Male, 38, need serious relationship advice

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GammaRayBob
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21 Sep 2019, 6:55 am

*Really long post, lots of details, most of them relevant and important

I'm a 38 y/o male diagnosed with ASD (high functioning)/OCD, and I've been going through a very serious mental health crisis over the last few months that I believe is due to a relationship I began with someone. The problem is I'm extremely stubborn and am closed to many of the options available to me, limiting my choices.

Last March, I had taken a trip abroad to visit a female aquaintance I hadn't seen in a few years. I met her through a volunteer opportunity and we became somewhat close (mildly intimate once) but due to her having a boyfriend at the time, it didn't work out and, for various reasons, things became awkward between us later on until I left. We didn't keep in touch after that until a few years later when another friend from there told me that she was interested in seeing me again (she had recently broken up with her bf, whom she described as abusive, which I knew about). Although I had been contemplating going back to visit for a long while, I had kept pushing it off, but once we started talking again, I felt more motivated and decided to go. Long story short, things didn't go very well and I came home feeling dejected and distraught, and virtually inconsolable. I'm not sure why, but it felt like my life was ending and I had this sensation of impending doom in the pit of my stomach. I even went as far as to blame God for my misfortune, believing (as I tend to do) that I was cruelly set up to fail, possibly as punishment for something I did wrong while there.

Fast forward about a week later, I meet someone else at a friend's party. I'm feeling somewhat better at this point, more relaxed and hopeful as I was slowly starting to get over the situation. I decide to crash there for the night along with a bunch of other people. Thing is, the three of us (friend, girl and myself) end up sleeping in the same bed. After he leaves the next morning, his friend (whom he had been in a casual relationship with for several months) and I start talking, one thing leads to another and we end up basically having sex (she can't officially have intercourse for biological reasons but that's another matter). This leads to us starting a relationship wherein we're seeing each other once a week.

After a couple weeks, though, I start to develop a strange infatuation with her where I'm thinking about her a bit too much, more than I normally would for someone I just met. I find myself wanting to spend as much time with her as possible without coming across as too desperate or needy, which was another concern. That she was finishing exams at this point and was about to become free most days made it more difficult for me not to want to hang out with her as often as possible. Even when we had just met at the party, I was weirdly overprotective of her and tried to monopolize her as much as possible, like a defense mechanism. A friend had asked me if I was considering getting serious with her eventually but due to the large age gap (she's very young, don't ask) and her expressing disinterest in commitment, as well as me feeling comfortable with how things were, I said it probably wasn't going to happen in the near future.

A month later, things started getting worse. One time we're together, I find out she's still hooking up with my friend, whom for some reason I had assumed she'd stopped seeing. This hit me very hard and I think she could tell I was uncomfortable with it because she offered to stop seeing him for me. Stupidly, I say it's ok, even though it's not. I'm not sure exactly what prompted me to respond this way except possibly that I didn't feel comfortable controlling her by telling her what to do, or maybe I wasn't feeling ready to make a commitment yet and needed more time. Within a few days, though I was instantly regretting it and felt that I had missed my chance with her. From then on, I began experiencing horrible panic attacks and anxiety, similar to what I had been feeling after my trip only much worse. Eventually it became so extreme I started experiencing something similar to disassociative reality disorder (or derealisation), which I only usually get on very rare occasions when something borderline traumatic happens. At this point, all I could think about was my relationship with her and how I destroyed it by not making a commitment, which I believed was too late to rectify. I could barely focus on anything else.

My relationship with friends (including the aforementioned one) began to worsen as well as I started to become withdrawn and distant. I was also starting to feel more and more uncomfortable and anxious around friend in the rare times I would see him, especially when he would talk about her and say things that would bother me much more than had it been a month ago when I wouldn't have minded at all. I found a lot of the stuff he would say inappropriate and borderline offensive but, at the same time, I never told him to stop because I didn't want to admit that it bothered me, almost as though it was a sign of weakness. It also bothered me a great deal to find out he didn't really care about her and was just using her, considering my feelings for her. The more I thought about them being together, the more it sickened and actually scared me. Eventually these thoughts consumed me to the point where they were all I could think about; as unproductive, lazy and lethargic as I had been for most of my life, now I couldn't even contemplate doing anything else but try to figure out how to deal with this situation. Mind you, I had always been like this due to OCD but it was usually at least somewhat manageable and tolerable. Now, the symptoms had become so severe I found myself engaging in deranged physical and mental rituals in order to try to deal with the intrusive thoughts, with little to no success. These could go on for hours and eventually I'd be too emotionally exhausted to do anything but space out for the remainder of the day, too demotivated and spiritually weak to attempt anything productive.

Fast forward a few weeks and she finally agrees to start dating. Unfortunately, this is just a week before she's planning to visit her family abroad for the summer, which would make it a long-distance relationship, something I find less than ideal. By the time she leaves, I immediately start having my doubts, even though I was the one who initiated and encouraged her. Maybe if we had started a couple months back it would've made more sense to me but at this point, I thought, why start now? At least wait till she gets back. But, knowing how long it had taken to convince her and the fact that she was prone to changing her mind, I decided not to rock the boat.

Anyway, things get a whole lot worse before they get any better. I begin feeling more agitated, anxious and insecure in her absence and the thoughts become more intrusive and unmanageable. Even though she's in another country, I still feel paranoid and suspicious of her relationship with him, leading to resentment of him. At this time I had begun incorporating daily prayer into my routine, assuming either that God was responsible for what was happening to me or, failing that, would at least have the power to negate the distress I was going through because I couldn't see how it could be achieved through natural means. After not too long, I start obsessing about details of their relationship that never bothered me before, including how they met (if you're curious, ask, I'm not going to get into it here). This leads to a rather unpleasant conversation with her where she admits to something I hoped I had misunderstood and I nearly go into PTSD-induced shellshock. It's so bad I contemplate cutting her out of my life entirely. We eventually patch things up after talking it over but I never quite see her the same way afterwards. I became depressed shortly after this and my relationship with my friends continued to worsen, to the point of nearly dissipating.

This takes us up to the most recent development- last week she admitted to still having feelings for the guy, and that she came close to cheating on me with him (sort of) after casually hanging out with him the other day. Although she claimed that they "didn't really do anything" and just "got physically close", she felt bad enough to tell me about it and told me that she didn't feel comfortable dating anymore because the incident made her realize she wasn't ready for a commitment. I was taken aback by this, not just because I felt responsible for what had happened, as I had told her it was ok for her to hang out with him when she asked for my approval, but because she evidently thought it made sense to sever her commitment to me because she didn't want to make another mistake like that one. In other words, I felt like she was punishing me and rewarding him for something that shouldn't have even taken place. Worse yet, she confirmed all the negative things I had brought up about him (she had also brought them up during the previously mentioned conversation, like knowing that he hits on other girls and talks about it with her, that he's not interested in her as a person, doesn't really respect her, etc.) and essentially said that she tolerates and accepts the way he is, even though it bothers her.

This evolved into a back and forth argument wherein I attempted to talk sense into her and she continued being resistant, insisting that it wasn't about him, it was just about her not being ready to date, which I countered was bs since if it weren't for him, she never would've suggested returning to an open relationship. She also insisted that she still cared about me and that our relationship wouldn't change even if its status did, which I also disagreed with, stating that she wouldn't be throwing her commitment to me away over him if she cared enough and that she was basically giving him priority over me. I also explained that she knew how uncomfortable I was with her continuing to see him (which I intuited was her primary motivation for breaking up with me), to which she responded that she'd most likely only be seeing him sporadically, which I explained didn't make sense and was besides the point.

After a couple days of messaging, she admits she made a mistake and is open to dating again. At a certain point in the conversation, I was actually ready to give up and stop talking to her but something made me keep going and now I'm considering it but not sure it's the right thing to do. After all, despite my obvious feelings for her, my primary reason for wanting to date was because I felt insecure and scared of the idea of them hooking up again; now I'm wondering if that makes sense. She even admitted she's not ideal relationship material due to her passive, aloof, low-energy nature. I'm kind of screwed now because it doesn't seem like I'll ever be comfortable with the idea of them being together enough to either accept it as reality or just dismiss it entirely and move on to something else. I feel trapped in something I have little control over.

What's most problematic is that I still can't figure out why she's so attracted to him that she can't let go, even for my sake, as though there's no other males on the planet. By her own admission, they have very little in common and completely opposite personalities, when she had previously told me that she mostly connects with people who are similar to her. She also had difficulty listing very many positive traits when I asked her what she liked about him, when she had no trouble with what she liked about me; all she could say was that she didn't know why she liked him. The more I think about it, the more it seems like he's someone she would run far away from when approached. Honestly, I wouldn't be nearly as distressed if I knew she was hooking up with someone else, but him I have a real problem with. I doubt that's going to happen anyway since she's pretty much turned down every guy who's hit on her until he came along, which disturbs me even more (her first and only sexual experience before him was with a girl). Maybe it's irrational, I don't know, but for now, I can't get past it and it's making it impossible for me to feel secure. I have a feeling that if I didn't have so much time on my hands maybe this wouldn't have happened but I'm not certain either.

I have no idea what to do with this. I feel like it's just going to sit there until it unceremoniously resolves itself but I probably won't appreciate the resolution. All I know is my OCD medication at its current dosage isn't enough to function as anything but a sedative and I really don't want to increase it anymore since I don't feel like being impotent for the rest of my life. Meanwhile, any potential I have to make something of myself is going to waste as I squander day after day in this pathetic routine.



kraftiekortie
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21 Sep 2019, 7:22 pm

You probably shouldn’t date this person if you want a commitment.

It sounds like she is in “love” with your friend.

Very frequently, people who love people can’t tell you why they love the person.



Mona Pereth
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22 Sep 2019, 2:50 am

GammaRayBob wrote:
Meanwhile, any potential I have to make something of myself is going to waste as I squander day after day in this pathetic routine.

That's intolerable. A romantic relationship should enhance your life, not ruin it. You need to resolve this situation one way or another ASAP.

As I see it, there are two possible approaches you can take to trying to resolve this matter:

1) Let her know how you feel, and let her know how the status quo is harming you. Then tell her that either you need her to make a monogamous commitment, or you need to break up entirely, which probably would mean breaking off contact with her entirely, at least for a while.

OR:

2) If you still desire to respect her freedom while keeping her in your life, read up on (and ask her to read up on) open relationships and polyamory and the kinds of communication that are necessary to make such relationships work well and resolve jealousy.

I don't know which of these approaches will work best for you. (I would guess that the first is more likely, but I thought I should bring the second alternative to your attention just in case.) Whatever you decide, you need to act soon. Don't surrender you ability to improve your life. The latter should have priority over all else.


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Mona Pereth
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22 Sep 2019, 4:18 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
You probably shouldn’t date this person if you want a commitment.

It sounds like she is in “love” with your friend.

Very frequently, people who love people can’t tell you why they love the person.

My guess is that it's more lust than love.


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GammaRayBob
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23 Sep 2019, 2:57 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
You probably shouldn’t date this person if you want a commitment.

It sounds like she is in “love” with your friend.

Very frequently, people who love people can’t tell you why they love the person.


It's definitely not love, she even admitted that she has major difficulty feeling love for anyone. If she loves him then she must love me even more since she said she actually feels an emotional connection with me which she doesn't have with him. With him there's virtually nothing there. That's not love, but there obviously is some kind of attraction that she can't communicate. I even asked if it was physical and she said she didn't know.



GammaRayBob
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20 Nov 2019, 5:35 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
GammaRayBob wrote:
Meanwhile, any potential I have to make something of myself is going to waste as I squander day after day in this pathetic routine.

That's intolerable. A romantic relationship should enhance your life, not ruin it. You need to resolve this situation one way or another ASAP.

As I see it, there are two possible approaches you can take to trying to resolve this matter:

1) Let her know how you feel, and let her know how the status quo is harming you. Then tell her that either you need her to make a monogamous commitment, or you need to break up entirely, which probably would mean breaking off contact with her entirely, at least for a while.

OR:

2) If you still desire to respect her freedom while keeping her in your life, read up on (and ask her to read up on) open relationships and polyamory and the kinds of communication that are necessary to make such relationships work well and resolve jealousy.

I don't know which of these approaches will work best for you. (I would guess that the first is more likely, but I thought I should bring the second alternative to your attention just in case.) Whatever you decide, you need to act soon. Don't surrender you ability to improve your life. The latter should have priority over all else.


Thanks for your response, even though it's been quite a while. I initially didn't respond right away then stopped checking this thread when I didn't get any other replies so apologies for the lateness. Since then, I'd say things have gotten moderately better (much less panic and anxiety, though still mild depression) but I'm still at a standstill relationship-wise. Our status is kind of up in the air right now since telling her I would need time to think about becoming serious again, and I'm wondering if I even made a sensible decision. I'm not even sure if she's aware of what our status is or cares for that matter, considering she hasn't brought it up since then. I honestly think she prefers it this way considering she never really wanted to make a commitment anyway and I guess it's kind of a good sign that I haven't been desperate to go back to dating. Unfortunately, my perception of her has changed quite dramatically over the months so it's naive to expect that things will go back to the way they were.

But, on the other hand, I'm still too hesitant to ask her if she still sees him as I feel like I'd rather not know because of the pain it might cause, so the fearfulness is obviously still there. When I do occasionally bring him up in conversation, it rarely ends well and I feel distressed just from hearing her talk about him. Ironically, if it were positive aspects I'd be much less bothered but it's rarely anything all that complimentary, which makes it that much more disturbing for me. As strange as it sounds, I feel a bit offended that she (apparently) holds me in higher regard than him since her behaviour doesn't really show it, so it ends up being just lip service.

The quality of my life hasn't improved much either, as I'm still floundering with what to do with myself; I pretty much knew this was going to happen though since getting rid of the symptoms obviously wasn't going to restore my mental health overnight. I was never very proactive or productive before this happened but now it's way worse because I don't even have the passion or even mild interest I used to have. I still feel paralyzed most of the time and the awareness of inertia and stagnation has definitely increased. As well, since meeting her, I feel like my mentality and attitude have changed to the point where I'm basically a different person in that regard, so I don't even think or feel the same way about a lot of stuff anymore. I'd say these are my biggest concerns as of now.



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20 Nov 2019, 8:09 pm

I second Monas advice. Give her an ultimatum of sorts, and if she isn't into it, move on. It will at least allow you to mourn the loss of relationship, heal, and move on with your life. I'm sorry this hasn't worked the way that you'd hoped.


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GammaRayBob
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21 Nov 2019, 3:53 am

that1weirdgrrrl wrote:
I second Monas advice. Give her an ultimatum of sorts, and if she isn't into it, move on. It will at least allow you to mourn the loss of relationship, heal, and move on with your life. I'm sorry this hasn't worked the way that you'd hoped.


Thanks, this is actually an old post from a couple months back and things have changed quite a bit since then. However, I couldn't find a way to edit and decided to bump instead of posting a new one. I think a lot of the details are still relevant though.

I did in fact give her an ultimatum last week but I have a feeling it may have been too little (too much?) too late since she broke off contact with me immediately after. She didn't block me or refuse to respond, just doesn't message anymore. After finding out a couple weeks ago from her that she had continued to see him over the past couple months since the time we were still dating (though she insisted that 'not much' happened but didn't want to give details of course), I called her and told her that it was either him or me. I said she could think about it and get back to me but that was over a week ago. I doubt she's actually considering it and waiting for the right time to respond but who knows with her. She already told me she wasn't interested in dating anymore, probably because I took too long to get back to her about it and she changes her mind easily, but I figured there still might be a chance if I brought it up again.

During that time, the guy was sending me text messages that I didn't want to immediately respond to (one was a bogus apology that he admitted he didn't genuinely mean and even retracted, the other was the implication that I should stop dating her, since he was still under that impression at the time). I pointed out to her over time many of the issues with him, including his lack of respect for her, me and our relationship, but I regret not completely impressing upon her during our last conversation just how disrespectful his actions were the past couple months, as he was aware (and admitted) that what he was doing was wrong- at least based on what he believed about our status- and still continued to not care that he may have been damaging our relationship and causing strife between me and her. Considering her track record, this may not have worked either.

Anyhow, I eventually ended up telling him off and blocking him, though I don't know how much good that did ultimately since that probably hasn't deterred him from seeing her even more regularly now that I'm out of the picture. All of my efforts to make myself feel more secure have backfired and I end up being the one cut out of her life, all because I asked too many unnecessary questions the last time we were together and found out stuff I didn't really want (or shouldn't have wanted) to know. I feel like this was a huge mistake on my part but it's as if it couldn't be avoided and would have happened eventually.

Now I'm even more depressed and aimless because I feel like I've lost the war, not just a bunch of battles. I'm still totally confused as to how to proceed, even though there's basically nothing I can do at this point. I think I'm just hoping things aren't as final as I assume they are and that there's still hope for some kind of reconciliation, but that's most likely delusional thinking. In the end, I was too accommodating to everyone, whether intentional or not, and just ended up hurting myself.



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22 Nov 2019, 9:00 am

I think you made the right move. You decided you wanted an exclusive relationship, as opposed to an open one, you made this desire known to her. The onus was on her to accept or reject.

It sucks that she hasn't flat out told you what her decision is, but by her behavior (not talking to you, and seeing another guy), it sounds like she's made her decision.

I'm sorry that things didn't work out.

I tend to be someone who also sits around for months or even years hoping the other person will suddenly realize that they love me.
It has never happened that way.

It's best to mourn, heal, and find someone who really does love you and respect you.

Again, you have my deepest empathy


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GammaRayBob
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24 Nov 2019, 7:00 am

that1weirdgrrrl wrote:
I think you made the right move. You decided you wanted an exclusive relationship, as opposed to an open one, you made this desire known to her. The onus was on her to accept or reject.

It sucks that she hasn't flat out told you what her decision is, but by her behavior (not talking to you, and seeing another guy), it sounds like she's made her decision.

I'm sorry that things didn't work out.

I tend to be someone who also sits around for months or even years hoping the other person will suddenly realize that they love me.
It has never happened that way.

It's best to mourn, heal, and find someone who really does love you and respect you.

Again, you have my deepest empathy


Thanks for your sentiments but it's going to be difficult for me to move on from this. At first I thought it was love and felt she was perfect; later on, I started noticing the aforementioned flaws and decided that she definitely wasn't perfect but was at least perfect for me; then I completely changed my opinion about her and started to resent her. Problem is, a lot of what I found out was my fault because I made a lot of really stupid mistakes that culminated in me finding out stuff I didn't want to know and/or being too accommodating to others' desires instead of trying to protect my relationship. As much as I blame him (and her) for this, I can't help but blame myself for setting myself up for failure and now I feel humiliated, embarrassed and ashamed that I let it happen the way it did.

On the other hand, I could technically contact her again, as I did tell her the way things needed to be and she probably assumes I don't want to hear from her if the answer is no. I could even take it back and say I'm ok with the way things are (even if I'm not), but I don't know if I want to do that. I guess giving her an ultimatum was never a good idea if I didn't intend on alienating her, as was taking a break as long as we did. I regret a lot of these things now and wish I could take them back, to the extent that this has become increasingly less about her and more about not letting him "win", since I never thought he deserved her and viewed him as competition and, therefore, a threat.

I realize I'm more or less ranting at this point since there's not much else you can offer but I've just been feeling the need to vent recently. Sometimes just listening is enough.



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26 Nov 2019, 3:31 am

Ranting is okay, sometimes it helps you to analyze things, sometimes it just makes you feel better.

I do strongly encourage you to not become bitter and resentful, though.

Making your main goal to win or to get back at the other guy will pose a huge distraction to meeting other women and forming a new relationship.


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27 Nov 2019, 4:25 am

that1weirdgrrrl wrote:
Ranting is okay, sometimes it helps you to analyze things, sometimes it just makes you feel better.

I do strongly encourage you to not become bitter and resentful, though.

Making your main goal to win or to get back at the other guy will pose a huge distraction to meeting other women and forming a new relationship.


I agree, but right now I'm not sure I'm in the right shape or mindset to form a new relationship (though I am looking casually off and on). I feel like it's a bit too soon, not in regards to trust per se but to move on from this while it's still relatively fresh in my mind. Even if I'm not bitter and resentful, I'm still clinging to some weird sense of hope for reconciliation. After all, I more or less implied that I was breaking things off with her last time we spoke (she said she'd rather I not do that but it wasn't enough to make her change her mind), which may have been a mistake, so there still may be a chance that she'd respond if I contacted her again. Whether this is a good idea or not, I don't know, but it does make me feel like things don't have to be over if I don't want them to be. Speaking practically though, it may require some adjustments to our previous relationship, since I don't want the same result again. The best way to do this still isn't exactly clear.



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27 Nov 2019, 8:26 am

By this age, I tend to take life by the horns so to speak. I wasted a lot of time in my 20s and I only have so much time left. I want to enjoy it.

[/personal anecdote]

If you still want a relationship with her, then I encourage you to tell her. See how she responds.

You can't force her to date you, though.

And trust me, you don't want someone who isn't really into you; it's not particularly fulfilling or fun.


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GammaRayBob
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12 Dec 2019, 10:59 pm

that1weirdgrrrl wrote:
By this age, I tend to take life by the horns so to speak. I wasted a lot of time in my 20s and I only have so much time left. I want to enjoy it.

[/personal anecdote]

If you still want a relationship with her, then I encourage you to tell her. See how she responds.

You can't force her to date you, though.

And trust me, you don't want someone who isn't really into you; it's not particularly fulfilling or fun.


It's been a while since we last messaged and since then, I did contact her, with pretty dismal results. My therapist told me it wouldn't be a good idea to contact her, knowing the kind of person she is, but I decided I needed closure. She responded fairly quickly and we ended up talking about how abruptly things ended last time and that she didn't message for the past month because she assumed I didn't want to hear from her, etc. She then asked me how I felt about just being friends and I got pretty defensive and basically told her how I felt about her, which wasn't all that flattering, including what I thought about her defaulting to him over me despite her supposed feelings towards me and lack thereof towards him, as well as her maturity level.

This only felt cathartic temporarily and I somewhat regret not pushing the conversation further so I could find out more about what was going on between him and her and why she only wanted to be friends all of a sudden after this long, but I had the feeling I wasn't going to get the answers I was looking for, if any. Tbh, I could already sense from the early going that she wasn't going to give me any direct answers so frustration kicked in and I decided to just end it then and there. I still don't know if I did the right thing, or if there even was a right thing to do, but I certainly wasn't ok with the idea of being demoted to "friend" status after all this time. Maybe it was shortsighted of me to dismiss her offer since I possibly could've worked my way back up to what we had before over time but, again, I was angry and resentful of the implication.

To address your previous comment, I believe she definitely was into me, whatever her reasons were, but I assumed the ultimatum I gave her scared her away, which made her default to him (she said she wouldn't want to stop seeing either one of us for the sake of the other). But now I don't know what to believe anymore and I'm realizing that I probably barely knew who she really was at all, which is sad but, most of all, scary. What I do know is that her choosing an unfeeling, uncaring, and disrespectful individual like him over me after all the positive things she said about me was incredibly humiliating and really woke me up to how badly I messed things up for them to end this way.

I think what bothers me most of all, though, is his zero consequence attitude where he feels entitled to do whatever destructive thing he wants because he's aware nothing's going to happen to him, since nothing ever does. He basically admitted this to me, so it just compounds my loathing towards him.

(Btw, I'm only assuming she's still with him... by some miracle of God's good graces she's not, I have a feeling I'd feel a lot better about this but I think it's unlikely).