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Not sure how I'm feeling about my relationship

Greetings,

 

I am 22 years old and have currently been in my first relationship for about 3 months.

 

The woman I'm in a relationship with is 3 years older than me, which has really never been a concern of mine. We had known each other for about 2 years as family friends, yet an encounter with each other 3 months ago changed the way we both saw each other (more than just friends), and we decided to take things further. It's also worth saying that we're in a long-distance relationship and we live in different states. Everything started out absolutely wonderfully, all over long-distance, and the two times we have been physically together and not thousands of kilometres apart have been absolutely wonderful, and we have both developed our emotional and physical connection a lot since confessing our romantic feelings to each other 3 months ago.

 

But since the last time we have been physically together which was a couple of weeks ago, I have been having increasing feelings of anxiety and an intense fear of losing her. She is the most amazingly talented, passionate, caring and wonderful person I have ever met, and I admire her so much, yet I get these crazy intense irrational worries of not being able to meet her needs in the future as well as feelings that I am inadequate for her. We're both quite busy with university and work, so don't get a lot of time to connect when we're apart aside from texting and snapchat. I feel quite lonely and miss her a lot of the time, and have been having trouble sleeping at night with all these negative thoughts of losing her racing around and around in my head.

 

There have never been any arguments or disagreements between us on anything, and she is very conscious of not pressuring me emotionally or physically because she understands this is my first relationship (she has had several, but assures me that I am extremely special to her and unlike any other person she has dated before). I really really harbour strong and deep feelings of romantic attraction for her, and we have started saying that we love each other, and I fully believe that both of us do.

 

This is why I am feeling so confused, because I feel like I love her deeply and care about her happiness and wellbeing so much. Yet, while I feel happy and very lucky to have such a beautiful woman in my life, I also feel a lot of negative emotion including these feelings of anxiety, loneliness and despair. I have negative thoughts of our relationship falling apart in the future, and they are getting in the way of the positive thoughts about all the good things we share together. I have been under a lot of work and uni stress lately which would not be helping my mood, and the busy-ness of those two things has impacted my social life quite a lot. The anxiety has gotten so bad that I have been having panic attacks and am finding myself unable to focus during the day.

 

The distance between us makes things a lot harder because we can't just physically be there for one another or spend time together, which means a lot of texting, snapchatting and FaceTiming (when we both have time). I try to tell her how I'm feeling as much as I can, and she is always extremely supportive and caring, but there is a limit to how much she can do to comfort me when she lives in another state. I am feeling quite lost, confused and basically just don't know what to do. The thought of breaking up over this just seems so wrong and makes me feel absolutely awful, because I feel so strongly towards her and know things will get better over more time spent together. I have seen a counsellor at university about this and he assures me that these anxieties are all normal as I develop in my life and my relationship, plus my brain chemistry is changing a lot since embarking on a romantic relationship for the first time, which apparently often causes feelings of anxiety. He also said that loss of sleep makes anxiety a lot worse, but I am exercising 30 minutes every day to try and burn off some of the stress, and am trying to get a more regular sleep pattern by changing sleeping habits and taking natural remedies before bed. The counsellor suggested getting a low dosage of medication prescribed from my doctor to help me sleep, but I don't want to resort to hard medication unless absolutely necessary.

 

I guess I am just seeking advice on what to do? My life feels much more full and complete since starting my relationship, yet I am also getting increasingly concerned about how much strong negative emotion I am feeling...

Re: Not sure how I'm feeling about my relationship

One other thing I should mention is that my family have had some tough times over the last 3 years, with my sister suffering from severe clinical depression and anxiety (attempting to take her own life on more than one occasion), as well as my parent's marriage falling apart. All of this has been a source of a massive amount of emotional stress for me, and I don't feel like I've dealt with it properly and instead chose to launch myself into my work and uni as a coping mechanism.

 

I kind of feel like getting into a relationship may have 'lifted the lid' on a lot of these emotions, thus being another cause of the anxiety and negative thinking...

Re: Not sure how I'm feeling about my relationship

Hi @brightonion899

It sounds like you're going through a really complicated time!

I can relate to the fact that my boyfriend (almost of 1 year) is the first relationship I've ever been with, and although I am so happy, at the same time I sometimes have anxieties and worries about me liking him more than he likes me and how I would feel if we broke up. It was like my brain was sabotaging myself! When I speak to him about my insecurities he helps melt them away because he reassures me that we are happy which makes me feel better. 

I don't know if this will help but for me personally, meditation really helps my worries and anxiety. Taking time to 'tune out the noise' helps me become a more calm person.

It sounds like you've gone through a lot of emotional stress Smiley Sad 

Have you spoken to the school counsellor about the things causing you emotional stress (like the tough times over the last 3 years), do you feel comfortable to talk to them about that? 

They might be able to suggest some coping mechanisms! 

 

Please keep us updated on how you're feeling!

Re: Not sure how I'm feeling about my relationship

well done for seeing a counsellor at uni @brightonion899, it sounds like he's given you some sound advice, which you've taken on board.

I get the sense that this long distance relationship is causing you a lot of anxiety, though. Have you spoken to any friends or family members about this relationship? They might be able to reassure you/calm you when you're feeling panicky about it.

One thing I've been told can be quite helpful for anxiety, and getting to sleep, is mindfulness. What do you think about trying an app like Smiling Mind

// Spiral outward, keep going. //

Re: Not sure how I'm feeling about my relationship

Well, my worst fear came true about 3 weeks ago - I lost my girlfriend Smiley Sad

 

She was becoming increasingly concerned about how anxious I was feeling, and came to her own conclusion that it "wasn't normal" and that it was because I was having doubts about my feelings for her (more on that in a moment). She told me that if I was that nervous, it meant our relationship wasn't meant to be, so she ended it. I am absolutely heartbroken, because I know deep down, I love her very very much. I tried to convince her, but she became quite angry with me and we haven't spoken in about a week or so.

 

I upped the ante with seeking professional help and went and saw my GP, who referred me to a clinical psychologist.

 

After 4 sessions, my psychologist suspects I may have OCD (though not an official diagnosis yet). Throughout my long-distance relationship, I was having many many obsessive and intrusive thoughts about my relationship with my girlfriend on a very frequent basis. These thoughts included such things as "is this what love feels like?" and "how can I know for sure if I love my girlfriend?" and "what if I cannot meet her needs?" and "what if I break up with her?" and "what if I don't actually love her and I'm mistakenly leading her on?" and "I didn't think about her much today, that must mean I don't love her."

These thoughts were becoming increasingly prevalent and were playing over and over and over in a loop in my head. I was constantly seeking reassurance any way I could by researching on the internet (sometimes for hours at a time) as well as talking to my family. The ressurance was only ever temporary before the intrusive thoughts would return requiring me to seek more reassurance and validation. It was absolutely debilitating and awful, and it got to a point where my brain literally wouldn't ever switch off and I was unable to focus at work and university or to sleep without sleeping tablets. Looking back on things now, I know for sure that I always loved her (and still do), yet I couldn't convince my brain of that fact. The whole experience has been absolutely awful, and I just feel so helpless because I have self-sabotaged my relationship, and as a result, I have lost the most beautiful woman in the world Smiley Sad

 

I suspect that my ex-girlfriend got fed up with hearing about how wound-up and anxious I was becoming, and eventually gave up trying to reassure me. She insists that she fell out of love with me, but I suspect I caused this to happen.

 

I have explained to my psychologist that I am extremely terrified of this exact same thing happening again in the future, if I ever fall in love again. The very beginning of the relationship was so wonderful, but my thoughts and feelings self-perpetuated into a downward spiral until I eventually became completely consumed by my intrusive and obsessional thoughts. They destroyed an otherwise perfect relationship, and probably will again unless I can overcome what goes on in my head.

 

I also engage in many little compulsions during the day, such as setting dials and controls in my car in an exact way before getting out (something which I feel I have to do, otherwise I can't get out of the car), as well as checking the letterbox whenever I go in or out the front door of my house (if I don't check the letterbox, I have to go back and check it). These are just two of the many little things I have started to notice myself doing since my psychologist instructed me to start paying attention to my actions throughout the day.

 

So I'm both relieved to know why I was feeling so debilitatningly anxious through my relationship, while also incredibly saddened and heartbroken to know that I would probably still be in a happy, joyous, loving relationship with my now ex-girlfriend had I not been having these obsessive thoughts on a constant basis... It really really sucks and I feel so awful Smiley Sad

Re: Not sure how I'm feeling about my relationship

It's worth saying too - at the time, I wasn't really communicating my obsessional thoughts with my girlfriend because I was convinced that she would jump to the conclusion that I didn't love her and would therefore end the relationship. I only ever told her that I had a fear of losing her and that it was making me anxious, while not actually telling her why I feared losing her because I felt like I couldn't because she wouldn't understand...

 

I was extremely confused by what I was feeling and what was going on in my head as well, because I felt one thing yet my mind was telling me otherwise.

Re: Not sure how I'm feeling about my relationship

@brightonion899 I'm so sorry to hear that this has been happening, it just sounds awful. I personally have to say that I believe insecurities can be pretty normal in the begging stages of a relationship or if there is a trigger, issues can resurface that were otherwise under control.

 

I'm glad you're seeing a clinical psychologist though because it seems like this was so intense that it was haunting you and affecting your ability to function both within the relationship and in your life in general. For that reason I think it would be ideal to have some mechanisms in place for dealing with thoughts that spiral like you described. Also, hopefully your work in therapy can shed some light on why the relationship seemed to push so many buttons. Don't be hard on yourself either way, this stuff isn't easy even for the most so called stable of people! 

Re: Not sure how I'm feeling about my relationship

Hi @brightonion899

I'm sorry to hear that this has happened Smiley Sad Please don't be too hard on yourself though okay? Life is full of learning experiences. It's really really good that you saw a clinical psychologist and that it gave you some relief regarding your anxieties about the relationship. I hope that through time and sessions with the psychologist that you are able to feel better about everything. How have you been feeling about everything today? 

Re: Not sure how I'm feeling about my relationship

@TOM-RO My girlfriend was also very much of the same opinion in the beginning. Insecurities are normal at the beginning of a relationship, but everything should stabilise as time goes on. With me though, my thoughts just became more and more obsessional and intrusive the more I tried to seek reassurance or think about something else.

 

Oh gosh it was so awful and intense, and also totally exhausting. 

 

@missep I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, but I can’t help but feel an enormous amount of responsibility for what happened.

 

Seeing a psychologist has provided me with some relief, but it’s a hollow feeling because it comes with a heavy realisation that it was just my brain lying to me all this time. I already pretty much knew that was the case, but I still had very little control over these intrusive and obsessional thoughts, which quickly became very distressing and exhausting.

 

I have been feeling very sad, empty and lonely since the end of the relationship. The  sense of  loss I feel is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I have been trying to keep myself as busy as possible and surrounding myself with friends and family, but nothing ever makes me feel genuinely happy right now, nor does it stop the crushing feeling of emptiness and loneliness I feel inside me. A person with the depth and complexity like that of my now ex-girlfriend is an incredibly rare find I feel, and her and I became incredibly close and bonded on an extremely deep emotional level over the course of our relationship. I am really feeling the absence of that emotional connection right now Smiley Sad 

Re: Not sure how I'm feeling about my relationship

Going through a breakup is such a tough time @brightonion899 Smiley Sad 

 

I'm hoping that through time and sessions with your psychologist that they will be able to teach you ways to cope with these intrusive and obsessional thoughts. Now that you know what was causing you distress, the next step is addressing it and seeing how to alleviate it/cope with it. 

 

I've heard that the loss of a relationship is similar to grief Smiley Sad Surrounding yourself with friends and family and trying to keep yourself distracted is definitely a good thing to do during this time. From personal experience, I am really really picky and it's really rare that I find someone that I 'click' with romantically, and there was a time that I felt really down because I felt that there was no hope for me. I really feel like when it's meant to be, it's meant to be. I ended up meeting someone at the right time in my life, and it really showed me that there was another 'fish in the sea'. 

 

I think during this time it's really important to take care of yourself and work through the things that are causing you distress. Your wellbeing is the most important @brightonion899! Learning from all of this will add to your knowledge and future relationships will definitely benefit from that. 

 

I'm sorry again to here that you are going through this Smiley Sad Please keep us updated!