Originally Posted by cerulian
I've felt unfairly treated throughout the process: pressured, coerced, deceived, neglected. I've taken this feeling and turned it into stubbornness, as if me having to deal with those issues makes me owed something. Like if I have to let her be with other people, then I should get a free pass on the rest of our relationship issues. This isn't a conscious thing, I just notice it's been happening.
I've also become very guarded with my feelings, as if feeling less for her will lessen any hurt when she's off with somebody else. As if needing or wanting her less will lessen what I feel when she's with somebody else. Or if I'm less fully committed with my feelings, it will hurt less if she leaves me.
Wow cerulian, good for you for noticing the trends you have in yourself. Now that you have noticed you can do something about it and see what happens if you try something different next time.... you may be surprised at the results.
If you decided to empathize with her struggle instead of feeling pressured, coerced, deceived, and neglected for instance. Perhaps looking at it in terms of questions to ask yourself and her... such as why do I feel pressured? Then think of what the answer might be and check with her if she feels that way and agrees with you.
The thing with asking questions is that if you have it wrong, people are quick to give you the right answer of what is going on for them. People love to tell others that they are wrong and tell them why. It's a useful tool when we are able to give up our ego and be wrong every now and then
Ask yourself also what you gain from being guarded and what you gain from being open and making yourself vulnerable. Chances are that you gain a more deep and meaningful relationship with her and yourself if you open up and be vulnerable to her and yourself. More than you ever thought possible. Sure it may not last, but even if it doesn't there is a chance that you will learn something, rather than coming to the end of your relationship (which is inevitable if you are guarded in my opinion) and will have learned nothing and worse yet, will say "I told you so" and be bitter in your naivety as you made no effort... this could spiral into years of shallow relationships where you always feel guarded.
Okay, this is my opinion obviously, but I hope it gives you some food for thought.