Been there, done that

Been there, done that

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A column answering real questions based on personal experiences

By Sydney Rosenthal

I just started seeing someone and I am really unsure sometimes. I go through these cycles of overthinking and worrying that make me cry and need space from him or want to end it all, but as soon as I let it all out, I am back to being completely into him. How do I stop this cycle? It is very much me and not about any behavior of his.

I think it’s very kind of you to say that it has nothing to do with him, but be gentle on yourself. Uncertainty can come from stress, from a relationship that isn’t well  defined or from insecurities on both ends. It’s good that you aren’t blaming your partner. However, there are issues that you both need to overcome in order to have a healthy relationship. I found myself in a similar situation in a past relationship and I’m going to suggest things you should do and tell you about my mistakes so you don’t make them, too.

If you haven’t already, try to think about what you would want your partner to say or do during these periods of uncertainty. Do you want space? Do you need physical touch? How about words of affirmation? If your partner is unaware that you are going through this, I would recommend letting him know. It’s admittedly a little far fetched to hope that everything can be solved with a conversation but my therapist always pushes for directedness. 

I definitely did not have a direct conversation with my partner when I was going through this. I found that journaling with the intent to identify triggers that made me feel insecure helped me the most. For example, I realized that I would feel panicked when my partner talked about his exes, asked about my future, mentioned my mental health or  brought up having a family. I then spent time identifying why those triggers made me spiral. To do this, I journaled a lot and talked with my close friends, therapist and mom. 

It was helpful to talk to people who had different levels of bias and who viewed the relationship through different lenses. I realized that I felt pressured to be perfect and have my life set out and I was scared that if I faltered, my partner would break up with me. You probably have different triggers and fears but I’m hoping that by sharing mine you can start the process of uncovering yours. 

It was hard to come to terms with the fact that my partner was not going to break up with me because I wasn’t perfect. To counteract my fear, I bought him a lot of gifts, wrote cards, and even ended up invading his privacy to read his journal. Crazy, I know, and it was even worse seeing that he truly did care about me. 

In hindsight, I wish that I had just sat down and had a conversation with him. There would have been no guarantee that he could reassure or that he would have been open with his emotions but I wish I had given him the chance. 

There is nothing wrong with being unsure about a relationship, especially in the beginning. It is safer to ease into things emotionally and maybe your subconscious is holding you back. Take your time to feel things out and  make sure you’re processing your emotions along the way.  

If in a month you’re still having these feelings maybe take that as a red flag. I used to push on with relationships that I knew weren’t healthy because I viewed  changing or ending them as failure. Changing the definition of a relationship is not failing. In my experience, every positive relationship I’ve had is built on a strong friendship, one that consists of honesty, openness and trust. Don’t rush into anything and don’t feel pressured by anyone to follow a timeline. 

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