the back of of yr mind. You won't deal w/the fear becuz you don't allow yrself to feel all yr feelings -- the love/the loss/ the rage/the hurt... And all that repressed fear leaks out like an oilslick just when you're abt to move forward & deal w/someone new.

    So long as you don't get pregnant or catch a disease/what's the worst thing that can happen if you decide to start seeing someone? It's not such a big scary thing -- people do it all the time. But don't bother w/guys who really don't interest you. (Believe me -- I know what *that's* like. I can't remember the last time I met a man I fancied in the least. But understanding what you genuinely dig in a man makes you a lot more selective. Part of the upside of growing older...) Just take it slow/delay the sex until he's shown you that he operates w/a high level of integrity in his personal life/& be honest abt what yr feeling as new emotions develop.

    And you don't *have* to sleep w/someone you're dating. Sex shd be the ultimate expression of intimacy & focus btwn 2 people. When you think abt it/there really aren't very many people you'll come across who deserve that kind of powerful closeness & complete attentiveness from you.

    But I still say you shd pick a number -- 6 mos./9 mos./a year -- & commit to being a solo act for a presrcibed period of time. If you meet someone interesting/you can certainly hang out -- just keep it platonic. If he wants to get serious/just explain that you're on the sidelines on purpose for a specific period/but if he's still around when the clock winds down/you'd definitely be up for moving onto something more intense. If he really digs you/he'll stick around. If not/his sudden disappearance once he knows there will be no knockin' boots will tell you all you need to know abt him.

By Harloquin on Wednesday, January 6, 1999 - 08:58 pm:

    Some more random thoughts from the gallery here. I share your desire to have demons that you can fight in the open Elizabeth. Would it not be nice if you could face relationship issues before you got in a relationship. That way, at least you know one of you is healthy, but it does not work that way does it? My psych tells it it typically takes the same amount of time to get over a relationship as you have put into it. This scares the hell out of me, but there it is.

    Should you ever find the key that allows you to poor forth emotion without fear, I am not sure I would advise you to turn it. It is my experiance that the fear is the result of having trusted in that fashion, and learned that it does not work that way. Trust is the greatest gift you can give (IMHO) because of what it can grow into. I think healthy people (this is a guess, as I really do not consider myself healthy) moderate trust with caution. I know I take the caution too far, and at times I wonder if I can ever trust at all.

    I am willing to bet that on the logical level, you know all that I have said, and probably all that R.C. has said. The problem is, at least in my case which I believe similar to your own, that despite knowing you have to trust/care/love/open up/etc. it is not something you can really "make" yourself do. Detatchment (my term for my condition) is hard to overcome, and it take time and effort on your part, and your partners. The second is a lot to ask of anyone, and just asking it is a step in the right direction, because you are trusting them to know that you think you have a problem.

    I agree with R.C. about the time off. At the very least some time off should help you if you are ever in a bad situation and reluctant to get out of it for fear of being alone. I also agree that if you do see someone, see them platonicly first. This has some advantages that R.C. did not mention. First off, it will help you build a trust base. If your partner is smart, just telling him you are out for a set amount of time and for a set reason should get his curiosity going and the conversation moving in a healthy direction for you. Secondly, if it goes this far,it will establish the communication needed for those moments after sex when normally you think well everything was great until we were done, now how do I get him to go home?

    A word of warning however, GUYS LOVE A CHALLENGE, especially the type of guy that has been around a few times. I for one show extreem patience and creativity in the persuit of women, but as I have stated before, I myself have some serious issues (this one goes "if I set the bar high enough that noone else can jump it, I will not have to worry about abandonment because noone will compair" followed shortly by "well that worked too well,I can't trust anyone this weak willed, now what, how do I get her to go away?" sick huh?) Just because someone sticks around while you are on the side is not a reason to walk blindly once you start back down the date path.

    Finally,if your psych is not giving you help that you think works for you in this area, you might consider finding another psych. Even if you want to keep this one for other areas, in my experiance most are professional enough not to take it personally when you tell them that you need to find another approach.

    Harl. the messed up but working on it

By R.C. on Wednesday, January 6, 1999 - 11:43 pm:

    Am I the only one on this board not in therapy?
    I feel strangely out-of-place...

    So, if I get a psych/will I also get more dates?

By Jim aka PajamaBoy on Thursday, January 7, 1999 - 06:38 am:


    Deep stuff, man, deep!

By Ridin on Thursday, January 7, 1999 - 10:13 am:

    R.C. - You're not the only one. I'm not in therapy, but should be, especially if it'll get me more dates.

    Twat's a girly to do.

By Jim aka PajamaBoy on Thursday, January 7, 1999 - 10:39 am:



    *Jim administers anti-twat spray on the room*

By Kristin on Sunday, January 10, 1999 - 04:10 pm:

    Elizabeth, reading what you wrote was like reading my diary! I've had many of the same experiences w/men. I got out of a relationship about 6 months ago - broke off the engagement, figured out that I wasn't even happy with myself, still cared for an ex-boyfriend a lot - I was no where near ready to marry that person. Since then I've really tried to stay out of the dating circus (as my psych advised) and I can't tell you how much I've grown/learned about myself. I'm 24 and am already feeling the pressure to "settle down" and it sucks, but I'm starting to become more confortable with the thought of maybe not getting back into a relationship right away. This is really the first time in my life that I'm not even dating someone regularly and I feel great and so excited about the future. And I really owe it to getting out of the mind frame that I have to be with someone and just staying focused on my goals. Hope this helps. Take care and get focused on what you want to accomplish in your life and the relationship will find you all by itself.

By Elizabeth on Monday, January 11, 1999 - 12:29 pm:

    Well it has certainly been an interesting month of pondering all this boy-girl garbage. I think what I'm not getting through is that I am someone who has very few relationships. I have had more dates in the past year than ever before but that still only panned into one person who barely lasted 3 months. In a normal year I have 1 beau or less that lasts 3 mo or less.

    I am complete w/out a partner and up until a few years ago was totally opposed to being married. I think that my real fears are that I will never be able to put up with a long term relationship again. I talked to a friend of mine over the weekend who is older (43) and single and she made a very interesting comment, that perhaps people like she and I are reluctant to get into relationships because it requires sacrifice and if you are somewhat happy w/ your single life it is hard to say ' yes I have no problem throwing out my lifestyle for you'. I would just like a partner who didn't wind up getting in the way of my life, someone who was constructive rather than destructive, who helped push me rather than dragged me back. That is how I often conceive of my relationships. It stinks. When starting to date someone I spend weeks and weeks feeling disturbed and upset instead of blissful. All I can think about is 'Is this a good situation for me? I better get out now. This is never going to last so best to end it right now'. I have an easy time leaving and a hard time staying.

    Paridoxically, I will confess that the idea of saying 'I won't date anyone for x-time' sounds really un-fun to me. Although this may be hard for others to understand, I love flirting and having even little crushes (even if they pan into nothing). For all my boy-trouble I'm still boy-crazy in some ways and spending time conciously avoiding romance sounds like a real bummer. Plus I feel like I've spent so much of my life date-free it would be a thrilling change to actually have things materialize from time to time. Yes, even though I am into men, I am also scared of intimacy. Perhaps the flirting has nothing to do w/ love and more about control/dominance.

    This weekend I met a really nice man when out w/ a group of people and I actually was able to hold in my head the idea that I could be physically appealing to him. Yow. He was fliriting w/ me a little so I'm gonna send him e-mail. He actually had a sense of humor and didn't seem terribly depressed - imagine that.

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