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Dear Wendy

How to approach a relationship without coming off “too perfect”?

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  • #1034708 Reply
    avatarMichaelT
    Guest

    I was born of a rape. My mother was 23 years old when she got brutally raped and tortured at the hands of an older man. Her life changed dramatically and she had me a year later and, for some reason, decided against giving me up. She told me about the rape and how she had me when I was 10 years old. I could tell that I was different than other kids, that my mother was different than other mothers, and it felt, at that moment, that I could finally see why. It was the moment of truth for me.
    For the next 6 years, I tried my best to be the best son any mother could have. I was a bright student, I worked hard around the house and I never complained or asked for anything. I knew I was a carrier of the deviant genes and I didn’t want to give her any reason that might lead her to despise me. My mother struggled greatly with life and relationships. I suppose not giving me up and raising me exhausted her soul and she took her own life when I was 16 years old. I loved her dearly. I still do. Losing her like that and knowing how having me impacted her life traumatized me for a very long time. I’ve been in therapy for almost 10 years which helped me unpack most of my traumas and emotional baggage.

    My issue is I don’t know how to be in relationships. Whenever a girl shows an interest in pursuing a relationship with me, I always tell her my truth, who I am, and how I was born. I’ve never ever lied or tricked a girl into my bed. Most of them say they have no issue with my truth and that it’s not my fault so I do what I did with my mother. I try my best to be the perfect boyfriend. I’m nice, I bring flowers and gifts all the time. I never complain, never fight with her, never ever ask for anything. If I’m angry or frustrated about something, I just keep it to myself so I won’t bother her with it. I only share the good parts of myself. I do all these things because it’s the only way I know to help those I love to overcome my truth and accept me. I’ve been told in therapy that approaching relationships with this mindset of “I need to be perfect” might have its downfalls. To be honest, I don’t know why wouldn’t women want a perfect boyfriend. Doesn’t make sense at all.

    Anyway, I met a very nice girl who has gone out of her way to show me that she likes me. We’ve been out on two dates and we are approaching that point where I need to tell her my truth before she sinks herself further and further into a relationship with me. But I’d like to explore new ways to approach the whole thing this time without coming off “too perfect”, do you have any advice for me?

    #1034724 Reply
    avatarAnge
    Guest

    Women don’t want a perfect boyfriend, they want a human boyfriend who treats them well and with respect. If you’re trying to be this weird vision of perfection it’s not going to be genuine and that will scare them off far more than your origin story. Which, by the way, isn’t an indictment of you as a person at all. You had nothing to do with how you came into this world and it means nothing to who you are.

    If I were you I’d continue with therapy and work on deconstructing your need to be ‘perfect’, you’ve got some behaviours going on that are definitely working against you and they’ll be hindering you in and future dating endeavours. Just be real and show that you can do that in a healthy way and you’ll be fine.

    #1034754 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    You do NOT have to disclose this information after 2 dates. It doesn’t have to define you, and it’s also very heavy to lay on someone quite that soon. Like, yeah, don’t hide it, and eventually as you’ve gotten close to someone, you can discuss that your mom died by suicide and you’ve done a lot of work in therapy. The whole “I was a product of rape” thing though… I don’t know. Work on that more with your therapist, because that’s not who you are, and you don’t need to represent yourself that way.

    Also, yeah, your therapist is right. People who feel they have to be perfect or they won’t be loved, aren’t being their authentic selves in relationships. And when you’re not being yourself, you’re going along with everything to avoid conflict, and you’re scared to mess up, you can’t form a real connection. It’s not real, and it eventually falls apart. You have to be yourself so that you can form a real, unique connection with just the right person. Women don’t want perfection, they want a guy they connect with in a special way.

    #1034763 Reply
    avataranonymousse
    Participant

    Yeah, women don’t want what your idea of a perfect boyfriend is. Why? Because it’s fake. Women want a real person who had wants and desires and opinions about stuff.

    It sounds to me that you are struggling to be able to connect to people because of the trauma you’ve experienced. You don’t think someone will love the real you, so you put on this act of a perfect, quiet boyfriend and everyone can tell that’s not the real you. You only show certain aspects of yourself. It turns people off of you. You’re not moving forward because you’re presenting as a shell of a person. The walls you’ve built up to protect yourself are prohibiting you from making deeper connections.

    Your origin story is dark, but it doesn’t have to define you. Your mothers trauma does not have to be your trauma. I’m sorry you lost your mother at such a young age. What happened to her isn’t your fault, and it does not mean your have deviant genes or anything. You aren’t a bad person because you’ve been told your father was. He doesn’t have to figure into your life as heavily as he does. This doesn’t have to be the defining feature of your life. It can be a side note.

    If your therapist isn’t helping you move forward and helping you in your day to day struggles, you should try to find a new one.

    #1034770 Reply
    avatarFYI
    Guest

    Sorry for your loss and everything that happened in your past.

    I would agree that it’s not necessary to disclose this to someone after two dates. What if you waited a little while to see if SHE is a trustworthy person, you know? I’m sure you think she’s lovely, but telling people right away seems almost like an apology or a big confession of something you did wrong. It’s NOT that at all. You’re allowed to set some standards of your own, to see if the other person meets those standards. Maybe you disclose only AFTER you see if she seems like a genuinely kind person. She may not be!

    #1034803 Reply
    avatarFYI
    Guest

    It’s like you’re starting in a one-down position before anything has even happened. You’re going in thinking you have to explain or justify some major flaw. You’re going in thinking you’ve got to make it up to them somehow. No. What if they have to impress YOU a little, y’know?

    #1034840 Reply
    avatarLisforLeslie
    Guest

    I am very glad that you are in therapy – please continue it.

    1. You do not need to tell people how you were conceived. Ever. In fact, you may want to reserve that information until the point when you can trust them. I recognize that this has defined you for many years, but I think you need to reconsider how big you allow this part of you to be. I’m sure there is much more to you.

    2. I really want you to understand that your therapist is right. Being the “perfect boyfriend” is actually being yourself and you’re not doing that now. You need to start expressing your own needs and wants. Having opinions and thoughts. Having boundaries. If you are doing everything that you think your girlfriend wants – then you are not being your authentic self. You are hiding behind this idea of the ideal boyfriend. The perfect boyfriend is someone who has flaws. And the right girlfriend is someone who will love you for all of your quirks and can deal with your flaws (I’m not saying she’ll love them, but she can deal with them. Like my stepdad would fart like a demon but my mom loved him dearly anyway. To be fair she snores loudly and he didn’t even wear earplugs to bed.)

    And you can be loved. Your mom had some serious, deep issues, and I’m so sorry that you had such a heavy burden placed on you at 10 and again at 16. It’s not fair, but sometimes life just tosses you a lemon, then whacks you across the face with a shovel while you’re looking at the lemon. You are more resilient than you realize and you’re worthy of being loved.

    #1034849 Reply
    avatarBittergaymark
    Guest

    Yeah. I don’t think that dark chapter of your family history is really anybody’s business but yours. I’d just say —- I never knew my father and leave it at that.

    Frankly, I strongly disagree with your mother’s VERY questionable decision to forever burden you with that information. Hell… If people’s genes truly determined their destiny I’d be a rich, straight, attorney with two fabulous homes. 🤷‍♂️

    #1034851 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    Yeah, clearly your mom was struggling mentally, so I don’t want to bash her decision to tell you that, but she shouldn’t have, especially not at age 10. You shouldn’t have been told anything other than he’s not around anymore.

    #1034852 Reply
    avataranonymousse
    Participant

    I also believe that it was wrong of your mother to burden you with that story at that age. It was inappropriate for her to do that and then raise you with the belief that you carried deviant genes. Your mother was suffering from mental illness and that is what I hope your therapist has been trying to tell you. If that is not the case, I think you should seek another therapist.

    You are not a bad person. You did nothing to deserve to carry constant shame. It is not your fault.

    And you really don’t owe that story to anyone, ever if you don’t want to. When you tell someone this story on a second date, it scares them off. You’ve noticed that. It’s too early to tell someone that, because you’ve just met. And by telling them so early, they can tell it figures largely in your life, that you are still raw about it and probably shouldn’t be dating.

    You should put dating on the back burner and find a new therapist, one who will help you work through your past and help you be more confident and forge better connections.

    You don’t have to be the person burdened with this forever. You can choose to put that to the side and be a guy who never knew his dad and sadly lost his mother at a young age. You don’t have to walk around feeling like something is inherently wrong with you. I’m so sorry for the things you have been through, but they don’t have to become your life. You can choose your own path that has nothing to do with your childhood and what you were told.

    #1034853 Reply
    avatarMiel
    Participant

    You say “I never complain, never fight with her, never ever ask for anything. If I’m angry or frustrated about something, I just keep it to myself so I won’t bother her with it” and wonder why a woman wouldn’t want a perfect boyfriend. But that’s exactly the problem, the perfect boyfriend would sometimes complain, ask for things, or express anger and frustration.

    A fundamental part of having a significant other is the idea of “partnership”. It’s two people who sometimes agree, sometimes disagree, go through happy and sad times together, help each other when they have problems, rejoice together when they have successes. By never complaining and keeping your frustrations to yourself, you’re denying a potential girlfriend the whole entire point of a relationship: a partnership.

    One of the great joy of meeting someone is figuring out what you both like and dislike, and it’s so exciting when you find common ground. But being with someone who always say “Yes dear”, “we can do whatever you want”, “we can go wherever you prefer”, “I don’t have a preference, I just want you to be happy,” feels like speaking to a robot who has been programed to agree with you on everything. It doesn’t feel like a real human being who loves you. I mean, it would be like sitting in a magic casino where you would always win. It’s fun for an hour or two and then it becomes boring. There’s just no fun anymore if you know your partner will say and do whatever you want.

    So yes, I would definitely work further with your therapist on your attachment issues. You don’t have a stain on you because you were born from rape, you don’t have “bad genes” or whatever else. You don’t have to tell any of your partners anything about your origins. That is not information that is relevant at the beginning of a relationship. You are a person who deserves love and happiness, just like everyone else. You don’t have to be perfect to be deserving of someone’s love or to keep someone in a relationship with you.

    #1034854 Reply
    avatarMichaelT
    Guest

    Thank you all for your comments. I really appreciate it.

    It seems you all agree that I shouldn’t tell anyone about my origins, especially in the beginnings, and definitely not after two dates because it will only scare them off.

    I totally understand this point and kinda agree with it but I struggle with the ethical issue of letting someone sink deeply into a relationship with me without knowing the real me. What if “who I am and how I came to exist” would be an issue for them, wouldn’t it be best to just give them the chance to walk away from the beginning?

    At the same time, I realize it probably makes me come off as “creepy” because the beginnings should be fun. It should be about enjoying each other and getting close to one another but I don’t want to trick anyone and make them regret spending time with me once they find out the truth.

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