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Author Topic: The relationship woes of a chronic overthinker...
Atonement
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Hello everyone.

Well, it seems that I’m in another one of those situations where I’m confused about my feelings.
I know you guys are super busy, and would normally be going to my therapist about stuff like this first, but there’s only one issue: I think my therapist dumped me.

The thing is, the last few months of our conversations (except for one where I was having a crappy week) , whenever we’ve talked I’ve been really upbeat and positive. And the thing is, from day to day life, I’m happier than ever. I have a good handful of friends and an awesome roommate. My classes are somewhat less stressful than before, ect. Last time I communicated with her (over a month ago), she admitted to me that she was almost out of the hours she’s allowed to do via skype, and while she implied that we would contact one another again, she also made a lot of “you’ve come so far” comments that made me believe that she thought my treatment was done.

The thing is, even though my life is better than ever before and I’m really happy on regular issues, it’s becoming clear to me that I still have issues when it comes to romantic relationships.

Last Friday, I attended a college event with a friend, and one of her friends invited us to go to a party afterward, so we did. I ended up sitting next to this guy, and we got to talking.
He seemed really nice, and although I was nowhere near drunk, I did have a couple drinks in me and was more relaxed than usual. So, when he asked for my number before I left, I gave it to him and was actually happy about it.

The next day, I was still really calm about it. He invited me out again that night, and we ended up sitting outside and talking until about 3 am.
The thing is, I’m just not sure if I’m attracted to him and I don’t know how to figure that out. See, even though I’ve been really, really into guys that I haven’t dated, It seems that I’m never that into the ones who show interest in me first. And I’m starting to wonder if I’m a relationship masochist or not.

On a lot of aspects, he seems great. There’s just a few things.

First of all, he’s the same astrology sign as my father. I know this seems extremely silly, and I don’t really even believe in astrology anymore. But as you probably know, my relationship with my father has always had some SERIOUS issues, and I’ve also had a friendship with someone of the same sign that was very unhealthy.

After I found that, I started drawing comparisons between him and my dad, and so far the only thing I’ve gotten is height and ethnicity, but not I’m on an intense lookout for “my dad”-like behavior. And then I remember my mom’s stories about how perfect my dad was when she met him, and that freaks me out even more.

Another thing is, when I told my mom about him, she told me to do some online research on him/his family because the city he’s from has a lot of gangs. I thought she was being silly, but I looked it up anyway.

Now, the last night I hung out with him, he told me the story of how his older brother had gotten into drugs at a young age and spiraled downward. However, he also talked about how proud of himself he was that he made the decision not to go down the same path and had never tried anything himself, ect.

On one hand, I know I can’t judge someone on the behavior of their sibling, especially when they’ve made a conscious decision to be different and have carried it out. But when I glanced at his brother’s facebook, he seemed kind of scary, and now that my mother planted the thought in my head, I keep wondering, “What if he is in a gang, and if so, how would that affect me even if the guy I’m talking to isn’t involved?”
The thing is, I’m really not sure what my feelings are for this guy. On one hand, I fell nervous but on the other, I feel really happy whenever he texts me. We’re supposed to hang out again in a couple days, and I know if I keep spending time with him, sooner or later I’m going to have to make a decision.

It’s really funny because a week ago, I would have said I’m totally ready for a relationship, but now that the opportunity seems to be presenting itself, I’m really nervous.

To top it off, I’m also having some slight issues with my mom, partially on her reaction when I told her about this guy. I may have also missed a few points since I haven't had time to proofread, but I really wanted to get this conversation started. However, I’m running late on getting ready for school, so I guess we can just cover this for now and I’ll post the rest later.

Thank you so much!

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Atonement
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Hello again,
I came back home to get something and had a few extra minutes, so I decided to finish my post.
As for my mom, when I told her about the guy, she asked me a whole bunch of questions, and then went promptly to the virginity speech.
The thing is, I started participating in some forms of sex as early as 4 years ago, and have no regrets. But my mom has always had drastically different views from me on sex outside of marriage, and any time I’ve tried to debate the subject with her even from a theoretical standpoint, it has been the only topic between us that she has always left absolutely no room for discussion. To top it off, she went into a topic the the guy who I’m talking to’s culture values virginity, and therefore it “shouldn’t be a problem”. In other words, she’s assuming that this guy is sexist because of his race, and then calling it a good thing.
Because of her attitude on the subject, I absolutely do not feel able to be honest with her on the topic. I don’t expect her to agree with me, but I really wish there was a way to just ask her to drop it without telling her that I have had/plan to have sex.
The way I see it, I’m 22 years old, I live on my own, and am financially independent. In my opinion, I’m living my life more independently and responsibly than she ever has, and I really don’t think she has the right to tell me what my values should and shouldn’t be.
I’ve actually talked to my therapist about the topic, and she agrees with me. According to her, there is a generational gap, and it is extremely unlikely that anything I say will ever change my mother’s mind. She also says that while it is good that I like my mom/ect, as an adult it is important for me to have my own opinions, and that I am at a point where I am allowed to keep parts of my personal life to myself, and that I need to get used to that.
But still, when I was with my ex, she used to interrogate me about whether or not we were having sex all the time, and that was when I lived with her and had to be home every night. Now that I have my own place and could have any prospective boyfriend over any time I want, I’m afraid it’s going to get worse. I wouldn’t put it past her to nag and interrogate until I started avoiding her.
To top it off, I’ve already had to lie to her about how I met him (I told her I met him at the event itself rather than an after party), and I haven’t told her I went out with him the next night either because we didn’t even leave until midnight. That’s just the way social situations work in my town, but she’s still under the impression that I should be in my apartment with the deadbolt on by dark.
I have plans to meet up with him Thursday after I finish volunteering. I still haven’t told her, and I really don’t want to. I could just pretend things have fizzled off, but that would make things very complicated if we actually ended up in a relationship.
Even when I was talking to her debating whether or not I wanted a boyfriend, she told me I needed to live my life. But the thing is, the interrogation makes it almost seem not worth having one.
Now that I’ve been out of the house, I’m starting to see our relationship clearly. I always thought it was near perfect, but I’m starting to realize that the only reason we get along so well is because I never tell her about anything I do that she wouldn’t approve of. That the only reason she likes me is because she thinks I’m perfect.
I’m having enough trouble making a decision about this guy as it is without her adding to it. One of my friend’s advice to me was “either you like him or you don’t”, and that seems to be such an easy concept for everyone except me.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Hey, Atonement: just taking all of this in, but I'd like to give it some proper time, which I'm afraid I don't have right now, and probably won't until tomorrow morning.

Hoping that's all right with you, but if not, we may have a volunteer or two around later tonight who can pitch in.

But I wonder if perhaps you might be able to start, in trying to figure out how you feel about this guy, with two things:
1) Can you think about him not as something huge and big and serious, since this is a barely-even-getting started potential dating relationship, but only as where this is RIGHT now? In other words, you seem -- and your Mom -- to be putting a LOT on this when it's not only not something serious yet, it may not even go past another date or two. (I'd even wonder why you got into this with your Mom at all, but that might just be a common thing in your relationship to share even a single date, etc.) So, what about when you think about it more realistically, and as what it is: as something where you have a chance to get to know this guy better to see how you might feel about each other, and see what you two might want to pursue? In other words, as just a possibility to some mellow maybes for now? How do you feel then?

2) Can you try and separate out the concerns your Mom had versus your own? In other words, while I think some of her concerns, personally, are pretty unfounded, and one really isn't even fair in a big way, I also think it sounds like they weren't YOUR concerns, at all, until they were hers. Can you feel back to how you felt about this before the conversations with her about it?

Like, this potential date/hangout on Thursday: let's try and just consult your gut feelings, setting your Mom's issues aside, and also keep it just as the limits of this one date, not some grand-scheme how do you feel about this whole person (you barely know). Do you want to go? Do you feel excited about the idea of going and seeing him again?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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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Atonement
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Thanks for your reply, Heather.

I really think I sorted this out today, actually.

As for telling my mom, we just talk a lot. Like, at the end of most days, I talk to her and tell her anything notable that happened. Anything "big" happening that I didn't tell her would be a conscious commission. Maybe I do need to give myself some space, it's just that most of the time I don't feel obligated to tell her everything, I just want to.


Even with all the stuff with my mom aside, and the stuff with his brother, I've come to one conclusion: I'm just not feeling it.

When we talked last time we hung out, we seemed to have very little in common, ect. I was put off a bit by how much he talked about himself and how little he seemed interested to learn about me. I also think he parties a little more than I'm comfortable with.

Also, I've caught myself thinking "If i end up dating him, I won't be able to date any of the cool guys in my organizations/ect."

I totally get what you're saying about not jumping too far into the future about prospective dates. But one of my "screening processes" is imagining the relationship going long term in my head and seeing what it looks like. And honestly, even before I told my mom, my thought process was that it probably wouldn't happen.

What really got to me was today, I remembered some advice that I gave my brother: That if you feel like you're having to force yourself to be attracted to someone, you don't. And I really need to take my own advice.

I think i owe it to myself to enjoy my life as it is now, and wait until I find a guy who i like without having to force myself.

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Claire P.
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Atonement,
Just wanted to add my two cents: I also used to think my relationship with my Mum was as ideal as it *could* be, but then it turned out that's because I didn't date guys in highschool (and didn't tell her about my relationships with girls because none of my family members would have been okay with that), so I had never done anything that directly interfered with her very conversative values.

It was really weird for me my first year of college, because I would come home and spill to my mother about my general life goings-on like I was used to, but kept finding that we ended up in a lot of arguments. I figured out this was due to the fact that I was for the first time meeting boys with a potential for more-than-friends.

Long story short, the only way I was able to get back some of my comfortable/affection feeling with my mother was to consciously not tell her things that fell into certain life genres. It was hard to do because it did not at all fit the way we had naturally communicated before. But just like your therapist said, our mothers have been who they are for a lot longer than we've been around, and their background has fully informed and shaped them-- and who they are is probably not going to change now. And as much as it can be difficult, and can hurt, not to feel like your mother will not ever be a truly close friend- I think it's more about changing our points of view and understanding that they can just be a *particular* kind of confidant, in the same way we might not tell certain friends certain stories because we know they wouldn't react in the way we mean the story to be taken.

Maybe this isn't the best advice for you, but I do think that when you're dealing with close relationships, "honesty is the best policy" can take second status to tact.

From reading your dilemma, it seems the following question is worth mulling over: which do you think is the better situation for you personally- that you feel like your mother knows who you are fully and completely, or that you and she can a good, comfortable and *relatively* communicative relationship?

[ 09-12-2012, 01:00 AM: Message edited by: Claire P. ]

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Atonement
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I totally agree with you, Claire, and that's pretty much exactly what my therapist said.
It's also great to hear this from someone who's been in my shoes. I feel like a lot of people (peers, particularly) don't understand the dynamics of my relationship with my mom and think it's "weird" that I talk to her so much in the first place.

I know that I'm never going to get her to agree with everything with me, but I do feel lucky that she agrees with me on so many other topics (She doesn't have a problem with people who aren't her kids having sex, and she's actually very supportive of gay rights, even if I don't think she'd like it if I was. We have similar political views and all. Sex is our only rough spot)

I agree that that is the route I take- to stop feeling like every time I don't tell her EVERYTHING, that I'm lying. And funnily enough, I have a lot less of a problem lying about having sex than I do lying about being out late or out alone with someone I just met. Maybe it's because I actually think either of those things are more dangerous than sex?

The thing is, next time I DO get into a relationship, I feel like I SHOULD at least tell her before it gets to the "Facebook official" status, because she'd probably be really upset if she found out I was in a relationship via internet. So, it's kind of unlikely that the topic will come up again.

So, what is a good way to change the subject when the "virginity" thing comes up? I don't want to make my topic change obvious, because if she notices she will just get more suspicious.

I'm thinking maybe just a strong "Don't worry, Mom. I'm not going to do anything that makes me uncomfortable or doesn't align with my values." I'm thinking that this is good because it is not a lie- having sex is not against MY values.


On a separate note, like I said before, I'm supposed to be meeting this guy tomorrow.

Now that I made my decision, I don't necessarily have a huge desire to see him. Also, I have a strong suspicion that he's going to want to meet up and hang out late (in our town, its very common to start the weekend Thursday), but I have class Friday and an hugely attached to my full 8 hours of sleep. But, quite frankly, I want to end things as tactfully as possible because he works at my favorite grocery store and I don't want to have to avoid him.

I'm thinking of telling him that i just remembered a paper I had to write, but I don't think that would prevent him from rescheduling. Or should I just go briefly on thursday as long as it's not late and let things fade out from there.

How do you think is the best way to handle this?

Another thing: I really feel like I need my therapist back. I know I'm a lot better that I was a year ago, but I still feel like I have a lot of hang-ups when it comes to relationships. My therapist told me that she has maxed out the amount of skype hours that counts to her training, but she never said "Goodbye, we will never see each other again", so I'm guessing I could email her and see what the status is?

I looked into the counseling offered at my college, but they said they only offered short-tern and crisis. I really feel like I need long term, even if infrequent visits would probably work. And now that I'm jobless, I really can't afford any paid counseling at all.

Then again, I guess everyone has some emotional hang ups. Is it possible that I'm at the phase where I'm supposed to be working these out on my own? I don't feel like it, but maybe I am.

Oh, and sorry I didn't respond to the first part of your post, Heather. I guess I missed it the first time I read. I don't mind waiting a little!

[ 09-12-2012, 09:33 AM: Message edited by: Atonement ]

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Heather
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Sounds like you've worked this out for yourself pretty well, and also advanced the conversation really nicely with Claire. [Smile]

In terms of what to do when we decide we don't want another date with someone, especially when it's so early on in just starting to date, I'd say it really isn't something we need to put a lot of energy into.

Personally, in a situation like this, I'd probably go ahead and see the person, since you had something scheduled anyway. Then you could just tell them in person -- if they have any idea yet this is anything more or maybe-more than friendship -- that you aren't feeling a thing and don't want to pursue...well, whatever you don't want to pursue.

You might not even have to, or a big convo might not even feel right. Just having a brief hang out time, ending the evening early and not asking to see them again can also make it very clear you're not feeling it.

And you can certainly go to this and say right at the gate you only want to hang out for an hour or two then need to go.

Again, I understand your process with stuff like this is to visualize something long-term, but I'd try and remember it's not that at all yet, it's just something that was two very casual, nothing-even-close-to-big get-togethers.

With your former therapist, I'd personally advise just leaving it, especially since if she didn't do anything more about closure, I'd presume it was for a reason. But I also don't think sending a thank you note with a goodbye via email is uncouth or anything.

However, I see you saying you want that therapist *back,* which doesn't sound like seeking closure to me, so.....?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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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Atonement
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I think I worded that wrong. I don't necessarily feel that I need my old therapist back, just that I should be continuing with therapy in general.

It's just, I'm really unclear if she meant for that to be our last session or not. Although she said things that made it sound very final, I do believe she mentioned something about contacting one another again. So, I'm really confused to exactly what the status with all that is.

I think I might just shoot her an email about exactly whether she meant our last session to be our last or not.

I'm thinking regardless, though, I should make an appointment with the student counseling services. Even if they can't help me long term, they may be able to refer me to a local free service the way my last school did.

Also, I'm thinking that I'll take you advice and continue on with the plans for thursday, as long as he plans to meet up by 9 or so. If not, he needs to respect the fact that my schedule doesn't allow me to be out at all hours of the night on weekdays.

[ 09-12-2012, 11:15 AM: Message edited by: Atonement ]

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Atonement
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Here's a quick not I drafted up for her. What do you think?

Hi, <therapist's name>!

I was just writing to see where we stand as far as out sessions go. I know that during our last meeting, you mentioned that you were close to maxing out the Skype hours allowed by your program.

However, I wasn’t sure if you intended our last meeting in early August to be our final one or not. Were you planning on us having another meeting?

Hope you are doing well!

Take care,

<Atonement>

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Heather
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Sounds good to me!

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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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Claire P.
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Atonement,
Glad to help!

If you do not want to talk to your mother about sex- that is, if you think she will bring it up somehow sometimes, whether or not she knows you are involved with someone- I think you should have a direct conversation with her about your feelings. I definitely think that your line “I’m not going to do anything” is a good one, it’s direct and strong, but you may need more than that, or to flesh it out a little more with her. If you think she will “get more suspicious” at you changing the topic when she brings up virginity, what do you think about just changing the topic by directly stating that you don’t feel comfortable discussing this kinds of issues with her/anyone? You could say something like, while you definitely will not ever choose to do something that does not align with your values, you also feel there are some issues which are private, and your mother’s questions in that regard are overstepping your boundaries. (I wouldn’t say this, but how would she feel about you poking around- with a judgmental tone at that- in her sex life?)

About the Facebook thing, remember you do not have to ever become “Facebook official.” I think you can tell your mother details about a relationship, once you feel that something might be progressing, but I would make them occasional details, and when necessary, you might need to become a bit of a broken record on the privacy/boundaries thing until it starts to get the message across to her.

Also, it might be worth mentioning to her that you talk to/confide in her (even re smaller details) because you feel so close to her/trust her- and you know many friends who do not have that kind of relationship with their mothers at all. Just because it sounds like she has become so accustomed to the everything-spilled dynamic that she doesn’t realize it indicates a certain kind of compliment to her—and that constantly haranguing in response to an articulation of closeness is a way to break down that positive feeling, rather than build it up.

About this guy- if you know you don’t want to date him, I would just tell him. Not much point wasting both of your time on Thursday, especially if you know you want to get a good night’s sleep, and you know he might like to plan something else to do on the first ‘weekend’ night. Since he works at your grocery store, you could wait til Thursday like Heather suggested, and then say it up-front. Or if you are uncomfortable with that, maybe try a phonecall? It can be weird and hard telling someone you are not interested in them, but letting something "fade" out doesn't always work, plus if this is someone you could see in your day-to-day life, it might be a better idea to be more straight forward. If putting the words together is difficult, since it sounds like school is a priority anyway, maybe you could say that it was cool meeting him, but you are just too busy for dating right now, and wouldn’t be able to give each thing the time/concentration it needs? Just one idea- anything that makes it clear you are not interested in more than friendship works fine.

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Atonement
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The thing is, neither one of us have straight out
said that we are considering dating one another, it's just been situational implications. So i feel like it would be a little forward and unnecessary for me to tell him I don't want to date him when he hasn't even asked me. If he does, sure, I will tell him.

Personally, if I were to straight up tell my mom that any part of my life is "private" from her, I think she would be hurt and offended, even if it is the truth. So I think it's better to just use the line that I came up with, and just censor what I told her. You are right about one thing- I don't have to make a relationship "Facebook official" until when/if I'm ready.

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Heather
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That's what I kind of figured, especially with having had only one "date." Thus, my suggestion that probably just not asking to see him again as a date is likely enough, especially if you don't even know if pursuing something more was something *he* wanted, either.

But again, options, you got'em. I personally think that's fine, and same goes for saying you don't want another date-date outright. With something this not-something-at-all-honestly, I think whatever you're most comfy with is probably fine.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
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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