Jump to content
DebbieDowner

Why is it so hard to accept love?

Recommended Posts

I have been very open about my anxiety and depression since we started dating. He is supportive and understanding, and even better, doesn’t agree with my irrational insecurities and says I’m perfect. I still believe my anxiety will be a chore to deal with and feel guilty that he’a choosing to be with me. 
I’m very comfortable being alone and often regret embarking on a relationship, knowing how much additional anxiety it brings me. I usually end up pushing someone away within the first couple months and I don’t want to do that with this one. So far, there has been so much good in this relationship that it’s outweighing the anxiety, but I constantly worry that my irrational overthinking will catch up. 
I’m mostly just posting to see if someone feels similar and so we can all feel less alone in our struggles. 
Thank you

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, I am sorry you are feeling like this.

We never see ourselves with the eyes of other people, do we? I am speaking for myself here, but I have always found it hard to recieve love or recognition for things I have done (well). For the simple fact that I pretty much beat myself every chance I get.

Apparently it's extremely hard to accept love if one doesn't love oneself very much. I don't think I have ever really liked myself very much and whenever someone is kind to me, I think that it's unwarranted, as they don't know how truly defective and effed up  I really am..

Now, I don't know if any of this applies to you at all, but I have heard that giving oneself some credit, being kind to onself, can go a long way to accepting love and also appreciation and goodwill that other people harbor towards you.

All the best, @DebbieDowner. Never let anyone say you don't deserve the very best!!

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe it is another part of the irrational thinking caused by depression and anxiety.  We think we are unlovable.  samadhiSheol said it very well.

You are being honest with this person, so if he likes/loves you, he is making his own decision.  Accept it.  All the best to you both.

Off topic question:  How do you make someone's site name display in a message?  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, DebbieDowner said:

I’m mostly just posting to see if someone feels similar and so we can all feel less alone in our struggles.

Since you created some space to do so, I'll share my anxieties about getting real close to someone. 

I can't let myself fully love another person because I'm afraid once they see the real me, what lies beneath the veneer, that they'll abandon me. Of course, what I'm calling "the real me" is just a list of bits of myself that I don't like or am embarrassed about. It's a long list. 

When something good happens, something bad is sure to follow. This is untrue but it has happened enough times that my anxiety-disorder brain believes it is protecting me by convincing me to be joy-averse. Did this begin when I was child and someone put a Jack-in-the-box in front of me? Happy melody and then suddenly... Cherophobia. I don't need to wait for the puppet to spring out and startle me anymore, the melody alone now causes panic. This is a metaphor for how my last long-term relationship ended.

Love means being vulnerable and I can't be vulnerable while protecting my most sensitive bits in armor. Take off the armor, you say... with a smile as inviting as a barbed wire fence? Do you understand you're asking me to remove the layer that helped me survive this far?

I'm accustomed to regulating my erratic emotions all by myself but when I'm with a nurturing partner, they want to help me. I want to let them. I don't know how. I don't have a manual for that. Experimentation rhymes with frustration. And leads to isolation. Forget it just let me do it myself!

I'm trapped between the fear of losing all autonomy and identity to the relationship and the fear of the two of us gradually drifting apart. It's the trash compactor scene from the original Star Wars movie. 

 

Thanks for creating space for me to express my struggles with anxiety and relationships, @DebbieDowner. I hope you feel less alone. 😅

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, @Atra, thank you so much for sharing your experience!  I wanted to respond to this topic but could not figure out how to explain.  You found the words I could not find.

The one big difference is that I have not had relationships because of my fear.  ("Better safe than sorry.")  I want so badly to give to someone; I cannot even imagine receiving.  Fortunately, my parents are still alive and we have a good, adult relationship.  That relationship is my 'rock'.  When "that day" 😢 comes, my world ends.   There is more to the situation, but this is the main point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@jkd_sd I feel the same way about being able to give and not receive, it seems selfish to me because I feel I don’t deserve it. But being able to do anything to make people I care about happy is enough for me to feel good, I don’t want the attention turned back on me.  

@Atra I love your metaphors and I often use them to try to make sense of my feelings. One of my anxieties is being a perfectionist and not having a rule book for something like love or sex makes it so hard for me. I can’t accept the abstract and have such a fear of making a mistake or doing it wrong. I know this is irrational but I just can’t get past it.
Having a person that wants to help me work through it and is not pressuring but understanding almost makes it worse. I don’t want to be some chore for you and to burden you with my issues, you could just move on and find someone easy. It’s such a toxic mental spiral that I end up in.

I’ve been single for most of my life and that has become my comfort zone, and like you said I have been able to manage my “erratic emotions”, that having someone to help me and love me feels so foreign. And therefore creates so much anxiety that I just shut down, mentally and physically, when I should be excited about this new prospect in my life. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to say that I appreciate and value the reactions and reflections to what's been written here 🙏. Conversations about our struggles to accept and receive love or kindness (or even recognition) interest me and perhaps the 200 or more views of this thread suggest that interest is widely shared. 

Do we want to carry on with the discussion? Let's see.

I wish I knew exactly what it is about accepting love, good attention, compliments, that makes me super anxious. Maybe that's too deep a question, maybe an easier one is sussing out what kind of anxieties arise in us. 

On 1/21/2020 at 9:03 AM, samadhiSheol said:

Apparently it's extremely hard to accept love if one doesn't love oneself very much.

I felt a burning coal form in my stomach reading this, it is so very on-the-nose. and...

On 1/21/2020 at 9:03 AM, samadhiSheol said:

they don't know how truly defective and effed up  I really am.

About myself, I call this the "beyond broken" anxiety. I get a deep, sinking feeling. This means I'm a burden as @DebbieDowner wrote; I'm somebody's project. 

On 1/22/2020 at 9:30 AM, jkd_sd said:

I want so badly to give to someone; I cannot even imagine receiving.

I feel that wanting too. Aside from whether or not we truly love ourselves, what do you think it is about pleasing others that feels so good, what "flavor" of anxiety arises when we don't know if we can? Is it a sense of pride that we have so much to give? 

On 1/22/2020 at 11:04 AM, DebbieDowner said:

One of my anxieties is being a perfectionist and not having a rule book for something like love or sex makes it so hard for me.

Yep. I need to be perfect - competent, at very least - the first time I do anything else I'm a loser. For me it feels like embarrassment and deficiency anxieties. Love and sex. Oh god just tell me what you want. Communicate your needs and I'll provide! I navigate sex by trying to create a safe space and then encouraging (grilling might a more honest word) a partner to divulge what to them is stimulating, fulfilling. Honestly this takes the attention off of me - because I don't want to stumble through answers to those questions! Believing in advance that my needs can't be met, I will instead settle for praise like you make me feel loved. You're a very attentive partner. You're good in bed. Sounds a little like (but isn't) fulfillment. Ego is not my amigo. Ego is ever-hungry, there is no fulfillment to be found there. 

Finally, I was listening to the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast today and heard this conversation about acute anxiety, career success and people-pleasing:

 

As soon as you like/love me the idea that you could let me down or that you'd realize that I'm not actually so great - that's actually at the heart of the paralyzing fear.

I want them to keep liking me because it feels so good. I'd be on a high and I'd think, "great, now I never wanna do that again because I just wanna leave on a high note while they still like me."
And I'll never be able to recreate that. I just got lucky there because my core message that's instilled in me is that I'm not good enough. It was a total fluke.
 

 

Does any of the above conversation seem familiar? There was that one perfect moment when you performed well or the one relationship that is ideal, upon which so much rests. If you were to never try to recreate that, you can't fail, disappoint, cause another to realize they don't really like you that much. How the thought of that failure intensifies feelings. Anyone have a lived experience with that? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought I'd chime in here with my take on things. Sorry if I'm not going with the flow here, I just wanted to add my thoughts to the discussion. I think it's a good one.

Crikey, relationships. I think they are the hardest things on earth for us to contend with. They are our main source of despair but also a great resource for learning about each other and ourselves. 

Man, have I struggled with them. My last 10 year relationship was an endurance test. Some days it felt like scaling everest, it was so hard to manage my thoughts and emotions around the whole thing. 

But I was bloody minded and determined.  I was not gonna give up or let this thing go through my insecurity.  I made sure that whatever it took, I would persevere and see it through. If I had insecurities I would take them upstairs or into the garden and wrestle with them until they passed. They did pass and I could then get on with the good stuff.

I'm so glad I saw it through and didn't back away from it. I learnt so much and I can rest easy knowing that I did everything I could to keep that relationship healthy.  Things do change, relationships may end but that's a learning process too. It hurts but you learn and next time, you have that much more confidence and experience to bring with you.

My advice is this: Live it. See it through. Throw yourself in. We can't escape ourselves, we may as well face up to our ugly stuff and dissolve it. Experience is a great teacher and so much more interesting than abstinence.

If I'm contradicting anyone, I'm sorry. This is just my opinion, it doesn't have to be anyone else's.  😊

Edited by Nightjar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not hard for me to accept love.  People have used love as a weapon against me my whole life.  I don't believe anyone that has ever said I love you to me in my life actually loved me.  They were lying the whole time and they knew it.  They know I'm a very emotional person so they strategically used the word to manipulate me and trick me any time they could.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@sober4life I’m so sorry that has been your experience. Not only do we all deserve love (even though we might not believe that), we also deserve it be honest and true

@Nightjar I think you’re definitely going with the flow here! Being such an introspective person, for better or worse, I reflect a lot on my past experiences, including relationships. It has led me to understand myself better and be able to recognize certain patterns in my thought and behavior. This thinking is also to my detriment and I use these patterns as validation for negative feelings I have of myself, rather than accepting them and seeing positives in myself over time. (“I do this every time, Ill never change, I deserve to be alone”) I think that is a beautiful mantra, that experience is more interesting than abstinence..and I think in the end, more fulfilling. 
 

@Atra thank you for your thoughts around sex, I think it’s great that you have been able to carve out some sort of plan that works for you. Recently I found those grilling questions pointed at me, in a loving way only to better understand me, not in a hostile or forceful way. What frustrates me most is that I don’t have answers to these questions, not that I’m embarrassed to share them or don’t believe my needs would be met. And I agree that some form of praise is all I need to feel good.

Thank you for sharing that quote from the podcast. I am very good at putting on a face and acting cool and fun and easygoing, when I first meet someone. It’s like a game to me to see if I can get someone to fall for me, my alternate persona. I know once they get to the “real me”, they won’t like it or I’ll be so insecure that I’ll push them away. What’s so distressing is when it appears that someone does like the me underneath this shell. But I can’t get past the questions, are both personas still me? And I’m just so used to playing the part of lonely and sad, that anything else feels like acting? If I play that part enough, could I accept that I really am cool and fun and easygoing as well as lonely and sad, and that’s ok?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I learned to love someone else, it expanded my small dark world. I had feelings that I never experienced before and it made me happy again like when I was a child.

My soul was like a rusty old junkyard and when I learned to love it was like someone just visited one day and started fixing the place up with new life.

Sometimes you might feel sadness or worry because things long rooted.

I ended up getting betrayed but all the feelings of love still made me feel alive. The passion, the fear, the hurt, knowing for a moment someone cared about you and it made me feel alive and human.

I could have stayed in my small world but I gave someone new a chance and I do not regret it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/24/2020 at 4:52 PM, DebbieDowner said:

@Atra thank you for your thoughts around sex, I think it’s great that you have been able to carve out some sort of plan that works for you.

Worked for me, it no longer is working for me to be the emotional and sexual pleaser. I'm in midlife, time is no longer limitless so I'm now just slightly more afraid of living without my needs ever being met than I am being embarrassed and ashamed of them/asking for them. 

On 1/24/2020 at 4:52 PM, DebbieDowner said:

What frustrates me most is that I don’t have answers to these questions, not that I’m embarrassed to share them or don’t believe my needs would be met. And I agree that some form of praise is all I need to feel good.

I don't know how to find answers to your questions either but I do believe that asking questions is better than living in the dark. Your needs exist, they've always been there. I realize now that my needs actually do exist, I just put them so far out of reach.

Taking responsibility for my sexual and emotional needs instead of pushing that task on partner is what I'm on about. But, I'm still pretty out of touch with my needs, by which I mean I've largely disowned them.

Expressing those needs once I get in touch with them is another problem. I learned recently how I'm still quite afraid to tell a partner the needs I actually do know - fear of abandonment, shame and embarrassment. But that's a much better problem if it means the real, whole me will be seen by someone I love and not some empty version of me. To fulfill another's needs without fulfilling my own means I cannot be loved by me or them. When I'm truly seen then I can be truly loved. It follows, I think, that I will be able accept love when it will be for the authentic version of me - sexual and emotional me -if that makes sense?

I have a lot of work to do and habits are hard to break. Please let me know if you find any shortcuts? I like shortcuts! 😜

Edited by Atra

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m sorry to hear that what was working is no longer. I’m sure it feels very frustrating and defeating. And yes, what you’re saying makes sense, and the fact that you are able to reflect on and express how you’re feeling now, is a win on some level. I’m also at a point where I can identify my habits and where I need to go moving forward, but there’s still something blocking my way. But I try to remind myself that acknowledging this is a step forward and through each experience, positive or negative, we are learning and understanding ourselves better, which I believe can only help us in the future. 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am sorry to hear this, I understand you, sometimes it seems to us that we are not worthy of the love of someone, that this love is not real. I try to fight this, but nothing works. Wish you luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just here to say that I feel the same. I am 49, and have never had a committed relationship. I have ended many relationships with wonderful women due to paralyzing anxiety, fight or flight response, when things start to progress towards long term commitment. I don't know if it's the fear of losing them, an aspect of depression, or commitment phobia. Maybe some of all three.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...