R I need advice post
OOT I need your help. I am 27 years-old and just broke up with my girlfriend of two years. I have never felt so lost or broken. I can’t stop thinking about her and I’ve never felt so guilty in my life. As I come to grips with the relationship actually being over, I am taking a long look in the mirror and realizing I don’t like what I see.
First, my ex-girlfriend is an amazing girl. She is beautiful, charming, friendly, and caring. She comes from a bit of a broken home and has a history of men running out on her. I come from the upper-middle class all-American family. My parents are happily married and would do anything for their kids. Growing up they were very strict and I hated it. I would sneak around and avoid sharing the details of my life with my parents as much as possible. My mom would pry, and I would get pissy and push back. That trend continues up until this day. I learned I had the ability to hide things and get away with them.
Now onto all the problems I see in me. I have always been very intelligent. Specifically, I am a right-brained person. All decisions I make are in a logical fashion. In terms of education, positioning my career, and making the world work for me, I have been very successful. My mind works very fast and I usually get to the “answer” before people around me. I have scored in the 99th percentile in a number of aptitude tests, which isn’t meant as a brag, because I think it is my problem. Also, as far back as I can remember I have been incredibly stubborn and hard-headed. I like to solve my own problems; I like to do things my way. I have had a lot of success in school and in the first four years of my career. I have had worked for two employers and I have always been very popular amongst my peers and looked to as a leader amongst my peer group. At work, I am thought of as extremely outgoing. The truth is I get anxiety around people and generally consider myself an introvert because I don’t generally like people and hate small talking. I have always enjoyed quirky, nerdy people, and the people I work with would fit the bill. In a way, amongst smart people I become a charismatic alpha-male type, wheras amongst my lifelong friends I become a disenchanted introvert. Generally, I have always been “respected” by other men since I’m fair, logical, and have a quick wit. I’ve always been able to get girls because I can be charming, shameless, and aggressive when I see an opening (manipulative). My friends’ girlfriends generally haven’t got along with me since I’m opinionated, hook-up with a lot of girls, and don’t try to make small talk with them. I’ve always blown them off as stupid, or they don’t understand me. In my mind, most acquaintances would describe me as smart, opinionated, and maybe even easy-going. I have always liked the quote “the true measure of a man is how he treats those who can do him no good”. In reality, I am very hyper critical of myself and those closest to me. I suffer from analysis by paralysis when judging myself, my family, and my ex-girlfriend. I put an over-emphasis on other people’s perceptions of me. I was always taught to be humble and that your reputation is the most important thing you have. Therefore, internally I am very calculating with how I portray myself to the outside world.
Growing up, I hated that my parents were strict, but I was a sharp and mischievous, and could figure out ways to get away with anything. By anything I mean stupid kid things like sneaking out the bathroom window to meet girls, smoking cigarettes, having parties, etc without ever getting caught. Basically, I was learning to manipulate the world to my advantage. I politicked my way into the “cool” groups and occasionally would pick on kids in middle school. In high school, I learned to manipulate girls and would find ways to get girls to hook up in my car, or sneak out after curfew to hook up. I obviously enjoyed the instant gratification and rush I would get from doing these things that were “wrong”, but deep down I felt guilty because I realized they were wrong.
When I was 17, I had my first real relationship. It lasted 18 months until I was in college. The girl was a year younger, so she was still in high school when I went away to college. Throughout the relationship I cheated on her when the opportunity arose. I remember getting jealous anytime her group of girlfriends would go out with another group of guys. I remember doing my best to manipulate her to get her to act the way I thought was right. It was obviously completely hypocritical. Being a creep and ****ty boyfriend, I would think of all the ways she could do the same back. Of course, she was sweet as could be and never would cheat on me, but my ego couldn’t take the risk of that happening. Four months into my freshman year of college it got stressful being apart and my ego told me the best thing to do was to break-up, so I broke up with her. For the next 3-4 months, I tried to get her back, but she had, had enough. I was crushed. I really did love the girl, even though my actions did not show it. I didn’t deserve to have a girl that amazing.
I spent the next 6 years of my life hooking up with as many girls as possible and not getting into serious relationships. The fear of being inadequate always hampered me. I formed a stable of girls I could hook up with on any given night. I would go to the bars and around 1 am would text 3 or 4 girls until I found someone to go home with. No emotional attachment, purely physical. Some of these girls were so amazing to me. For years they would keep coming back hoping I would somehow fall in love with them. I made sure to never get emotionally attached. Again, I think the fear of becoming the same insecure, cheating, controlling, jealous boyfriend kept me from getting in a relationship.
Also, as college began I found poker along with the rest of the United States. Since no one knew what they were doing and I was a fast learner, I was able to crush for many years. I raked in 6 figures from poker 3 years in a row, BUT as always in my life I screwed it up. I developed a brutal sports gambling habit and would take shots at the highest poker games. I would bet on anything and everything. A thousand dollars became a dime. I would bet a dime, two dimes, three dimes a game. Obviously I got a bit of an ego boost from my college friends who thought this was absolutely insane (it was). It was obviously a disgusting habit and instead of setting myself up for life financially from poker I was left with nothing to show for it. Again a feeling of guilt.
From the start, I knew poker wasn’t a career choice for me as I had aspirations of raising a family and had obvious degenerative tendencies. I continued to tinker with poker at lower limits as the games got harder and my bankroll shrunk, but as I was now working 60 hours a week it was not my focus. All around me my friends began getting serious with girls. Some were engaged, others were moving in together and here I was still doing the booty call thing at 2 am. In my male friends’ eyes I was a bit of a legend, but it was unfulfilling. Deep down I was living in fear.
Then I met my ex-girlfriend. She was beautiful, sweet as can be, and a genuinely kind, loving person. Out of convenience I started dating her. She wanted to move quickly and I was afraid of getting involved. I didn’t want to hurt her and she wasn’t “perfect”. I always envisioned my wife being extremely smart and calm, kind of a mental companion. Given the stable of girls I have hooked up with in the past, most people would never expect me to say that. My ex-girlfriend was the opposite. Always, go, go, go. Loved being the center of attention, loved talking to strangers, was just a genuinely fun-loving person who enjoyed being around people and spreading kindness. She was very left-brained and not very logical or reflective. She lived for the moment. She had some insecurities from her rough upbringing, but they never showed to the outside world. The one thing she did have was a vicious temper. I wanted to “help” her. I wanted her to achieve the things she wanted in life. I made it my goal not to screw her over. I think deep down, I thought if I could help her, I could forgive myself for all the ****ty things I’ve done along the way. We had a variety of ups and downs along the way. A ton of fun times, but some excruciating fights as well. Our downfall was the fact that I couldn’t stop trying to change her. In this relationship, there was no jealousy issue and no cheating, but I was again controlling. I would make her feel bad for being an outgoing, small-talking, live for the moment person. I would ask her why she needed to be the center of attention (in reality she is just very charming, why I liked her in the first place). When she would say something “dumb” (in my eyes) in public, I would give a disapproving look or bring it up hours later on the ride home. I spent a lot of time trying to change qualities of her’s that I didn’t think were “right”. In the end, I had given her so much love, advice, and financial help which she appreciated from the bottom of her loving heart, but I wore her down. I made her feel bad about who she is. Made her feel like she had so many problems, and I was so perfect and had it all together. After reaching a breaking point I told her I wanted to break-up. The finger pointing was getting unbearable. We spent more time talking about our relationship then we did enjoying it. After a few days, we sat down, I wanted to work it out, but she was ready to move on. So here I am three weeks later, desperately wanting her back and promising to change. The truth is, I don’t think I can change.
My greatest fear is to be exposed as a manipulative, scared, little boy. To have the whole world see that I am not the person I portray myself to be. She identified this about me towards the end and I angrily tried to deny it. The truth is, she’s right. Looking in the mirror today, I realize I have been a punk to my mother my entire life and have never loved a woman correctly. Love should be about acceptance and kindness and encouraging change not forcing it. I see my friend’s and their girlfriends/wives and they just work things out and accept each other’s flaws. Then there’s me, I’ve been given every opportunity in life, but have never been able to love healthily. I have more flaws and self-hate than anyone, but make my girlfriend feel bad about her flaws. I mask all emotions to the outside world, and present myself as the person who has it all figured out. There is a lot of stress when you can’t loosen up and just be “yourself” (I’m not even really sure what that means for me). When I look in the mirror today, I feel bad about who I am. I truly loved my ex-girlfriend, but wasn’t positive she was the one (because of our differences). I can live with her not being the one, but I can’t live with the fact I made her feel ****ty about herself. She’s an amazing, kind, loving person and I am an empty, self-hating, controlling person. Again the guilt builds.
So OOT, tell me what you think of me? Am I salvageable? Do I have serious psychological issues? How do I change as a person to connect better with people around me and not manipulate people? What is the first step to changing as a person? How do I learn to accept myself and those closest to me? I have the ability to achieve great success in life, but have a self-destructive personality. I am never satisfied with what I have, therefore I am always screwing up the best things in my life. I want to be content like all the other fish out there. Instead I analyze every situation to death and the anxiety mounts. I feel like I am a lost cause.
Cliff Notes: Whiny, upper-middle class kid has hit his mid-twenties and realized he is a selfish, self-hating, misogynistic, empty, over-analyzing, punk. He has been given a lot in his life, has created a false exterior that he has it all under control, and hides his emotions from all outsiders. Under the guise of “helping” his girlfriend he was very controlling and wound up with nothing.