I seem to suffer from relationship anxiety

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Ok so I have another account on here but I want this to be anonymous if possible please, plus my other account is for more happy posts! I'm posting on this site as I've seen how helpful people can be when others are feeling down and posting on here!

 

Basically I'm a young guy (20s) and every time I get into a relationship I start to feel worried that it's not gonna work out and that I should smother the other person with attention in order to get them to stay. Now I know that's really stupid, I guess the first step is acknowledging that part at least, right?

I also think it may stem from having been sent off to boarding school at a pretty young age and coming home to, for many years, a stepdad who on occasion beat me and hit my siblings and genuinely just scared me, then once he was gone a short-term boyfriend who did the same but swap me/my siblings with my mum and then just a period of her being single and once crying over me once saying she didn't like her life as things were and wasn't sure of what to do (I was about 13 when that happened). Never met my own dad, but all the stories my mum ever told me about him were bad. I'm worried that I'm never going to be able to find a decent relationship and just feel wanted I guess, even though my current girlfriend and ex-girlfriend showed me affection, and basically gave off all the signals saying I'm at least an ok person(!).

 

The ex broke up with me after nearly 2 years because she said I was too OTT in terms of affection (being too demonstrative in public e.g. wanting to hold her hand the whole time and kissing her on the cheek fairly frequently is one example I can think of) my current girlfriend has also said she now understands why my ex said that- THAT is why I'm posting this today because I want to stop this, but I find it hard to control my buried feelings that it's all going to go wrong eventually and the only way to stop it is to try and show the other person how much I really like them the whole time. Explaining all this stuff to my girlfriend seemed to freak her out a little. I just don't want to get dumped again and spend another bunch of weeks kicking myself in the damn foot for being so stupid, because I really kinda like the girl I'm with at the moment for a whole bunch of reasons (she's funny, interesting, attractive, has a decent plan in life but still feels adventurous alongside that).

 

Suggesting a therapist is probably a bad idea as I kinda lack the money to do that, can anyone please give me some tips on how to deal with myself and not drive another girl away with my stupidity?

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I think you should explain to your current girlfriend everything you have written above.

At worst, she will not understand you, but on the other hand, she might well understand how insecure you feel about relationships in general, and also understand that if you are a bit OTT, then it isn´t meant to be!

 

We have all felt insecure in a relationship at some time or another, but the most important thing is to be able to communicate with each other - maybe the two of you could set up some kind of signal for her to give if you are making her feel uncomfortable by your affections, without her having to blatantly come out and say "stop that!" in front of your friends?

 

As for the cost of therapy, I guess ti sort of depends upon what sort of health insurance you have, but generally, I think that if this is causing you to feel depressed and unable to cope with life, then it surely has to be covered by your insurance, oder?

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If you have health insurance you should be able to get yourself to some kind of therapy. This is your life you're talking about, not new rims for a car. Where there's a will, there's a way. Therapy might sound scary, but your emotional health is worth it.

 

It makes sense to go now, before you get caught in a downward spiral of sabotaging relationships --> hating yourself for it --> sabotaging relationships --> you get the picture. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We're only going to tell you things you already know, but if you think the deeper issue lies in your abusive childhood then you'd best be served by a professional to help you work through that.

 

Alternatively, you could try approaching your mother and asking her what sort of state she herself was in at the time, that prevented her from protecting you better, see if she can't explain why she wasn't willing or able to see that you were suffering. It'll be a hard conversation but I notice you do not once mention your mother as a potential source of "blame". She won't like to hear it either, but who knows, maybe she has been waiting for years for you to broach the subject. Or she may have had no idea that any of it was going on at all. Perhaps getting to have your mother all to yourself for a bit as an adult will help you through your fear of abandonment.

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Thanks for the replies, I think maybe I explained the demonstrative thing wrong- it's in public that she has a problem with it, in private she likes the affection, I just feel more insecure in public I guess when we're with other people, which feels odd when I think about it as I have no problem making friends normally.

 

I did explain all of this to her and she said it was good that I could understand how strange the whole thing is, even if she did also say she was a bit weirded out by it, but the signal thing sounds like a good idea. I also don't think it's necessarily making me depressed, just more confused and annoyed with myself.

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Have to agree with John - most chicks actually like, and encourage, those kinds of public displays of affection. My gf only objects to my PDA's when they're directed at other women, the silly cow.

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Are you planning on supressing your true cuddly nature the rest of your life? Fighting the urge to touch her? If that sounds exhausting to you, your time would be better spent finding someone that loves the PDA as much as you do. I think your behavior does not fall into the "nobody likes that" catagory. I think it falls into some girl's "wish my man was like that" category.

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You are in your 20s and have already had a relationship that lasted 2 years? Heh, you should get a reward. Stop worrying about it. Some girls like the attention and some don't. Personally, I think nowadays in your 20s you should date around more and not worry about long term. Trust me, once you really get long term you want to be sure you have the right one, and that is not an easy accomplishment for anyone. Think about it this way, you are thinking about your mom when you date and you are afraid they are going to experience from you what your mom did from the men in her life. If you are trying to find a girl like mom so that you can make the conditioning take over then you got a problem. If you realize that there are a hellofalot of girls out there that are secure and don't need the attention, you can do some summertime romance (or winter, for that matter) and let things just be easy.

 

There's my dime store psychology.

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Perhaps I am being dense, but why don't you try reducing the amount of public affection you're giving her for a few days, and see how it makes you feel? e.g. "In the next half hour I am going to kiss my girlfriend two times instead of ten" (or something).

 

I agree with the earlier posters that it's important to find a girlfriend who's a good match emotionally, and it's good not to get too paranoid over small things, but on the other hand, successful relationships are about compromise. What if you two are perfect for each other apart from the one issue of amount of affection shown in public, and could fix this with some negotiation? I would also find it suffocating if a boy gave me too much attention in public. Mind you, I also feel suffocated at the sight of other couples being excessively affectionate, so maybe I need therapy too :P

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Strange.

 

The OP seems to believe he can identify the root of his issue (and he does believe himself to have an issue, and describes the issue in detail) and even goes so far as to say that therapy is a "bad idea" not because he doesn't need it but because he reckons he can't afford it. He's in such emotional turmoil that he's reflected upon the issue at length and even ventured to speak about it to his girlfriend (how many 20-year-old young men are brave and self-aware enough to do such a thing?). Yet no one is taking him seriously. Saying he's young and will someday find the right girl for him. But suppose he's right, suppose he is acting out and can't seem to control the impulse to try to hold on although he knows it's counterproductive? That sounds like a real issue to me, not something that will or should be remedied by finding a girl who's just as co-dependent as he believes himself to be.

 

Most people not in therapy try to deny that their shitty childhood affects them as adults (myself included)--not the other way around. OP sounds like he's taken the time to get to know himself pretty well which I can only applaud. I also think it's great to not be afraid to confront your past head-on if that's what you need to do. Rejecting outright the notion that such chronic trauma and fear could have left any mark on you whatsoever would also be a bit silly. Maybe you can try to learn to love yourself more than anybody else and feel safe knowing that you'll always be there for you. Forgive yourself your own trespasses, you're only human. Even if you mess one thing up, you know you'll always be there to dust yourself off and give it another try. A lot of people forget (or perhaps never realized) that developing a healthy relationship with themselves and striving to be their own best friend is a good way to build up reserves of strength for the times when it seems like everybody else has let you down. Good luck.

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Agreeing with you for a second time, Moonboot! Hey, I was the same at that age ( still am ). I´ve been OTT for a long time, hugging et al in public. I didn´t get beaten up by stepdads or anything..I was emotionally ignored as a child and teenager and compensated a bit later in life when I started travelling to countries where it´s FINE to hug and show emotions in public...great! We´re not in the 50s in a males-shoudn´t-show-affection wasteland! By the way, nothing wrong with men crying when they´re upset, either.

 

There is NOTHING wrong with this lad!

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But how he is is bad, he reckons. There are a lot of men who would LOVE me for being a bossy bitch but that doesn't make it a positive trait if I don't believe it to be. Sure, I could embrace my inner bossy bitch and settle for a man who likes being treated like shit but I've decided I prefer a man with some self-respect. And as the OP appears to think this is an issue

 

 

I find it hard to control my buried feelings that it's all going to go wrong eventually and the only way to stop it is to try and show the other person how much I really like them the whole time.

 

it seems safe to say that he doesn't find this an ideal state of affairs either. It doesn't sound like a happy-go-lucky guy with just so much love to give and no one to give it to. He wants to work through his issue, not find someone who will deal with it. Insecurity isn't something that goes away magically once you find somebody who will tolerate it or even enable it. This kind of insecurity in particular, while it's only budding now, if left unchecked, could turn into issues of possessiveness and jealousy further down the line. From my own experience with insecurity and fear of abandonment: no matter how many times someone tells you they love you and want you you will not believe it until something inside *you* has clicked. It's not an issue that can be "fixed" from the outside, it's an unpleasant thought pattern that only makes itself worse until the person themselves decides to change it. For me the first steps were catalyzed by my husband, who, after patiently dealing with my crap for at least two years, got very patiently fed up and told me he could no longer deal with being tested all the time. And then I had work to do. Not the exact same issue but not entirely dissimilar either. I feel like I know where the OP is coming from, to an extent.

 

Rest assured, I wouldn't read this much into it either if the OP didn't seem quite convinced that it was an issue. The least we can do is make an effort to take his concern for himself seriously.

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I came out of a crap relationship and when I met my (now) husband, I remember asking him why he kept looking at me.

 

Turns out, he loved me and loved looking at me. And is affectionate.

 

If the gf can't get on board with your affectionate nature, you need to decide whether you are affectionate because of fear (which would go away with security) or if being physically affectionate makes you happy- it does me. If she dislikes it and you like it and there is no happy for you both medium, perhaps find another gf?

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I think the OP knows where he goes wrong in his relationships so maybe he can work from that. I would take it slow when in a new relationship, and ask the gf if she likes PDA's or not and take it from there.

 

Speaking from experience, sometimes it does get too much when around certain people like my parents or workmates for instance when I might think ok, cool it buddy :) So yea talk about boundaries when and where is appropriate to be all touchy feely and when not. In the end it what makes you both happy.

 

Be yourself and hold back a bit initially till you know your new gf and then slowly let her know what you are like. Hell you're just being loving!!

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am Team john q!

 

if the OP had a partner who adored his public affection this would be a total non-issue.

 

PDAing is definitely not a negative trait.

 

this is just a basic incompatibility, in a mere TWO of his relationships.

 

self diagnosis is not always accurate, this is over-analysis in my opinion. if he is happy with current beau then the simple solution is to be aware she does dig him but the PDA is not something she is into, and it is nothing to do with him. can imagine she was indeed rather weirded out when give the whole historical explanation as to why the OP does like PDA. and also what his ex thought of it.

 

ditch current beau and find a lass who likes PDAing or else learn to accept this beau is not into it.

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