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Old 08-16-2018, 06:32 PM   #1
kiwi215
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Default I Feel Like I Can't Love (Romantically)

(Background: 23-year-old straight female. Basically zero attachment to either parent or any kind of parental figure in childhood. Emotional neglect/abuse. Was never diagnosed with an attachment disorder, but I have BPD and the criterion related to attachment is a huge one for me... I get intensely attached to females who are a little older than me... like a mom... then am devastated when they leave my life.)

So I feel like I can't love someone romantically. I've never been in a long-term relationship. My record is I think 3 or 4 dates, only "dated" a couple guys, and have occasionally had meaningless, impulsive one-night stands with guys I had never met. I rarely feel romantic attraction. I don't even know that I would call it that. Perhaps there have been one or two guys who I looked at and/or knew and felt like, hey, there's a little something about them that's kind of attractive, I guess... The few dates I've been on were mostly because I just wanted to try it out or I couldn't say no. I don't think I'm asexual or anything like that. I feel pretty confident that I'm straight too because I like sex with guys and couldn't imagine sex with a woman. So I don't think that this is a matter of sexuality (although I've questioned it for sure, especially given that I can hardcore attach to females and idealize them and just want to be around them all the time and hug them, etc., but that's really more of a I-want-a-mother kind of thing; the idea of having sex or a romantic relationship with these people is super uncomfortable). I will note that I recently feel an interest in this one guy, who must be roughly 10 years older than me, maybe a little less, but he was actually one of my college teachers (he was a doctoral student at the time studying psychology, teaching one of my psychology classes... I was a psych major). I think the main part of the attraction is that I'm attracted to his intelligence. I don't necessarily see him as "hot" appearance-wise, but then again, there aren't very many guys out there, if any, that I look at and think, "Damn, he's good lookin." (But I do that with females sometimes... with their facial beauty... and those are the kind of people I attach to).

I do want to get married one day and have kids and all that. It sounds nice. But whenever I try to imagine myself living with a partner and being that close to someone, I just can't really fully imagine it. Trusting someone that much, being so close, being comfortable enough to share my entire life with them, raise kids with them, be tied together... wow. I just feel like I'm not capable of that.

So I ask myself why this might be...? Of course I do definitely think a big part of this has to do with my attachment style as a child and lack of attachment to my mother and the emotional neglect/abuse and all that. But I want to understand it better. And most of all I want to know that it is possible for me to love romantically...

I have Borderline PD, and I also once had a therapist suggest to me that perhaps I have Avoidant PD or at least some traits of that as well, but when I told her that I DO desire that kind of close romantic relationship, she was like oh, nevermind. I do have Social Anxiety Disorder, so I'm sure this is part of the issue... When I go on dates, I just get so anxious and am so concerned with how that person sees me that I just can't relax. So that gets in the way, but I feel like there's something more. I still feel like, even if I could get past the anxiety and start to relax and have a good time, I still feel like it would be hard or next to impossible for me to fall in love with someone. Now maybe it's just because I haven't experienced that yet? I guess that would make sense... It's hard to imagine something you haven't experienced yet. BUT STILL. I just have this feeling that it's almost not possible for me to love romantically. I feel too emotionally damaged.

Also of note, I didn't have a whole lot of friends growing up and I still don't. Again, anxiety has gotten in the way... but I still feel like there's more too it. I remember one time on the playground when I was in maybe 1st or 2nd grade, a girl started talking to me and then asked me "Do you want to be best friends?" I remember that feeling SO WEIRD to me. And maybe kind of scary? (I think I said sure to her or something like that because I wanted to be polite, but nothing came of this anyway). I did not want to be best friends with her. Why? Maybe it was that "best friends" seemed so intense and like there were strings attached... like I would have to suddenly put all this effort into a relationship and there would be a lot of pressure. I also remember feeling like why would I want that? I was more comfortable playing alone, but I'm not sure if that's because I was indifferent/disintereseted in having a "best friend" or because I was too anxious to enjoy the company of someone like that (this girl I didn't know who randomly came up to me on the playground one day). Again, I had a couple friends, but I wasn't all that enthralled with them I guess... they were more like people whom I could feel comfortable sitting with at the lunch table and having at my birthday parties. These were people whom I had grown accustomed to through being in the same classes and slowly getting used to them and then being able to at least mildly enjoy their presence and not be too anxious. But I digress... back to the question of if my avoidance was due solely to anxiety or indifference/lack of interest or a combination of both... I *think* what I have come to is that it's mostly anxiety. I have considered perhaps that maybe I have some Schizoid PD traits, like being a loner/outsider and not really having close relationships. I also from the outside probably appear to be aloof and emotionless and unaffected by praise/criticism, but that's more because I work hard to NOT let my emotions show, when in fact I am VERY emotionally sensitive (BPD). I just don't show it. But yet, I often am comfortable being on my own and don't necessarily feel lonely or isolated or like I'm missing out. But then there are other times when I do desperately want some kind of closeness to someone... I daydream a lot about my attachment people. And there is some desire for a close romantic relationship. So in that sense that doesn't sound very much like Schizoid PD to me. I've never thought that I have Schizoid PD, and I don't claim to be an expert on personality disorders by any means. I guess it's just that at times I relate to some of those traits. And especially given my extreme attachment abilities to mother-figures, that doesn't seem very compatible with Schizoid PD anyway. It's all very particular I guess... I can feel attachment (which I know is not the same as love) to female mother-type figures, and I can have some meaningful relationships with friends (I now finally, amazingly, unbelievably to me, have one very close friend, my best friend, with whom I can share anything and everything with. I text her every day and genuinely enjoy interacting with her. We met in a mental health treatment facility and have a lot in common and over time we just became really close. Interestingly she's 20 years older than I am... and no, I'm not attached to her in that way. She truly is a friend and it's a two-way relationship... incredible!). I just feel like I can't have a romantic relationship with someone. But then again, I never imagined that I would have a relationship quite like the one I have with that friend! So I guess that gives me hope... that maybe, with a lot of time and the right person, I can slowly fall in love...

But I majorly digress!!! I didn't intend for that to turn into such a ramble about all that PD stuff. What it comes down to is that I have BPD and sometimes relate to what I know about some of the symptoms of Schizoid PD and Avoidant PD. More so Avoidant though. I'm not trying to self-diagnose and don't want to get too hung up on that anyway. I think what I'm trying to get down to is why exactly I feel like I can't love someone romantically and if that belief is true or not.

I don't even know what I was hoping to get out of this post, or if this is even the best forum to post this on... If you read all of this and made it this far, thanks! I guess I'm interested in what other people's insights are on this. I'm the kind of person who likes to try to understand these kinds of thing in myself, and actually I think typing all of this out has helped to an extent, but I still am left with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I want to know what the core of this issue is really about so that then I can work on it. I want to know that I'm not permanently emotionally stunted or damaged to the point that I am limited in my (romantic) loving abilities...

(Just a little disclaimer that this turned out to be way longer than anticipated and I don't have the patience to go back through and proofread/edit it!)
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Old 08-17-2018, 10:38 PM   #2
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i read your whole post and found it interesting as it brought up things in my own life that i could relate to. you said you were a psych major? it sounds like it as i don't even know what some of those diagnosis are!i remember my friends from grammer school and they would fight over me to whose house i would stay over at and they would get mad at me if i chose one over the other. i did have one who called me her best friend but i was afraid of her father so i would only like to be there during his work hours. i also had a nice friend from the psych ward and as we hung out at my place and my roomates place, we grew close but i lost touch with her , its a long story,, but i think she passed away as i tried to call her husband years ago and she didnt live there anymore. dont know if he lied or he sometimes was very strange and i had a hard time understanding him because of the way he talked but i thought he said she died.
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Old 08-17-2018, 10:48 PM   #3
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to continue, i think maybe you just havn't met your soulmate or rather best friend yet but you have your whole life ahead of you. i am 57 yrs old so you are probably alot younger than me, but i believe in true love and even though i am not with my true love, i am married to someone who cares about me deeply and someone who saved me after i lost my true love. i had to say no to marriage proposal to the one i loved with all my heart and he said it was now or never and i walked away because i was in a vehicle accident and didn't want to put my health problems on him. i almost died and he never even knew i was in an accident. as i was walking away he said to never look back because i broke his heart and i let him go on with his life. i ended up on a pshch ward for a few months and on and off of them. whee i met several people who cared for me in the rest of my life.i even have a son from a toxic relationship where i had to leave because he was an alcoholic then i met my husband who saved me from him.
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Old 08-17-2018, 10:52 PM   #4
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what i am trying to say is you can still fnd love or attachment to someone s you have time i think? People will come and go in your life and you can invite them to love you or you can be friends with lots of people or only a few. There are alot of lonely people out there. Try to love and you will be loved in return.
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Old 08-18-2018, 03:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avlady View Post
what i am trying to say is you can still fnd love or attachment to someone s you have time i think? People will come and go in your life and you can invite them to love you or you can be friends with lots of people or only a few. There are alot of lonely people out there. Try to love and you will be loved in return.
Thank you for reading all of it!! And thank you for your encouragement
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Old 11-01-2018, 12:31 AM   #6
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I can relate to a lot of this as well, I think itís hard to be volnerable when you come from abuse and neglect. Trust is hard to earn with volberability. And relationships are work... maybe avoidant attachment to a degree. I have characteristics of avoidant and anxious attachment. I have been very controlling in my relationships due to fear... my fears of disappointment. Expectations are also a killer... check your expectations for yourself and another...

I have been a total serial dater- but never able to keep a relationship more than 9-10months. But I also am very unwilling to be transparent with people for fear of rejection. I reject people to maintain control. The trauma of my own life has biologically wired me, and I am just now becoming aware enough to work in the behavior. But it feels impossible to overcome.

Iím not sure anything I said is helpful- but I can relate to your feelings and struggles.
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Old 11-01-2018, 05:31 AM   #7
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It seems like you're afraid of the responsability that comes with a relationship. That may be another factor. Do you think that's correct?
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Old 11-02-2018, 02:10 PM   #8
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Love is a complicated emotion, and even to this day not fully understood, that's why so many people have written about it, talked about it, sang about it, etc. for so long - some people well and truly feel it in their hearts or minds, and for other's it's different, not bad, just different. When my son was born I felt guilty for so long that when I saw his face for the first time I didn't feel a mote of affection for him. Certainly, I did what was necessary to ensure he was nurtured, fed, bathed, clothed and taken care of, but the affection part didn't happen overnight - it developed, and when it did finally blossom through the small actions, the bond that slowly grew between us, one day it finally dawned on me that I would literally sacrifice myself for him. Don't be too hard on yourself, love doesn't always happen in an instance, it takes patience, communication, effort, and compromise. Sometimes it can take years - and sometimes you'll lose people along the way that aren't willing to meet you half-way, but above all the most important thing you can do before you start seeking it out in others, is to seek it out in yourself.
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by kiwi215 View Post
(Background: 23-year-old straight female. Basically zero attachment to either parent or any kind of parental figure in childhood. Emotional neglect/abuse. Was never diagnosed with an attachment disorder, but I have BPD and the criterion related to attachment is a huge one for me... I get intensely attached to females who are a little older than me... like a mom... then am devastated when they leave my life.)

So I feel like I can't love someone romantically. I've never been in a long-term relationship. My record is I think 3 or 4 dates, only "dated" a couple guys, and have occasionally had meaningless, impulsive one-night stands with guys I had never met. I rarely feel romantic attraction. I don't even know that I would call it that. Perhaps there have been one or two guys who I looked at and/or knew and felt like, hey, there's a little something about them that's kind of attractive, I guess... The few dates I've been on were mostly because I just wanted to try it out or I couldn't say no. I don't think I'm asexual or anything like that. I feel pretty confident that I'm straight too because I like sex with guys and couldn't imagine sex with a woman. So I don't think that this is a matter of sexuality (although I've questioned it for sure, especially given that I can hardcore attach to females and idealize them and just want to be around them all the time and hug them, etc., but that's really more of a I-want-a-mother kind of thing; the idea of having sex or a romantic relationship with these people is super uncomfortable). I will note that I recently feel an interest in this one guy, who must be roughly 10 years older than me, maybe a little less, but he was actually one of my college teachers (he was a doctoral student at the time studying psychology, teaching one of my psychology classes... I was a psych major). I think the main part of the attraction is that I'm attracted to his intelligence. I don't necessarily see him as "hot" appearance-wise, but then again, there aren't very many guys out there, if any, that I look at and think, "Damn, he's good lookin." (But I do that with females sometimes... with their facial beauty... and those are the kind of people I attach to).

I do want to get married one day and have kids and all that. It sounds nice. But whenever I try to imagine myself living with a partner and being that close to someone, I just can't really fully imagine it. Trusting someone that much, being so close, being comfortable enough to share my entire life with them, raise kids with them, be tied together... wow. I just feel like I'm not capable of that.

So I ask myself why this might be...? Of course I do definitely think a big part of this has to do with my attachment style as a child and lack of attachment to my mother and the emotional neglect/abuse and all that. But I want to understand it better. And most of all I want to know that it is possible for me to love romantically...

I have Borderline PD, and I also once had a therapist suggest to me that perhaps I have Avoidant PD or at least some traits of that as well, but when I told her that I DO desire that kind of close romantic relationship, she was like oh, nevermind. I do have Social Anxiety Disorder, so I'm sure this is part of the issue... When I go on dates, I just get so anxious and am so concerned with how that person sees me that I just can't relax. So that gets in the way, but I feel like there's something more. I still feel like, even if I could get past the anxiety and start to relax and have a good time, I still feel like it would be hard or next to impossible for me to fall in love with someone. Now maybe it's just because I haven't experienced that yet? I guess that would make sense... It's hard to imagine something you haven't experienced yet. BUT STILL. I just have this feeling that it's almost not possible for me to love romantically. I feel too emotionally damaged.

Also of note, I didn't have a whole lot of friends growing up and I still don't. Again, anxiety has gotten in the way... but I still feel like there's more too it. I remember one time on the playground when I was in maybe 1st or 2nd grade, a girl started talking to me and then asked me "Do you want to be best friends?" I remember that feeling SO WEIRD to me. And maybe kind of scary? (I think I said sure to her or something like that because I wanted to be polite, but nothing came of this anyway). I did not want to be best friends with her. Why? Maybe it was that "best friends" seemed so intense and like there were strings attached... like I would have to suddenly put all this effort into a relationship and there would be a lot of pressure. I also remember feeling like why would I want that? I was more comfortable playing alone, but I'm not sure if that's because I was indifferent/disintereseted in having a "best friend" or because I was too anxious to enjoy the company of someone like that (this girl I didn't know who randomly came up to me on the playground one day). Again, I had a couple friends, but I wasn't all that enthralled with them I guess... they were more like people whom I could feel comfortable sitting with at the lunch table and having at my birthday parties. These were people whom I had grown accustomed to through being in the same classes and slowly getting used to them and then being able to at least mildly enjoy their presence and not be too anxious. But I digress... back to the question of if my avoidance was due solely to anxiety or indifference/lack of interest or a combination of both... I *think* what I have come to is that it's mostly anxiety. I have considered perhaps that maybe I have some Schizoid PD traits, like being a loner/outsider and not really having close relationships. I also from the outside probably appear to be aloof and emotionless and unaffected by praise/criticism, but that's more because I work hard to NOT let my emotions show, when in fact I am VERY emotionally sensitive (BPD). I just don't show it. But yet, I often am comfortable being on my own and don't necessarily feel lonely or isolated or like I'm missing out. But then there are other times when I do desperately want some kind of closeness to someone... I daydream a lot about my attachment people. And there is some desire for a close romantic relationship. So in that sense that doesn't sound very much like Schizoid PD to me. I've never thought that I have Schizoid PD, and I don't claim to be an expert on personality disorders by any means. I guess it's just that at times I relate to some of those traits. And especially given my extreme attachment abilities to mother-figures, that doesn't seem very compatible with Schizoid PD anyway. It's all very particular I guess... I can feel attachment (which I know is not the same as love) to female mother-type figures, and I can have some meaningful relationships with friends (I now finally, amazingly, unbelievably to me, have one very close friend, my best friend, with whom I can share anything and everything with. I text her every day and genuinely enjoy interacting with her. We met in a mental health treatment facility and have a lot in common and over time we just became really close. Interestingly she's 20 years older than I am... and no, I'm not attached to her in that way. She truly is a friend and it's a two-way relationship... incredible!). I just feel like I can't have a romantic relationship with someone. But then again, I never imagined that I would have a relationship quite like the one I have with that friend! So I guess that gives me hope... that maybe, with a lot of time and the right person, I can slowly fall in love...

But I majorly digress!!! I didn't intend for that to turn into such a ramble about all that PD stuff. What it comes down to is that I have BPD and sometimes relate to what I know about some of the symptoms of Schizoid PD and Avoidant PD. More so Avoidant though. I'm not trying to self-diagnose and don't want to get too hung up on that anyway. I think what I'm trying to get down to is why exactly I feel like I can't love someone romantically and if that belief is true or not.

I don't even know what I was hoping to get out of this post, or if this is even the best forum to post this on... If you read all of this and made it this far, thanks! I guess I'm interested in what other people's insights are on this. I'm the kind of person who likes to try to understand these kinds of thing in myself, and actually I think typing all of this out has helped to an extent, but I still am left with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I want to know what the core of this issue is really about so that then I can work on it. I want to know that I'm not permanently emotionally stunted or damaged to the point that I am limited in my (romantic) loving abilities...

(Just a little disclaimer that this turned out to be way longer than anticipated and I don't have the patience to go back through and proofread/edit it!)



Actually off the top of my head I'd hazard a guess that you are well on your way to being pretty healthy, all things considered.



After the first couple of sentences I thought, "Aha! AvPD!" So yeah maybe there's some traits there that you mentioned something about having. But I'm just an amateur and not a professional or anything.


I don't think it's out of the ordinary for someone with your background to be a bit chary about a romantic thing. It sounds to me like you are just being cautious, but aren't really conscious of that. Something to think about, I'm wrong a lot lol.



Romantic love also isn't the end-all and be-all for some people at least, think of Buddhist monks and nuns. Some people just aren't cut out for it. Speaking from experience, it can be just damn near about the most painful thing it's possible to go through when it goes south. So just maybe being borderline you can thank your lucky stars you don't have that in your life, because if something goes wrong, you'll probably feel it way more strongly than other (regular?) people. Unless you really want it. But why want something you're not interested in? Because it's expected of you? There's all kinds of ways to live your life, you don't have to cram yourself into any kind of pigeonhole you're not comfortable with.
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Old 12-22-2018, 04:12 PM   #10
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to continue, i think maybe you just havn't met your soulmate or rather best friend yet but you have your whole life ahead of you. i am 57 yrs old so you are probably alot younger than me, but i believe in true love and even though i am not with my true love, .
Agreed. You might think 23 is old enough to have met someone you "love" but I was pretty shocked when I made it to 30 before I even had the slightest inkling of love. Also I have never really found love and attraction at the same time. Mostly I find love and somehow that love transforms someone's look to attractive to me.

Unlike what they tell you on tv... love, true love, is pretty rare and hard to find. I also feel like there are different kinds of love -- one being the more passionate type of love (that usually doesn't last long) and the other being a more calm / long term love that is more of a great admiration of someone.
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