Social Question

AnonymousWoman's avatar

How can I stop living for just him?

Asked by AnonymousWoman (6336 points ) December 18th, 2011

There is this guy friend I’ve considered a friend for a while – more than 4 years now. He’s been there for me through a lot and he is a great friend. However, I feel like I rely on him way too much. Whenever I am sad, sometimes I can only seem to be cheered up by memories of things he’s said to or done for me. It’s like I live for this one guy when I have other friends who care about me and I have family members who care about me also. Is there a way to destroy this unhealthy attachment without stopping talking to him?

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18 Answers

prasad's avatar

Why do you feel it is unhealthy attachment? Has he said anything to you? Does he seem to bother because of you? You can ask him so.
Do you like him?...infatuated? (Do you consider him when it comes to sharing? not just sadness but happiness too).
If anyway you want to get better when you feel sad, you can try many things. Some things work sometimes, so you can try other ways too.
You may listen to your favorite music or songs. You may engage yourself in your hobbies. Or, you can read different books. Autobiographies of great people are really good to find inspiration.
Help others who need help. Open your eyes.
Last but not least, ask God to help you. Believe him. Chant his name. You can feel better after some time.

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elbanditoroso's avatar

With all respect to @prasad, god isn’t going to solve this problem.

AG’s obsession is the problem, she recognizes it as a problem, and she wants to do something about it. Praying to imaginary deities doesn’t address the issue at all.

What AG needs to do is build her own personal self worth, by doing things that allow her to excel. She probably needs to do these things by herself or with other people besides him. Showing this independence to herself will start a cascade of events in which HER successes will begin to replace HIS influence in her memories.

I’m not saying move away or break up – I’m saying that some distance is good. Do this in a modulated way.

janbb's avatar

It is really unhealthy to be too dependent on any one person; I am learning this in some very hard ways. Spend more time engaged in meaningful contact with other people and try, if you can, not to ruminate on him. It is hard but it will be of great benefit to you if you can learn to feed yourself from many things rather than just one.

marinelife's avatar

@FutureMemory and @elbanditoroso You have your beliefs and @prasad has theirs. If you don’t believe in a deity that is no reason to mock @prasad‘s belief as that being a way to get help. @prasad is entitled to an opinion.

@AnonymousGirl I think you have taken the first step by recognizing your feelings. If you think that your attachment to this person is too strong, then you are probably right. It will be very difficult to end it while still talking to him. Can you tell him that you need to distance yourself so you can work on some issues? That way any lessened contact will not come as a surprise. @elbanditoroso is right about building your self esteem. Have you considered working with a therapist? I think that could help you improve your sense of self-worth. If that is not possible, consider getting the book Self Parenting, which is very good at helping you hear your inner dialogue and changing it. Good luck.

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GoldieAV16's avatar

@AnonymousGirl I would spend some time examining your thoughts. Don’t just assume that you know anything about them…just watch them. Examine them for “truthiness.” Here is what it sounds like to me: You have connected on a very intimate level with a special person, who means a lot to you – more than the other people in your life. Often you think about him, and what he has said or might say, and those thoughts make you happy.

Okay. So what is the problem? Are you able to function in your daily life, meeting goals and practicing what you value? Or are you so preoccupied that you find the thoughts interfering and dominating your time, so that you are unable to function? OR is the thought that you shouldn’t think about him so much what is actually dominating your time? And is that thought interfering with your ability to function?

My point, and the point of the exercise, is that our thoughts are always going to be there. Thinking them or trying not to think them equal the same result – our attention becomes laser focused on the thought, and it becomes like the Chinese finger trap, the more you pull to become free, the tighter the grip.

So what to do? Here’s the brilliant part of this: nothing. Just allow your thoughts about this person to flow without judgment. Maybe you think about him too much; maybe you think about him just enough. Maybe he’s too important in your life; maybe he’s not. For whatever reason, he’s in your life, and seems to be a largely positive influence. GREAT! Now just go about your business, setting and meeting goals that are in alignment with your values. Your thoughts and emotions don’t have to be acted on. You can just sit with them. If one of them seems to be larger than life, imagine it shrinking down to a size that you can fit in your pocket (not get rid of!) and just take it with you, as you go about your day.

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Earthgirl's avatar

Sometimes life gives us the gift of a friend who just seems to understand us better than anyone else does. We’re complicated creatures, we humans and we all have our hopes and fears and needs. We all have our pride and positive sense of self along with a knowledge of how we sometimes don’t live up to what we think is our ideal self. When you find someone who seems to see and understand all of that and that person is there for you supporting you as you navigate life you feel like you are not alone.

Friends and family may love us but not really understand us. We have casual friends and close friends. We have family we would choose and family we are just stuck with! But what I hear from you, a little between the lines of what you say, is that you are afraid that in being especially drawn to this one person who is so special to you you may be neglecting others who also care about you. You need to maintain those relationships not because someone says you should, but because you don’t want to lose those connections. You don’t want this imbalance of relying too much on one person. You also don’t want these people who are important in your life to grow more distant.

So as long as you are not exclusively spending all of your time with this one friend, as long as you are still making time for everyone else and that includes your own self and your own goals, I see it as a great thing to have even one friend you feel this way about.

Is it that you feel like you might be in love with him? Why do you call it an “unhealthy attachment”? If you obsess about him too much you need to redefine you goals in life and find out what makes you feel fulfilled. Pursue those goals with concrete steps. Make lists for yourself of what you need to do. Make time to be there for the people who need you.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Thank you, everyone, for the advice. I appreciate it.

To clear things up:

@prasad I feel that it is an unhealthy attachment because I have come to rely on him so much that there are times when it affects my entire mood. If I don’t talk to him for a while, I may end up feeling grumpy and irritable, even if other people are around who want to enjoy spending time with me.

Yes, I do like him. There have even been times I felt like I was in love with him. I’ve wanted more on more than one occasion, but it seems pointless. We are only friends and I don’t see him ever liking me as more than a friend and/or sexual partner.

Yes, we have happy memories… several of them. We’ve also been disappointed in each other on more than one occasion. I try not to show it as much on my end, but he has definitely voiced disappointment in me. When he is disappointed in me, it rips me into pieces (not literally, but emotionally). I can’t stand the thought of disappointing him and I know that this is not healthy. Another person’s disappointment shouldn’t have that big of an effect on me. He also tells me that he’s hardly ever disappointed in me, but that I focus too much on the times that he is more than the 95% of the time that he isn’t.

I used to have a strong faith in God, but it’s not so strong anymore. I grew up in a Christian home, but I no longer consider myself Christian.

@elbanditoroso Thank you for understanding me. Yes, I would like to be more independent – with or without him in my life. I want to live for me and not just for him. There have been times when I felt extremely down and would go in the basement and cry and cry and come up with reasons why I should live. Eventually, my thoughts would end up on him and his comforting voice, comforting hugs, and comforting words. I know I need more than this because he might not always be around. I know that I’m the only person I will have to live with every second of my life, so it makes more sense for me to live for me. I also know that I shouldn’t take my family and friends for granted in favour of him. I think distancing myself (at least a little) is a good idea. I am sure he will understand. He always seems to. He usually seems to know what I need before even I do, so hardly anything seems to surprise him when it comes to me.

@janbb Thank you. That sounds like good advice. It is especially good around this time of year as I have friends who are or will be on Christmas break from school who would like to see me, so I can catch up with them. One is even a friend who I have not seen since childhood. I also have family who is visiting, so that should help as well. Reading books and having my own hobbies seem to have their own advantages, too.

@marinelife I prefer avoiding therapists if it is at all possible, but yes, I have considered doing that. I much prefer reading self-help books. Talking about my personal feelings out loud is awkward for me with a stranger. Reading and writing are easier for me. Yes, I can tell him. He would understand. I will check out that book you recommended.

@FutureMemory Hey, chanting can have its benefits. If I need to reprogram some thoughts, what better way to do it than to repetitively give myself positive messages that encourage me to do so?

@GoldieAV16 I have changed my values more than once for this person, even if that was never his intention. I find myself wanting to please him as much as I can. I’ve even gone as far as wanting to dye my hair to a colour he’s expressed an interested in, even though he says I don’t have to. This is really strange behaviour for me as I’ve never really felt the need to dye my hair before. I spent a really long time being happy with my natural hair colour. I am still happy with it, but I do want to stand out to him. His happiness is the most important thing in my life and I don’t think that’s right. There are times when my caring about his happiness has been detrimental to my own. He has told me he wants me to be happy, especially around him, and that I should look within to be happy instead of relying on others to make myself happy. Logically, what I’m doing does not make sense. He advises me to be happy from within without relying on others, so surely my efforts are pointless as that means he probably knows he should be happy from within himself without relying on others.

I do worry and think about him a lot. I don’t feel like I should be doing that. I don’t feel like I should be trying to make myself into what I think is his dream woman based on all the things he has told me. It is pointless and a waste of time, especially as he doesn’t see us ever being a couple. I’ve already accepted that I will never be his girlfriend or his wife, but yet I still try to please him. It makes no sense. It’s like I am trying so hard for his approval when I don’t really need it to be complete.

Maybe you’re right and I should stop thinking about it too much. Maybe that’s what I’m doing wrong.

@Earthgirl Your questions may have been answered in the previous things I’ve said to others in this post. I like that idea of making goals. I may just do that.

janbb's avatar

Sounds like you are on your way with this.

partyrock's avatar

I hope you find happiness and heal yourself from this. I too have had this issue so I can feel what you are going through, and know how difficult it can be. The only things I would suggest is it takes time and confidence. I don’t do it anymore, I did it mostly till I was about 19. I’m 22 now, just turned 22. Realize your self worth and know you have a lot to give and do not need this only one person to fulfill you. You can make it without it and you don’t NEED him to make you happy or validate you…. Hang out with more people, do things you love, or really ask why you cling onto him? I don’t know if this helped but if you need someone to talk to I am always here :) :) :)

partyrock's avatar

“I feel that it is an unhealthy attachment because I have come to rely on him so much that there are times when it affects my entire mood. If I don’t talk to him for a while, I may end up feeling grumpy and irritable, even if other people are around who want to enjoy spending time with me.”

I’m exactly this same way !!! I think an important thing is to not “sweat the small stuff”. You control your emotions. I think you need to live more and see how grand and big the world really is, but sometimes we make it seem smaller with our negative thinking.

wundayatta's avatar

Obviously you feel very strongly about this person, and you would like to be in a much deeper relationship with him. I wouldn’t judge myself for that. You know what you like and he is what you like. You can’t judge the future, either. You don’t know what will happen. You can tell yourself that you are being foolish for having hope, or for wanting him; you can tell yourself you are doing something unhealthy for doing that; but it won’t work.

There is no being sensible when it comes to our feelings about others; particularly our feelings of love. You feel what you feel. It might not work out the way you want it to. He might not share your feelings, but all that is yet to be determined.

I don’t think it makes sense to try to change yourself so you can fit whatever you think his image of the ideal lover is. That will never work. Either he will notice what you are doing and lose respect for you or he will fail to notice, but will eventually become aware you are faking yourself for him.

Your only hope is to continue to be yourself. You need to relate to him as you, not as the you you think he wants. You must accept that he will like you as you, or if he doesn’t, then he is not who you belong with. The last thing you want is to get him under false pretenses. It may feel good in the short run, but in the long run it will hurt a lot more.

So don’t beat yourself up for liking him. Like him. Love him. Be honest with yourself that that is what you want and stop second-guessing it. Instead, follow your feelings and let it play out. If you’re lucky, he will come to love you. If not, well, you can’t go wrong being honest to yourself.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

@janbb :)

@partyrock It’s nice to know I’m not alone. :)

@wundayatta What you said makes so much sense. I would like to clear some things up, though. He’s told me he doesn’t see us as a couple and he seems to have maintained that. He knows how much I try to please him and he’s told me he’s forever grateful for that. He knows about me wanting to dye my hair and he’s teased me about it, but it wasn’t that serious. It was more like him saying lightheartedly “I know why you want (the colour).... because I said I liked it.” He also told me that he wasn’t sure if that colour would suit me and that I didn’t have to do it. I do agree that I should definitely stop trying to change myself, though. I will be happier in the long run for it as well.

partyrock's avatar

@AnonymousGirl – You are never alone!! And never will be :) haha. Not in a creepy way, but in a nice friendly way lol !!

prasad's avatar

Really good critical thinking from Fluther experts!
I could not have thought of so many aspects of solutions myself.

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