Hello Dutchfriend,Heya everyone!
I'm new here and joined this forum because I'm struggling really hard to understand the situation I am in right now. I want to share my story and hope that some insight from others who've dealt with this before, or have an understanding of the situation might be able to help or atleast give me some advice.
A bit of backstory: I'm 32 at this point. I hadn't been dating for 10+ years at this point. 10 years ago I went through 5 girlfriends in 2 years time. While I'm an introvert, I believe I was quite a fun person to hang around with. I had a lot of friends at that time and eventhough I didn't always have much to say, I did feel like I added something valuable to being around other people. But going through those 5 girlfriends, they always ended up dumping me after a few weeks or months. The longest relationship lasted for 6 months. I'm a highly sensitive person, so going through this loss after loss truly had a lot of impact on me. Heartbreak after heartbreak really screwed with me and I became scared of letting people too close, since I knew people were going to leave me anyway. I felt like it had something to do with me. I did something wrong and it would probably be better not to try getting into relationships again, since I was bound to get hurt. I also pushed away some friendships this way, knowing that if I continu to put effort into it, I could only get hurt anyway. So I only stayed in contact with the friends I've known since childhood, of which I knew they would never leave me. As a child I always got bullied, my parents (although they're great people and they really try) were never truly emotionally invested in me because they didn't seem to understand me when I tried to be open about my feelings and emotion. When I was excited about something or wanted to achieve something, I always heard that I couldn't do it, I wasn't smart enough, or it was a stupid idea. I think all of this combined has really made me put massive shields around me to protect me from getting hurt. I shut down emotionally and never truly "talked" so much anymore. Because whatever I did, it never felt like it was good enough. I'm terrible at smalltalk and don't enjoy it at all. But while putting up all those shields, I'm affraid I forgot how to communicate and act towards people I actually want to get close to. Also I had smoked marijuana every now and then since 18 years old, but after all the loss I really started smoking on a daily basis. I made myself believe I needed it to not be so overwhelmed by my emotions all the time since I'm highly sensitive and thought I needed it to fall asleep at night. I've just now, after the story I'm about to tell, come to the realisation that I've just been hiding behind it and the walls I've put up for myself all this time.
So nearly 2 months ago, I got introduced to a girl through a mutual friend. He knew her for the past half year at least from an online game and saw that she had many shared interests with me and thought we would be a great match. She came out of a 4 year relationship half a year ago and has attempted dating a couple of times since. She always attracted the wrong type of guys who are mostly interested in her for sex and nothing more. Our mutual friend told her she deserved a really sweet guy that truly appreciates her for who she is. He told her I'm an introvert and a really quiet kind of guy, so she had to be a bit patient with me. She was ready to give it a shot and so was I.
I got her number and started texting her. Immediately we really seemed to match. We had a lot of fun texting and after a few days we also started talking on Discord, an online voice chat service. We'd be texting and talking throughout the day and night and truly had an amazing time. Before we ever reached the point of a first date, we were sure we truly liked eachother based on our conversations and we really open towards eachother emotionally. She told me I was the sweetest guy she's ever met and that she found that really attractive in me. At some point within 2 weeks of texting and talking she told me she already started to feel in love with me and so did I with her. We're both the kind of people that don't have sex when we're not truly in love with someone and we don't have sex on the first date. We knew that about eachother, yet a few days before we knew we would meet eachother for the first time she told me this connection that we had felt so right, that she wanted to have sex with me. Maybe not the first date. But she wanted it. She was craving to be together and being able to hug and kiss at least. She also told me that since the Corona virus started, she gained quite some weight because she's been isolated at home for this whole time which made her feel uncomfortable with herself and therefor, was scared I would reject her when I finally got to see her in real life because she clearly didn't look like the (5 year old) pictures that I had seen from her before. I told her that at that point, I couldn't care less how she looked because I already fell in love with who she was as a person and I still am. During our first voice chat conversation she had told me that she suffers from PTSD and Chronic Depression. I thought I knew what that meant. She had been traumatized, but I had no idea how or how it affected her in her day to day life. I felt like it was too early to ask for any further explanation because we had only known eachother for a week at that point. It seemed unfair and too soon.
After 2 weeks, we went on our first date. Since it's Corona time and we can't really go out on an ordinary date, I went to her house since I still live with my parents. We were both a bit shy, but we really seemed to like on another in real life as well. Although we didn't talk as much as we did through texting or voice chat, we did a lot of hugging and kissing and really seemed to bond even further in a non-verbal way. We watched a movie, ordered dinner and one thing led to another, we had sex. This made me belive that she was truly in love with me. Since she told me she never has sex with someone she's not in love with. I felt loved and accepted for who I am eventhough I was still very much insecure about myself because I think I'm too silent or boring. But she constantly gave me the confirmation that she liked me and was still in love with me so the first date led to another. After the first time we had sex, she got a cystitis, which is fairly common for a woman to have with a new intimate partner. By the second date I stayed for 3 days, the cystitis was gone and we had sex again. Yet again, she seemed to have it. This time though, it wouldn't go away so easily. This really got her into a terrible emotional state. She was constantly in pain while isolated in her home.
At this point, I started to notice she'd become less affectionate, responded less on my texts and all in all, really didn't seem to talk much to me anymore. Sure, I would receive a couple of messages a day like "good morning", "what are you doing" and "sleep well", but no matter how much effort I put into trying to sending her loving, caring and affectionate messages, she just wouldn't send such messages back to me anymore. Nothing seemed to open her up at this point. I figured she was in a terrible mental space right now because of the cystitis and the mental problems that would cause for her because of her PTSD and/or depression. At this point the cystitis got so bad, she could hardly get out of bed, much less do anything else. So I went to her house for 4 days to take care of her. I did her groceries, made sure that she had something to drink at all times, got her the medication she needed to get better and helped cleaning the house because she just couldn't. Obviously, she was too sick to be any "fun" around me but I didn't care. All I wanted to do was show her I was there for her and she really seemed to appreciate it. I would lay next to her in bed and she would still kiss me, snuggle with me and tell me that she likes me and I was really kind to care for her during this time. After 4 days though, she told me that she really liked me helping out and being there for her, but it became a bit too much and she needed some time and space of her own. I understood. Being locked up with someone for 4 days in your own house and having no way to "escape" can be really hard on someone, especially if you have PTSD and depression. I was glad she told me, because I would've stayed there for as long as I could if it were up to me while clearly, she couldn't handle that.
The week after, I asked her if I could see her again that week and she told me she still wasn't feeling alright so she'd rather skip that week. During the time inbetween taking care of her and asking her if we could meet up, she was responding even less to my texts and when I asked her questions about how she was doing or asking questions to get to know her better during her absence, she'd just completely ignore them and started talking about something else like I never even asked her anything. She'd never talk to me 1-on-1 on Discord anymore and only joined the convo when other people were around. When they'd leave, she would say she was going to bed while I could see that she was playing her videogames still. So when I asked her when we would meet up and she wanted to skip, I asked her if there was something wrong. Maybe she didn't like me like she thought she did or if maybe something mentally or physically was bothering her. Maybe there was something she couldn't talk about or maybe she didn't want to hurt me. I let her know that she could tell me anything she wanted and that it was ok for her to feel that way, whatever it was. That if there was something we had to talk about, I'd rather meet her that week and have things cleared out. I just wanted her to be honest about it so I could know what to expect and not live in uncertainty until the time I'd see her next. She reminded me I was dating someone with PTSD and Chronic Depression and that sometimes when she just doesn't feel well, she just can't have anyone around her, doesn't feel like being touched and just doesn't feel like talking in general. She told me that when I send her sweet texts, she can't always show to me how she feels or send sweet messages back because that's just really hard for her during those times. She would respond to my long, sweet and thought out texts though and say things like "Aww, you're so sweet" or "I like you too". But that was about as far as she could open up. You can imagine that when you try to send affectionate messages on a daily basis (because that's what we did before and she really like that. I know some people aren't into that, but she is) and you get nothing in return except the forementioned messages, it really starts to feel like you're talking to a wall and it really got me into thinking that she didn't like me anymore. Yet, after I asked her if something was wrong, she told me she hoped that when she tells me she likes me and thinks I'm sweet, I would assume she was speaking the truth eventhough she couldn't show me the same amount of affection I did. She told me that since we started talking, things went a bit too quick, to fast for her, since when I would go to her, it's would usually be for 3-4 days in a row. I can understand that. I also asked her about the fact that, while she tells me she "just can't right now" or doesn't feel like talking, I know that she's still on Discord on a daily basis with her in-game friends for hours and hours and I wondered how that works. She told me that with those people, she could choose how much she'd show of herself and that I've become a much bigger part in her life than those people are, that I'm also going to see her bad sides and she can't always handle trying to act alright infront of me like she does to those people, because she doesn't want to put on the "mask" she puts on in front of those people infront of me, because that would be wrong. Fair point, I thought. So I let it be. I'm happy she still has people she can talk to when she feels like she can't talk to people that are close to her.
Her reminding me of her PTSD and depression really opened my eyes though. I started doing my research on the topics. I read entire web pages on symptoms and how it affects people's lives. I've read and watched YouTube video's about what it's like to be dating with or being in a relationship with someone with PTSD and depression for both the ones having it and the ones being in a relationship with a trauma survivor. I've listened to both therapists and survivors so I would learn to understand it from all perspectives. I really wanted to understand her better so I could give it a place in my heart and know how I could be there for her in a way that she needs and learn to understand where her need for space, aviodance symptoms and her being less affectionate and open comes from. I told her I was doing research on it, because I knew she wasn't able to tell me what it's like for her and what I could do for her. She really appreciated that I took the time and effort to educate myself on the topics.
So after 2 weeks, I finally got to see her again. Still not physically well, so there's probably more going on than just cystitis. She told me before I went there that she wasn't ready to have sex yet because she still had pain there and was scared to make it worse. I really don't care, I'm just happy to be with her. So I went. Now, it's like when I'm there, she's constantly looking for distraction to avoid any kind of deeper social contact. She's playing her game when I'm there, she asks if I want to watch a movie and then falls asleep after a couple of minutes because she says she feels comfortable with me (I know she has a lot of trouble sleeping so I see this as a compliment. This usually happens when we watch a movie) or is on her smartphone playing games or being on social media. Now, I've told her I really don't mind if she does her own thing when I'm there and I don't. Since we're basically locked up in her house and can't do much else. She still kisses and hugs with me, but I still felt kind of left out and avoided. We do say things to eachother when I'm there, but it's mostly smalltalk. I get the feeling that I should try to talk more, but feeling so insecure, I have no idea what to say because any attempt to dig deeper into who she is, to really get to know her, has failed so far. I waited the whole day for the moment we went to sleep, so she had no distraction, to tell her that I'm really trying to understand her, but that it's really hard for me to understand, when she doesn't speak to me about it. I said we don't have to talk about the things you're going through until you feel comfortable doing so, but we do have to talk and communicate in order to keep forming a bond and I do have to know how I can be there for her, because I'm affraid that if we hardly text or talk about meaningful things to bond, we could start to lose eachother out of sight. She started crying and told me that she thought I needed someone who could show me the same kind of affection as I do to her and that she can't always be that person. I told her that I don't need to recieve as much as I give, but I do need to know where this sudden change in behaviour is comming from so I can give it a place in my heart and I genuinely didn't know. I said that now that I did my research I understand it better. She again told me things were going a little bit too fast for her and that she needed to take a step back. That in the beginning it was all fun and exciting and she put a lot of effort in it, which drained her a lot. Which I can totally understand. But going from texting all day, everyday and talking to eachtother for hours upon hours and seeing eachtoher weekly, suddendly changing to hardly any contact in any form because she's too overstimulated, while being able to being on Discord and talk to multiple other people at the same time day after day for hours upon hours while not being able to see me, when she tells me she feels comfortable around me and generally doesn't say or do much anyway? That, I do not understand. I still feel like I might be too silent and boring for her, but she says that's not the case. She says she likes everything about me, yet seems unable to show it in any way.
Now, a week later, I tried to hook up in real life again and she told me she's skipping this week again because she visited her parents over the weekend and feels tired and needs time alone. All this, while I know she's playing her game and talking to others every day, all day. I really want to understand but I can't shake the feeling that something's wrong. This might be my own insecurity speaking because of my experiences with abandonment in the past, but I really like to know what you guys and gals think.
Is this the end of the road, or it is just me and my own fears?
Thank you to whomever was able to read through all of this and thanks in advance for any answers and insight.
Love from Canada. That was a good vent. I bet it felt good to let out some steam. Let me start by saying it sounds like you have a big heart and you're no stranger to pain. It's awesome you two fell for each other so quickly because it's very rare.
I'd like to offer a thought experiment so you can stop and obverse the relationship based on what you value as a great partner.
1. How do you know you love her?
2. What would cause you to stop loving her, even if it satisfied your answer to question 1?
3. What would make you start loving her again, even if you stopped for reasons you identified in question 2?
4. What would cause you to stop loving her again?
How do you know you love her?
I love her hair.
What would make you stop loving her?
If she cheated and went bald!
What would make you start loving her again, even if she cheated on you and went bald?
Look deep inside your heart and get creative because It will be really interesting to hear what you discover and value.