Romantic Needs Not Being Met
Here is my trouble:
I am an insecure-attachment type (I get easily freaked out by confrontation, think that we are on the verge of breaking up when we argue, etc), and I know this attachment type of mine is easily aggravated by having a poly reality. I work on managing these feelings as best I can. I also know that it impacts my desires and needs when J is investing time, energy, and attention into another romantic relationships. All I desire when I am feeling anxious is to have emotional reassurance and romantic gestures: massage, meditative time together, looking into each other's eyes, focusing 100% on each other.
J does not desire as much intimacy in our relationship as I desire. He says he is at his max for connection and intimacy with me. Thus, he does not desire more "romance." We live together and do a lot of day-to-day things together (walking the dog, going to the gym, making food, studying on the couch, etc), and he has expressed that if we didn't see each other for a week, that he could see himself desiring romance.
When I bring up my desire and need for more romance, he completely pulls back from me. Our sexual intimacy pretty much stops, and other kinds of physical intimacy is almost non-existant, too (minus a couple of pecks on the lips). This adds to my aggravation and feelings of insecurity and sadness.
He is planning on seeing C, his secondary, this week. That is fine with me and I expect it. It is much harder for me to manage my own feelings of insecurity and fear when I know that he is going to spend distraction-free, romantic time with another partner and is not desirous of doing it with me; not only that, but our sexual and physical intimacy has stopped momentarily. Frankly, it feels like he is witholding this from me, even though he says he just doesn't desire it with me.
What to do? what solutions are there?
I know we could set aside time to engage in distraction-free and romantic space together. No cellphones, computers, TV. No talking about other stressors in our lives. Just engaging with each other. Breathing together, eye contact, compliments, massage, candles, music.
I would love it if we could do this. But again, he says that he is so maxed out on connection and intimacy with me that he just doesn't desire it and really does not want to do it.
What other solutions might there be? I feel at a complete loss and I am in pain.
It sounds as though this is a really painful time for you - I hope it gets better sooner then later.
You say that J is maxed out with intimacy with you, I'm reading that as a need to explore himself and others apart from you. It also sounds like you have talked with him in detail about this (is that the case?) and he probably isn't going to suddenly provide you with more 1-on-1 time anytime soon. I don't think asking for more of his time is a good idea - it may appear needy to him and thats probably not the feeling you want to promote (not that you might be contemplating this, but just in case).
You acknowledge a level of personal insecurity, and the fear of losing the relationship during confrontations with J. How severe are these feelings? Sometimes when couples argue or disagree, the relationship can actually improve because people can air their grievances with one another. But rejection-anxiety issues can be a huge block to this process - for both parties. He may feel as though he can't ever be completely honest with you for fear of triggering your anxiety. This can be very taxing on your partner (and you), and may be part of the reason why he wants more time away from you.
What steps have you taken so far to understand the basis for your anxieties? Are there people other then J that you can talk to about this? Maybe finding ways to reduce the triggers for your fears can make it easier on both you guys. Anxiety, in general, is a debilitating situation to be in. Finding some way to reduce those feelings might go a long way for you two.
Join a meetup group with people who have a similar interest.
Read books/articles about self esteem in hopes of bolstering your own.
Hang out with your friends and hopefully make new ones.
What I'm saying is, stop letting your emotional state depend on getting reassurance and attention from him. That approach to relating to people is going to continually put strain on your relationships (romantic or otherwise).
I second Marcus, and add that if you don't have one, maybe schedule at least one day a week where you and he don't have any domestic duties to take care of together, so there is time and space to relax. Maybe make it a set date day to go somewhere low key, as it sounds like romantic dinners aren't comfortable for him right now with you, a bowl of Pho, the zoo, making the rounds of thrift stores in the best part of town to look for a new painting or vase for your place (really I suck at low pressure dating ideas..but you get the point).
Did you USED to get the romance and intimacy you craved from him, or is this a new development after a certain amount of time went by?
You could stop doing the chore things together -- walking the dog, going to the gym, making food, studying on the couch, etc -- and do it APART. Seek out other friends and people to to that stuff with. A dog walking group or gym class pals. Whatever.
Then you can spend your "together time" on the romance stuff that you crave more of. Instead of spending it on the mundane things of living.
If you are cooped up with each other all the time it get cabin fever-y because there is NOTHING NEW to talk about. Wanting more time/attention when he doesn't have it to give -- he gets tired and then you perceive it as pulling away and maybe act in hmmphy ways, which turns him off and leads to no sex intimacy, which hmmphs you further -- it becomes this spiral thing.
As for your conflict resolution style -- could you work on that so you don't get anxious by that and stop being avoidy? Then he can share his vulnerable more with you instead of walking on egg shells worrying you are going wig out.
Emotional intimacy can lead to other kinds of intimacies. Then you are helping yourself to feed your "I am secure" bucket and not your "I am anxious!" bucket.
Confidence is grown by doing -- so you have to open yourself to risk and face conflict more directly to learn that -- "Hey! I can handle this! And I didn't wig out too badly here and nobody broke up! Whew!" and then next time you don't have to feel so anxious. You have direct experience telling you that you CAN handle this. Then you are working toward being more secure in yourself.
Could that help any?
you sound like me ..
You sound like a very similar personality trait to myself and I have been looking for ways to fix this before it happens. I havent entered a poly relationship yet because of the fear of all that you said is happening is going to happen to me. It does have it goods points doesnt it? I mean Master and myself are looking at the other women eventually living with us ...
I hope you feel better soon, I would love to hear back about what works for you
Wow, thank you all for your insightful replies.
BreatheDeeply: I think you hit it on many really significant points. He doesn't desire more 1-1 time with me right now, and I don't plan on asking for it because I don't want to push him away further and I don't want to be needy. Also, yes, the rejection-anxiety dynamic has been detrimental to his ability to be honest. That is something that I am working on managing. My simple acknowledgment a few months ago, to myself and to him, that I am an insecure-attachment type has been really helpful in understanding our dynamics when I experience a trigger. The anxieties and insecurities are things that I am doing a lot of introspective inquiry with, and in the context of my regular counseling.
Marcus: I appreciate your suggestions. I don't really feel like my self esteem is an issue. My engagement with my own activities and relationships is something that I have been addressing, and was the impetus for going back into counseling six months ago. That part of my life is getting stronger, and yes, it is helpful to have a wider support network and activity interests.
Anneintherain: I really like your suggestion, and I honestly don't have an idea about how he would feel about having a weekly low-key non-domestic date. It's a good idea though. And in response to your question, more "romantic" time has been a desire of mine for a long time (years), and I was just able to verbalize what that meant to me a couple of months ago (sensual touch, massage, presence, meditation with each other and on each other).
GalaGirl: Yes, your suggestion about stopping the joint day-to-day activities was one a friend also suggested. I honestly don't feel willing to give those things up. I really like the conflict resolution styles article your suggested. I definitely used to be a complete accommodator, and now I am much more of a compromiser or collaborator. It was helpful to look at it and reflect on how we each approach conflict.
ShakingFlower: I am curious what personality traits you see as similar :-) Thank you for your empathy and support!!
Hi again katja,
Wow there is a wealth of information here, its great !
I identify with your anxiety and fear, as ilogical as it may be I cant help but feel it. I am working on being able to verbalise things with my Master but its hard when I dont quite know what to say, I then read your post and saw most of my fears written before me.
If you could let me know how long you experience this for ? Do these feelings come back when you see her again ?
I am at the stage of re programming my mental dialogue.
GOOD LUCK :)
What I´m about to write might seem cruel, but please believe me when I say that I write it in order to try and help: I think that if I were in J´s position, it would give me the heebie-jeebies!
I feel able to write that because YOU realise that there´s a problem, and are willing to consider that it´s not all J´s fault. You sound like somebody I´d define as a "clinging ivy". And I think that you really need to work on your own issues before you tackle the relationship ones.
I used to have a HUGE inferiority complex / insecurity. I KNOW that it´s difficult for other people to deal with.
It´s a disaster to expect one person to provide you with EVERYTHING. You´ll make that person feel claustrophobic.
I get this strong signal that you need to learn to love yourself, to have faith in yourself. And to stop trying to get ALL your emotional needs supplied by J. Try to get a DVD copy of "Scorchers" by David Beaird, and pay attention to the transformation in Talbot. Her husband of just 6 months has lost all interest in her, UNTIL...
I wish you all the best.:)
You don't have to say "this is just how I am, I always get attached and insecure." You can make every effort you can not to indulge in the behaviors and thought processes that bring those feelings up. It is a challenge, but so important. Start letting go, and acknowledge yourself for the things you do feel secure about. Pay attention to the things you say to yourself on a regular basis. Many of those self-limiting beliefs we have can shift with a reframing of how we dialogue with ourselves. You can break free and if you do this, you won't have to work on your relationship - it will automatically get better when you are more secure and less attached.
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