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Codependency or Fear of Commitment?
January 22, 2015
9:57 pm
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sywhite
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January 22, 2015
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I am a 34 yo single mother of a 4yo and also in grad school.  My friend/boyfriend is a 44 yo who is a professor at my university (i have never been his student) and has never been married.  Admittedly, our romantic relationship was ill timed, as we were both newly out of semi-abusive relationships when we started dating one another.  We had been friends for 5-6 years prior to dating one another.  We began dating last summer and when we spent time together it was incredibly intense and emotional (in a good way).  I think we were both relieved to find someone that understood and listened, so much so that we would sit and talk for hours, and in all of the time we dated we never went to a movie or watched netflix.  Even with this strong emotional understanding it was rough for me, BF would be out-of-range for a few days with no texts, emails or calls then he would pop back up and send incredible, cerebral and dense emails.  I decided BF was a person that needed a lot of alone time and that I needed to decide if that kind of relationship was ok with me. I made a list of pros and cons and ultimately concluded that he was stretching me in ways that I needed to be stretched and that being uncomfortable wasn't such a bad condition, in this case perhaps it meant growth.  

This whole time my instincts were picking up on his anxiety though and it was making me anxious, especially because I couldn't understand where it was coming from and whether or not I should take it personally.  I generally try not to take other people's emotions personally, unless I am feeling guilt from doing something I know was out of line.  

At month two I was becoming uncomfortable because we hadn't discussed our status or parameters as a couple and I was really falling hard for BF. One night we both drank too much as we sat around the kitchen table talking about everything for hours and hours and he blurted out that he wanted to see other people, too, that he wasn't sure he was ready for a serious relationship.  I was pissed, but decided that these were his boundaries and I needed to choose what I wanted.  I chose to continue to date him, stating that if he were to start dating someone else he must inform me and he promised with no hesitation.  

I began architecture grad school and was absolutely shocked at the intensity and time commitment required (as everyone is who does architecture) as well as the mind games and manipulations of my professors and fellow grad students.  It is a highly ranked program and very competitive.  My BF put up with so much as I navigated the stress and lack of sleeping and eating along with my part time job and caring for my son (whom I only had 50% custody).  He absolutely scraped me off the ground or talked me down 3-4 times.  I have never been so out of sorts in my whole life, but it wasn't only my condition, everyone in my grad studio had either visibly gained or lost weight, lost their significant others and or lost their jobs in those first few months.  We were very much controlled in every part of our lives with unknown deadlines, unattainably high standards, assignments given at 11pm on Saturday night or 9am Sunday morning and every other day of the week and work being ripped apart in front of our eyes or the opposite, completely ignored.  All of this to say, I wasn't a great GF, I was completely substandard, but I was doing my best and I never disrespected him intentionally or knowingly in any way. 

BF began having panic attacks.  I sat through a few of them with him, they seemed to be increasing in frequency.  The disappearing for a couple days continued, always with explanations of his trips to his dad's house in the mountains (he does take care of his ailing father in the mountains where cell reception is poor).  I was too scared to broach the subject of our relationship status but at the same time I was certain he wasn't seeing anyone else, I could rely upon his introversion (much like my own) and his social anxiety. We had a couple of fights that weren't really fights, but heated discussion where he struggled to communicate his feelings (I blame exGF for that, she was very verbally abusive and controlling, I knew her) and I tried to encourage his feelings and opinions by listening and not being judgmental.  

As for sex, we had very intense, emotional sex.  Sometimes I would cry without knowing why.  It was often, at least once a day when we saw one another and twice when we slept together.  There was a peculiar issue though, BF could not come inside of me.  He wasn't overly concerned about impregnating me, I think he'd almost be happy about that.  It felt like he couldn't ever quite let go (emotionally), as if he'd given me so much of his intimate side, he couldn't fully surrender sexually.  He would come, but from masturbation, by my hands or his, etc.  

I began seeing a therapist, at BF's encouragement (he already saw his own), and started to see a pattern in BF's taking off and lack of commitment and how these issues triggered my own abandonment issues which made me seek his company for reassurance.  BF and I talked about it some, but I worried about triggering his issues.  

As my stress increased in school, I became less able to regulate and monitor my behaviors, I became more brave and open with my feelings.  I think this added to BF's panic attacks.  At the same time we were still becoming more intimate, open and comfortable with one another and I became more anxious at the lack of commitment.  We were 100% playing the roles of significant other, he accompanied me to a few doctor's appointments, an award ceremony and we were staying together 3-4 nights per week, he also bought my son birthday presents and took us on day hikes.  

My ex-husband started complaining about the custody arrangement and was less and less willing to help with my son, he texted me while I was in a class that "he just thought I should know that he had met someone. She's a nurse, she has kids and she's divorced too." he went on " I'm really happy. That's who I'm spending Thanksgiving with and we are going away on a trip the weekend after, too.  I just thought I should let you know because it will probably affect you."  Ex was supposed to help me out so I could have some sans-kid time to work on my final project, research paper and other class assignments the final week of class and then he backed out via text about his new, fabulous g/f that he had met 2 weeks prior! I was shocked, this behavior was completely foreign for Ex. I felt backed into a corner with no way out and panicked.  BF was away at dad's and again I felt alone, I was also having health issues (no doubt from the stress/lack of sleep) suddenly.  I emailed and called BF and demanded/begged him to call me.  I told him that I really needed him, and I did, I needed someone on my side, someone that would have my back.  He finally called, after I spent Thanksgiving alone with my 4yo, with no family, three days later.  I fell apart, and could hardly talk to him.  Two days later we had dinner as usual and talked about everything, including my ex, for about 3 hours, he had some very good insights and then he dumped me. He said that we were in a co-dependent relationship and that we were both co-dependent.  I was then, finally, able to tell him how I felt about everything, funny how that works.  I wasn't cruel or catty.  I was matter-of-fact, as I am learning I always am, even when I am in extreme pain.  I never realized how I come across, even when I'm spilling my guts. 

BF(for the sake of consistency...and sad hope) and I talked a couple times after that, but very guardedly.  Then, about a week before xmas, and also my birthday, he went silent. I emailed the night before b-day and told him I couldn't do this anymore and said goodbye. I coped by going on dates.  I went on 5 different dates throughout winter break, while also working on a huge research paper, and was utterly uninterested in anything any of them had to say (and they were a varied lot!).  I was in the process of packing to move to a new townhouse at the very beginning of the new semester and planning the move when a close friend (who has terrible boundaries and can be manipulative) texted me that she had emailed BF and asked him to help me move b/c I needed more help and he had responded that he'd be glad to help. She then told me to arrange it with him.  So, I called him and he talked to me for almost 2 hours on the phone.  He helped me move all day and then I offered to buy him dinner and he responded "of course!" with a lovely smile.  He ordered oysters and proceeded to shuck and feed them to me, in his reserved but sweet way.  He dropped me at my new house with a long embrace and nothing more and offered to help the next day too, if need be.  I was so sad.  I had tried not to be hopeful. The next day I got an email from him that basically said "thanks for dinner. i'm glad you got moved, i think you will be very happy in your new place." I realized he had sent it an hour after dropping me off and I hadn't gotten it.  

Since then, I've seen him at school a few times.  Dropped a book off to him at his office and he invited me to stay and chat.  Looking around at his office I realized that he still had the b-day card I had given him and the thank you card and the little drawing I had made for him pinned to his wall as well as the bit of b-day wrapping paper in a pile of "keep" documents. 

I told him that I was practicing being single and he looked up surprised. He said, "oh, single is hard!" "it's hard not to get stuck in the lonely of it all" and he said all of this with great concern.  What the hell does that mean?!  Is he so co-dependent that he is utterly without bias as to whether or not I date? or is he insinuating that I should date him?

 

I've been thinking and reading a lot about co-dependency.  I'm baffled.  My therapist doesn't think I am co-dependent.  I think perhaps I have a few traits, but they are things I've been working on and steadily improving, for instance: being too cautious of others' feelings and needs, and avoiding conflict.  

BF looked at me on the stairs of my new place, caught my eye and held my gaze, with such love and intensity and warmth I thought he was going to kiss me in front of everyone.  He didn't.  

 

I love him, I want him to be ok. I want to be ok too, though.  

January 26, 2015
2:36 pm
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free.
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If you are not co dependent like you think then what does your therapist diagnose you with?

April 26, 2015
2:40 pm
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jane150
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