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Extreme fear of intimacy / attachment issues - anyone have these?

(35 Posts)
rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 11:00:59

Very much struggling with my boyfriend who seems to want to both have me close and get rid of me simultaneously. We have been seeing each other for five months now.

Has anyone had a boyfriend or had themselves issues with being intimate and committed in relationships?

I was reading up on "Attachment Theory" and how we all have one of the four styles of attachment and he would fall under the definition of "Fearful Avoidant". He wants to be close and have a relationship but also doesn't.

The type of behaviors are:

**Saying he's not ready to commit but at the same time we are committed and in an exclusive relationship but he's scared to put a label on it.

**Keeping his options open by staying on Tinder and continuing to talk to girls he's met before me.

**Going distanct for days after we have a really great time together and then coming back

**Being a bit foggy about what he's up to and what he's doing to create a distance.

** Not staying in touch as much as he used to.

All of this only really started after we got a bit serious together and before that he was the polar opposite to all of this. I know he doesn't want to lose me but I don't know what to do as a lot of this doesn't make me happy of course and I feel like he often makes a deliberate attempt to keep distance rather than getting closer.

I have known him for years and he wasn't always like this. He got a broken heart about four years ago and has been like this ever since, not that he has has more than two or three girlfriends in that time.

It's made me feel bad and I do think our relationship is doomed because of it because I feel like I need the intimacy to increase and he puts a wall up to stop that happenning.

Can these sorts of issues be overcome or is it beating dead horse? I get very upset at times that he can't overcome it even it it means losing me

rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 11:08:43

As I read that back it makes him sound awful. He's not really like that at all, not a serial dater or a person who doesn't give a lot of affection or care because he does but this part of him takes over and he shuts down completely and hurts me.

ALaughAMinute Sun 29-Nov-15 12:08:01

Why do you want to hang on to him? He's not making you happy is he?


TheStoic Sun 29-Nov-15 12:09:33

Do you know what your own attachment style is?

With regards to your boyfriend, his behaviour probably won't change unless he gets some professional help. From your reading, I'm sure you know that attachment styles are formed in childhood. He would have a lot of stuff to unpick, if he even wants to.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Sun 29-Nov-15 12:11:40

Does he recognise or acknowledge any of this?
I have an avoidant attachment style in adult relationships but I am very aware of it. There's really no point carrying on with him if he thinks he's just fine and ok as he is.

Also - yeah, think about your own attachment style. Are you codependent or compulsive care giving? That can lead to a massive mess.

Robotgirl Sun 29-Nov-15 12:12:18

Keeping his options open by staying on Tinder and continuing to talk to girls he's met before me.

Really? Do you think this is ok? Sounds like a massive piss-taker to me.

niceupthedance Sun 29-Nov-15 12:12:50

I'm not an attachment expert but it definitely sounds like he doesn't share your views on relationships. Talking to other women while being exclusive with you - are you sure that's all he's doing?

rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 12:56:17

Yes he knows he has a problem. He's talked about it quite a lot even before he was my boyfriend but I'd never experienced it as people say all the time that they have been hurt before but this is diferrent like he's not able to do intimacy at all.

With the Tinder thing I know that sounds really awful too. He's not a pervert or a sexter or a bad person but I think he's not really in the relationship and I think for him talking to girls online is diferent to the demands of actually being with someone.

What is really getting me down is the feeling that I am somehow not good enough to make him attach to me and get over it.

Room101isWhereIUsedToLive Sun 29-Nov-15 13:00:03

It isn't you, its him. Time to move on!

rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 13:07:08

My self esteem feels torn to bits.

I avoided the question earlier but when I was reading on attachment styles, I am the anxious attached type of person who needs lots of reassurance and is afraid of being abandoned. Which make this a bit of a bad situation to say the least for me to cope with, especially because he was so loving and reassuring the first few months until we started to get serious.

We had a chat one night where he told me he felt he was falling for me and could not believe how strong it was and we talked about the idea of being together long term and that was the day the lightbulb went off and he went all funny on me.

TheStoic Sun 29-Nov-15 13:09:05

Anxious + avoidant = misery. Especially for you.

Oysterbabe Sun 29-Nov-15 13:09:25

Sounds like a pretty typical manchild to me. You will never feel happy and secure in this relationship and you will never be able to fully trust him.

rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 13:12:53

I read that Stoic. Do you belive this is very much a real thing?

I'm not trying to battle through his demons because I see how bad they are but if someone came to me and said they broke up with their boyfriend because he had a fear of commitment I'd think that sounded like Gluten intolerance and was just a posh tosh new fangly phrase for he doesn't like you that much.

It's only really been living it and seeing how strange he is that makes me think it might be a genuine problem with him and I definitely agree it = misery because it has been.

TheStoic Sun 29-Nov-15 13:18:53

I read that Stoic. Do you belive this is very much a real thing?

Yes, I do. It's certainly possible to overcome, the world is full of all sorts of combinations obviously.

But it takes a great deal of self-awareness, and commitment.

I'm aware that I would be described as avoidant. I know that about myself, and I use that knowledge to work out why I do things, and how I could do them differently.

If both people aren't committed to that process, it's unlikely to be a functional relationship.

rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 13:29:02

If it makes any sense at all, with me needing reassurance and being anxious the last couple of months he has been this way have really affected me and have been wondering if he had gone off me and analysing to death.

He was abused as a youngster and has only been in one serious relationship where she ended it really badly and he says he was not able to cope at all with living after that happenned and cant go through it again.

As a friend he was diferrent and more loving and close but as we have got closer and closer and more intimate it's been a bit like a wall closed up around him.

this isn't some long term strategy to be cruel to women and he's actually been single a long time but I think he is lonely and wants a relationship but can't be made happy in one because all he is thinking is that it will end and he can't let himself care too much.

He talks all the time about all the men that want me and how he knows that when a better one comes along he will step aside and won't be bitter about it and it's almost like he's resigned to me dumping him before we even started

HeadDoctor Sun 29-Nov-15 13:31:58

I used to spend time trying to understand exes, wondering where I was going wrong or what I could do to help them overcome their problems so we could be happy.

The reality is that unless he is ready to change, he can't. You really shouldn't bend yourself to fit what he needs. If he's right for you, he'd work on himself to make the relationship equal.

You clearly have a big, kind heart, so extend some of that to yourself and let yourself move on so you can have the relationship you deserve.

TheStoic Sun 29-Nov-15 13:34:56

Unless he gets some help, he will have one foot permanently out the door. I can recognise that because I've been like that myself. As soon as you do something 'wrong', he will be out of there so fast your head will spin. And it will be your fault.

It's not you. It's not even him, necessarily. But it does appear that you + him is unlikely to work.

rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 13:54:58

So would the best thing to do for me to walk away and ask him to get that help?

rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 13:56:47

And can he get better?

TheStoic Sun 29-Nov-15 14:03:25

It's a 'relationship' issue. It will be affecting his relationships with everyone. How does he relate to friends and family? Does he have close relationships with anyone, or are they all quite superficial?

Even if he starts working on this now, he will always be a 'work in progress'. As most of us are.

The bottom line is that you have to think of yourself. Does he make you feel happy and secure? If not, it is not the right relationship for you.

fishfingersinmysandwiches Sun 29-Nov-15 14:17:04

Hi OP. Another anxious attacher here.

I understand what you are going through. Painful isn't it. Unfortunately anxious and avoidant attachers are drawn together like moths to a flame. Why? Because in our relationships with each other we get to play out our fuck ups and have our deep, unconscious beliefs about ourselves upheld.

The avoidant one confirms our deep belief that we are unworthy and will always be abandoned, and we confirm their deep belief that getting close to people is risky and will enmesh and suffocate them.

What's interesting though is that the two attachment styles are in fact two sides of the same coin. As anxious attachers we actually fear intimacy as much as they do - that's why we choose people who are unable to give it to us. And as avoidant attachers they actually fear abandonment as much as we do - which is why they choose people who will hang on for dear life no matter what the cost. It's the same disorder - just opposite ends of the scale.

So, sorry to say, this is your issue as much as it is his. Your relationship does not consist of you, and this guy who has a problem. You both have a problem and not only that, you're feeding on each other.

Both avoidant and anxious attachers can do well with people who are securly attached as securely attached people can a) can give space where needed without freaking out and/or b) are happy to give reassurance where needed too. But together is a bad combination. I should know.

rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 14:18:10

He is a detached person. Not cold, but the type of person you would say has no bad temper, has no nastiness and not many needs. I had no idea he has any "passion" or anything beyond the surface until he became my boyfriend and those first few weeks was like a floodgate opened. Never met anyone so passionate or loving and intense and he was very happy before he just flipped the switch.

He surrounds himself with good people -all nice friends - but every single one of them is in a couple and he hangs around with girls a lot always ones who are with boyfriends and see him as a little brother character. I don't think he is incredibly close to anyone, no. He actually seems to have multiple friend groups and spreads his time a bit like a loner.

When we got together his friends were over the moon to see him with someone finally and also that he'd "got some action" so to speak as he's teased a bit for being the runt and not being experienced.

He had a very abusive childhood emotionally, which made me cringe when he emotionlessly told me about it over a glass of wine and then said "it's fine now though" and he gets on with family although they live quite far away and don't appear to be close on a day to day basis.

He seems emotionless to be honest almost as if he's quite placid and easygoing and it was only in the passionate times together when he wasn't scared that the fire came out and he would talk to be about his past and what he's been through and how he felt and I felt like we got very intimate indeed over that period before he just shut it off.

His girlfriend before me, that caused all the pain, is only just now something he has begun to move on from and he says he felt he lost control completely because he loved her so much and needed her so much and she left him and you can sense anger under the surface.

I love him, which is unfortunate, but I am not silly enough to believe I can love him out of this and I have tried to talk to him about ho it makes me feel or the jeapordy he it putting us in and he says "I know" but can't change or won't.

rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 14:22:50

Cross posted there fishfingers and thank you for that post. I'm not blind to the fact that my relationship anxiety is something I need to work on and I completely agree that while I desire a close and loving relationship the idea absolutely terrifies me deep down.

I want to work through it though and be better.

Maybe what you describe is why me and him feel like magnets drawn together. I never looked at it this way.

It's easy to say "Oh I am a person who likes a lot of attention" and "he is a person who needs a lot of space" and you talk like that but in this case I've really come to see it's honestly a lot more than that and it's creating a deep sense of instability in me,

Reading over the articles online on this I see all my previous partners have been securely attached and have simply fed the troll. In saying that, I am not clingy in relationships, actually quite chilled out but certainly need that reassurance and afffirmation and I become deeply, deeply attached and bonded and perhaps associate a lot of my self esteem with the man's view of me.

Making this situation absolute torture on me.

fishfingersinmysandwiches Sun 29-Nov-15 14:41:52

I understand OP. The torture part.

But you have two stark choices here. You leave or you endure more torture. That is all there is. This man is not going to suddenly wake up tomorrow having had a personality transplant, and neither are you.

I really do understand. I am still drawn to the same kinds of avoidants despite a reasonable amount of self awareness and knowledge of the issues.

If it helps I have a B.A. Baracus sample that goes off in my head every time I'm dealing with someone I know is not good for me: "You're about to meet my friend Paaaaaain!!!"

rainbow19 Sun 29-Nov-15 16:39:07

Very hard to end a relationship with someone you want and love sad

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