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Baggage and dating

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norabird posted 7/21/2014 12:05 PM

You know those days when you have a date planned in the evening and you just...don't....seem to have it in you?

I feel like I've had so many of those since I got back out there, actually not mostly related to the ex though this time it is. The first date on the same day another brief dating relationship flamed out dramatically and hurtfully, and the second date that took place the day after I found out my brother is a SA...times when everything inside you is screaming 'I can't do this!'

I've managed to do it anyway, and I usually get on board and am present and in the moment; but it still feels like so much right now, to try and open myself up to someone while I'm also desperately trying to put my finger in the dyke saving me from the disaster of my relationship with exWBF, as old feelings surge out and give me a panicky drowning feeling.

Maybe it's just that I need more time alone to heal, I don't know. Maybe it's just life--a bit messy at times.

The guy I am seeing tonight (5th date) is so nice and sweet and respectful. I'm afraid I'm not emotionally available enough for it yet. Or it could also be that I'm not used to having a dynamic based more on shared values than it is on flirtatious chemistry, and so things have a slower, healthier pace. Afterall, I shouldn't be head over heels with someone I don't really know yet! Just liking them is fine, and not being infatuated may not mean emotionally unavailable to could juts mean feeling things out and seeing what the potential is for emotion to grow.

For today, I'm just going to try not to put any pressure on myself to snap my fingers and feel magically better. But it's always strange when an internal emotional state rubs up against how you're 'supposed' to feel about a date or social activity.

WeepingBuddhist posted 7/21/2014 13:54 PM

The fact that you're giving yourself permission to just left things happen is really good, IMHO. It's hard to listen to yourself, sometimes.

Lostly posted 7/21/2014 14:03 PM

Norabird, I am in almost EXACTLY the same place. I've also been seeing a guy that's super nice, and we are on date 7, but I just can't seem to get crazy excited about it. He's super nice, great job, no baggage, and I really enjoy myself when I'm with him.

I get exactly what your saying. I don't know either if I am hung up on my xbf or if I need more time, either.

Sometimes wonder if I should push through because he's such an amazing guy, etc., or if I am using my lack of crazy butterflies as an excuse to not be in a healthy relationship. I honestly don't think I know what healthy relationships look like, KWIM? (Sorry to t/j I really, really relate to everything you are saying... wow, I just read through your post again, and I could've written it myself......cue twilight zone music)

I wish I could give you some helpful advice, but I'm as confused as you are. One minute I think I need more time, the next I'm thinking I need to see this through. Aaaaggg....sorry, I'm no help at all!!

norabird posted 7/21/2014 14:21 PM

Lostly, just knowing I'm not alone is wonderful!! We're lost together

I do think the healthy relationship thing is a big part of it. I know what unhealthy feels like--it feels comfortable. This, which is *actually* comfortable (there is no uncertainty, great follow-through, clear communication), therefore feels strange!

And then add to that confusion the fact of having my own issues to sort through that are separate from the guy, and the water gets muddy.

I am trying not to run away and also to keep myself honest with him about still feeling my way. If it turns out I'm not ready, I'm sure I'll realize that sooner or later (hopefully without hurting him), and then I can do the work to become more ready. I think it's a lot less clearcut when things are finalized for a person when it's a breakup and not a divorce--most people aren't realistically going to wait for, say, a year after a relationship ends to date again (and it's been nice to get out there and be open to new people), while having to wait for a D to be final gives a built-in breathing period.

FaithFool posted 7/21/2014 17:03 PM

It sounds like a break might be in order if it's such an ordeal. Why force it if you're not all in with the process at this point?

Just because it's not a divorce doesn't mean you can't take time to give yourself the break you need to deal with these emotions.


[This message edited by FaithFool at 5:03 PM, July 21st (Monday)]

wonderingbull posted 7/21/2014 18:27 PM

I really don't believe that you and Lostly are rare at all...

RIght out of the shit with the ex, I dated Joyce for a while... She was confused about what dating was/is... I was too... Each of us knew what "normal" was about in our former lives with our ex's...

"normal" to each of us was a mystery... It didn't last long... I think 4-5 months?... Maybe less...

I'm about 7.5-8 years out and it still puzzles me... Since the ex I haven't regretted any relationship I've been in... I've learned a lot... I understand more about relationships than I ever thought I would...

I know more about what I'm willing/not willing to compromise to be in a relationship...

There are huge differences between being really single like I have been again for a while now and in a relationship...


Lostly posted 7/21/2014 18:38 PM

Notabird, I know exactly what your talking about! It is lovely to know someone going through the same thing, as frustrating as it is.

I agree with you about the differences in processing time. With my divorce I had lots of time to sort through it all and it was more clear cut, at least for me. Typically we try all avenues to keep a marriage together, especially when kids are involved. There's MC, and loads of trying before finally calling it quits. With a xbf its different and we don't try as hard to work out problems. As a result there isn't as much processing time and not as many opportunities to fix things.

With my xbf my relationship was more of an intense love. The type of love I always wanted. I really thought he was 'the one', but he still didn't treat me well. The relationship was probably a little dysfunctional as it was more one sided on my end.

The guy I am seeing now is the exact opposite, and he treats me really well. He calls, texts, and follows through. He doesn't have baggage (his wife died in 01 from cancer), and is an all around great guy. So...I don't know what the problem is? Why am I not more excited? Why am I just 'meh'?? Where are the butterflies? Isn't this what I've always wanted, and if so why am I not feeling more of the above?

Like you, I'm trying not to run away either, but its really hard! I am so confused because I've always been a 'trust your gut' gal, but that hasn't served me well in other relationships. My hearts telling me to run and my heads telling me to stay put. Maybe I need to find someone that my head and heart are in alignment with? Ugh. I just don't know. I know just how you feel...Its so very frustrating and confusing.

I mean, what do healthy relationships look like, because I have no idea? None whatsoever.

I also have my own issues to work on, so part of me thinks (like you) that perhaps I need to sort through those first? But, what if it takes me years to sort through them, shouldn't I be dating at the same time? Or, what if this guy is 'the one' but I don't know it because dysfunctional relationships are normal and comfortable for me? Or, what if I get so comfortable not dating that I put up walls and shut relationships out instead, cause thats not healthy, either. Bloody hell, this stuffs a nightmare!! I am really relating to how you feel.

I do agree that time will make it clearer, though. least that's what I am hoping.. I wish I had some great advice, or profound wisdom, but I'm stuck in the same spot. I hoping that a bunch of people will respond to your post, because I really want to read what they say! Are you multi-dating?

Good luck on your date tonight, and let me know how it goes, and if anything becomes clearer! And again, I'm sorry I'm not more helpful..

Lostly posted 7/21/2014 18:39 PM

Others posted as I was typing, I'm so exited to read what they have to say!

Lonelygirl10 posted 7/21/2014 19:30 PM

Oh wow Lostly, you sound like me. I have all those same thoughts bouncing around in my head constantly. I feel like I keep ping ponging from one guy to another, and I'm attracted to qualities in the next guy that the last guy didn't have.

Nora, don't force it. If you're not feeling like going out, then don't go out. Dating should be fun instead of a chore. Sometimes I need to just be alone for a night, and then I feel better. If I try to force myself to go out when I don't feel like it, I usually end up feeling even worse afterward.

broken2 posted 7/21/2014 21:09 PM

Wow! I too have absolutely no idea what a normal, healthy relationship looks like. My "normal" was far from the Webster definition of.

I've been out on a couple of dates and just somehow knew what I was feeling, was not the way I should be feeling. If this indeed was something that was something good, something healthy I would not have felt that incredible urge to run the hell out of that restaurant.

My head was spinning just like you described. The panicky, drowning feeling. The reality check,.. crap what the heck is this?

I too do not have any answers for you, but I do know you are not alone.

[This message edited by broken2 at 9:14 PM, July 21st (Monday)]

norabird posted 7/22/2014 08:42 AM

I went on the date last night, and it was nice. I did feel more distracted by thoughts of the ex than I have been in months. But I get a choice in what to do with that: stew in it and reject the opportunity to move on, or acknowledge that it is an unhealthy vestige that I need to walk away from? Someone on SI pointed me in the direction of reading about intermittent reward yesterday, and I was scared by it. If you are conditioned to expect an intermittent reward (in this case, the high of connecting with and being loved by exWBF) and the reward stops being given (i.e., ex only brings pain and lies and misery), the unpredictability of the reward keeps you from acknowledging that it's now gone 'extinct'--the conditioned behavior keeps up even with no payout, in other words. That is not what I want for myself. Nor do I want one sighting of my ex, one text that he loves me and I look great ( ), to derail me. I have a brain that knows "actions, not words", despite still being emotionally responsive to that line of likely manipulation, so if I can help it, I'm not going to self-sabotage.

The guy I saw last night is very upfront about liking me and we had a good talk where I told him I had regressed a bit from running into my ex and was afraid I might not be as ready as I thought. I also admitted that I'm not used to dating 'healthily', based on compatibility instead of hormones, and that it's a little strange for me. So, a few yellow flags on me but he's willing to take the risk and see where this goes and to give me space to let it develop at my own slow pace.

I might end up hurting him but I hope that will be not because I'm 'not ready' but because sometimes things just don't work out even if you both want to see what's there. Lostly, I'm still dating one other person (took down my OLD though), because I'm not ready yet to stop--if the guy I saw last night asked me for exclusivity, I would have had to tell him that I'm not ready for it yet and ended things. His being patient and willing to play this out without any pressure was a big relief. I definitely am not used to lacking the butterflies but I know those fade and I can see the foundations for mutual respect with this guy, so I'm willing to try to add the physical spark in later as we get to know each other better.

Reading "Codependent No More" on the train today I found the acronym HOW pretty apt--Honesty, Openness, Willingness. I'll keep those lines open and if the past keeps holding me back I will step back and acknowledge that a break is needed.

Anyway, that's where I'm at! All we can do is feel it out for ourselves and try to be self-aware.

Lostly posted 7/22/2014 21:06 PM

Norabird, I'm glad that your date went well. Its good that you were able to lay all of your worries out on the table. Your date sounds like a very nice chap who is willing to give you the time and space you need to fully recover from your xwbf. That's really great and hard to find.

I understand how just seeing your xwbf can set you back. Ugh, Its just not fair when he sends you a text saying he loves you and that you look good. Its like he's are playing with your head and he knows it...Weeks of hard work, gone! Then you miss him all over again, and have to remind yourself what a jerk he was, and around and around it goes. Why, just why, do they do that to us???!!

I am surprised at how many others that commented on your thread are in similar situations or feel the same way. Its encouraging to know we are not alone.

I am very interested in your comments about intermittent reward and I would love to read more about it. Do you mind please posting a link? I think it may very well be what is holding me back with moving on from my xbf. Although I do see and talk to him everyday, which doesn't help matters AT ALL.

I am also still dating other guys, even though the guy I am dating is exclusively dating me. In a way I wish he would date others to take a little of the pressure off and slow things down a bit. You mentioned that the physical spark is something you have to work on. In what way? Is it just THERE, KWIM? Is it something your waiting on? The reason I ask is do you think this might be what's holding you back, a lack of physical attraction? I'm not sure if that's part of my problem, as I'm definitely not as attracted to the guy I am seeing now as I was with my xbf, even though they guy I am seeing now is technically better looking. That 'flirty, fun' personality some guys have is big turn on for me.

Is this your first time reading 'Co-Dependent No More'?. Its one of my favorite books. I haven't looked at it for a few years, although it may be a good idea to pull it out and take another look.

norabird posted 7/23/2014 10:54 AM

Lostly, I am trying to keep in mind a lot of the stuff on 'Baggage reclaim'--that the type I'm attracted to is bad for me, that sparks don't mean a real connection, that my type should be someone who treats me well...but, I am hesitant about whether this guy and I will be able to have chemistry grow. I am also not very trusting of my sex drive to know who is best for me, so it's a pickle!

Also, I hope you can get to a place of less contact with the ex soon! No fun. A few days after seeing/hearing from my exWBF, I've already bounced back a lot, so time does help t least!

Red Sox Nation posted 7/24/2014 11:38 AM

It's not up to you to protect the men you date. If they're in a healthy place themselves, they understand there are always heart risks.

You're gaining knowledge about yourself as well as the men you date. That type of learning and introspection is invaluable, and will serve you well once you want to commit.

Don't let society and labels force you into a solution you're not comfortable joining.

norabird posted 7/24/2014 14:00 PM

I've been sitting with this a little more and I'm just not excited enough. It's not fair to him. I want the chemistry and the excitement to exist, because the compatibility absolutely does--but I should not be sitting here unable to think of anything to write back to his latest email, and thinking of our next date as an obligation. He deserves much better than that. It's hard to accept that I can't go any further, because I would love to be 'there' with him...but I feel like I am trying too hard and verging into forcing something that isn't happening naturally on my side.

Sigh. Too bad. He wrote a song inspired by me and I genuinely think we are on the same page about tons of things. Some woman out there will be very lucky to find him.

WeepingBuddhist posted 7/24/2014 15:00 PM

IMHO, There has to be some level of chemistry. If you don't smile when you see an email is from him, then it's fair to either of you. You're settling.

norabird posted 7/24/2014 18:01 PM

He ended up wanting to talk by phone after I let him know gently that I thought I wasn't ready (kind of a fudge, but I hope a kind one), and I'm glad I ended things--his investment was far ahead of mine and he was obviously hurt.

And then he sent me a farewell text of him with a butterfly on his finger! As a parting gift. Oh dear. I think perhaps this one was a little too nice for me. The poor man deserves someone who is more aligned with him.

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