Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Anyone ever had success with someone who had a fear of intimacy at the start?(24 Posts)
I've fallen in love with someone that's got serious "relationship" and intimacy issues and after a lot of thought I feel like I want to do whatever I can to overcome this and be with this guy.
He's early forties and he's been single for years after being cheated on and betrayed three times in a row. We met and neither one of us expected to feel so strongly about each other but it just happened naturally and quite quickly.
As soon as we began to acknowledge the growing feelings between us, and started transitioning from "friends" to "a relationship" he started to do things to push me away, to sabotage things and to generally confuse me and test me to see what he could get away with. It was of course very selfish and it made me angry.
After weeks of this, I confronted him and got nowhere, so I cut off contact. After a week, he phoned me and told me he was "passing by my house" but I know where he'd been that day (at Twickenham at the rugby with his friends) and what he'd actually done was to ditch his friends and go 2 hours out of his way to pass by my house which was on a completely diferrent train line to where he lives.
I spoke to him face to face for quite a few hours and he let me know that he knew he'd mucked me around quite a lot but that it was because he was honestly scared of getting involved and being hurt or let down, which he said he felt would definitely happen eventually, because it always does. It wasn't any great romantic speech, but he did say he wanted a future with me, he did feel like he'd fallen for me too but that he was having problems "pulling the trigger" and letting go of the barriers he has built.
At the time, I told him I understood his issues but that if he wanted to be with me I needed respect and honesty as minimum requirements to build on, and that I was happy to take it very slow but he needed to do the basics. He agreed that was fair, but then within 3 days failed to follow through when he didn't call when he aid he would.
I then hit my own limit I suppose, and cut off contact again, this time very angrily and we have now not spoken for three weeks.
I realise it would be a lot easier to have fallen in love with someone without these issues, but it just happened. I do believe he's in love with me too, but he's having great difficulty getting over the first fence.
I don't want to be a doormat, and so what I have done is to cut off contact and I am dating other people. Which I hate, but also don't want to stop living my life for a man who can't pull the trigger and be with me.
But my heart is still completely set on this man and I hoped that he will take time (even if it's six months or a year) and come back to me willing to provide me with the basic building blocks of a relationship.
I understand also that I also might never hear from him again.
I was wondering if anyone here had worked through commitment issues, fear of intimacy and overcome them? If anyone could offer any advice I'd be grateful.
My best friend had similar issues to this at the start of her relationship and she's getting married next week. She had "a past" too and although she was in love with the guy she was horrible in a lot of ways, pushing and testing because she was so scared of loving him. He managed to get through it, although he did have to end it with her once for her to see sense and realise his worth and make the decision to stop what she was doing. She is now the most loving and devoted partner imaginable so I do know this can happen and have a happy ending.
I also know it might not happen for me, but any advice would be welcome. Have I done the right thing by walking away and going no contact?
Yes, you did the right thing...
Had that with someone: "knocks the door, offers relationship, then mucks you around." I did cut off. He never came back, I did. Few times... My fault.
Then I had intimacy issues as I wasn't sure where I stand with him... He put up barriers I wouldn't even aim to climb. I thought he is having already someone where he just shut the door, and expected me to go beyond of my fears and despite his rudeness.
It was too much of a drama, no proper adult talk as he wouldn't listen or compromise. Nor he realised/realises his behaviour...
Didn't work... I left with pain, he moved on quite quickly.
Adult talk is crucial in this case.
Thanks for the reply. I will resist the temptation to go to him, as I know it has to be his choice if he wants to try this or not.
Your friend is lucky with her partner.
It's one thing when a man happy to stand by you and wait for you and another when a man does think only about himself.
At the beginning it was beautiful and I was pretty much ready but he pushed me, criticised and laughed...
That created pain and discomfort, and my self esteem went down.
And after a while he started to demand that I should make up my mind.
That's when I was scared and not comfortable in my own skin. Of course you won't be ready for intimacy in this case... I started to have trust issues and didn't go further.
When I stepped back he hurt me more, then other news more hurt...
Then you wonder are they all immature...
In any case good luck, x
when I was younger, and had some emotional baggage, I had several relationships where the man would pursue me slowly, with patience, taking on board my walls and bariers and over time he would gently earn my trust. Over that time quite often he was required to be steadfast and resolute that he knew I was scared but he wasn't going anywhere.
I think those relationships in my twenties and teens built up my confidence, and while those men didn't "heal me", they definitely provided stable ground and confidence for me to heal myself. Each one of them was more stable and strong than I was at the time.
I now find myself in my later thirties, very strong, and very stable and I find a man who's been knocked down and has built his own walls. I am wondering inside if me providing stability, patience and encouragement might be what he needs right now.
Not that I am expecting to save or heal him, but only to give him the option to take the chance himself and learn not everyone is going to cheat on him or hurt him, and that while I'm not prepared to put up with flaky behavior because I have my own needs and boundaries...I'm also here, caring about him and open to hearing from him if he can respect those needs and boundaries.
I don't think this man has ever hurt me...certainly never been mean...certainly never cut me down (quite the opposite) but what he does is to resist intimacy and deliberately run from it.
In my 20th it was the same. You spend sometime together and gain some trust...
With this one I really trusted him at the beginning...And opened up a lot.
Didn't expect that he will "bit me with the same stick." Now I'm more cautious.
Yes, he might be looking for the qualities you wrote down... In that case it's better to accept him when he comes back and if he comes back.
Probably he is afraid to fall for you that might be a reason him taking it slowly...
In any way best of luck
You see him as a "project" ?
Good luck with that
I don't see him at all as a project. I know I can't fix him or heal him which I think is what I said.
I don't see him as anything other than the person I like spending time with and talking to more than any other person. The fact he has "issues" complicates things and isn't attractive to me at all. I'm not looking for a project but sometimes you fall in love with who a person is and the "issues" they have become something you want to be patient with because what's underneath is worth it if you can get there.
I'm not stupid enough to not realise the outcome is not in my hands.
Yes, you do
All this talk of "barriers" and "issues" you see as something that could be "overcome" with the right person.
Do you consider yourself that person ?
I believe, yes, that one person can, help another person to heal themselves by providing an environment and circumstances that provide encouragement. It's happened to me before, and as I said in my OP, my commitment phobe best friend was able to do that for the "right man" too.
I don't remotely see him as a project, I see him as the man I want to be with who happens to have some issues. I;d much rather he didn't have those issues, but he does.
"providing an environment that provides encouragement" ??
that is what we do for our children who depend on us to set an example
not for grown adults
that just sounds very like "providing an environment to get shit on"
which is how he has treated you so far, but you seem quite willing to spin that into some sort of starcrossed lovers situation and if only he would let you give him the love of a good woman he will come good in the end
I think I have "provided an environment that provides encouragement" for adults that I have loved many times in my life and for me this is part and parcel of caring from other people.
In an ideal world, both partner are emotionally healthy and matured when they meet. in an ideal world both are financially stable. In an ideal world both had a good childhood etc. etc. Sometimes though that list of requirements isn't always met and you find yourself wanting to be around that person anyway. For me I have to decide who I do or don't want in my life based on my own feelings and instincts towards that person.
I think, specifically, if someone's "issue" is trouble trusting and opening up to relationships then taking that journey with someone trustworthy is yes, absolutely helpful.
I am not providing an environment to get shit on, because I walked away making it clear I wasn't willing to get shat on.
My DH was good with me.
I had/have baggage and issues.
Difference is that I'd rather try to trust than remain bitter and twisted my whole life.
My DH never let me down intentionally but didn't always understand and did get things wrong occasionally.
I knew he had a good heart but self esteem issues meant I could not see why he wanted to be with me plus I coukdnt trust my own judgement as I'd trusted and been raped by that person so I'm still wary about my own judgement and have few grey areas and a small margin of tolerance.
As you can tell from what I've written, it's been hard for me DH, but less hard as we've gone on.
It's only natural to learn from previous mistakes and perceived barriers are in fact self preservation measures of a victim.
It takes a long time to get the experience and time under your belt to overlay that bad time and learn how to trust again.
I'm lucky, my DH and I wre best mates before we hooked up and he knew I was worth it and I knew he was worth the risk. It's a big ask if anyone though and often isn't smooth sailing.
Not that I am expecting to save or heal him, but only to give him the option to take the chance himself
But you have done that.
And you did the right thing cutting him off again when he relapsed. And now, he still has that option to take a risk, if he wants to.
Move on with your life!
If he's willing to move forward with his issues, I'm sure he'll let you know. But don't wait around for something that may or may not happen.
Thanks for those responses. He has said his intention is to overcome this. He's said that more than once and it's obviously something he is wrestling with. It has only been a few weeks so I think it's an adjustment to make inside that is possible, although I know not a guarantee and in a lot of ways it's a long shot.
I am getting on with my life as much as I can...going out, not waiting around, not checking he phone and going on dates with other people.
He came and spent hours talking and then the same week let you down yet again. You say he has to make his own choices, well, I am sorry but I think he has done. It's sad if you had some nice times together and a connection but he's not a fundamentally nice person if he does this to you. Anyone can make contact when they agreed to,especially in the situation you described.
I urge you to delete his number and move on. Could there be any element at all of the challenge of taming this tortured man? Even if not,mi can't see him making you happy. Sorry.
I think you should back off and let him deal with his issues on his own (if he is serious about overcoming them). Starting a relationship with head games, regardless of his reasons, is not going to end well. You cannot fix him...and the healthiest relationships are formed by people who recognized that they had problems and worked through those issues on their own before embarking on a relationship.
Just speaking from my own experience. I dated a man with intimacy issues too, and then married him. It was a mistake. It didn't get better, only worse. You will completely give everything you've got - and he'll just take it and mess you around and continue to "see what he can get away with" as you put it. Trying to make the relationship work will be a massive waste of your time, energy & emotions, and the wiser, healthier choice would be to move on and not hold out for him.
If down the road he came to you on his own, with his issues worked out and you were in a position to try again and you still wanted to - that would be ok. But don't wait for him or put your life on hold
I'm more than prepared to accept the very strong likelihood that I won't ever hear from him again. Also prepared to accept the very strong likely hood that if I do he still won't have made steps towards sorting himself out.
I really just wanted advice on how to handle the whole situation or insight maybe from someone who has felt like he does.
You are handling it well.
Part of that, though, means not spending your time thinking about what he's experiencing, and focusing on your own experience instead.
I'm willing to help someone in a relationship with their issues, not ones that involve treating me like shit though.
He sounds a bit of a poor catch OP.
Have a look at the following to see if anything rings true....
Thanks Lurgano, as we've honestly not been boyfriend / girlfriend yet I can only base it of 6 months of friendship, when he was great - reliable, attentive, kind, supportive and fun and he has male / female friends and good relationships with his family and all that. Loved spending time with him. Bit of a "lad" admittedly but he called me constantly, texted every day and was great.
He just acted weird after we kissed and started talking about a relationship is all. I probably made it much worse because I had no idea he had these intimacy issues as he'd never mentioned it.
It was him who wanted it, and yes he did chase it then panic when he got it.
Yes...he's made me feel crap...I think maybe time apart might be good for me too. It's not been very much fun the past few weeks.
You have an image in your head of falling in love with a friend and it doesn't end with them chasing you then having a panic attack and bolting in the other direction.
I'm in a similar position with fear of intimacy. I've been with my partner for 5 years and tje fear is torturous. I've just started therapy because I love my partner but have real trouble creating connections with people, including him because of my fear. It makes me question everything about our relationship when it doesn't need to be and causes me to push people away and withdraw emotionally and sexually. It's generally based on previous relationships either when you're young and old. It's happened to me in previous relationships and it's so much easier to run away than deal with the fear, which is probably what he's doing. It's not a nice feeling and I can guarantee that he is suffering immensely too!
Good luck with everything!
You set boundaries, he broke those boundaries. I do think that it's possible for people to find someone who can help them heal. It's not that time for him.
I dated someone, after a really important relationship in my life broke down. I told him I wasn't ready for a proper relationship but we had fun, dated and he thought I would change my mind. He fell in love. I was telling the truth and wasn't ready. He was; fun; interesting; great in bed; a wonderful friend; had a job and attitude that fitted perfectly with who I am in my heart. Had I met him two years before or after, I might have married him. As it was, it broke his heart and I feel guilty.
This man is not ready. Look after yourself.
Join the discussion
Please login first.