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Is doubting a relationship normal? Do all couples experience it on some level?

Tagged as: Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (25 July 2008) 7 Answers - (Newest, 25 July 2008)
A female United Kingdom age 30-35, *ickygal writes:

Hi all, I'll try to make this as brief as possible!

I broke up with my partner last year after being together for 3 years. I had spent a great deal of time obsessing about our compatibility, and I realised that life is just too short to spend so much time doubting a relationship. I was initially really please with this decision, and I enjoyed spending some time alone, getting to know myself again, doing some things I have always wanted to do, etc. We were apart for 6 months, and this gave me a lot of time and perspective. However, I also found that, despite my new-found "freedom", I really missed him dreadfully. Everything reminded me of him, I felt this deep sense of loss and sadness. I realised that I had been expecting him to make me happy in ways impossible for anyone else to do but myself, and that perhaps I hadn't been fair to him.

We got in contact again, and it turned out that neither of us had been with anyone else - not even as a one night stand! - after months apart! Our reunion was incredible - we both wept tears of joy, confessed our undying love for each other, and promised we would never do that to each other again. I think he might even propose in the near future!

The problem? The doubts have started creeping back again, and I feel like we're heading back to square one. I don't know whether I am my own worst enemy, because I tend to be over-analytical, so perhaps I am just talking myself into this? I know that if we had to break up again, it would be over for good, and this fills me with dread, because I really can't picture life without him. If I had to describe it, I would say it is a war between my head and my heart: my head is doing the doubting, while my heart is filled with nothing but love. How do I convince my over-analytical brain to shut up and just enjoy being in love? Am I turning this "doubt" into more of an issue than it really is? Or do you think this is a major warning sign, and perhaps my "head" has a point? Is doubting a relationship "normal", or do all couples experience it on some level?

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A female reader, vickygal United Kingdom +, writes (25 July 2008):

vickygal is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thanks, yeah, I agree...

The problem is, it is all fine and well to think about this rationally and logically, and to come to the conclusion that it's probably not worth compromising this much, but I'm afraid when you're in love with someone, the thought of ending things based on a "rational" decision is very difficult indeed. Perhaps I do still believe deep down that "love conquers all"! And I don't really know how to convince myself otherwise... As you say, at least I have time... in fact, just this thought has already made things better, because it was the pressure of thinking that I had to make a decision NOW, this minute, that led to state of obsession I described in my first post... phew! ok... I have time, I need to absorb some of these insights, and just see how it goes... no pressure! At least I am a lot clearer about what my "doubts" actually are... it has been good to articulate them, to lay them on the table... so thanks everyone thus far!

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A female reader, krista217 United States +, writes (25 July 2008):

krista217 agony auntYou are definitely not crazy! As other posts say, almost any differences can be worked out, but only if you both compromise or if one is willing to completely give into the other. It does sound like you are doing the compromising to be with him..and if that's ok for you then great, but I personally think a relationship is a 2 way road and unless you ENJOY what you are getting yourself into (you are ok with adapting to HIS culture and HIS lifestyle) then I personally don't think it's worth it. In my experience love only gets you so far, you must consider ALL aspects of a relationship. And once kids are involved EVERYTHING changes...if you do want to have kids in the future think how you would feel raising kids in the lifestyle you are now living.

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A female reader, vickygal United Kingdom +, writes (25 July 2008):

vickygal is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thanks! I think I have just had a major revelation, thanks to your responses! Angela B is right: I DO feel like I need more of my own "head" time - I mean, I probably stayed in love with him during our 6-month break-up, simply because I was able to have all this time to do my own thing, and I wasn't "investing" everything I am into the relationship. And this would be workable, except that, as Older Sister points out, going out with someone from another country means that you sometimes have to make EXTRA compromises! Aha! This explains a LOT. If it were just the "me-time" that was the problem, this would be workable. If it were just the "culture thing" that was the problem, compromises could be made. Unfortunately, the compromises I would need to make, clash with my desire for more independance. OK! phew! This is all making sense... Now I understand why I am feeling this way - I thought I was going mad! I still don't know what I'm going to do about it... but at least I know I'm not a crazy woman!

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A female reader, vickygal United Kingdom +, writes (25 July 2008):

vickygal is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thanks, I have just checked out the responses thus far! I suppose doubting is always "normal" to some extent, but what I am doing at the moment is more like "obsessing". Perhaps I should add more about what my specific "doubts" are... First off, I have to say that he really IS a great guy, I love HIM from the bottom of my heart, it's just our compatibility that's a bit of a sticking point! When I met him, about 4 years ago, I thought it would be a nothing more than a fling - he was so far from the picture of the "ideal man" I've always had in my head! To be honest, it was probably more a case of "opposites attract" - we have different cultural backgrounds, education, and perhaps even attitudes to life in general - things that are obviously very important for a relationship to work! Despite my initial hesitation over getting involved with someone so different, however, the more time I spent with him, the more he surprised me - he opened me up to a whole new way of thinking and living. We have a sort of soul connection, if that doesn't sound too heavy, and I do feel like he just "gets me" - sometimes we talk until the sun rises, it always feels like there is more to say, and we never stop laughing - we just LOVE being in each other's company! My doubts all come from the "lifestyle" issues. As I have said, we are from very different backgrounds - in fact, from different countries - and all the disagreements we have stem from this. It just seems that we have very different expectations about how we want to live, and I know you can't "change" somebody, but I kept on hoping he would want to make a few compromises. Because I moved to his country, I feel like I am doing all the compromising, and I sometimes feel like he "gets away" with stuff, which I "tolerate" because I interpret it as part of our cultural differences. Even though some things really drive me crazy, I never criticise him, because I don't know where the line is between "him" being annoying, and my lack of understanding of his background. I suppose these are things we can talk about - and we do! - but they are not things we can ever fully "resolve". Sigh, I don't know... I love the guy, I really do, but sometimes I feel I'm hitting my head up against a brick wall!

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A female reader, krista217 United States +, writes (25 July 2008):

krista217 agony auntIn my experience, when you doubt a relationship there is good reason. I am in a similar predicament but he has given me ample reason to doubt our relationship...but as you said, my heart loves him and wants it to work but my logical brain says to leave now!

There has to be some reason you feel doubt. Have their been issues with your relationship in the past? Have their been issues with you and a previous relationship? If HE is really that great and you do truly love him and can see no logic behind the doubt, then I think you do need to do your best to work through the doubt as it sounds like your heart is in the right place.

I would also suggest talking to him about this. It may hurt him but I guarantee he'd rather know what you are thinking than be left in the dark while you a) contemplate leaving him or b) your attitude towards him changes because you are so confused as to what to do.

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A female reader, Angela.B United Kingdom +, writes (25 July 2008):

Angela.B agony auntI would say it's pretty normal to experience doubts at some level on occasions, but it's not normal to constantly feel them and to the extent you break up with someone you really want to be with.

I wonder if you aren't feeling over committed to the relationship and that it's stifling your desire for personal freedom? It could be that you are just giving up more of yourself to it than you are ready / able to at the moment.

Wanting and needing your own personal space and time to do the things you want to do separately from what you do as a couple is perfectly normal and if we don't get enough of it we can quickly become unhappy and feel trapped / doubtful no matter how much we love our partner.

If you can find the right balance between "me" / head time and "us" / heart time you might find the doubts fade away.

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A male reader, eddie Canada +, writes (25 July 2008):

eddie agony auntYou will always have doubts about things in life. It could also pertain to your job, where you live etc. There is ALWAYS the possibility that there is someone better out there. There will always be a better job and a bigger house. You already hit the nail on the head though. It's not the actual item that fulfills you, it's the searching and wondering. If we never stop and smell the roses, life passes us by.

What do you think another man would give you that your current man isn't? They say the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the hill. It's greenest where you water it.

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