Hi Dr. NerdLove,
I’ve been listening to your show for a while now and really like your approach to handling communication within a relationship. I have a question for you as both a perpetual worrier and former long-term single lady. I hadn’t been dating for the better part of the previous 3 – 4 years due to past damage from bad relationships (narcissistic partners, self-esteem and self-image issues, not feeling good enough, etc.). I went to therapy and got a lot out of it: a new job, a new apartment in the city (Chicago), a pet cat and a boyfriend all during last year. It felt like a series of huge milestones and I’ve been having an amazing time with my current boyfriend ever since.
Based on the past advice of my therapist, I tried to hold back on some of the behaviors before that lead me to be too clingy which has helped out tremendously. He has different views than me politically, which I’m trying to factor in towards trying to understand him better and appreciate his history more. (I’m a Democrat from the Midwest, he’s a Conservative from the South who moved up here for work a bit ago.) We have so much fun together and get along extremely well but now that we’re at the 6 month mark, we’re getting accustomed to being at each other’s places all the time and have been considering moving in together. (Convenient as he’s my upstairs neighbor at my apartment. I know I know, it sounds weird but we both thought about it for a while before actively dating in case it would make things weird between the two of us.)
So this is the point where my question comes into play: I get caught in my own head often due to internalized self-doubt towards a lot for things like job interviews, friendships and now this. We say ‘I love you’ regularly, have an active sex life, cook together all the time, are supportive of each other, communicate openly about what’s bothering us, my parents love him and everything. But there’s still that annoying voice in the back of my head that makes me assume the worst and that ‘everything isn’t real’ and ‘I’ll just screw it up sometime soon like I always do by being too needy, clingy, distant, etc’. It’s that awful niggling feeling in the back of your mind that insists on sowing a seed of doubt that keeps building. I wish I knew how to shut it up. I don’t want to assume it’s going to end badly or anything like that, lest it become a self-fulfilling prophecy which will make both of us feel awful.
Is this a standard thing that happens after dating seriously for a while? My last long relationship ended in 2014 so I’m doing my best to break my own past habits to feel more confident and secure.