I’m 27. Raised by an emotionally unavailable mother and my father was never around as he was/is a drug user and alcoholic. I’ve spent most of my life hopping from one boyfriend to another. Most of the boyfriends were not good guys. I’ve suffered a lot of pain and heartache from the lies and betrayal of these men.
I am now in a relationship of almost a year with a wonderful man. I have a habit of wanting to break things off because my mind becomes so consumed with this individual that I feel I lose my identity. I also have a hard time being around him and his friends because I am angered when his attention is not on me. I find myself being jealous of how happy, content and at peace he is with being in a relationship because I am the opposite.
Right now he is in Boston on business. The first week of him being gone I kept myself really busy so I didn’t think too much about him being gone and didn’t get jealous when he called me to say he was having a good time. This second week has been hell. I haven’t stopped crying and I am filled to the brim with anger. I feel so childish. I am in therapy for this exact issue but I feel like it is a curse that will never go away. It’s so awful. All of this disappears when I am single, which is why I try to break it off with him all the time but the love is so strong that we come back together. My anxiety and depression heightens when he leaves town. My depression becomes so bad that I cant seem to get out of bed to do any of the things I once enjoyed doing. My friends have all told me I change (not for the better) anytime I become deeply involved with a man. Why is this? I am a young, very attractive woman with a lot to offer but this is really getting in my way of leading a lovely life. I am so desperate for any advice you may have for me. Thank you for listening.
Lost Without Him
Dear Lost Without Him,
After reading your email, my first thought was “wow.” This is mostly because I have also felt this way before. In my twenties, I always felt happier single. When I was in a relationship, I would have anxiety when boyfriends would go on vacation, on a work trip…anywhere but be with me, really.
This entire experience, what you are dealing with and feeling, seems to stem from a deep fear of abandonment and rejection. Maybe you fear his departures, even when it’s just for work, because you fear he will leave you. When you are single you don’t have to deal with this fear, which is why you feel happier when you are not in a relationship.
I also believe you need to be okay with yourself. You need to cope with your childhood. You say your mother was unavailable and your father abuses alcohol and drugs. It seems you couldn’t count on them. They were out of reach and disconnected. This may be why you need so much attention from your boyfriend, why you freak out when he’s having fun without you or he’s not near. You have a need to be loved and coddled because you didn’t get this from your parents.
I am no therapist, and I am so happy that you are seeking help. Still, what stands out to me is your fear of abandonment and your need to be accepted, loved, and reassured. Once you accept your childhood you can move on and will stop treating your man like he’s a culprit. Learn to let the past go so you can live your relationship here and now.