Hey Doc, I’m a straight male, and I don’t have a lot of relationship experience: only two girlfriends in high school, and neither lasted much longer than one month. In both cases I fell madly in love and didn’t realize it until weeks/months after they’d broken up with me. The thing I learned about myself through all the ensuing depression/self-loathing/suicide attempts is that I get hella attached, fall hard, and then take for fucking ever (years) to move on with my life.
Fast forward nearly 6 years and I’ve gone all throughout college without having one single date or substantial crush. This made it easier to dismiss my earlier post-breakup insanity as having its roots in adolescence, but I didn’t have the early-twenties relationship experience to test that theory for sure. Until now… Long story short, about a year and a half ago I met a girl online (long-distance) and proceeded to fall madly in love with her as well, despite the fact that we’ve still never even met in person. Well, things aren’t looking good right now and, SURPRISE! I find myself back in the same serious depression I was in before.
I won’t bother you with the intricacies of this particular long-distance shit show. The most interesting thing about it is that it’s led me to discover that I haven’t, for lack of a better word, “matured” at all as a romantic partner since high school: Reoccurring heartbreak aside, when I’m actually IN relationships I’ve always been the needy partner who cares more about my girlfriends than they do me. I’ve always been the one dumped, never the one who facilitates the break up or ceases to show interest and effort. I’ve always found something noble in the idea of sacrificial love: devoting myself to a person so fully that I always sabotage the relationship and risk sabotaging myself. I still find meaning in giving myself over to someone, even if they don’t appreciate me that much during the course of the relationship or know I still love them months and years after its over. I’m also realizing that I am now and always have been the most sensitive and nostalgic person I know, a John Boehner-level crier, riddled with insecurities, clearly still a depressive, and kind of a hoarder (emotionally and otherwise.1 Recently, Long-Distance Girl told me I’m controlling, and I suspect my OCD has something to do with that as well.
My friends who have more relationship experience than I tell me that the idea is to find someone who makes you the best version of yourself, but I seem to only have 2 modes: “Normal Chill Yet Empty Inside Me,” and “Obsessively Hopelessly In Love Me.” A change in girl has never yet changed that paradigm. Plus I think even if I found a girl I wasn’t so obsessive and self destructive about, that would just mean, comparatively speaking, that I wasn’t as invested in the relationship; and why would I want that if I know I can love so much deeper?
So Doc, my questions are: is this the kind of thing people eventually grow out of? And if so will it come with age, or only though more relationship experience? And if the latter, isn’t that a Catch-22?
Should I just resign myself to the fact that this is the kind of lover I am, and only look for girls who are likewise needy and very, very devoted?
Thanks for the work you do,
Obsessively Hopelessly In Love Me
- I blame my OCD. [↩]