How to Strengthen Your Relationship/Insecure

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Hi,

I am 27 and have been with my boyfriend for a year and 3 months.  I have been in emotionally abusive relationships before and have been through a lot of painful living and learning...  my parent's relationship is terrible and I had to break out of that model.  The first year of my current relationship was over the moon.  He is a caring, sensitive, dependable guy who tells me he loves me almost every day.  I am his first serious relationship, the first girl he ever loved.

Over the last 3 months I have had a growing insecurity that this relationship is going to crash and burn, just like my other ones.  I am scared that I am creating a self-fulfilling prophesy, because I am hyper-focused on what's wrong in the relationship rather than on what's right.  I have become really anxious and feel depressed in the mornings when I think about it-- like there is nothing I can possibly do to be loved forever by one person.  Even this one guy, who I thought could be the one, is going to eventually stop loving me.  It has affected our communication as I mostly try to hide my anxiety from him.  I had wanted to move in together this summer (we haven't discussed it yet) but now am afraid to bring it up because I sense he's not ready, maybe is having second thoughts about me.

He is also 27, but he is somewhat boyish and immature.  His way of flirting is to tease me a lot, which I hate (and have told him so).  He has mostly cut back on that.  He also is just less affectionate and googley-eyed over me, which I know is normal for our stage, but I compare our relationship to my friends' relationships and am always focused on how ours should be more like theirs'.  He seems less proud of me, doesn't listen to me attentively the way he used to, and the affectionate, passionate eye contact has decreased.  He still tells me he loves me spontaneously, says things like "i love cooking you dinner" and we do most things together (family and friends stuff).  There is romance and extra-lovingness in spurts, but it doesn't feel like its sticking to me.

Part of me is so scared he will eventually hurt me that I want to just leave him now.  The other part is willing to do almost anything to keep him around.  He mentioned recently that he wants us to flirt more, for me to keep him on his toes, which I know is a reaction to my decreased lightheartedness and my increased anxiety.  I also interpret it as him no longer being satisfied with me.

I'm searching for a therapist currently because I know I have emotional issues which are coloring everything else, but I want to find better ways to communicate what I feel and what I want now, because I know therapy takes time.  How can I reopen communication with him, let him in to the anxiety and insecurities without making him feel responsible?  And is there any way to get more romance?  I'm scared to suggest things because I'm so afraid he'll reject them.

Any advice?  I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water.  Thank you!

Answer
Hello Amy,

As I read your post, you seem to answer almost every concern the way I would, but I will go through them and hope what I say can make a difference. Having gone through abusive relationship sand seeing your parents bad marriage, I am so pleased that you have made a conscious effort to break the pattern. That means you are aware of where you have come from, but it also seems to have tipped you to become over-sensitive or a bit too analytical.

Your relationship is right where it should be. As you know, the "honeymoon stage" does not last forever. As a result, when the passion and excitement have started to wane, you have become worried and are looking at everything through a microscope, almost looking for a problem, rather than enjoying what you have. I would love you to look at this piece (http://couplescommittedtolove.com/a/reports/passion-fades/). It will not only help quell your distress by showing you that what you are going through is normal, but how to claim romance again.

I know that you are aware of what you are doing, and I would suggest a therapist, but you are searching for one already. You should be aware that although you want this relationship to work out, we go through relationships that don't work out so we can get to the one that does. I hope that this is the one for you, but if it's not, you have to realize that there's another one in your future and with each one you are learning what you need and what you can offer for the one that will last a lifetime.

Why have you not told him your concerns? It sounds as if your communication with one another could still improve a bit. And, I know it's difficult NOT to compare your relationship with others, but you really can't. Maybe you see your relationship lacking what your friends have, but you don't see the whole picture, what they do behind closed doors, their little fights, disputes, disagreements, and idiosyncrasies. You need to look at your relationship as a single entity for what it is, and not for how it's different than your friends' relationships.

You seem to really care for this guy, but also have found things you want to change about him. You have given yourself two extreme choices: leave him now because he might hurt you or do anything you can to keep him around. Neither of those are most healthy. Find a balance where you don't sacrifice your needs and desires to keep him around for fear that you won't find anyone else. But, also don't sabotage what you have so you won't get hurt.

I hate to admit it, but getting hurt is part of the program when you involve yourself in love. Love is risky business. We put are hearts on the line, and if it doesn't work out ( and remember, for every happy marriage, there are a string of broken hearts that have lead there) we get hurt.  The reason we do this is because once we find the one, all the previous pain is worth it.

So, to answer your questions, start communicating with him by using "I" statements (http://couplescommittedtolove.com/a/reports/make-it-all-about-you/). As far as romance, look at that first link I gave you. Also, feel free to check my daily tips (http://couplescommittedtolove.com/a/americas-romance-guru/daily-tip/) and you can sign up for my free monthly newsletter that reminds couples each month to keep romance alive in their relationships (http://couplescommittedtolove.com/a/)...right side of the page.

I hope that helps. Be sure you give your man some credit. He's been with you for 15 months. It's obvious he cares. He wants this to work as much as you. If he didn't he would be gone. Accept who he is, and telling him what you are going through and work on this together.

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