nyc212 , there's one dating site that outright asks how long you want your next relationship to be. If it was anything less than a serious-relationship (not casual like "just for tonight" or "a few months") yet open-ended answer, I wanted no part of it. Because they're putting an expiration date on it right from the start, and showing that they have preconceived expectations and they're not really open to seeing where things go based on getting to know the person. That, to me, often translates as unavailable. (My LTR FA ex on there has "a few years" as his answer... also, the question is optional.)
Completely agreed! I would get a like from someone who had in their profiles "a few months" where I was clear in my bio that I was looking to get off the site for good. Like, did you even read my profile? Clearly not! At the moment I am not on any dating site at all. I realize it's basically 150% avoidants on there and I was wasting my time! As you can tell from my user name, I am in NYC, and I have to tell you, the pickings online are very, very slim :-(
@janedoe, same exact experience the couple times I brought up answers that seemed incompatible. I got smarter about it later and only answered questions I actually cared about to get better match algorithms, and didn't talk to people anymore who I saw obvious dealbreakers with.
The good news seems to be that I feel way more secure than even a year ago. Even though I first earned secure in summer 2018, over time with mindfulness, my communication and boundaries and what I'll accept in a relationship keeps improving. I was still sometimes giving some of my time to avoidants earlier last year (though was acting secure with them and wasn't sticking around long, there was still some spark attraction), and that really doesn't seem to happen anymore. I finally, finally! seem pretty firmly attracted to secure, emotionally stable, and more mature men now.
What's interesting to think about from an insecure attachment standpoint is, I still have a couple basic superficial preferences, but most of what I'm looking for now isn't check boxes about physical stuff or career success or what I believe society was dictating makes a "high-value" partner. I'm very attracted to shared values, integrity, honesty, consistency, good communication, and compatible life stage. Before, when I was AP, there was a lot more priority on looks, sexual attraction above all, and there was fear of the guy not being good enough for me (ironic since I'd usually pick guys who treated me like crap so... how was I even defining good???). I think part of it was I was so scared of, and used to, being hurt and abandoned by my avoidant, non-committal partners that the only way I could override my anxiety enough to want to pursue a relationship was if there was undeniable physical attraction. Yet, those sparks I was interpreting as attraction were anxiety provoked in me by avoidants, so of course I was then feeding into my own negative narrative and repeating endlessly!
The pandemic, and some additional introspection I was doing right before it started (I went to a local workshop for a few hours about meeting people and clarifying, well, let's use Anne's term of love vision) really forced clarity in exactly what my values are and what I'm looking for in a partner in regards to long-term compatibility. In the US, everyone is so polarized now and we need to be so careful with the virus not being under control, that it forces situations where you learn how strangers deal with stress and resultant compatibility waaaaay earlier than you otherwise would. So, that forced me to really learn what it takes for me to trust someone as a romantic partner as I'm getting to know them, as we're also forced to take things really slowly if we're being responsible.
I have been online dating lots, since that seems to be my only option to meet new people at the moment. Most men I've met are insecure (equally split among all the types it seems, AP, DA, FA) and it's been a chore to talk to them or I feel uncomfortable continuing to meet with them in person because I learn they don't take distancing too seriously. But I have met some secures, and most of what I'm doing is going with an open mind, asking questions without projecting expectations, and trying to get to know who they are.
In the spring, I dated a guy who seemed secure and reasonably compatible for a few months who then turned out to be kind of a jerk as I got to know him better. Threw myself back into dating after that, and had some pretty idiotic encounters (I was asked on a few third dates and declined them all). Except one seemingly secure guy in the background the last few months, who I started out by dating virtually, but he has been so consistent and aligned with my values that talking to him was naturally very easy and delightful. He's not who I'd have expected to go for on paper (he's not out of the range of my "type" but there's some differences in our backgrounds for sure), but I feel like the mental (emotional/intellectual) connection is actually real, we want the same things, we like each other so far and have been gradually but equally progressing things. Nothing is confusing at all, and it's just clear and easy, for both of us. Even with the secure guy in the spring, it was a little confusing (he was being cagey about moving things forward and turned out to subtly be a bad communicator even though he seemed mostly open -- he was only good if there was no chance of conflict, if he felt there might be then his words would become evasive, so we could repair things but not actually resolve anything). But this feels like we're both open books and talking through everything and anything can be done without fear of judgement or retribution or anyone shutting down and leaving. We're both simply respectful and straightforward and try to problem-solve if there's a problem.
For the time being, I've paused meeting more new guys because after a couple months I was like, why am I putting myself through more and more bad dates if I just want to come home and talk to him after. So we've shifted to dating (safely) in person and are going to figure out how official we want to make this soon. Fingers crossed things keep going well!
But yeah, for both me and for him, compared to our past relationships (he's also had some doozies that definitely sound like they involved insecure attachment issues), it's so straight-forward and so easy and natural to connect. It's just night and day compared to my anxious-avoidant messes or the few AP guys I've gone on a handful of dates each with, where people are projecting and miscommunicating and either hiding their needs or disconnected from their needs all over the place (my past self included). So much of this really, truly seems to be about who you choose as a partner, and trust in good and bad times and times of stress (so... consistency) is so important. If this works out, there really should be so much hope for anyone in earnest trying to work through their own insecure attachment issues that things can get better! And if it doesn't work out, that's okay too, because I'll be fine either way... and believe that, while it takes effort to find them, there will be other good partners somewhere out there. Though -- it would be nice for this to work out too because I'm still on my shorter timeline if I want to have a kid after the pandemic ends. But while that motivated me to keep meeting new guys even when I didn't really want to, it's not motivating the progression of this current situation or leaking out as pressure on either of us.
Another update. We made things official after my last post here, and it's been great! We're both very happy, which seems like a miracle during the pandemic. Friends have commented on how happy we look in the few photos I've posted on social media. And while we talk a lot on this forum about how social media can present an idealized projection of the truth that isn't remotely what is really going on, I've actually never had friends say this before about posts I've made about past boyfriends. It seems it's been obvious to everyone that it's working well
While I was pretty sure he was secure after a short time of knowing him, I've been burned enough in the past that a tiny part of me was going to wonder if I should expect a flip, which is something I notice other APs talk about on the board as well. I had no reason based on anything about him to think that, and since earning secure I do not project my past baggage onto new individuals (I let them show me who they are), so it wasn't actually causing a problem for me ie I wasn't worrying or sabotaging. But I wondered a bit. He isn't familiar with attachment theory beyond what I've told him about it, but humored me anyway and took an assessment.
Yes, it turns out it is possible to meet a secure and commitment-minded man over the age of 35 on a dating app! I know we worry about this on the forum, and they are not common, but they do exist! So hang in there. I've met so many men online I've lost count (I'd easily say 100 over the years, though much of that was when I was AP and chasing the wrong things), and I went through a lot of incompatibility, but again -- when I focused on shared values and getting to know someone over time, it really helped. Even if it required more of a time investment than I hoped for, having to meet that many people before finding one I'm very compatible with, once I started dating more "securely" my dating experiences improved a lot (even if this meant knowing when to move on faster from weird dates) and it became worth it. Though I would still need to take breaks after several bad dates in a row, so it didn't become always fun or anything like that just because I was more secure.
The other thing I've noticed is sometimes people on the forum worry that if they themselves become more secure they'll no longer feel sparks for others (because the anxious-avoidant pairing can come with strong sparks of attraction) and instead will feel bored in life. This has not been a problem at all! We have lots of sparks and really enjoy each other's company. It's different than in my past relationships with avoidants because there's no "longing." But that doesn't mean I don't miss him when he's not around, it's just in a way that's not insatiable. So, instead of needing another person to soothe my anxiety, give me value and purpose, obsess about, it's more like... I'm fine on my own, and being alone is fine. But it is even better and happier when he's around. So I would like him to be around when he's not, but if that's not possible it's fine too, I'll just go do whatever it is I need to do anyway and slightly miss him at times but generally not be thinking much about it. And certainly not be overwhelmed thinking about him. Just generally being happy either way, and glad he exists and is living his life, too. So, the sparks are still there, but general level of life satisfaction is much higher than it has been in past rocky and longing-filled relationships.
kittygirl, thanks. We both feel lucky! He wasn't actually expecting to meet someone online at this stage who is compatible and has the same goals either, especially during a pandemic. Not because he didn't want to, but his other online dating experiences were just as frustrating as the rest of ours! In spite of the 2020 dumpster fire, he has said he's been getting happier and happier since we initially connected, and I feel that way, too 😊 It is just so easy and organic for us both, and gradually escalated at a good speed. It's been great! Especially the consistency, the open and direct communication about all topics, and the foundational trust we have so far (especially important during the pandemic). As someone who used to be extremely AP, I've never had a relationship like that, and I'm so happy to be in a place in myself that I can have one now.
I’m so happy for you alexandra! Thanks for the update. This is such a lovely story and it gives me hope. While I’m not necessarily looking forward to having to meet so many people before finding someone who is secure and compatible, I’ve been starting to feel more motivated over the past few months now that I know what I’m looking for and it seems like it can actually happen. I think I’ve been sabotaging myself by getting so frustrated and pessimistic about online dating. Anyway, I’m thrilled for you. It sounds like you put in a ton of effort and it paid off. Please keep us posted!
iz42, it wasn't actually soooo long once I stopped dating "wrong" lol. (Wrong in my own opinion, by which I mean chasing the wrong things, prioritizing traits that don't create compatibility.) I'd say once I was really ready and fully secure and over my FA ex, it took about 12-15 months of searching to find a serious committed relationship with someone who seems like they may be the right person. And that time is inclusive of a couple 2 month breaks when I got too frustrated with bad dates, so actually a bit shorter. And, this was also when challenged by the pandemic for the last few months, yet it was still able to happen!
So I'm glad it's encouraging, because I think it should be! I absolutely wish I'd discovered all the attachment stuff ten years earlier than I did, but getting past AP was worth it. Better late than never