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Growing a backbone

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KatM

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
218
I don''t know that I ever really did a formal introduction post, though I''ve been here for about 1.5 years now. I''ll aim for brevity, but sometimes I get distracted....

Bf and I have been together for ~3.5 years and we are both 26. The first 1.5 we were at the same graduate school (though different programs), and then he moved 6 hours back to his hometown where there were more job prospects for him. At the time we agreed to do long distance, and I would move there when I finished my program a year later. As my final semester approached, I started to feel as though I needed a firmer commitment before I could comfortably move. Bf becomes extremely anxious when any talk of the future comes up (and in general, he takes medication for an anxiety disorder) and the conversation just wasn''t happening because of the anxiety. Finally I asked that we both just think about things, and in a month or so have a conversation about what we wanted for our lives. As the date got closer his anxiety took over, caused him to question everything and start to think that perhaps he would rather be with someone else.

It was during a visit to his city (in 1/08) when I was sitting down to use his computer (he knows I use his computer when I''m in town, and he''s fine with it) that I saw on the screen an instant message conversation between him and a female friend. He stated that he thought he might rather be with someone else (named a specific person) and was looking for advice on how to break up with me sensitively. I was completely heartbroken and told him that I needed to go home because of what I had seen. We had a conversation where he sobbed, apologized for hurting me, and admitted that he was confused about what he felt. I said that I couldn''t be with him if he was seriously thinking that he would rather be with someone else. There were several months of not talking, then talking a little but him still confused, and then me finally breaking off contact (blocking him from everything...aim,facebook, etc) because his back and forth was making me crazy. I finally came back, and more or less told him that the only options would be to get back together or to not be friends at all, because everything in between was too painful. The time when I blocked him apparently did him some good, because he said that he had worked through his confusion about the other person and realized that the feelings were related to feeling anxiety about feeling pressured.

Since then he''s been very different. He''s been much more sensitive in general, and seems more serious about things. I like his city more than I like mine, and I feel like I would rather live there than here (more job opportunities, my family and I do better with some distance between us, etc) and I would honestly prefer to live there. The only problem is that we have never had that conversation about what we both want. It''s a fair conversation I really think, because I am moving to be with him (while I like his city more than mine, it probably wouldn''t be on my radar were we not together). Ever since I brought up the conversation the first time, I''ve been afraid to say anything about the future because it really feels like the first time got me dumped, and so now this conversation is causing me a great deal of anxiety.

I''ve had a lot of negative messages my entire life about my own worth, and I always have a hard time sticking up for myself. The messages from others have always been very strongly If you ask for too much you will be rejected and you will lose my love. Better to have some of my love and affection, than none at all. I don''t want to live this way anymore. I keep trying to tell myself that I deserve the feeling of safety and committment that I''m looking for in having this conversation.

I''m going to visit Bf this weekend and I have no idea how to go about bringing it up calmly and avoid dissolving into an anxiety attack (though the thought of me hyperventilating when bringing it up, and his extreme anxiety when I do is mildy amusing). I don''t know what to say, or how to stay calm and I''m really just looking for advice or support. Brutal honesty is ok of course.
 

brooklyngirl

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
1,071
I see no sense in beating around the bush. Consider that when you marry this man, you will have a whole life's worth of difficult converstations, and pressure. Think about when you buy a home, have children, and face a slew of other difficulties that life throws at you.

You don't have to yell and scream when you have this conversation. Just sit him down, and talk about your future calmly. Tell him what you would like to see for your relationship in the future, and talk about the different possibililties. Don't be afraid to tell him your view of things, your feelings don't need to be put on the back burner for fear of him flpping out again. If he does flip out again, consider whether you want a lifetime of tip-toeing around someone, while your needs are being ignored.

ETA: You deserve a partner that gives you 100% of himself, and knows without any doubt that you are THE ONE. Marriage doesn't mean that you'll never be on your own, if fact, in a bad marriage, you're very much on your own, except you have an extra burden to carry.

I understand that your BF is the way he is because of a medical issue, but that doesn't mean that you have to overlook it, and stay with him anyway if it causes hurtful behavior.
 

tlh

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 2008
Messages
4,511
My nowDh had anxiety issues and was put on a BP medication to help with this. He now only needs it as he is painfully shy and has to speak in front of very large crowds in his job. His anxiety never had anything to do with me... so it is not quite the same situation. But here's the deal... you've found messages saying he wants to dump you essentially. He is testing the waters... it is a lot easier to let go of a relationship with one already lined up.

Plus I know many a people who also like to make sure that the next one is going to go well before they terminate the realtionship of the long time ex... this is where they'll say they just need "a break" they'll test the waters... see where it is going.. if it goes well.. the relationship stays broken.. if the other relationship fails... they try to fix your situation.

ETA: you worked through your issues. Is this because the other relationship didn't work out. (He'll never tell you this.) But I will be 100% honest. I personally strung along a very nice person because I didn't know if I'd find someone better, but I knew he wasn't 100% what I wanted... I ended up doing the nice thing... and cutting the chord. Also, is it him that asked you to move? because the guy I strung along.. this is when I dumped him... essentially. I moved w/o him.. still talked, visted, texted, emailed.. but I was starting to see other people. I eventually told him not to move... and still talked as friends.. but he thought it was more. I didn't know he thought it was more... so I had to tell him - and that was hard... very hard.
 

fieryred33143

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 18, 2008
Messages
6,689

The hard part has already happened. You needed to walk away and detach yourself from him and you did. You already know how it feels to leave him. If you go and have an honest conversation with him from your heart, you already know that if he rejects that conversation or if you feel no progress will be made you will be ok leaving.


So just go and lay it all out there.
 

purrfectpear

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 31, 2008
Messages
4,079
Cliff Notes: Better to die on your feet, than live on your knees.

You sound like you have your head on straight. You didn''t put up with any crap last time, so I don''t think you''ll roll over this time.

You know you need to have the conversation. My only concern is what will you do if he says all the right things, you move, and then he freaks out again? Once bitten, twice shy. Just something to think about. If you wouldn''t hate yourself for moving and living in that city in case it doesn''t work out, then I''d go ahead and take the risk (assuming he commits). If you think you''d really be peeved at yourself for moving, then maybe not?
 

Patiently_Waiting

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 6, 2007
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714
Date: 4/2/2009 4:52:08 PM
Author: purrfectpear
Cliff Notes: Better to die on your feet, than live on your knees.

You sound like you have your head on straight. You didn''t put up with any crap last time, so I don''t think you''ll roll over this time.

You know you need to have the conversation. My only concern is what will you do if he says all the right things, you move, and then he freaks out again? Once bitten, twice shy. Just something to think about. If you wouldn''t hate yourself for moving and living in that city in case it doesn''t work out, then I''d go ahead and take the risk (assuming he commits). If you think you''d really be peeved at yourself for moving, then maybe not?
Great advice - I agree with everything PP has said. Good luck to you and please let us know how it goes. *hugs*
 

tlh

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 2008
Messages
4,511
I would lay it all out there. See his response. If he has a panic attack, what was the trigger? What caused his extreme anxiety? Take a step back.. once he''s collected his calm, discuss again. Then make your decision.. but keep both your eyes and ears open. It isn''t always what someone SAYS, it is what they DO that offers the proof in the pudding. Then go from there.

I hope your discussion goes well.
 

misskitty

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 20, 2008
Messages
1,691
Date: 4/2/2009 4:47:42 PM
Author: fieryred33143

The hard part has already happened. You needed to walk away and detach yourself from him and you did. You already know how it feels to leave him. If you go and have an honest conversation with him from your heart, you already know that if he rejects that conversation or if you feel no progress will be made you will be ok leaving.



So just go and lay it all out there.

Agreed. Just have the conversation, and see what comes of it. Best of luck!
 

Winks_Elf

Brilliant_Rock
Trade
Joined
Nov 28, 2008
Messages
1,673
I agree with what the other ladies said, but perhaps it would be easier for the two of you two "talk about things" through email prior to the visit so that it kinda breaks the ice on the subject without putting either of you on the spot. I always find that when I discuss things through email, I have to look at my words, and think about how the other person is going to perceive those words.
 

kama_s

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 12, 2008
Messages
3,617
You''re walking on egg shells in this relationship. It''s going to leave you frustrated, unhappy and bitter. Have the conversation, if it goes well, then you know the relationship is heading in the right direction. If he blows up again, then well, you need to evaluate if you''re ok walking on a tight rope for the rest of your life.
 

trillionaire

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 18, 2008
Messages
3,881
lol, I feel that I have undiagnosed anxiety problems, but my SO calms me down, and does not make me more anxious. The idea of the two of you being together should not freak him out, it should bring BOTH of you comfort. If you ask him, and he freaks, he is either not ready, or not the one. It's your call as to whether you want to figure out which one...

my .02
 

Bia

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 28, 2008
Messages
6,181
Date: 4/2/2009 8:10:05 PM
Author: kama_s
You''re walking on egg shells in this relationship. It''s going to leave you frustrated, unhappy and bitter. Have the conversation, if it goes well, then you know the relationship is heading in the right direction. If he blows up again, then well, you need to evaluate if you''re ok walking on a tight rope for the rest of your life.
Good advice here.
 

jcarlylew

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 27, 2008
Messages
3,899
Date: 4/2/2009 8:10:05 PM
Author: kama_s
You''re walking on egg shells in this relationship. It''s going to leave you frustrated, unhappy and bitter. Have the conversation, if it goes well, then you know the relationship is heading in the right direction. If he blows up again, then well, you need to evaluate if you''re ok walking on a tight rope for the rest of your life.
agreed.
 

LaraOnline

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 24, 2008
Messages
3,365
Interesting title for your thread...
I wonder in which direction you would like your backbone to grow... to develop the strength to stand strong for your boyfriend, or to stand strong for the life you think you might be able to achieve in moving to his city...

I hope I am understanding your post right: that you have a LDR and you are wanting to move to the city he is currently living in... for your own reasons (hopefully) as much as for the relationship...?

Are you planning to find a flat there, or would you move in with him?

In an ideal world, I would plan on having an extended holiday with him (like, three weeks), with the discussion coming up naturally during that holiday (not the first hour through the door!!) with a view to moving in another month or two after that.

I would also have a clear plan for myself in relation to job applications, where/how you would like to live (if not living with him) etc etc etc. Have you got other friends in this city? It would be good to have some form of wider support network. If he is prone to anxiety in relation to you 'needing' him, your ability to 'carve your own path' might help him relax.

I wouldn't dwell overmuch on what happened over a year ago. If his behaviour has actually improved, it's probably been a 'growing up moment', working to your benefit, rather than a sign of anything more.

At age 26, you DO have time up your sleeve for fun and adventure, so no need to pull the woolly slippers on with this guy just yet! Make the most of a big city, and your boyfriend, and be determined to be just a little bit tough in your determination to make the most of yourself!!!

But it is likely that you have already visited him by now? Anyway, keep us posted!
 

KatM

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
218
Thank you everyone for your honest and thoughtful replies. I'm leaving this afternoon to drive and I'll be back probably on Monday, so I'll definitely update when I return.

BrooklynGirl The thought of all of those difficult conversations that we will eventually need to have is part of why I want to do this so much. It's important to me to figure out how to do this now so that it doesn't become a serious problem down the road (in terms of assuming what each other want instead of just maturely discussing it).

tlh thanks for your honesty. There was never a chance that a relationship with this other girl would ever happen. She views him as nothing more than a brother figure, and he and I both knew that when everything went down. I do also trust that he isn't coming back to me just because it didn't work with her. I tend to get a good read on situations, and I really don't get the feeling that he's back because it didn't work. I think this is why I want to have the conversation so badly though. I need to hear him explicitly say I want to be with you, there is no one else for me.

FieryRed You're absolutely right. We broke up and it stunk, but I was ok. While it was painful, it certainly wasn't the end of the world and I do try to remind myself of that when I start to get nervous.

PurrfectPear and Patiently_Waiting I'm worried about that happening as well, but I think it's more likely to happen if he beats around the bush and lets me assume things. Knowing him, if he's able to get the words out it means that he has thought about it and he's come to terms with it, to some extent. The times when he's freaked out, it's more been a matter of him not having even thought about a future and feeling cornered. I think that if he was able to even have the conversation, it would speak volumes about where he stands.

MissKitty Thanks. That's what I keep telling myself. just do it!

Winks_Elf I thought about speaking online first to sort of set the stage, but I'm much better talking online than in person and I really want to challenge myself to just talk about it. Also, the first time that he freaked out I tried to do just that. I proposed the talk online to give him some time and distance to process things before we spoke, so that he wouldn't feel so on the spot, and all that did was give him time to freak himself out. I know that if someone wanted to talk to me about something personal, it really would work better to broach it through email first, but with him it seems to be most effective to just jump in.

Kama_S, bia and jcarlylew Absolutely, though it definitely isn't confined to this relationship. I tend to walk on eggshells with everyone in my life, and it's a pattern I'm trying really hard to break. I need to be more assertive in general. I do get the feeling that this one will end up okay, and I think that's why I so badly want to challenge myself here.

trillionaire lol, generally our anxiety is in other areas and we do help each other out, but occassionally they overlap and we're kind of a mess. I think this truly has potential, and that's why I want to confront my own anxiety in this area.

LaraOnline I meant that I wanted to be able to stand up for myself and what I want. My career path is in social work advocacy (ironically enough, I'm great at standing up for other people). You understand my post correctly. I wouldn't consider moving to his city unless I could see myself having a happy life for myself. Whether or not this works out, I will be happy there. I don't have other friends in the city, but I've been poking around online and finding groups that I would like to join. So while he's currently my only source of support there, I'm a pretty independent person and won't be hanging on him for all of my social interactions. As well, I won't be living with him. I'm truly looking forward to not having a roommate/roommate drama, and being able to kick out anyone I get tired of. I do realize that I have time, I'm not looking to settle down for a few more years, but I do still want to feel as though we are moving in the same direction. I'm ok with it taking some time.


Thanks everyone again. I tend to tell myself that I will do it, get all psyched up, get there and then think that everything is going really well and I don't want to be a downer. Having a sense of accountability will definitely help and I will of course do an update (even if I wimp out) when I get home.
 

tlh

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 2008
Messages
4,511
I hope you get the answers you need after your discussion this weekend.
 

LaraOnline

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 24, 2008
Messages
3,365
I think the move sounds like a great idea for your life as a whole, but that you must be extremely clear about what you want from your move, and not confuse your motives whatsoever.

Being unclear, or having a 'two birds one stone' mentality could really bite you on the ass very badly if it turns out that the boyfriend is a little lukewarm, or that the transfer is more difficult than you think.

As I said in my last post in this thread, it sounds to me like you will have to agree to be just a little bit tough in your determination to make the most of yourself, for yourself!!!

Otherwise, in your new environment, with lots of changes, you could sink like a stone, and not make the most of your brilliant new opportunities! You don't want this new phase to turn into a big tear jerker over the boyfriend!! Perhaps you should arm yourself emotionally to keep that aspect of your life somewhat at arms length at this stage.
 

KatM

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
218
I did it! It ended up happening close to the time when I was supposed to leave, but there really weren''t any good times to bring it up. I think the idea of having a more in depth conversation on a longer visit is a good one. I got there Friday night, had to take a licensing exam Saturday morning so I could get licensed and find a job in his state (I passed!). We hung out with a friend of his Saturday night, and had brunch with some friends of his Sunday morning. I left to drive home in the afternoon. It was hard to find time to bring it up because we were going from activity to activity, and I wasn''t there for very long to begin with.

Overall I think it went ok. I did a good job of being firm with my position, and I was good at listening to what he said without interrupting with my own thoughts. He basically said that he wanted to be married, but that there were 2 major things he thought should be tackled first. First, since we''d been long distance for so long (~2 of our 3.5 years), he wanted to see how my transition worked out and if we could do ok being in the same city. Second, he is very concerned that he doesn''t yet have a job that he wants long term, can''t yet support himself or pay back student loans. He also wants to buy a condo first, it sounds like. I got a chance to express my own worries and he listened to me. For the first time I really felt like he was being honest and open about his own thoughts and concerns. That alone was reassuring.

He said that he did think about getting married, which is a huge change over the last year. Before we split, he would more or less refuse to talk about marriage. He said that it was so far in the future that it wasn''t worth talking about. In a lot of ways he was very immature, and didn''t recognize that if it was an issue for me, then it was an issue in the relationship. I was way more understanding than I should have been, and I let him dictate way too much of how our relationship should work. I''m learning to stand up for myself, and he''s getting very good and thinking about things from my perspective. I feel a lot more reassured, though I do recognize some issues that might crop up.

The money issue specifically. I don''t see the economy changing anytime soon, he owes a ton in student loans, and he wants to buy a condo. I am not willing to wait until everything is sorted out perfectly. While his earning potential is high, jobs are hard to come by right now. His financial goals, realistically, could take 5-10 years to achieve. While I respect wanting to have things somewhat sorted before marrying, finances can be used as an excuse indefinitely. He seems to see marriage as something happens once you''ve accomplished everything else, whereas I see it as a growing together. I see the merits in both, but I''m not going to let my own needs be railroaded.

Thank you everyone for your feedback and thoughts. I appreciate the honesty and the experience that comes with it.
 

LaraOnline

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 24, 2008
Messages
3,365
Date: 4/6/2009 8:52:21 AM
Author: KatM
He seems to see marriage as something happens once you''ve accomplished everything else, whereas I see it as a growing together. I see the merits in both, but I''m not going to let my own needs be railroaded.
Wow! It sounds like you really did well. Congratulations. I would have had a hard time getting any conversation like that out of any of the men I have known, including my own husband, I think.

I have to agree that the whole ''buyng a house first'' thing completely nonplusses me. I really don''t get it, I don''t see any practical advantage to it either, tbh, house prices don''t go up that much between getting married and buying a house...
Although I did have only a tiny wedding, and a very ''humble'' engagement ring...?

Because I don''t understand any value in ''house first'' it seems as if the guy is holding the up ''marriage'' as a kind of consumer treat or reward for being a ''good girl''...
Or is it used as a way of restricting the cost of the actual wedding event, because most of the couples'' money must go to maintaining the mortgage?

Hmm, can''t help you with advice on that, sorry. We just got married because we wanted to be married. Although my man did have professional qualifications, and was leasing a business at the time we were engaged. That perhaps was enough ''establishing'' for him to feel grown up enough to marry? Perhaps that''s the real key to it.
*shrugs*

We lived in a one-bedroom shack for four years, behind our business, which we went on to buy early in our marriage, with our joint funds... good times, and I''m glad I didn''t have to prove myself / compromise myself / leave myself open financially and lifestyle wise during that time of hard work and downpayments!
 

KatM

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
218
Date: 4/6/2009 9:28:04 AM
Author: LaraOnline
Although my man did have professional qualifications, and was leasing a business at the time we were engaged. That perhaps was enough ''establishing'' for him to feel grown up enough to marry? Perhaps that''s the real key to it.
*shrugs*
I think that''s exactly what it is. He might not need a house specifically, but it does sound like he wants to feel more grown up. He did express that he still felt that we were quite young.
 

tlh

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 2008
Messages
4,511
be careful w/ the "starter home" I know quite a few people who purchased one and are now STUCK in them. I''d much rather buy a home w/ my DH that I knew we''d be in for 10 years+ (closer to the length of a morgage term) than to buy a "starter home or condo" that I only planned on living in for 2-3 years and flipping.

Other than that I am really happy you both are talking. His concern about the last 2 years being LD and wanting to be more local is a very wise point. Also I think that his point of having a good job.. goes w/ many men''s mindsets in that they want to be 2 wholes making a complete pair, not two halves making a whole... and many times men don''t feel this way until they''ve proven themselves on their own.

best wishes!
 
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