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Author Topic: Relationship Breaks and Long Distance - Need Advice
PhoenixDog
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Warning: Long read. Lot's to go into. I appreciate any and all advice.

Ok, here's the story. I've been in a long distance relationship with my girlfriend for almost 10 months now, and for the most part we've been very happy together. We met online and have seen and spent physical time together on numerous occasions.

However, I have suffered from anxiety issues and have never had much self-confidence in myself. Regardless, we've always made the relationship work because it's what we both wanted. My anxiety however has always put a strain on the relationship, as I would *always* need reassurance from her for if she still loved me, etc. I know from previous relationships, you don't *need* to say or hear "I love you" every day or every time you talk. I think because of the long distance nature, I needed to hear it more. Whenever we argued online, and she wanted left alone, I would bug and pester until I had some assurance that this wasn't the last time we'd talk, that after a few hours, or the next day we would still be together. I could not handle the fear I gave myself. Even when she would spend time online with a friend of ours who I know really likes her, I would get defensive only because I knew his intentions were more than just trying to be a friend, even if I trusted her fully never to say or do anything to hurt me, or leave me. She wanted me, not him or anyone else. But I would always be afraid and always hunt for reassurance. Any women reading this would probably understand that that would get irritating fast.

This all came to a head when the last time I visited her. She's been through a lot of stress with her friendship with this other friend of ours falling apart, and it meaning a lot to her. On top of that, she is starting college at the end of the month. I thought coming down and spending some time with her, holding her and making her feel warm and wanted would help relieve some of the stress she was under. Unfortunately, the first night I was there, she ended up spending hours on the phone with this friend trying to make up with him and remain friends, while I was basically ignored (with no assurance that *we* were OK). I lashed out at her and basically freaked. This scared her pretty badly. The thing is though, I know that she excerted her time on him and not me, because she was trying to save the friendship with him. She already had me and in her mind didn't need saving. The next day we were better, but through the stress, and not feeling well, she slept most of the day instead of her and I going out and spending time together. It was nice laying in bed with her all day, but I felt alone as she slept all day. I got upset about it, and we argued again. She demanded to be taken back home from the hotel. After some more fighting, but calming down...I took her home. Along the way, we decided (more her decision than mine) that we take a break from our relationship for a bit. Her reasoning was so I could get some therapy (which we both mutually agreed upon), and so she can have one less thing to worry about (me) while she gets ready and settled into school and a new life.

This is where the advice comes in. I have since started therapy, and am on a medication that help slow my anxious thoughts. We still talk a little bit every day, usually through texts, and we were on webcam for a bit this morning...But this is very difficult for me. I am learning to control my anxiety and not need reassurance from her...But when we talk, there has been the odd time I've relapsed and have brought "us" up. I don't like this idea of the break, as losing her is the last thing I want. I want to do anything it takes to make her happy. She's even said herself that once I start therapy and I can stop being so obsessive, that "we" would be happier, and we'll be back together. Even her words when we started the break were "I'll date you once you start therapy, I just need time". She wants to wait and see how I change before we start us up again, which I understand. She still loves me, and I know she wants to be with me...But she wants the non-obsessive, non-anxious, sane me, not the crazy, obsessive one.

She moves for school this weekend, and I know when she gets settled in and starts making friends that her stress levels will drop. I also know with the medication and the therapy I am on, I will start to find ways to deal with my anxiety and need for reassurance. What I need advice on is...Well...I don't want to bring "us" up too soon or too often and end up chasing her away. I'm also scared that she will get comfortable with me not around so much, and end up not wanting to come back to me, regardless of the love I know she still has for me. When should I bring the idea of "us" up again? Should it even be me bringing it up or wait for her? What if it never happens and I'm stuck in limbo? I could really use some advice from people who have been on a break and gotten through it and been happier with their partner for it. And if anyone reading this is confused about something, I'll be happy to help resolve it.

Thank You

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PhoenixDog
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I hate to double post....But anyone?
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vshanti
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Hi PhoenixDog,

It sounds like you are very self-aware about the ways in which your anxiety is affecting your relationship, and eager to confront that issue for your own general well-being as well as the well-being of your partner. You've also started therapy-- I think that's great. Kudos. [Smile]

You said,
quote:
I am learning to control my anxiety and not need reassurance from her...But when we talk, there has been the odd time I've relapsed and have brought "us" up.
Even though you seem to feel very attached to your current partner, it's essential that you find stability on your own, so that you can come into a relationship as a full, independent individual. Therapy is a great first step in that direction. What I hear you say, however, is that your anxiety about the relationship isn't helping your personal progress. Even though the thought of a break might seem scary, it sounds to me like a good idea, so that you can take the space you need to sort out your issues and meet your own needs without having to project those insecurities onto your partner. Getting to a place where you feel stable on your own is the best gift you can give to yourself, your girlfriend and any partners you may have in the future.

In terms of navigating your relationship during this period, I recommend checking out Supermodel: Creating & Nurturing Your Own Best Relationship Models.

All the best!

--------------------
Vanessa

I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe...
I do, I do, I do.


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PhoenixDog
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Thanks for the advice...It was actually very useful. I'll be taking a lot of that into consideration for the future. However, while you mentioned how the idea of the break seems scary, which to me it is...How would I or we even, approach reuniting the relationship? She moves for school in the morning, and I got an email from her today basically ranting on how everything in her life is going wrong...And how undeniably stressed out she is. I of course do not want to make this worse by any means, but it seems that with a long distance relationship, even after the time spent apart for me getting help and her getting settled...Talking about getting back together to me seems insurmountable. I'm afraid that even after several therapy sessions, and me learning to control everything, her getting settled and comfortable in school, me just saying "I think we're ready to start things up again" seems a little forced. It not as if we're close by and we can just see each other physically whenever, then suddenly sparks fly and we just "know it". This is a 13 hour distance. How would I or we go about reuniting? How would one even bring up the subject with such a complicated situation to begin with?
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vshanti
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Hi PhoenixDog,

I'm glad you found the advice useful!

As for the long distance relationship conundrum, that's something I can empathize with. My partner and I have been in a long distance relationship for almost two years now, and it's definitely difficult. Communication can be more of a challenge and it's difficult to go without the physical intimacy and comfort a day-to-day relationship can bring. If it's something you both want, however, it's definitely do-able. I would suggest taking things one day at a time, and not worrying too much about getting back together at the time being. Give her some time to settle in at school, focus on therapy and your own needs, and let things go. As tempting as it is to figure everything out right away, and to know exactly what will happen down the road, it's impossible, because plans change and people change.

Have you asked your girlfriend what she wants?

--------------------
Vanessa

I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe...
I do, I do, I do.


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PhoenixDog
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Yeah, I do know what she wants. When we decided to take the break, she wanted time for me to get help and focus on therapy, and for her to get into school and settled. Her words many times were "I know we'll be happier together once you start therapy". She left for school this morning, and I sent her a nice text wishing her luck, reminding her that I am here for her if she needs anything, and that I love her. I got a very nice text back saying thanks and that she loves me too.

I am actually taking that text back as a victory for me. I didn't beg or crave reassurance from her to know if she still loves me. I simply said that I loved her and I was there for her. Whatever came back, if anything was up to her. Her saying she loves me too without me asking if she did makes me feel like I'm really on a good track for fixing myself.

I know when we decided to take the break, that it was temporary. She even told me not to think of it as breaking up, but to think that we're still together, just without the titles. I know in my heart (as far as I am still aware) that she wants to be with me. I know I need to give her time to get settled though. She starts classes Monday, and I have another therapy session next Friday. I'm still just confused as to how long is long enough, and when to talk about the relationship again. I obviously don't want to bring it up too soon and add more stress to her as it is. But I don't want to wait too long and fear her forgetting about us, and being comfortable with me as just a friend, even if she still loves me.

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vshanti
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quote:
I am actually taking that text back as a victory for me.
This makes me a little uncomfortable. A relationship with another human being isn't about winning or losing. It's about having respect for your partner and their boundaries. Even though you are afraid that your girlfriend will forget about the relationship, you need to respect the fact that she has her own life, and is entitled to making her own choices. Give her space, focus on meeting your own needs, and take things a little bit at a time. If she decides that she would rather be friends with you, then that is a valid choice, and you need to respect that and not push her.

quote:
Her saying she loves me too without me asking if she did makes me feel like I'm really on a good track for fixing myself.
I would also suggest a shift in perspective... you aren't broken. You are facing challenges and sure, there are aspects to your personality that you might want to improve on, but that doesn't mean you're broken. Human beings aren't appliances that can be taken to the shop and tweaked; we have years of history and complexity that we carry around with us every day, and that we must learn to heal from. I'm sure therapy will be very helpful when it comes to addressing these kinds of underlying issues in your life.

Have you read these articles?

To Be... AWESOME or Just Be –– Tips on Making the Most of Your Life Right Now!
Potholes & Dead Ends: Relationship Roadblocks to Look Out For

[ 08-28-2009, 10:21 PM: Message edited by: vshanti ]

--------------------
Vanessa

I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe...
I do, I do, I do.


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PhoenixDog
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quote:
Originally posted by vshanti:
quote:
I am actually taking that text back as a victory for me.
This makes me a little uncomfortable. A relationship with another human being isn't about winning or losing. It's about having respect for your partner and their boundaries. Even though you are afraid that your girlfriend will forget about the relationship, you need to respect the fact that she has her own life, and is entitled to making her own choices. Give her space, focus on meeting your own needs, and take things a little bit at a time. If she decides that she would rather be friends with you, then that is a valid choice, and you need to respect that and not push her.

quote:
Her saying she loves me too without me asking if she did makes me feel like I'm really on a good track for fixing myself.
I would also suggest a shift in perspective... you aren't broken. You are facing challenges and sure, there are aspects to your personality that you might want to improve on, but that doesn't mean you're broken. Human beings aren't appliances that can be taken to the shop and tweaked; we have years of history and complexity that we carry around with us every day, and that we must learn to heal from. I'm sure therapy will be very helpful when it comes to addressing these kinds of underlying issues in your life.

Have you read these articles?

To Be... AWESOME or Just Be –– Tips on Making the Most of Your Life Right Now!
Potholes & Dead Ends: Relationship Roadblocks to Look Out For

I believe I chose a bad set of words for that first quote. By victory, I meant that this is one of the first times in quite some time that my girlfriend has said "I love you" on her own, without me needing to ask her if she loves me first. I used to always need to ask her if she did to get that reassurance from her. This time it came from her own without me needing to ask or bug her if she did. By victory, I simply meant that I am learning not to *have* to ask her if she loves me, that if I am myself, and I am supportive and there for her, she will say it on her own. She's always said that when I keep asking if she loves me, she feels forced to say it back. By me being supportive for her and not needing to ask her or bug her about it, the "I love you" i got back from her came from her heart. She *wanted* to say it, and it wasn't forced.

As for the "fixing", I think you and I may just seem to use different words for the same thing. I in no way to I feel like I am "broken", but things about me need to be "fixed". I need to shake the need for reassurance in order to calm my anxiety. I need to learn to trust that no matter what happens with me and her, that everything will work out for the best. Once again, possibly a bad choice of words, but I think you and I are talking about the same thing. I guess I tend to think a little more metaphorically than others. There are things about me that I need to work on, to improve and, for lack of a better term, "fix". As I just mentioned, my need for reassurance and my causes of anxiety are things that need to be addressed. Maybe like a car...When the car works, but it creaks and groans...It needs a garage and things need to be tweeked and adjusted. Same with me. I am aware of the problems that I have caused myself and my girlfriend, and the therapist (garage) is there to help "fix" the issues I have been having.

As I said, maybe I'm just thinking more metaphorically than I should be. I don't think I'm broken, I don't think I'm an appliance that needs fixing...I think I just think of ways of describing myself to others, to dealing with situations with a more...straightforward and common approach.

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PhoenixDog
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Anyway, I know of what I need to work on and what needs to be done. She just got into school and is starting a new life for herself. Obviously bringing up anything regharding us right now is not a good time for her. And with me still in the midsts of getting myself figured out and learning to deal with several things..."us" needs to be put on the back burner. It was nice to hear that she still loves me in the text she sent that came from her heart, and gave me hope that if I keep focusing on my therapy, and I remain neutral but supportive to her, maybe everything will work out. I'm still just very confused as to when and more importantly..how to bring "us" back up with the time is right. I'm not sure if I meantioned it before, but it's not like we can just get together one day, sit down next to each other and bring it up. The discussion and conversation would have to happen online, whether though MSN or by phone...Which in of itself is rather impersonal. And how would one even approach the conversation? It doesn't make sense to me that even after several weeks...After I've started to handle and deal with my anxiety and panic attacks in a normal way, and she's been in school for a while and is comfortable and stable in her new life...That just calling her and saying "I think we should talk about us"...It seems forced. How would I even consider bring up the idea, even if I think the time is right?
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loversloveliarslire3
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well this isnt about me but my parents have been happily married for 30 sume years but the past few have been rough on my mom she feels like she is always there for my father but he is never there when she needs him like when she went to the doctor n stuff i was just wondering if sum1 could mabie give sum advice i could pass on to my mother i would very much appreciate im here writing this bcuz the last thing i want to see is them splitting up after all this time all i want to do is help but i have no idea on what i can do
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Heather
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Thirty years is a very, very long relationship, and without knowing its whole context from the actual people who have been in it, we just couldn't possibly give any advice.

And if we did have that context from your mother, our advice also would be around trying to help her find out what she needed to be happy, rather than around telling her she shouldn't leave. I certainly understand your feelings, as their kid, around a possible split, but you're in a very different position than she is.

Have you asked her how you can help and support her in this yourself?

--------------------
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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PhoenixDog
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I'm still looking for someone to talk to for advice...And feel kind of weird for my thread to be used by someone else...
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vshanti
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PhoenixDog, I would recommend talking to your girlfriend about when and how to renegotiate your relationship. That way, you can both have a shared understanding of how long you want to spend on the break, and how to start communicating again.

--------------------
Vanessa

I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe...
I do, I do, I do.


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PhoenixDog
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quote:
Originally posted by vshanti:
PhoenixDog, I would recommend talking to your girlfriend about when and how to renegotiate your relationship. That way, you can both have a shared understanding of how long you want to spend on the break, and how to start communicating again.

The only problem with this is that she's going through so much emotionally right now. I went out with some friends tonight to get away and get my mind off things, and when I got home, I have her a call to see how she's doing. Just trying to keep in touch, you know? She seemed really down. She was talking to her mom on MSN earlier, and she forgot her blankey when she moved, a blankey her dad gave her before he died that she always felt safe and protected with. She's been feeling really homesick, really sad and depressed lately, and is going through a ton. She knows I'm there for her, and I've been doing my best to be supportive and positive for her.

I just feel like right now...Even the mention of bringing us up, when a good time to talk about it...Would just stress her out more. Today I texted her saying that I was really scared, and she knew what I meant. She replied with "Don't be". If the situation I believe is the right one, she knows I'm scared about this break and not getting back together, and that "don't be" is referring to 'don't be scared, we'll be fine', as if she has an intention to get back together, for me to not be afraid. I wish if it was the case she'd just say it...But I'm going with the whole "women speak in code" idea =p.

I was thinking however...What do you think vshanti? Today is/was Saturday. She starts classes on Monday. I have another therapy session on Friday. I was thinking to myself to wait a week. Be there for her, talk to her, keep the lines of communication open and show her that I am dealing with my anxiety in a positive manner...But wait until next weekend to bring "us" up. That way I'll have had another therapy session under my belt, she'll have started school and gotten more comfortable in being on her own...What do you think?

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Ecofem
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Hey there, PhoenixDog!

quote:
Originally posted by PhoenixDog:
I'm still looking for someone to talk to for advice...

I think vshanti's given you some excellent advice here: talk to your girlfriend about this but also give her some space and focus on yourself for awhile. I know that doing so can be hard but, as with so much in life, a lot of stuff takes biting the bullet and trying our hardest when the going gets tough. Your girlfriend clearly likes and cares about you and, in my eyes, been very patient for those very reasons; now's the time for you to step it up and seek to work on your anxiety issues, both for your own and the relationship's sake. I know you can do it! Are you having trouble taking that first step?

Did you check out the articles she suggested, because I think they offer some good suggestions, too.

quote:
And feel kind of weird for my thread to be used by someone else...
As you knew when you registered, these forums are public; one person's personal thread will be read by -- and potentially help -- many more readers that just the OP. Additionally, as they are discussion boards, it's intended for just that: public discussion. While other's posts may get a little off topic, they often do so because they can relate to you and your situation, want to show solidarity and/or get advice for their similar scenario. [Smile]
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Ecofem
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Hey, I missed your most recent update. vshanti can certainly share her opinion when she gets the chance, but it sounds to me like your girlfriend is clearly interested in maintaining the relationship but needs some space for her to work this stuff out on her own right now.

quote:
Originally posted by PhoenixDog:
]The only problem with this is that she's going through so much emotionally right now. I went out with some friends tonight to get away and get my mind off things, and when I got home, I have her a call to see how she's doing. Just trying to keep in touch, you know? She seemed really down. She was talking to her mom on MSN earlier, and she forgot her blankey when she moved, a blankey her dad gave her before he died that she always felt safe and protected with. She's been feeling really homesick, really sad and depressed lately, and is going through a ton. She knows I'm there for her, and I've been doing my best to be supportive and positive for her.

I'm sorry she's been down and I'm glad you've been able to help her. In fact, it sounds like you two pretty much *are* having a relationship of sorts right now, at least where you're in regular contact and providing support.

quote:
I just feel like right now...Even the mention of bringing us up, when a good time to talk about it...Would just stress her out more. Today I texted her saying that I was really scared, and she knew what I meant. She replied with "Don't be". If the situation I believe is the right one, she knows I'm scared about this break and not getting back together, and that "don't be" is referring to 'don't be scared, we'll be fine', as if she has an intention to get back together, for me to not be afraid. I wish if it was the case she'd just say it...But I'm going with the whole "women speak in code" idea =p.
Hey there, you know we don't believe in gender-based behavioral patterns, such as "women speak in code." Please respect that-- thanks! [Smile]

I'm seeing pretty clear signs here that she's interested in maintaining some sort of relationship with you; you should take her word for it, I think she's being pretty clear in both her actions and her words. However, I think you could cut her some slack because right now [Wink] , you really should be stepping it up to try and take a break from your own relationship insecurities and worries to try to be even more firm support. We all have our difficult times and I hear you with what you're saying, but we also have to rise above that at times. For another example, let's say you and your girlfriend were having a pregnancy scare; you might be scared sh*tless and so worried about what your parents would say or that you really don't want to be a dad but you realize that, as the person who is/would be pregnant, she needs to be able to lean on you for a bit so you table your fears to support her more.

quote:
I was thinking however...What do you think vshanti? Today is/was Saturday. She starts classes on Monday. I have another therapy session on Friday. I was thinking to myself to wait a week. Be there for her, talk to her, keep the lines of communication open and show her that I am dealing with my anxiety in a positive manner...But wait until next weekend to bring "us" up. That way I'll have had another therapy session under my belt, she'll have started school and gotten more comfortable in being on her own...What do you think?
I think talking to your therapist about this would be an *excellent* choice. I also think it's wise for you to step it up for her, putting the focus on her right now and then bringing up the stuff later on, after you've had a chance to show that "actions speak louder than words." Good for you, and good luck! [Smile]
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PhoenixDog
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Thanks for the responses, Lena. Some more great and much needed advice. Before I go into anything, let me apologize for the gender-specific behavioural pattern. Instead of "Women speak in code", let me rephrase as "My girlfriend speaks in code", haha. I've known her long enough to know how she talks sometimes. She never usually comes out and just says things. So I think when she said "Don't be", it was her own way of saying to not be afraid, that things will be OK when we all calm down.

quote:
Your girlfriend clearly likes and cares about you and, in my eyes, been very patient for those very reasons; now's the time for you to step it up and seek to work on your anxiety issues, both for your own and the relationship's sake. I know you can do it! Are you having trouble taking that first step?
Actually, I am a little bit. While I know for a fact I've come a long way with my anxiety, I still have my fears about the relationship, which takes away from me focusing on me. So I guess I am having a little bit of difficulty taking that step on focusing on me instead of us, since I'm the kind of man who tries and put it all out there for her.

quote:
I'm seeing pretty clear signs here that she's interested in maintaining some sort of relationship with you; you should take her word for it, I think she's being pretty clear in both her actions and her words. However, I think you could cut her some slack because right now [Wink] , you really should be stepping it up to try and take a break from your own relationship insecurities and worries to try to be even more firm support. We all have our difficult times and I hear you with what you're saying, but we also have to rise above that at times. For another example, let's say you and your girlfriend were having a pregnancy scare; you might be scared sh*tless and so worried about what your parents would say or that you really don't want to be a dad but you realize that, as the person who is/would be pregnant, she needs to be able to lean on you for a bit so you table your fears to support her more.
I completely understand, but this comes back to trying to divide the anxieties of the relationship, and focusing on myself. Our whole relationship, I've been a shoulder for her, and I know she knows it. I am doing my best to be her support forum, keeping her motivated and positive. I've been through school already, and she's just starting. I'm 22 and she's 18. So I can relate 100% to what she is going through, from the homesickness to the fear of starting college and everything. But as I mentioned, when I talk to her, it's really hard for me sometimes to bite my tongue and just focus on her and her needs, when my fears are so overwhelming sometimes.

I think however that you're right about bringing that up with my therapist about how and when to mention "us" again. It's strange though...When we text each other, I never have a problem being 100% focused on her and her needs. It's the phone when I hear her voice that the rush of emotions come in. Hearing her sad about something, excited about something...Something kicks in me that brings the fear and anxiety in. But it's the phone that lets *her* hear me, and when she is in need, to be able to hear the sympathy and love in my voice is much more effective than words on a screen.

But you're right...Showing her that "actions speak louder than words" seems to be the phrase that this break is about. She wants me to put aside my fears when she needs help, and be there for her. For the longest time my anxieties took over, and I made it about me, not her..especially when she needed me.

I just wanted to say I appreciate everything from everyone that has given me advice so far. It has all been very helpful. But like you had asked, Lena...I could use some help as to how to be patient. I've always been one to want to solve problems and fix everything right away. But this is one of those situations that "right now" will ruin it all. How should I deal with the patience, especially when talking to her and the fears rush back?

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vshanti
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Hi again PhoenixDog!

I'm glad Lena jumped in and gave you some great advice. I second everything they've said so far. [Smile]

quote:
I am doing my best to be her support forum, keeping her motivated and positive.
As her partner, it isn't really your job to be her entire support network. That's a lot of work! Being responsible for our own emotional well-being is hard enough without feeling entirely responsible for a partner's. Has your girlfriend explicitely asked you to be her "support forum"? How have you fallen into that role? Although you obviously care for her and want her to be well, it isn't your responsibility to ensure that your girlfriend stays motivated and positive. Those are lessons she needs to learn on her own, outside the context of your relationship, in the same way that you are taking strides to deal with your anxiety and insecurity.

quote:
How should I deal with the patience, especially when talking to her and the fears rush back?
I would suggest bringing this up with your therapist next Friday. It sounds like an excellent topic to discuss with them. Just keep in mind that working on your anxiety issues will be a long process, and isn't likely to be solved overnight. That doesn't need to be discouraging- you can do it, PhoenixDog [Smile]

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I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe...
I do, I do, I do.


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PhoenixDog
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quote:
Originally posted by vshanti:
quote:
I am doing my best to be her support forum, keeping her motivated and positive.
As her partner, it isn't really your job to be her entire support network. That's a lot of work! Being responsible for our own emotional well-being is hard enough without feeling entirely responsible for a partner's. Has your girlfriend explicitely asked you to be her "support forum"? How have you fallen into that role? Although you obviously care for her and want her to be well, it isn't your responsibility to ensure that your girlfriend stays motivated and positive. Those are lessons she needs to learn on her own, outside the context of your relationship, in the same way that you are taking strides to deal with your anxiety and insecurity.
No, she hasn't asked me, but I just seem to have always taken the role. I like to feel wanted, and sometimes needed by people, and so I put myself out there for anyone to lean on. Sometimes it can get overbearing at times though. I know it isn't my responsibility to be there 100% of the time, but I try my best to because I love and care for her. I don't like to see her suffer through things alone. Maybe I'm just strange that way....I guess in a sense I need to stop doing that as well...Let her get settled into school on her own, and just *be there* if she needs me, instead of actually putting myself out there *for* her. She knows I'm there, I don't need to keep telling her that. Maybe that in of itself is a problem too...Sigh...
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PhoenixDog
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There is also something else. Because I am still so attached to the relationship and my girlfriend as a whole...I can't shake this *need* to want to talk to her...Even when I do things like play XBox (I play Halo 3 semi-professionally, so that helps kill a lot of my time) or I'm listening to music...I still cannot shake that want to hear from her. And I know that's a problem because it defeats the purpose of giving her space. Sometimes we'll send each other a quick text that just says "Meow" and she'll respond back with "Arf", but that's just something her and I do. But me even needing to send that meow in the first place is an issue. So even with my distractions, I am still stuck with the anxiety of the relationship...
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vshanti
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quote:
So even with my distractions, I am still stuck with the anxiety of the relationship...
Your feelings are definitely valid, PhoenixDog. When you're dealing with distance in a relationship, it can be difficult to stay centered and not crave constant affirmation or reassurance from your partner. Have you tried channeling some of that anxiety in a creative way? For example, if you feel a strong urge to talk to your girlfriend, you could try writing a letter to her expressing your feelings, without actually mailing the letter. That way, you can process and work through your emotions without placing any burden on her to respond.

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Vanessa

I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe...
I do, I do, I do.


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PhoenixDog
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quote:
Originally posted by vshanti:
quote:
So even with my distractions, I am still stuck with the anxiety of the relationship...
Your feelings are definitely valid, PhoenixDog. When you're dealing with distance in a relationship, it can be difficult to stay centered and not crave constant affirmation or reassurance from your partner. Have you tried channeling some of that anxiety in a creative way? For example, if you feel a strong urge to talk to your girlfriend, you could try writing a letter to her expressing your feelings, without actually mailing the letter. That way, you can process and work through your emotions without placing any burden on her to respond.
That is not a bad idea actually. Maybe I will give that a try. I've told myself tonight not to text her or contact her at all for at least Monday...Try and ween myself of needing to talk to her. Plus it's her first day of college classes, so she could use the space. Maybe this will help me deal with any anxious feelings I get when I want to talk to her.

Thanks =)

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vshanti
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You're welcome. Best of luck!

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Vanessa

I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe...
I do, I do, I do.


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PhoenixDog
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Just a little update...Things have been rocky the past couple days, but better. Yesterday was awful. I was depressed all day and really couldn't cope with anything. Nothing I did could keep my attention away from my girlfriend, and needing to talk to her. I really wanted to see how things were going, and I just wanted to talk to her. Eventually, I demanded some time, since she kept putting me off over and over. Talking on the phone, she seemed very frustrated, but not necessarily with me. I finally managed to get some truth out of her by asking what she wanted from me...Not now, but overall. She simply said she wants me to be "Self-sufficient". She was complaining that school was driving her nuts and that she "didn't need this right now" meaning me pestering her about anything. She also seemed to claim that when we talk, it's "always about me"...Yet when I *want* to talk to her, I want to know how her classes are going, and how she is doing...And not always mention me. Yeah, I want to tell her how *I'm* doing, as she wanted to know how my therapy is going. She just seems so agitated at everything right now, and I don't really know what to do other than...Well...Nothing. Even her facebook comments are steaming with frustration.

I skipped talking to her today, and even noticed a huge change in my mood. Yesterday I was depressed as hell and couldn't keep my mind off her. Today I was happy and hoppy and I hardly thought about her.

I'm trying to be self-sufficient, but I don't really understand what that entails. Obviously I need to learn to not rely on my girlfriend as a be-all-end-all to my emotions...But is that it? What else would it entail? Plus, I don't like seeing her so frustrated. I'm 22, I've been through college (2 schools actually) and I completely understand how scary and frustrating it can be...I want to be there for her, but I feel if I do *anything* I'll just make everything, including *us* worse. Yet I feel if I do nothing, and barely talk to her (save the odd comment of reassurance to her facebook posts), that she'll feel like I don't care or something. The latter of course could just be my anxiety, and maybe she just needs me to go away for a little while. I was thinking of leaving her be contact wise until the weekend and her first week of school is complete...I...Rawr. I'm so confused about so much.

At the same time I'm still so scared about *us*. This whole not talking thing has me worried that it will be one day without talking...Then a few days...Then weeks and then nothing. I want to remain in contact with her, but she seems to want me to go away right now. She has never yet even commented on never wanting to be together again. The only time she has was "I won't want to be if you keep acting like this", referring to my obsessiveness that I have addressed in earlier posts. I understand that focusing on me right now is what I need...And I am trying my best at doing that. But I tend to put a lot of myself into relationships, and I hate to see it fail. This relationship is so different than previous ones I have had, and I want to be with this person for the rest of my life...I know it. I know that she does too...At least before all this. Am I worrying about nothing? That if I just focus on myself, and let her focus on school for a while, and I can learn to not *need* her, but to *want* her, that everything will work out?

I know I'm throwing a lot out there, but I need to get a lot off my chest. Thanks for listening, Scarleteen, and any advice is appreciated. I always value opinions from everyone. I'm back in therapy on Friday, and will be mentioning a lot of this there as well, but the more opinions to think about, the better I can process how to deal with things.

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vshanti
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Hi again PhoenixDog,

I'm sorry to hear that you've been having a hard time these past few days. Still, it's great that you've been making an effort to confront your anxiety issues. Like I said in a previous post, this kind of change will take time.

quote:
I'm trying to be self-sufficient, but I don't really understand what that entails. Obviously I need to learn to not rely on my girlfriend as a be-all-end-all to my emotions...But is that it? What else would it entail?
It sounds like your girlfriend has been pretty clear about what she needs from you. In my understanding, self-sufficiency means that you are able to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally, so that when you spend time with your partner the two of you come together as complete wholes, instead of two halves.


quote:
I want to remain in contact with her, but she seems to want me to go away right now. She has never yet even commented on never wanting to be together again. The only time she has was "I won't want to be if you keep acting like this", referring to my obsessiveness that I have addressed in earlier posts.
I can understand how it might be tempting to phone your girlfriend, since she is adjusting to a new situation and going through a rough time. From what she has said, however, your girlfriend really needs her space. It's likely that she will interpret further phone calls from you as a sign that you are looking to her for emotional validation instead of within yourself. Even though it's scary, it might be best to give her space for a little while. She has told you plainly that she is not interested in being in a relationship with you if you continue looking to her for constant reassurance of the relationship. Even though it's a bit scary, I suggest trusting in the bond you have, and trusting that she will contact you again when the time is right for her.

quote:
I tend to put a lot of myself into relationships, and I hate to see it fail. This relationship is so different than previous ones I have had, and I want to be with this person for the rest of my life...I know it. I know that she does too...At least before all this. Am I worrying about nothing? That if I just focus on myself, and let her focus on school for a while, and I can learn to not *need* her, but to *want* her, that everything will work out?
It depends on what you mean by "work out." If by "work out" you mean "be with her for the rest of your life," then I'd say it was unlikely- not because your relationship is doomed to fail, but because most people won't be with a single other human for the rest of their lives. If you do decide to give her space, focus on yourself and let her take care of school and her own life, though, then you may likely be with your girlfriend for as long as both of you wish, in a space that allows for mutual independence as well as closeness.

--------------------
Vanessa

I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe...
I do, I do, I do.


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PhoenixDog
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Thanks again so much for the reply, Vanessa. But you had mentioned that further calls might make her think that I am still looking for looking for relationship reassurance. But..What about an email? Sending her an email telling her about how things are going and asking her about things like classes and her situation. That was it isn't me hunting for something, but something she can casually read at her leasure and know that I'm not trying to reach out for reassurance.

Or should I just do nothing and wait for her.

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Heather
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It seems to me that it's important for both of you that you simply give her a break: no calls, no emails.

I also think it's perhaps a good idea to consider who that email would really be for, because it sounds like it'd be more likely about you and what you want and need than what would be a comfort to her.

You said she seems to want you to do that: so, if you don't do that, you can know you're not doing what she's asking for and wants, but what you want.

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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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PhoenixDog
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Very true. I never really thought about it that way. I guess I will just give her all the space she wants, and just give everything time. When she is ready to get a hold of me, she knows how.
Cuivis dolori remedium est Pentienta. Patience is the cure for all suffering.

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PhoenixDog
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This is getting really scary, and really frustrating now. I just had my second therapy session today, and it went just as good as the first one. I really know what I need to do for myself and how to become more self-sufficient and self-reliant. I'm learning not to rely on others to make me happy, that I am perfectly capable of making myself happy.

But when it comes to my girlfriend, I'm starting to get frustrated with the lack of communication between us. She did text me today when I asked to speak with her. She ended up saying "Don't have the energy, not today". I was OK with that and sent her another text saying I understood and to have a good night. I followed up with asking if we could tomorrow, as I want to hear about her school this week and to tell her about my therapy. She said she didn't want to hear about the therapy as that stays in the office (She's majoring is psychology). I ended up asking how I should go about showing her that I'm working on me? How I can prove that I've been working on being self-sufficient. This is when she went completely silent. I kind of fell off my medication tonight, and I started panicking. Frustrated to the point where I've sent her a number of texts asking her why she never wants to talk anymore, how I don't want us drifting apart, and even saying that if she keeps ignoring me, I can't fight for her forever. I know what she is going through with school, but to keep ignoring me, someone she says she loves and cares about...I'm starting to lose all hope. I'm starting to lose faith that things will be OK. That we will work all this out if we just give each other space. When we took this break, she said she still want to talk to me. This was pretty much 2 weeks ago yesterday, and we've hardly said a word to each other. I know what she wants from me...But it seems she isn't willing to do what I want from her. I'm happy giving her the space she wants, and to work on me. But I want to still talk to her. Not every day, but even just a few minutes every few days. Is that much to ask? She can't even do that for me.

Am I just over analyzing things? Or do I have a right to be frustrated. I don't want to do this forever...I want some light at the end of this tunnel. But right now I'm not seeing anything.

The first week of the break, before she started school, we talked more. She'd tell me things that were going on, and even hopped on webcam once with me to show me her new dyed hair. But when she started school, I was pretty much put on ignore entirely. I don't like it. I know it's only been a week, but she said we would still talk, that I shouldn't be scared. She said this before the entire break began. Well, we're not talking and I'm scared. She isn't doing anything to help that. I know this kind of goes against the whole self-sufficiency thing...But I really love and care about this woman, and the fear of drifting apart is overpowering my ability to focus on myself. Do I just need to calm down and keep it day by day? What if this keeps up? The only contact we've been having is the odd facebook comment. I want a conversation with her. I'm so f***ing confused right now...But I can't be as self-reliant as I want to be right now...Thinking I'm losing her entirely, that she just wants nothing to do with me is killing me.

[ 09-04-2009, 10:53 PM: Message edited by: PhoenixDog ]

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PhoenixDog
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Just wanted to add...I've heard nothing from her since my little outburst. But I've since managed to calm myself down and I left her a voicemail apologizing for tonight...That how I acted is how I used to be...And isn't how I have been lately. That I fell off my medication tonight and when that happens, I get really panicky and anxious. I ended it with that I hope to talk to her soon, as I would really wish to talk...But it's up to her, and to have a good night.

What's personally frustrating for me is how I can't let things go yet. When she said she didn't have the energy, and didn't want to talk today...Why couldn't my reply with "I understand, Hopefully we can talk later, have a good night" have been it? Why do I get so scared all the time? I *know* if I just ended it there, she probably would have seen it as "Hey, he's actually listening to me. Maybe he's starting to change". Then I just explode and revert back to *why* we're on this break in the first place. Why can't I let things go, just because it isn't what *I* want? As I still said in the above post, I'm still really scared of this complete non-communication and how it will end up with us drifting apart...But I also know that if I can just f***ing listen to her and respect her wishes...Things will be fine. What is keeping me from just doing that? Why couldn't I just let it drop after my reply to her not having the energy and not today?

Please help. It's almost like a drug addiction...Therapy can only do so much...But there are just those times you relapse and can't figure out why. I know these are a lot of questions I need to talk to my therapist about...But one hour a week doesn't seem enough.


Edit: My girlfriend ended up texting me not long ago, simply saying "I wasn't near my phone". I gave her a quick call and we talked a bit. She sounded drained, and was probably in bed, but we still talked a little. She told me how much school was just kicking her ***, and how little she could handle at all. That all week, she didn't want to talk to anyone because of how school was making her feel. I asked if it was "anyone, or just me". She came back with "Anyone. I don't want to talk to anyone". I reassured her that I've been where she is...I know what the first week is like, that I've been through school and that she *can* talk to me, that maybe I can have some advice. We talked a little more and then she wanted to go to bed. I said alright, and hopefully we can talk later. I told her I loved her and hopes she has a good night. She said goodnight back and we hung up. The entire talk was calm and light-hearted. And dare I say...happy despite the fact of how physically and emotionally drained she was. It was a good talk.

After we hung up, I looked up at my mirror I have across my room and stared at myself for a second and just said "That's all I wanted...5 minutes to talk, maybe catch up a little. That's all". I tossed my phone down onto my bed like I normally do. A few seconds passed and then I just broke down and started crying. I grabbed my big stuffed dog I use to sleep with (I have a back injury, he makes sleeping easier) and just cried into him. Why? I'm not really sure, but I think it was the same s**t coming back to me. That I overreacted, took my frustrations out on my girlfriend who can hardly handle anything as it is...All for nothing. She wasn't ignoring me, she wasn't near her phone. She wasn't not talking to me all week, she wasn't talking to *anyone*. And no matter what I do or how I think, I can't get that selfish thought that she's doing this to just me out of my head. That I can't just accept Occam's Razer and move on.

I know with these last couple posts, I've probably confused the utter s**t out of whoever is reading it, but I needed to get it all off my chest. Thanks for listening, Scarleteen, and I hope some advice can be given through these last two posts of complete confusion and emotion.

[ 09-04-2009, 11:45 PM: Message edited by: PhoenixDog ]

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Ecofem
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Hey PhoenixDog,

I have been reading your posts today but have to step out for a bit to help a friend. When I get back later, I will reply with my thoughts, which are honestly mixed. I really care for you and want the best but we're also not trained therapists, just volunteers, and this is getting out of our scope. I think both we and you know what "you" need to do (give her that break while realizing it's for the sake of your relationship) but the sticking point, as you have said, is figuring how to be able to do that. (Of course it's easier said than done!) I should be back in an hour or two... I hope your weekend is better than your week. [Smile]

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PhoenixDog
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I know nobody here can take the place of a trained therapist, but really all I'm looking for it some advice from people who know a little more about this than I do. I can't always speak with my therapist when I need to reach out to someone, but I know those here at Scarleteen are people that I can come to for some very well thought out advice. Know I don't take everything said here as perfection...But I do appreciate any advice from people involved in such a pristine website. Please don't feel like you'll be saying the wrong thing to me if this is getting out of your scope of things...Just some advice from strangers is more help than you can imagine at this point. Sometimes I just need that voice that isn't my own that helps bring everything into perspective.
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Heather
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Again, I don't know how to tell you enough that I think it's very important you not contact her, not by phone, in person, text, email, anything.

Ultimately, per your last few posts, this is all about what happened when you contacted her, something we've all made clear here we do not think you should do, as it's clear that a) it is unwanted on her part and she has asked you not to and b) you are having such a tough time honoring that boundary.

I think you getting to a point where you don't behave in the ways that are troubling for you both has to start with you not contacting her.

Let's look at the worst-case scenario you seem to be thinking about, which is that you two drift apart and don't have any relationship later. You might not, and that might be a good thing for at least one of you if not both of you. This is not the only person in the world for you to be in relationship with, you know?

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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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Ecofem
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OK, I'm back with the longer answer. I agree with all Heather's said, but I will go into some more details, too. [Smile]

Per our not being professionals, what I meant was not that we're not perfect, which is true but not even therapists' advice is perfect: We're all humans and individuals. What I had meant to say was that we can reach a point where we feel what we're saying is not helping because you're not taking those steps, trying out our suggestions, to help yourself. For example, we have a three strikes policy of sorts when it comes to users coming to the site with pregnancy scares. We want to provide support for those tough times but when it becomes a pattern, what we are saying is not helping in the long-run and in fact potentially enabling in the short term.

Again, we are here because we want you and your girlfriend to have a good relationship; we want you to not feel anxious. However, and I do appreciate your being open to all responses, what it comes down to is that you just need to stop contacting her. I hear you on how it's incredibly hard during anxiety attacks but when you contact her, you're doing so for your own sake, disrespecting her boundaries and ultimately destroying your chances at maintaining the relationship. In other words, in order to soothe yourself in the short-term, you are hurting the long-term. I know you're not coming to this because you're seeking to control her but repeatedly contacting her after she tells you she wants a break does start entering the territory of manipulative behaviors.

I have found myself very anxiety-ridden in relationships before. However, for all the caring, loving partners there are in the world who want to help, this anxiety is something internal and something that I/you/we must deal with on your own. No matter how many times you call or text your girlfriend, despite the fact that is may make you feel relieved at that time, it's not going to change the way you feel and deal with this. For me, the situation was different but I dealt with it by talking about it with my partner/s but ultimately working on things myself, getting outside help or opinions if I needed it. Sometimes it meant ending the relationship because a good relationship can have its highs and lows but should not make you feel that bad for so long.

I could go into details regarding your three posts above but the bottom line is taking those steps to stop contacting her right now. It sounds like you're having trouble accepting that she does not want to talk about things right now. I work not just full-time but full-time at one position and part-time at another, in addition to having a very full and busy life in other regards. There are some hard things I go through that I don't even want to discuss with my closest friends, family, colleague or boyfriend at that moment because I want to step back and take a break. Sure, I'll probably talk about it later on but we all understand how things can be. It can be both a form of strength and necessity for both our own independence and good relationships with others. I hear you how it can be hard to watch someone suffer, especially if you're used to helping, but it's important to let people deal with stuff their own way, too.

As to your therapist not being there for 24/7, some therapists can be better matches than others but perhaps this one isn't quite as helpful right now. I would hope that, assuming you're being very open and honest about this to him/her, that your therapist would be able to offer you ways to cope when you were having these anxiety attacks, be it sending him or her an email, doing some exercises or something else.

Many people see anxiety as a sign that we need to get busy or make (positive) changes in our life somehow. For me, I find that if I'm getting upset about some relationship issue, that it's important for me to reflect upon the rest of my life... often times it's because I need to work on finishing an assignment or something else totally unrelated to the relationship itself. Once I do that, things are often suddenly much, much better. How is your life right now outside of the relationship? I see you've got a lot of cool stuff going on, like playing videogames semi-professionally, but how do you feel about thing on the whole? Like career, family, etc.?

I know this is very honest and may sound harsh but, again, it's coming from the heart and because I do care so much and want you and your girlfriend to be happy and work things out. [Smile]

[ 09-05-2009, 01:13 PM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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Ecofem
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Hey, I also wanted to add: I'm also in a relationship with someone who is a bit younger and is still at university whereas I finished a few years ago. While it's usually a non-issue, I know how the differences in experience can come out to play more in this situation. I hear how you want to provide support there, especially when you've been through the same thing. However, something I try to remember is that we're ultimately different people who get on wonderfully but also experience/deal with such challenges differently. My partner's better at dealing with relationship issues and I'm better at dealing with academic pressure. We can support each other but we know that I can reach out for support. However, as even my dad kindly reminded me when I was dealing with a lot of stress at work, I need to make sure that I'm doing my part to deal with my own stuff so I'm not adding to my partner's stress. I hesitate to say something like, "As the older ones with more life experience, we need to step it up more" but this isn't so much about particular ages, relationship specifics or what have you, but rather applies to relationships in general; relationships are a great source for giving and receiving support but we also need to make sure we're keeping our own stuff in check. I think the best way to support her through her own challenges with starting uni is to try to work on your own fears so you can be there for her, if and when she asks for your help. Because right now I get the feeling you're meaning to help her but unintentionally also piling on your own concerns, which can be way too heavy all around.

[ 09-05-2009, 01:48 PM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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