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Author Topic: How Do You Find a Balance?
SFgrrrl
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So there have been situations when I pursued guys too hard, working off mixed signals. Where they wind up avoiding me and I felt awful.

There was a situation when I think I made a guy feel too comfortable, feel like he didn't have to treat me that great to get some affection from me.

My cousin also complains a lot when girls get too clingy or too emotional -I've certainly never heard him complain about a girl being too distant.

Yet with this, "relationship" (which granted, I think may be deteriorating before it hardly began) I think I went to the opposite extreme of being too distant, or not friendly enough.

How in the world do people ever get this whole "romance" thing right? How in the world do you strike a balance? I am so at a loss...

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PenguinBoy
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Well actually, the best of times it really just happens by itself.

Being clingy or emotionally demanding is something very different to letting someone be comfortable around you and talking openly and freely.

Getting "the romance right" is really something that's going to be enabled by getting on together well and communicating and will be product of your actual physical attraction too each other.

The blocks to it are miscommunication, or being constantly distanced and distracted with self-created puzzles like this one!

So I don't think there is a central balance, but more of a fact that the better your communication is, the better the relationship will evolve to be. Also, the more you can get on with life and get into your hobbies, the more you will develop as a person, and the more new things you'll bring into the relationship thereby always sparking new romance between yourselves.

The basicality is that relationships are a shared experience, and the more you separate yourself from communication, the less of an opportunity you'll have for connecting.

I hope I helped [Smile]

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libertatissacra
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I agree with PenguinBoy. I think it's something that tends to work best if you stop analysing every little move you make.

Also, when in doubt, ask your partner if (s)he thinks you're being too clingy or too distant.

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SFgrrrl
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Well I guess another issue here, is that I'm scared of my attraction to someone changing. I'm scared of really opening up and communicating about all sorts of things, only to find out the next week I really don't like them all that much.

That sort of happened to me in the relationship where I think I was just way too laid-back around the guy and made him too comfortable, after I realized I didn't like him that much I stuck around for too long b/c it seemed weird to just bail on someone I'd sort of absorbed into my life and told all these details to.

Also, doesn't sexual tension pretty much dissipate when you communicate too openly? I've certainly had that experience before, but maybe it was just a sign the person wasn't right for me anyway...? Or maybe that's just the way I am, and it varies by person? What have your personal experiences been?

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KittenGoddess
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Generally speaking, no. Communicating openly with someone is not generally going to kill sexual tension or make somebody not like you. I teach interpersonal communication in college, and we talk a lot about these sorts of issues. It goes back to this discussion of this whole idea of "mystery" that we talked about in your other thread. I know that lots of people encourage keeping a sense of mystery or excitement in the relationship by not telling every single thing. I think you're misunderstanding what things it may be beneficial keep "mysterious." It's not necessary to tell every single thought one has throughout the day, how many spoons you own, how often you blow your nose, what type of stool softener is your go-to favorite when you need to go, etc. Those things can remain unsaid (though I'll be quite honest with you, if you're with someone long enough, those topics are more likely to come around or they'll simply observe the answers).

However, we do like people who self-disclose (tell us things about themselves) and who talk with us about lots of topics. So there's nothing wrong with communicating with someone (whether they are a romantic partner or not) or about telling them things about yourself.

You know, it's also okay to spend time with someone, get to know them, and even tell them lots of things about yourself (and learn lots about them) and then decide later that you're not going to stay in a romantic relationship with them. Keep in mind that the VAST majority of romantic relationships work that way. Most of the romantic relationships we have throughout our lives are not going to be all that long term. Again, I don't wanna get too academic here, but if you study Knapp's Relational Development Model, you'll see one way that we typically understand relationship come together and move apart. (For reference, there are also lots of other models and theories that talk about this.) Just because you tell somebody things or let them into your life, that doesn't mean the effort was somehow a waste or that it was "bad" or that you did something wrong. It's okay, and it's even okay to stick around for a while after you've decided that something is not going to work out in the long run. You (and the other person) need time to separate yourselves. Also, no relationship is a waste, if nothing else, you learn something about yourself.

[ 11-28-2007, 07:16 PM: Message edited by: KittenGoddess ]

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Sarah Liz

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Heather
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I have to be honest: I think it's pretty weird to presume that only when we aren't close to someone, don't communicate, don't really know each other can we be -- especially over time -- more sexually attracted or feel sexual chemistry. If that's the case, then what that would presume or imply is that things are always more sexy or sexually interesting when someone (or you) is more who you imagine them to be or hope they are than who they actually are. And in some ways, that strikes me as...well, a bit sociopathic.

Certainly, if for you (or whomever), the main draw of sex is going it all blind, or not being known, whatever, then I guess that increasing intimacy with someone emotionally would zap the chemistry for a person. If what's sexy to you is also not being YOU, or having someone really know you, for real, then I guess that would be an issue, too.

But again, ongoing relationships and one-night-stands aren't the same thing: they're very different, and it seems to me that in so much of what you post about relationship issues you may be conflating the two. It also seems like your wants are often at odds: you don't want to communicate or make yourself more vulnerable, and at the same time, you want people to want to stick around with you and want to continue being with you. If you really don't want to be known or know someone else, and all you really want is pretty anonymous sex, then it doesn't jibe with asking about sustaining relationships. Do you see the conflict here?

Too, relationships DO sometimes (often) change over time. A sexual relationship may later become something else, but that doesn't make getting close to someone somehow a waste of your time. Getting close to someone you like, and who likes you back, no matter what the relationship eventually becomes should be a positive thing and is for most people.

What does your therapist have to say about all of this? I ask that because really, my impression is that a lot of your issues with these things, and the way you seem to see them, seem to stem from your social issues and anxieties.

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Heather
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I wanted to add something else here which perhaps may be obvious.

We don't just run into people who we deeply connect with, or will deeply connect with, every day. If you add unto that that you're only looking to do that with a specific kind of relationship, it becomes even more rare.

People who dance can tell you that even when everyone knows the same steps, not everyone dances well together. Finding a dance partner where people really can move together really well is unusual, and the same goes here.

When you DO make one of those connections and you DO honestly communicate rather than trying to play some sort of game -- both of you -- this stuff does work out. If one partner feels the other is being a little too demanding, they bring it up and talk about it with the aim of working it out. If you find yourself in a sitch with someone where one or both of you either aren't willing to do that or aren't interested in doing that, then one or both of you most likely just wasn't that interested in the other one. It happens, and it happens often: again, real connections are fairly rare.

Lastly, I have to say that the impression I am starting to get from you is that you may be more interested in being validated by having someone express or sustain interest in you -- for your sole benefit, perhaps to prove your worth to yourself -- than you seem to be in really engaging with someone else, in taking risks, in getting to know each other, etc. And if that's the case, not only can someone else usually sniff that out -- and for a lot of people, it tends to be a pretty big turn-off, for all the obvious reasons -- but that's also going to keep you from having relationships of any quality, for real. Even with this whole dating schpeal recently, it seems like it's not even that fun for you, and that more time is spent analyzing and strategizing to net some given result than simply enjoying yourself with this person.

[ 11-28-2007, 07:43 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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SFgrrrl
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"If that's the case, then what that would presume or imply is that things are always more sexy or sexually interesting when someone (or you) is more who you imagine them to be or hope they are than who they actually are. And in some ways, that strikes me as...well, a bit sociopathic."

Well, and maybe part of my whole thing is that I like projecting or imagining what the other person is like. Maybe I don't deal well with reality and flaws in other people any moreso than in myself. That is possible.

I guess what throws me about this whole connection business is that sometimes I feel it and the other person doesn't, and I guess that's normal. But it's like I can't tell or something, until I drive things to the point where the person starts avoiding me. The few times I've made it pretty clear to guys I just knew in the platonic sense that I liked them, things failed pretty miserably. I guess maybe you're talking more though about once some sort of basic attraction is established? (like after you've made out with someone and seem to want to keep seeing each other?)

Also I'm not so sure about this rarity of the connection business. Most people I know have more relationships and sex than me (take this guy I've been seeing, for example I suppose). Me on the other hand, of the few good sexual interactions I've had, I haven't even been sure that the person was all that into me. I mean sure, they /acted/ like it. But I've come to believe that some people are just really good at seducing the opposite gender, and acting like they're into individuals. You know, looking at them a certain way, reacting like they're really interested in what they say, using compliments and language that indicates they're interested in continuing to see them. Granted, I've never seen what my own face looks like when I'm really turned on to someone, but honestly I don't believe I am that good at making someone feel special in a moment and I've come to believe those skills are sort of learned and used deliberately rather than being a natural reaction to someone you're really into. So if the biological/physical component is learned, then what the heck is a real connection? How can one ever be established if you're not that great at making someone feel special? And how can you ever know it goes both ways when some people are so good at coming across however they want to? (making their partner feel like whatever is going on is special, while not necessarily being all that attached or invested in the situation themselves) Even words (i.e. verbal communication) can be used pretty liberally when someone wants to get laid. Often I sort of resent it when people make me like them, b/c I've had so many past experiences w/ people in various capacities where I learned I liked them more than they liked me. And confident, attractive people will so totally take that for granted, or even use it to their advantage. And probably adding to my troubles, I seem to most commonly be attracted to guys I perceive as being better-looking than myself. (or if I know someone and am kind of attracted, and then say, see them w/ out their glasses and only then decide they're better-looking than I am, my attraction to them will still heighten). I guess that would support your validation hypothesis, huh? But it also, I think, is not unlike some of the stories from The Erotic Mind.

That being said, I'm still not sure that I'll be all that hard on this guy when I talk to him. After being kinda upset, the more I think about the whole scenario the funnier it gets. I hope he was at least honest enough about enjoying hanging out with me that we can be friends in some capacity if what he has to say about the romantic stuff isn't going to make me comfortable enough to keep going with that. I know the odds were stacked pretty high to begin w/, b/c of age difference and disparity of relationship experience. On the other hand, I would sort of dislike giving him the satisfaction of having yet another female friend who he shares a mutual attraction w/, b/c I know he's got a lot already and he's sort of happy for it.

I don't know that my therapist has had much to say about the situation so far. I guess we both agreed that the guy's an idiot for posting about his dating life online, and also that I need to work on communicating and making myself vulnerable. Also I think it's obvious my anxiety stems at least in part from parental issues; I think the other part has to do w/ being harassed an extreme amount by boys in school when I was younger, who were in particular targeting me for /not/ being attractive. Knowing sources of anxiety hasn't helped me a ton so far though.

[ 11-28-2007, 09:39 PM: Message edited by: SFgrrrl ]

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SFgrrrl
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"Lastly, I have to say that the impression I am starting to get from you is that you may be more interested in being validated by having someone express or sustain interest in you -- for your sole benefit, perhaps to prove your worth to yourself -- than you seem to be in really engaging with someone else, in taking risks, in getting to know each other, etc."

Well like, with this particular guy, when I invited him to spend the night with me was sort of the point at which I was warming up to him a bit more and starting to get into him as an individual (as opposed to just wanting social interaction and to hookup). I was totally ready to maybe flatter or compliment him a bit more verbally after that, until he wrote about the other woman in his journal, and I sort of dropped efforts at communication then. That was about 2 weeks ago, and we haven't seen each other sense. Maybe I'll explain part of this to him when I see him again -explain that I was starting to like him, but when I realized he'd met someone else he seemed pretty into, it made me feel awkward and I wasn't sure what to do... He must suspect that /something/ is up w/ me at this point, since we left things off w/ the tone that he'd be back at my place for the same reasons he was there before, and I of course have let things go and not called him over. (of course, he hasn't suggested that we meet at night sometime before our movie date either -I don't know if that's meaningful, but I am rehashing)

[ 11-28-2007, 08:44 PM: Message edited by: SFgrrrl ]

Posts: 207 | From: Bay Area, CA | Registered: Sep 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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