Me and this guy started off as friends but thing quickly turned romantic between us. He was doing an exchange program at my university and after a few months moved back home, but we continued to stay in contact and visited each other several times. Over these last few months we don’t talk as frequently, but we do have occasional lengthy phone calls where we talk about everything.
I don’t know where I stand with him because we never discussed it, plus we are both not very expressive/overtly emotional people, and I never expected (and still don’t) a relationship to blossom from this, but I do have strong feelings for him and want to see him soon. We are both going to be in Vegas next month and he messaged me asking if I want to meet up. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I feel like he just wants a guaranteed hookup.
I guess my question is, is it normal for an ex-fling whom you were once romantically and sexually involved with to always reach out and initiate long conversations? Is it just to be polite/friendly, does it mean he misses me and still has feelings for or am I just his “fallback girl”?
Here’s what sticks out to me in your situation – and I suspect this is what is really tripping you up:
You ask if it’s normal for an XYZ guy to do ABC. (My thought is, “Who cares what’s normal and what’s not normal… it’s what’s happening….”)
You ask if his actions mean XYZ or ABC. (My thought is, “Maybe they mean neither of those things… maybe they’re just what happened and they’re ‘meaningless’….”)
You ask if something means you are the “fallback girl.” (My thought is, “There is no such thing… that was a term invented by an idiot to scare women… stop believing in unhelpful things….”)
You talk about how you want to do one thing but you’re afraid if you do what you want, he could react in a way you don’t want. (My thought is, “So… what are you proposing… to not do what you want, act in a way that you think will create a reaction you want even though it’s based on you acting in an unnatural way? How does that make any sense?”)
Now, one thing that I can pick out from your email that I think is very succinct and on point: “Maybe I’m just paranoid.” Yes, I would say you are, and I want to illustrate what paranoia is as a process in your mind so you stop participating in it….
The following is what leads to paranoia:
1) You need to make an image of some future that you want to have happen (which is your first crucial mistake… because it leads to step 2.)
2) You get excited about the possibility of that fantasy-future, but then you get afraid that what you want might not happen. In other words, if that scenario plays out the way you want, you’ll allow yourself to be happy. But if it doesn’t, you erroneously believe that you will lose something… your life will become less… your life will lack something… you will no longer be whole or complete… you will somehow lose a part of yourself. In other words, your fantasy immediately sets up a fear of loss and instead of enjoying every moment of your life, you start trying to shield and protect your path to make this fantasy future come true. You throw away the joy of the present moment in favor of some fantasy future that will make you happy. (As if happiness even worked that way… the reality is you’re just stressing yourself out and then IF you get what you want, you allow yourself some relief from the stress you created in the first place!)
3) Now that you’re full-on chasing a fantasy reality, your emotions are on a constant roller coaster ride (which is totally silly, because it’s all fantasy, illusion and nonsense in the first place… it’s self-created torture with zero benefit). In other words, whenever the guy shows some sign that things could potentially resemble heading towards your fantasy reality… the reality you want to come true… then you feel elated. You are delighted. You feel relief from the self-induced torture of resisting/rejecting all of reality that is outside of the pinhole-sized portion of “acceptable reality” that you’ve decided is real. And when reality falls outside of your pinhole-sized, microscopic idea of an acceptable reality, you feel terrible… you feel worthless, stressed, deflated, disappointed, etc.
4) This is the paranoia: You have trained yourself to shield your very fragile, fictitious fantasy reality of what you want and, in order to keep the nonsense alive, your brain habitually generates images of how this fragile fantasy could be destroyed… then you react to those images.
Here’s the fact of the matter….
No matter what happens with this guy, it’s not going to make you happy. It’s not going to complete you, it’s not going to change everything. The best you can hope for is relief from the stressful fantasy game you’re putting yourself through.
Being good at relationships and being good at being happy is the same thing. Happiness is the relationship you have with yourself… when you find way to relate to every moment (every. single. moment.) in a way that feels good and happy to you (even when everything is going the opposite of the way you’d prefer it to go), then you love yourself. Then you are finally