I’ve always compartmentalized the different parts of my life, and the thought of different elements overlapping gives me serious anxiety. I’m especially determined to keep my friends and lovers separate from one another and it’s starting to cause major problems for everyone.
I’m afraid of being replaced. Just thinking about mixing my romantic relationship with my friendships causes a tightness in my chest. There’s an irrational fear at play here, and it’s a pretty selfish one. Basically, I’m afraid my friends and my partner will like each other more than they like me and I’ll be replaced in the group by my partner. Call it silly, but it’s real enough to me to cause serious problems in my life.
I’m an amazing friend and girlfriend so I don’t know what I’m so worried about. I want to know that my relationship is solid and that my position in my circle of friends isn’t threatened by my partner. In my fear, I assume that if we break up, he’ll remain in the group and I’ll be kicked out. It’s basically high school politics on an adult scale and it’s all rooted in my lack of self-worth. I need a healthy dose of self-care.
It causes a whole lot of unnecessary stress. Can you imagine trying to keep the most important people in your life separate from each other? I turn into a scheduling wizard in trying to prevent these two worlds from colliding, and it takes up way too much of my mental energy. I’m always afraid of my boyfriend getting too close to my friends, to the point that the mere idea of my S.O. and my BFF having a conversation makes me uncomfortable. It’s a terrible feeling and I don’t know how to stop it.
It’s totally unfair on the people in my life who care about and want the best for me. Logically, it makes total sense to celebrate these two majors parts of my life coming together. My partner is awesome and my friends are awesome—why shouldn’t they be awesome together? I feel guilty for depriving them of the opportunity to get to know me on a deeper level by meeting each other but I don’t know how to get over myself.
My boyfriend thinks I’m ashamed of him. While I can totally understand his assumption, I also really hate that it’s my own insecurity that’s the source of his self-doubt. I’m not at all ashamed of him, I’m intimidated by him and his social prowess. It’s hard to explain to him why I feel the way I do because I know I’m being ridiculous. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the feelings go away.
My friends keep asking about my partner and I’m running out of excuses. They’re good friends and they’re curious about the person I’m sharing my life with. I always feel awkward when I visit them alone and they ask where he is. It’s doesn’t seem reasonable to say that I didn’t invite him because I want their friendship all to myself even though that’s what I’m really thinking. Instead, I make terrible and not entirely believable excuses that I know they’re too smart to buy.
They’re going to mix eventually anyway, so what’s the holdup? It’s silly to think I can keep these people separate forever, and in any case, it’s not even my job to micro-manage who gets to meet whom. These people are autonomous beings and they’re free to create connections with whoever they want. I’d save myself a lot of trouble and just succumbing to the inevitable rather than resisting it and making more trouble for myself.
When I do introduce them, my fears are never actually fulfilled. From time to time, my partners have met my friends and, surprise, surprise, my life hasn’t ended. I haven’t been suddenly and unjudiciously replaced and life has gone on pretty much as normal. The anxiety remains, but when I remember those examples, it gives me the confidence to keep dismantling my fear.
I’m working on it. I know this anxiety is ruining me and my closest relationships and it’s something I’m committed to changing. My current boyfriend is the first one I’ve intentionally introduced to my friends. They get on wonderfully and he’s now a stable member of my social circle. There are still moments of discomfort and it’s something I’m still very much working through, but it’s a huge step in the right direction and it feels good to share the joy of community with the people I love most.
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