Hi Doc. First, I started reading your stuff about a year ago, and it’s been a big help to me. I do have some issues that I’d like to ask about though, but I should probably start with some backstory.
I’m a 23 year old man, whom has suffered chronic general and social anxiety, three bouts of major depression, and years of constant bullying (middle and high school). I also have some (okay, lots) of issues with perfectionism and negative self talk, though I’m actively working on those. But for all that, I made good grades, earned scholarships, and just graduated with my bachelor’s degree.
The last eight months have been some of the happiest of my life, even during what was the most stressful year of my college career. Why? After years of rejection, bitterness, more rejection, self loathing, and finally despair, I found a girl. Rather, she found me, on a site I had given up on. We started talking, and we had (have) so much in common. We understand each other’s humor, and also each other’s baggage (she has social anxiety issues as well). It’s even been worth going long distance, though we really only get to see each other about every two weeks, since she still has several years of higher ed ahead of her. But we also talk extensively every single day.
Our relationship, has, admittedly, moved at a frankly glacial pace compared to everyone else; I’m not complaining, just saying how it is. We didn’t have our first kiss until… I don’t know, our ninth date? Anyway, literally every single thing, every step that we take, is a first for both of us. I had never gotten a second date with anyone before her, much less kissed a girl. I really like her, maybe even am starting to love her, but I’m feeling dissatisfied with our level of intimacy, and also feeling ashamed for feeling dissatisfied. We’ve had a grand total of six kisses, and I’m always really conscious of her feelings and ask first, and always accept no as an answer, even if it smarts. Though not nearly as much as it does when she seems to hesitate before answering, which is really confusing as well as painful. It makes me worry she’s only agreeing because she thinks it will keep me happy (Though she was the one who instigated the first kiss, after I had backed off for about a month after I asked and she said she wasn’t ready yet). I feel dirty, greedy, selfish, because I really want to spend more time kissing her (and hopefully other things someday), even though I really love our conversations. But if something doesn’t change… I don’t know. I feel unwanted, undesirable, and… yeah.
The worst part is, when I try to voice the subject, I literally croak (seriously, it feels like my whole throat closes up), and I can’t get out a single word. Because I’m terrified that this amazing girl will think I’m only after one thing and she, the (frankly) happiest thing in my life (for all of this, that is) will leave. And numbers or no numbers, I don’t like my odds of meeting someone else (who likes me back) before I’m in my 30s.
I have zero expectations of her, but my desires keep getting louder in my head. And I’m trying very hard not to be disgruntled that just last week, she asked me down for the weekend to help housesit for her parents, and that in two whole days, we didn’t kiss until I was getting in the car to leave. That bugs me WAY more than sleeping in completely separate rooms. I’m not trying to suggest, ask, much less push for too high a degree of intimacy (I don’t think). And of course, I still feel guilty that this bugs me in the first place. The only (half) comfort is that she admits (by text, I think because of her anxiety) that she “really, really, really” likes me, and that she’s sorry “if it doesn’t always seem like that” because she “sucks at showing emotion and super fucking awkward at expressing affection”.
I guess what I’m asking is, how do I keep from clamming up long enough to talk about these things (if I should talk about them in the first place)?
So, yeah, this is all one tangled up mess of emotions on my part, that I have zero baseline for. I’m in the Pacific without a paddle, and any advice you have to offer on any of this would be great, because I’m f*cking clueless.
Molasses In January