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I have been in a relationship with a great man for two and a half years now. Despite his good qualities and the fact that we both love each other, I have been struggling with doubts and thoughts like "am I just forcing myself into liking him? Are we really a terrible mismatch?" And the reason that I've been so unsure is that every time we get together, this uncomfortable, weird feeling of stress and anxiety creeps up on me and it lasts until we go our seperate ways again, causing me to believe that something about him is "toxic" or that this is a result of my subconsious trying to warn me and tell me that deep down, I know that he's not right for me. I've googled this alot, spoken to therapists, friends and so on, but everyone keeps telling me that they think I am overly sensitive (wich i probably am) and they all seem surprised that I have suffered from this dreadful anxiety for such a long time when, to them, it's so obvious that my boyfriend is the one causing it. Like, how can I possibly consider staying with this man when I can't even watch a movie with him without getting a headache from all the stress that's going on inside of me?
I know I'm kind of a masochist here, but the thing is, a part of me believes that I would feel like this with every man in the world and that the problem lies within myself.
I guess I should add that I had a pretty bad childhood. I grew up in a very unsafe enviroment where I couldn't trust anyone and I didn't feel loved. My mother is an alcoholic and my father wasn't around. But I just think it's weird that when I spend time with my parents (the ones who gave me the bad childhood), I feel completely at ease, but when I'm with my great and loving boyfriend, I get so anxious. It seems unfair. He is the only one who makes me feel that way, but behind all of the negative emotions, there are so many good things that I simply refuse to let him go. Also, I have always been quite the love addict, I guess it's pretty obvious that I'm trying to make up for what I lacked as a child. I'm in therapy atm, working on my childhood traumas and depression and already I can feel a new sensation of independence and growing self worth, but still I get all anxious about my boyfriend.

So, I'm wondering what this looks like to you. Is that anxious feeling I only get around him, relationship OCD? And do you have any advise on what to do about it?

 

Thank you so, so much in advance.

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Is it anxiety you believe that's got you essentially sabotaging this relationship on the inside, or is it a gut feeling that he's really not the right guy?

 

I've been there before. I've stressed myself out of relationships because it was easier for me to bail at the first signs of anything going wrong.

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It is worth asking how serious this relationship is.

 

I'm coming to the view that there is no template of how a relationship 'ought' to look. I think women in particular are socialized to spend a lot of time talking about their partner in terms of whether they are right. Who we choose as a partner is seen in our society as a big symbol of how we see ourselves and the world. It is often seen to be an expression of your life goals or world view. There is a lot of external pressure to be happy in a relationship, as if all coupled up people must be fulfilled, happy and feeling 'in love' 24/7. The first hint of a feeling of dissatisfaction and doubt and then the endless analysis begins. When our partner is seen as a reflection of ourselves, then comes the pressure to pick the right person.

 

Unless you and your boyfriend are making a commitment to sacrifice bits of your own freedoms to build a life together, then you have time to see if this relationship is long term, if long term is what you mean when you say 'right' for you. Maybe right for you is enjoying what you have now. Maybe you will have a few happy years where you two are close and then part for other things. Maybe you will make mistakes and hurt each other, as all humans do, and maybe you will get through that. But as long as you are living your life and being true to what you want, there is no big disaster that I can see coming from staying.

 

I get the impression that your unease is not because you are actually unhappy with things right now. Maybe it comes from being inexperienced with someone who is kind and attentive to your needs unlike your family. Maybe it is an OCD obsession; that indefinable bad thing that you cannot put into words. Maybe the world of pop culture, rom coms and pressure to settle down is making you question.

 

All we have is this moment. No one is given any guarantees as to what will happen tomorrow. Even the closest couples can part, the most compatible people break up, some of the most unlikely partnerships work. If you are being honest with him as to what you want and you are both happy, what is the harm? 

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