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Can't get in touch with my heart

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 1:59 pm
by Nomad
Hi guys, I know you can't give me the answers here, but thank you for listening as I figure writing it down might help.

I'm a mixed up kind of person, late 30s but now going through all the things teenagers did due to serious emotional neglect in childhood. Except I still I have no idea how to identify with my feelings and it's ruining how I live and making me very lonely. I have been in intensive therapy now for over a year, but am still a long road from being ok.

Right here and right now my problem is that I have no idea if I fancy a close friend of mine, and haven't been able to work this out for a looooong time. Normally my advice to someone else would be, 'if you can't figure it out, then you obviously don't'. But becasue i have been such a muddle in my head for so long, I dont trust that my head isn't getting in the way of my heart. I've got a history of dating the wrong guys and having an unhealthy relationship with sex. Meaning that all my relationships were lead with chemistry and i would only be able to communicate emotionally through sex, I know now that I deliberately picked emotionally distant or narcissistic men that way avoiding being to close I think, and also going with what had been familiar when I was small. The result is I have been attracted to the wrong guys. In the last 2 years I have stayed single and have been working on changing who I go for.

Ultimately I am not ready to be close to someone while i am so mixed up (to be honest it feels like i will always be like this), however life happens and I am worried I am throwing happiness away due to my fears and dysfunctional head. I also suffer from depression, as a result of what I experienced as a child, and this also gets in the way of being able to connect with guys.

Anyway a few years ago I met someone who has become a very close friend. It doesn't often happen in life, but I knew instantly that we would get on before we even met properly. I don't know why. Just did. And sure enough we had loads in common and a strong connection. I didn't realise at the time that he liked me as more than a friend. At least there was no flirting between us so I figured my friendship call was clear.
Another while down the line and over a year since we met, I saw a bit more of him due to some work and started feeling differently towards him. I felt jealous of an ex girlfriend and other female friends and sort of 'woke up' to our connection. I spent a few hours reading back through our emails and texts and realised just how close we were. Something shifted in me and it felt like the honest thing to do was to let him know my feelings of jealousy about the ex. This changed everything in that the outcome was deciding to spend more time together which we did and i was very pleased about that. It upped the gears but there was still no flirting or anything. I loved all the time i spent with him and never wanted it to end, we always had so much to say and bounced off each other even more than before.

Now here is the thing. He is very different from guys I have dated or been drawn to. He's an attractive person, but something happens as soon as i like or get close to someone. They come under the same negative fire from me that i give myself. Only silently, but i can hear it, so it wears down how i feel until there is nothing left. Our friendship and connection was becoming very valuable to me so i did not want to jeapordise this by moving things forward. We went away together at christmas (both to avoid tricky families), and had a wonderful time. But i think i thought this might be the making or breaking. We drank a lot and hung out and still neither of us were brave enough to test the water.

Ultimately i guess i am not ready to be close to someone and that is what makes me hesitant. But it would really help to be clear on how i feel about him physically so i can know if i should come back to this. It may be my fear of intimacy that stops me, or it may be that I just plain dont fancy him. I feel excited at the idea of kissing him, but that could just be that i have been on my own for some time!! I dont trust that feeling to last. I'm not used to being unsure. In the past if i fancy someone i know about it and cant think about anything else, but that feels unhealthy as it gets in the way of everything else and i miss other incompatibilities.

I guess i wonder - is it possible to fancy someone and not want to tear their clothes off in an animalistic way?! ie can you fancy someone and not lust after them? I'm just so unfamiliar with healthy relationships.

Thanks for listening everyone.

Re: Can't get in touch with my heart

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 2:18 pm
by Mrconfused74
I think if it was lust, then that feeling would've subsided by now, so I would say that you need to give your heart a chance. We spend so much time thinking things over that by the time we come to a decision it's too late. Putting your past behind you isn't easy, but sometimes you need to try or you will never find love. I spent so much of my time analysing relationships and went in to them thinking it's going to fail and inevitably it did. Not because of what they did, but because my head over ruled my heart. So I would say go for it, but then again I very rarely take my own advice, as I'm still in the same position I was a year ago. If u could turn the clock back I would make different decisions in every relationship I've been in, because I know now how it's affected my judgement of people. We are always scared of what might happen but never excited about it! It's time to take a step forward and aim for happiness .

Re: Can't get in touch with my heart

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 2:24 pm
by Tarantula
Hi Nomad

I relate to a lot of what you've said - being compelled towards clearly unsuitable partners, finding men who are stable to be 'boring', questioning yourself at every turn...

... I am now at a point where I'm in my most stable, healthy and fulfilling relationship yet with a man who I feel a strong sense of connection and understanding with. Did I want to rip his clothes off as soon as I met him? No. I fancied him, but it wasn't this all-consuming, drug-like-intensity attraction I'd felt before. I felt calmer with him - more in control of my emotions. I felt from the start that he cared for me a great deal. Now we live together and he treats me like a Queen - which is so wonderfully different to the overwhelmingly exciting but ultimately damaging 'relationships' I'd had before. In the end, I was just burning myself out - but I don't regret it, because now I can say that I've been to the other side of the spectrum, I know how it is, the initial infatuation, the yearning for that person.... and I remember, too, how utterly destroyed I felt when it all fell apart, even though I knew it would - I knew these guys could not give me what I need from a real relationship.

So my advice to you is to stop second guessing yourself and go for it with this man. My advice to my younger self, all women and even all men is so simple and yet so real - BE WITH THE PERSON WHO TREATS YOU WELL. It is that simple!!

So many of us spend so much time struggling with dramas and trying to control an uncontrollable situation - we spend hours analysing texts, fretting over the smallest of gestures, losing sleep, focussing single-pointedly on the object of our obsessions. In the end, where are they now? What was it all for?

So I gave all that rubbish up in favour of someone who shows me, every single day, how important I am to him - who actually does things for me, puts me FIRST. Someone I can rely on and build a real future with instead of the Fboys I used to date.

Like you, I am also pre-disposed, from an abusive childhood, towards emotionally unavailable men. I also have felt this inexplicable NEED to be with them at all costs. I've questioned myself over and over..

.. until I found someone who left no room for doubt. I don't need to 'test' him. I don't need to panic or question his feelings for me because they are clear, at all times. He's solid, which makes me feel solid not only in the relationship but in myself as well, as a whole. It frees up so much of my energy and focus to go out into the world and achieve other things. I feel like myself again!

So, listen, if this 'friend' of yours is that guy for you, then I say, go for it - before you lose the opportunity. You are not learning or growing whilst you stay out of the game. To learn about relationships, you mostly have to engage with them. You are obviously attracted to this guy (which is also important!), but, it's not the mad headrush you're used to feeling because he isn't a drug to you. He might be the hearty sunday roast in the pub when it's cold outside, you get my meaning?

And ultimately that's so much more valuable.

Re: Can't get in touch with my heart

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 3:15 pm
by Nomad
Thank you guys, thanks for taking the time to give your views, and thanks tarantula for such wise words of advice.
Yes, he is that good person and he does see me for me and treat me well. BUT I am not in a good head space and I don't trust that I am capable of giving the same back. Until I can work out how to love and respect myself I don't think I should be with anyone. It makes me so sad as this is the first time i have met someone who ive really connected with on that level. But right now I know i will translate the bad treatment i give myself and turn it onto someone else. Maybe one day I will be able to care for someone in a healthy way. You guys say go for it (as do my friends, everyone other than my sister who knows my struggles), but I dont want to hurt him any further. I think it is possible to grow and learn alone, the one relationship i need to learn how to have is with myself. I'm exhausted by being this age and not having managed that yet but how can i be good to someone else if I cant be good to myself.

I really hope i have not made a terrible mistake. I've encouraged him to move on from me for his sake even if that means i might loose him as a friend too. He is just hurting waiting for me to sort my head out. I will never know. If i have nothing to give, i have nothing to give. Who knows how long it will be until i am ready to deal with it.

Re: Can't get in touch with my heart

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 4:15 pm
by Mrconfused74
Have you considered the possibility that you can't love yourself because you've perhaps not been respected in the past? And now that you've found someone that does he may well help you. I'm sure he understands that he could be hurt, but he must also know you quite well so may well know some of your background. While it's easy to say go for it, but it may well hurt you more by regretting not pursuing it.

Re: Can't get in touch with my heart

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 4:47 pm
by Nomad
Yes, we know each others troubles quite well. He has also had some terrible things happen in the past. In fact sometimes I wonder if a combo of two troubled souls is a bad idea.
So he is very understanding of the fact I am struggling to be close. My therapist says I need to learn to love myself and not rely on the love of others to hold myself up. I get the point there. I have benefited greatly from knowing this friend and having someone genuinely care about me and get me no matter how I am. But I can't rely on that, i need to feel good about myself anyway. And I need to feel that way about him in return. At the moment I have no capacity for it. You cant fill something with water if there is nothing to hold it in.

Re: Can't get in touch with my heart

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 7:10 pm
by Tarantula
I relate, too, to this driving determination to 'love yourself' first.

I told myself (and PP) for ages that I was gonna take some time off dating for a while, for as long as it takes, to master the elusive loving-oneself-thing. I felt that either I would be vulnerable to more bad treatment in my condition at the time, or, like you, that I would be the head case of the relationship, and I didn't want that on my conscience.

I was sure that I could never have a healthy relationship with anyone else until I was completely happy and sound on my own.

Meeting my current partner made me re-evaluate all of that.

Life happens NOW. It can only happen now, and this moment is really all we've got. I still say, stop waiting for some miraculous moment when you will wake up to birds singing and say to yourself 'oh, as of this morning, I finally love myself!' How will you even know? What are the objective indicators?

Don't put your life off like that. Do both, do everything. Give a decent guy a chance, and ALSO love and honour yourself. It's not like one or the other. It's not like being with him represents some sort of trade off. And if you do feel that being with him takes something away from you, then maybe he isn't the guy after all.

But look, consider this - what if your whole needing-to-be-alone thing, just when a decent guy comes along, is ITSELF a manifestation of your self-sabotage? I mean, it sounds like you have invisible forces from your childhood pushing you in a self-destructive direction. Could it be that you've rationalised this as your need to be alone... when you don't really WANT to be alone?

If he's decent, you've gotta give things a go and wrench the gears in a direction that may feel unnatural at first, I know. It's taken me some time to adjust to actually being treated well. I was at my lowest point when I met my Mister, but we make each other very happy now and it's so good. It goes against everything I thought I knew about where I was at and what I needed to do to get to the next level.

Your therapist is probably right too, but as I say - it's not one or the other. Accept love from another yes, but also work on not relying on it too much. Be with a good person, and ALSO continue on your self-love journey. Do everything in parallel.

I also thought I would utterly fail at a relationship, as I was so insecure and emotionally exhausted from the last, with no time to recover. But it turns out that being cared for by the right kind of person really changes everything.

You'll never know if you don't try for love.

Re: Can't get in touch with my heart

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 9:36 am
by Nomad
Thanks Tarantula
It made me quite emotional reading your message. I completely agree with your statement that life is NOW and I spread that word to others too. But living now can also be living solo. I agree with my sister when she says its ok not to be ready for a relationship. But she is coming from the experience of knowing relationships have, and do, trigger my depression. This is the first time I have ever become depressed over a relationship im not actually in!

So I guess this brings me back to what made me post - is it my fear (that has got so much worse since the end of my last relationship 2 years ago) that is messing with my head, or is just that I don't have the right feelings for this person. I have such a horrid critical inner monologue that brings down everyone around me (starting with myself. Despite 20 years of working to get rid of it), and as much as i wont know until i try with this friend... it feels wrong to recklessly test this out as he is such a sensitive soul and has such strong feelings for me.

All my brain does is think about everything that is wrong and drowns out any feelings in my heart. My sister thinks that I am 'seeking' for something as I dont want to be alone and crave that feeling of being with someone, that I need to be patient. I don't doubt that I will be able to meet others somehow one day. It is not so much about this friend being 'the only option', its the fact that we have such a rare connection and I worry that I am missing something by not making the most of that. I guess there is nothing I can do about it if he doesn't light my fire.