Finally Coming to Terms with My Fears or Just Settling?

I have read your archives and I have done a very thorough examination of my relationship history to try and understand why I have a hard time with romantic relationships and I think I have a good understanding of why but I wish to know the skills that will help me move forward.

Here is a brief background to me: I am an attractive, professional woman in my late twenties. I lost my father in a sudden car crash at the age of 4 and I have been in therapy over this. I still feel sad at never having known my father. My mother never remarried and I feel as a result I don't really have a mental model of what a relationship is.

I have two older sisters who I am very close to. We are a very close family & I realize that I have spent a lot my time asking them for advice in love and relationships and they are very helpful. I sometimes feel like they are my therapists. I appreciate their support and it helps ground me.

I know to some my attachment to my sisters & my mom may seem too dependent & I sometimes wonder about that too; since at times I wonder if my emotional immaturity is due to always being babied' and supported and comforted.

My middle sister has been in a relationship since she was 17 (and I was 11). I feel her relationship is the model' I compare what I have to. I also realize that her husband (they have not been married for 5 years and been together for 18) is my father figure' in many ways. He was like my big brother growing up and many people (including myself) have noted that I put him on a pedestal (kinda hero worship) and compared those I date to him.

I know I love him as a brother/father and at times I notice I have been attracted to him and I am ok with that, since I know I would never act on it since I know it is normal to be attracted to others; especially if you have put this person on a pedestal all your life, nor would I ever want to hurt my sister's life.

I am a very open person and have shared this information with my mother because I did feel some guilt at this realization (that at times I was attracted to him throughout my growing up). My mother was very supportive & understood me and told me it was only natural since I admired him so much. Anyways, I am aware of his failings but I realize he is my 'standard' to whom I compare my partners to.

When I was young I was pretty much an ugly duckling.  But I tried hard to do well in school and get recognition in that way. With age & puberty came into my own & turned out attractive after all. I have been quite concerned with my looks throughout my life since I was aware of my ugliness as a kid (school kids making fun of my bulging eyes, big nose and missing teeth).

In my youth I was never attracted to guys that were attracted to me. . . even though there was nothing wrong with them. My first boyfriends I dated were older and I realized that the second they showed that they were falling for me, I would detach and see their flaws and find them unattractive and then break up.

I would be attracted mostly to men that were either not attracted to me, who did not treat me well (weren't willing to commit, or were critical of me). I didn't date in Undergrad University because I was focused on my education and really would only have crushes on guys that would show me interest, but whom I felt were out of my league.

With age I have examined myself a lot (I am trying to become aware of my patterns in order to heal). I am now an attractive professional and I have higher self-esteem (maybe too high??).

I dated a lot but it seemed every guy I dated would all of a sudden disappear' and not call. At that time I thought this meant there was something wrong with me and I so decided to enter a relationship with a guy that was not as good-looking as I was and thought I'd make it work.

This lasted a year, during which I totally lost my sense of self and eventually flipped out due to anxiety when he expressed his interest in marrying me (this was when I was 25) and all of a sudden realized all the years I've spent trying to please him, overlooking flaws and signs I should leave.

I had thought I loved him, but it was a delusion and I realized I was making a HUGE mistake not being my true self & I ended the relationship & entered therapy to get over my anxiety of losing yet another man (that's how I interpreted me breaking up with him as though I was forced to lose him).

I became aware of my pattern of going after unavailable men and pining to get them. When that didn't work I went for a guy I felt I could get if I behaved. . . Now I realize this has to do with my loss of my father and abandonment issues. I still have intense anxiety when ever I feel a relationship is ending (or fear it may). I realize how self destructive not being myself was.

I realize I am very harsh on myself and am perfectionistic (and this is a cover up for feelings of inadequacy. . though at times my defense really is active and think I'm too good for him or this etc'. . but I try to be aware of these feelings and move fwd).

Since that devastating breakup it took me a year to feel sane enough to date again (I had a lot of pent up frustration and rage and hatred in me that was making me have very violent thoughts. . I sought help and am much much better. . though the occasional angry thought happens & I must admit I sometimes get scared of it).

Since then I've dated 3 men that really I walked in knowing it was going to end (saw the red lights and went ahead anyways). I had some anxiety in these relationships since I feared I would flip out again. I realize I still walk into relationship that I know either I will end or they will end.

A year ago I moved from Canada to the US to pursue my career. I enjoy my independence though I miss my family a lot and would like to settle down in Canada. I dated a bit, but didn't find anyone. Then I decided I wouldn't date while I was here because I wanted to move back and was not ready to go through another relationship failing.

But of course, then I met a man. He and I connected mentally. I liked him, but I didn't feel the spark I have felt with my previous 3 post-flipout boyfriends. I did however feel a lot of ambivalence with this relationship because of this lack of spark, but I continued dating him because I felt he was NOT like the other guys.

He came from a good family, had a healthy connection with his family, was educated, and treated me very well. I didn't have any of the issues I had with my previous boyfriends & though I had moments of insecurity with him he was very good at soothing them. He has forgiven me for some toxic behavior as well and I realize he really treats me well & I care a lot for him (I think I even love him).

But I recently thought that this issue of not finding him as attractive and as sexually stimulating as I feel my potential future mate should be is causing me anxiety. I now am no longer sexually attracted at all (we've been dating for 6 months and until my last visit home I was sexually interested).

I know it's cause I'm am focusing on those qualities of his looks that I never found attractive to begin with. I know I have to move through this anxiety and not bolt like I have done in the past.

I know he is a good man and would make a good partner (though who knows if that 's what he wants). I guess I wonder if I am settling. Should I wait for someone that I both have intense chemistry with & also who I will get along with in this way (i. e. my soulmate') or am I just making excuses because I am commitment phobic because I have a fear of abandonment and use my perfectionist criteria to rule out everyone?

It is hard for me to be around him lately. I get a strong pressure/anxiety in my chest. I think I don't want to lose him. But I shouldn't settle. I plan on sticking it through and try and overcome this hump that has been with me until now. I am hoping I will face my fears and not flipout as I did in the past.

What do you think? Is my self-assessment correct? Am I reacting in the right way or am I really just settling for a companioniate love and will I regret it down the road? The mere thought of seeing him makes me nervous! !

I realize at times what I feel is fury at him for no apparent reason. I have tried my best in this relationship to voice my concerns as they've appeared so as to not stuff my feelings' as I have done before.

Sorry for the long elaborate letter. I just want you to get a thorough understanding of me before you gave me your advice.

Best Regards,

Finally Coming to Terms with My Fears or Just Settling ??

P. S. I have written to you in the past and you have been of great help. I was 'Woman who stuffed her anger and became completely numb' in 2000

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