How to break the cycle of insecurity and reassurance
I could use some perspective.. sorry if the story is long, the emotions all seem so complicated that they need a lot of explaining.
A little background: my BF Curlz and I have been together for 14 months. For most of this I've been his only partner (he was with someone when I met him, but she broke up with him soon after).
I am married, and have another partner, and recently started seeing someone in a FWB type of arrangement. So the balance has been way off, and there have been times I felt he was too dependent on me, and I was hoping he'd find another partner.
He met someone in the fall, first he said they would just be friends, but they grew closer and last week they slept together for the first time. He's not head over heels, but is definitely enjoying the attention, the connection, and the physical part of this new relationship.
I'm a mess. I can't stop thinking that she will replace me. She lives in his town, I live 2 hours away. He and I were fluid bonded, but he had unprotected sex with her (he told me right away, and we had no 'rule' about this, except that he would tell me if he did this). So he is now fluid bonded with her, and she wants a mono relationship, and he says he doesn't, and he tells me that he loves me and wants to be with me, and he hasn't answered the text I sent him last night, and yesterday when I saw him and was in his arms I felt completely secure and reassured of his love, and now I'm a mess and think he's forgotten all about me. It doesn't make sense, but panic rarely does does it?
How do you get to the place where you don't need the reassurance? Where you can feel safe in the love you give and receive? The fear of losing him is so strong, and even remembering his embrace from yesterday isn't helping. I know why it isn't helping, because I've been struggling with low self esteem issues and insecurity issues my whole life and I know there is no amount of words form other people who can help you fill that void inside of you.
Another question is how much can I ask of him? I'm on new territory here. Since going poly (4 years ago) this is only the second time I've experienced another partner finding another love. When my husband met his GF, they saw each other all the time, he was deep in NRE, but after each date he came home and we had the possibility to reconnect. C lives 2 hours away and I don't know what he's doing, which is making my imagination go insane. Can I ask him for more regular moments of contact, without seeming needy or clingy (well I guess I really am needy and clingy - the question is how much of that do I show him?)
Or should I just try to be really brave, not ask him for anything more than he's already giving, not contact him, try to have faith?
I was reading this:
and realized that a lot of my problems come from the fact that I am always judging how I feel. I feel jealous and insecure and instead of just feeling it, I judge these feelings (and myself) and tell myself I am a bad person for feeling them.
I tell myself I am a bad person for needing reassurance, for needing my partner to reconnect with me after a date with his new love. But am I? Maybe this is just a very practical way of looking out for myself. My fears thrive in the shadows. They feed on my imagination. Talking to my partner is a way of facing the fears (because I do not just want him to reassure me - I actually want him to tell me about his date, how he feels, how it's going), of getting them out in the open.
I texted with C and asked for more contact and he said he agrees that that is a good thing right now, and that we both need it to stay connected. Now, instead of feeling inadequate that I gave in to my need and asked him for this, I should feel strong that I was able to ask for what I want and gave him the chance to say yes or no, and now he gave me what I needed.
I too think that I have the tendency to judge myself for having feelings, or to think that I need to experience them all on my own. I find that when I acknowledge and talk about those feelings that it's helpful all on its own - learning to find our voices and speak from our hearts makes us vulnerable, and to me, vulnerable is another word for powerful. There is deep, rich, undeniable power in being truly vulnerable to another human being; to knowing that you could lose it all, but still be able to express your true heart. It takes incredible courage and bravery to face up to the fact that we are not perfect, that we are needy, clingy and insecure, and to wear those emotions with as much awareness and consciousness as we do our happy, joyful ones. Sharing our darkness with someone else helps bring us closer to them, and we can rest easy knowing that we are living our genuine truth with another person. Kudos to you for asking for what you need, and coming to some pretty powerful realizations about the way you feel about feeling.
Good for you! You've identified what the root of it could be in you.
Could stop judging the feeling. Just accept it. Let it blow on through without thinking extra thoughts on it. See if that attitude serves you better.
More like "I feel the need for reassure" and stop there rather than "I feel the need for reassure... I am so clingy and needy."
Could be looking for the COULDS rather than parking it in the judgement zone hamster wheel. Move it FORWARD to the "doing something to alleviate the need place" instead.
"I feel the need for reassure" =
I could ask for it from BF.
I could reassure myself.
I could do both.
I could do nothing.
I could think of other ways to meet this need.
I have many options for how to handle this.
I know I can handle this."
Feed the "asssured" bucket and not the "insecure" bucket within you. The one that wins is the one you feed.
So you chose to do something about it. That's great! Asked what you needed. Now wait for the new feelings after the new behavior to ensue. Hopefully you will feel better.
Having a really hard time.
BP you're right that sharing darkness brings you closer. However, I am scared that sharing too much of it will drive him away. That it will make the contrast between insecure me (and I know that insecurity isn't very attractive) and Shiny New Person, even bigger.
GG, I really don't know what to do to 'feed the assured bucket'.
I found out yesterday that BF spent 3 days at new GF's house. Everything is moving really really fast and it's making me feel so unsafe. I feel very disconnected from him. When I ask for connection and reassurance, he does give it.. but I think what I'm getting at with this thread is: how to stop needing the reassurance so much? Because everything can change in a heartbeat. One week he says he doesn't know how he feels and if he wants to pursue a relationship with her, the next week he's at her house for the weekend, meeting all her friends at a party. I think there's a lot of reality to my fear.
So how does one live with the fear... instead of trying to silence it all the time with words of reassurance?
Correct me if I'm wrong GG - but my interpretation is that you should focus more on the meaning of responses that serve to reassure you rather then those that simply make you feel insecure.
By allowing your conscious thoughts to pay too much attention to your insecurities you run the risk of being on that hamster running wheel - and that's hard to get off from the longer you're on it.
I think you could try to force yourself to focus on the better feelings, and I'm sure your whole approach might change. That would also come off much less needier feeling to yourself.
Yep. Could focus on doing the things that help you to feel better.
Stop focusing on doom and gloom that helps you to feel like crap.
Pursuing this line of thinking makes no sense to me:
He could walk out the door and be run over by a bus. BAM. Life over. Polyship doesn't even enter into it. Bus did. (example only -- I do not actually wish this for him!) You could spend all day spinning fearful thoughts like that even though the odds of it happening are small until you are paralyzed with fears. That's not good for your mental health. You are responsible for your healths.
So could NOT spend all of life what iffing doom things.
The internal voice is going to yammer all day about anything. Could stop and realize... you know what? I don't HAVE to listen to The Voice. The Voice is NOT ALWAYS ME. Sometimes it's parent voices in there, work voices -- just the mix of things that influence your thinking. If you play a lot of negative tapes in your head, consider getting help in learning new ways to talk to yourself inside your head.
Maybe look up a Recover chapter near you or online? http://www.lowselfhelpsystems.org/system/our-method.asp
It's your radio station in there. You are the DJ. Could choose to change your tapes you play.
What would you like from yourself?
Sharing emotional intimacy with BF and fearing that "knowing the real you" will drive him away? What's so horrible about you? Nothing.
But if you want connection with him, stiff arming him and creating emotional distance between you because you rather give your energies to feeding the fear inside you of "I am not good enough" rather than drawing him and give that connected you crave the space/chance to grow?
Really you are undermining yourself. Feel afraid.... and do it anyway. Draw him in and allow yourself to feel vulnerable in taking the leap so you can reap the reward of close connection that you crave after.
If you want better self esteem, do self respecting things. Talk to yourself in self-respecting ways in your head. Stop putting you down in there. Present your "real self" to your BF. Even if it is scary. Putting out a "fake you" for him to love is not self-respecting behavior. It's self down talk -- like your "real self" is not good enough.
Could stop telling yourself in your thoughts and in your behavior that you are "not good enough."
You ARE good enough. You are HERE. It is ok to take up the space you do on planet Earth by existing.
If you are experiencing a lot of "fear of abandonment" jealousies? Could DO something constructive about like talk to the BF about these articles. Let him know you feel the ones you highlight and make a plan for how to deal with it. You guys could do the page 5 / page 6 things for instance.
Or... in taking a step back from all this? If it is that you just do not enjoy polyshipping with him? Tell him you do not enjoy polyshipping and cut him loose. Don't be suffering things that you don't like just to be with him if you know deep down you prefer your romances to come in simpler shape. You have other relationships, maybe you are at your polysaturation point? Feeling like she can give him more because... she can? She has less demands on her time where you have other relationships to tend? Reaching a personal limitation in your available time is not a horrible thing. It doesn't make YOU "less than" -- it just is what it is.
There's only 24 hrs in a day.
Hang in there.
I agree with you about there being a need to worry. I would be worried if I was in your situation - there are a number of things about it that would cause me concern.
Ok - here's what I do to deal with problematic emotions. I'm not particularly insecure but I do have a tendency to worry and be anxious about things that may never happen.
So I assume that not a single one of the relationships I currently have is going to last for my lifetime. The individuals involved may die or they may choose to follow a path in life that means they are permanently or temporarily distant from me. This counts for friends, partners and family relationships. I take loss as a given fact of life (I think it is for the vast majority of us).
With that in mind, I make sure that I have things I can do to cope if something goes wrong. If somebody important is gone from my life. Running, walking with C, watching TV and knitting, having baths and reading and meeting friends for coffee/food/drinking, going to work all work well. I also - if things are going badly - give myself permission to not do anything else beyond the bare minimum for as long as I need to.
I also let myself feel sad. It's fine to be sad about losing loved ones even if it is just temporarily. I don't try to talk myself out of that or out of the worry that I feel over future loss. Those emotions are normal I think.
In my general life I make sure as much as I can that the things I do to cope are open to me should I need them. Stay fit enough to benefit from running and walking, keep some means of watching TV in the house, keep my job for as long as possible, maintain existing friendships and be open to new ones.
The other thing that I do is concentrate on the good things right now. What is in my life right now that I am glad I have. The things change but so far there has always been plenty to be glad about.
I feel that with a good range of things to do to cope with loss and a focus on things that are good, I don't get as concerned as I used to about loss. It happens and it sucks but it isn't the end of the world.
thank you GG and IP, your responses meant a lot to me. I read them a couple of times the past month.
The month has not been easy. After going back and forth and breaking up with her and getting back together en breaking up, it now looks they are really, seriously dating.
And I'm going mad! I know this sounds pretty dramatic but it's how it feels. Obsessive thoughts, judging the obsessive thoughts, wanting to reach out to him constantly for reassurance (I manage to not always do this).
When I (try) to look at reality I see this:
When he was single, he was often needier and more clingy than I liked. I withdrew from him at these moments. He's becoming more attractive now that he's becoming more unavailable and now I'm the one who's needy.
He has told all the people who are important to him that he has a new GF, but they also know about me.
Her friends know that he has another GF in another city.
She is local and he has the chance and opportunity to see her often.
She is mono and struggling with the fact that he is also in a relationship with me (and wants to feel free to pursue other possible relationships)
He tells me he loves me, wants me in his life, is happy with me, loves to be with me, wants to think about the future with me.
He says he needs to find a balance now, dividing his attention between her and me. He's never really been in 2 major relationships before.
Our communication when we are together is wonderful, open, free and intimate. We can basically talk about anything and we are not afraid to ask each other difficult questions.
So when I look at the facts as I've written them down here, I see that the reality is maybe presenting me with some uncertainties and scary things, but doesn't reality always do that, and that the major things at play here are not really something to be SO scared about.
And yet I am and I can't stop the thoughts racing and the heart beating too fast and the mind going nuts.
I am constantly torn between a) asking him for reassurance and connection all the time or b) cutting off communication for a bit and just be with myself and let him be.
GG you said this:
It's your radio station in there. You are the DJ. Could choose to change your tapes you play.
I know it's true. But it's like I am in this nightmare where the radio keeps blasting the same tune I hate and I don't understand how the machine works and can't find another tape. So instead I'm covering my ears, but it's not working.
Any advice appreciated and I think I need strong words more than nice ones :)
It sounds like you already know it's your issue, not his problem. Good for you.
The way i put a stop to finding myself miserable in relationships was by deciding to only be involved with people whom i feel good about myself when i am with them. If i feel bad or if i feel like i'm doing things to stay in a relationship that it feels like i don't like the person i am becoming - it could be anything from fighting to putting up with things i'm not ok with, and other things - then i get out of it or don't get into it. Sometimes it helps to have the support of another partner to get you back to your baseline.
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