Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Self-care strategy #6: find someone who gives a damn about me

Confession: finally got myself into a relationship. Given what an oddball I am, of course the bf ends up equally if not weirder than me. Most gratifying aspect of this relationship so far: the guy never invalidates my feelings, which so far has the greatest gaping wound in my life. My parents never take my feelings seriously; my friends and extended family are bored out of their minds about my rants and complaints. I know it won't last forever, but so far the guy actually listens to my babbles.  I'm used to people asking for my opinions and then ignoring them completely (I've have some not so supportive friends in my life), I'm always shocked when he agrees to go to a restaurant I pick, or see a movie that I suggest, or when he manages to validate my rants ("Sounds like you've been feeling misunderstood and ignored",  etc.) I feel like a small child for needing so much reassurance but it's really nice to be pampered like this.

Things I learn about myself: how severely insecure I am. For the first few months of the relationship, I kept expecting the guy to suddenly cut me off because I am too annoying or he figured out he made a mistake or he met someone who's a better fit for him. This stems from the fact that I have had many eligible guy friends whom I had crushes on who would tell me they think I'm a really nice girl but then go on to pursue prettier, more fun-loving, sweeter girls. I googled obsessively terms like "how can I tell if a guy likes me"; "What do men look for in a relationship"; "what qualities do men like about women", "why do guys fear commitment"; "why do men cheat"..... You get the drift. I was always the one who asked if he would be free the next weekend. During the week I would be in despair if he doesn't text me, so I would text him every night, and if he doesn't answer, I would be sad that I miss him more than he misses me, and I would nervously google "Do overly clingy girls drive men away". It's been several months now and judging from his manners I am finally reassured that he does enjoy spending time with me and that he doesn't get annoyed when I ask him to hang out on a week night. He's just not the proactive chaser type.

The learning curve: figuring out what types of Issues in daily life that deeply bothers the guy. I thought it's usually the girl in a relationship who are picky about the little things, but in this case it's the guy who complains that I installed new toilet paper rolls "the wrong way" (Seriously?). He hates the show "The Big Bang Theory" with a vengeance because he thinks the show paints an extremely belittling image of the nerd stereotype and people just laugh at nerds' awkwardness rather than intelligently humorous scripting (For me it's just a funny show and the main character is amazing at performing physical comedy and delivering the lines in a purposeful way). There are many other TV shows and issues that seem to seriously irriate him, which I cannot understand at the moment because they seem quite trivial to me. Since he's been so sensitive to my feelings, I don't want to invalidate how he feels, but I have been having some trouble seeing it from his perspective as to why he feels so strongly about those issues. The positive part is that since I don't have strong feelings about those issues myself, they don't stir up my emotions so we won't get into arguments over these things. I just have to be careful not to say things that might sound like invalidation, which I have done a few times by accident.

So far I feel pretty good about the status of the relationship, but to be honest I already think about coping strategies if a break up happens in the near future. This is a bad habit from being trapped in 6 years of grad school with way too little progress/accomplishments for the amount of time and efforts I put in. I keep thinking anout worse scenarios and making contingency plans for the case where I have to graduate with zero publications and that I get zero support from the supervisor in terms of career planning (I could teach English in Asia; I think I am competent enough to work at Starbucks, etc. That's how confident I feel about my education). The thing is nobody gives a damn that I felt this way, which made me felt like going to this particular grad school was the worst life choice I have ever made, and I have been regretting it ever since. Doesn't help that I had a fling about a year ago that didn't turn well, which was anticipated, but I was in this strange emotional mess such that I would burst into tears whenever the thought of that guy popped up in my mind. That's when I understood what people mean when they say "love is an addiction". I can be all scientifically minded about observing myself, and even finding it fascinating, but it doesn't stop me from being an emotional train wreck. The compulsive analyzer in me knows that the crying spells and heartaches will happen all over again should a break up happens soon, but the rational observer in me thinks the prognosis of this relationship is looking good for now. I'm crazy, I know. My family doctor one year ago refused to recommend psychotherapy (coz he doesn't believe in it; he trusts the anti-depressants more), so here I am analyzing myself to death. 

And the self-care efforts continue...


4 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your relatively new relationship! I understand all the feelings of insecurity and uncertainty you are having, because I've had them all before (from a guy's perspective, of course!). But nobody can know what will happen in the future. Whatever happens, so long as you do your best to be honest with yourself and with him, anything that happens will be the right thing.

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    1. Thanks for the reassurance Nobel. Maybe in another few months my neurosis will calm down a bit :P

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  2. Y, it is quite normal to analyze ourselves "till" death (I don't know about to death). I think that is kind of our main job. We make a mess when we criticize ourselves to death. let others do that. Always be on your team. Even when you screw up. Good loyal friends do that.

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    1. Thanks Maria. I guess like you said, I'm not myself's most loyal friend and maybe I should change that :)

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