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In ‘Ask VICE’, we answer your life questions, with the help of psychologists, experts and experience experts.
IN Ask VICE we answer your life questions with the help of psychologists, experts and experience experts. Whether they are about unhappy loves, annoying roommates or the feeling of crippling insecurity that overwhelms you after a evening drinking† Do you also want us to answer your question? Send an email to email@example.com.
I’m three years old now occupied by someone who is not interested in me in the same way. Rationally, I know I should not expect more of this, but if I get a little bit of attention from him, a message or a hint of kindness, my head starts to spin again.
A. is one of my best friends, we talk for hours on the phone, we regularly go out together in a larger group, and he is usually the center of attention. He is also someone who has a hard time being in a relationship for more than six months.
He knows how I feel about him. I confessed to him once, but at that time he was with someone else. If he had known it before, he said at the time, things could have been different between us. Since then, he has had three other relationships.
A few times, after a few drinks, we even kissed and almost ended up in bed. Other times he appears so distant that I have to ‘mute’ him on social media and then avoid any contact.
Many of our mutual friends used to say, “There’s obviously chemistry between the two of you,” but now they say, “Stop playing his game anymore.” I thought at some point I would fall for another and stop thinking about A. that way. It did not happen.
I’m tired and frustrated. Sometimes I think it’s just an obsession, but I also feel like A. is taking advantage of me. How do I get out of this situation once and for all? I’m 25 years old, I should be old enough to understand that if someone does not want me, they will not want me.
Therapists Federica Micale and Giulia Amicone specialize in relationships. Recently, they set up a therapy service called Psychology† They are happy to help you with your love dilemma.
“When we long for a relationship with someone who does not like us, an involuntary mechanism is activated in our brains,” they explain via email. “That is it”Zeigarnik effect‘”After the Soviet psychologist who discovered the effect. According to Zeigarnik, our brain is better at storing unresolved or interrupted activities than at remembering completed activities. “It’s as if we’re constantly receiving a message urging us to finish what we started,” they continue. “That’s why we get stuck in non-relationships that do not satisfy us.”
In your letter, you write that you are tired and frustrated. This is very understandable, because you have been ‘stuck’ in this situation for a long time. “The fact that you admit it now makes you vulnerable because you expose yourself, and it usually only happens when the need is great,” the therapists said. You can also “acknowledge that you’re in a situation that is not good for you.”
The attention you get from A. feels confusing to you. The intimacy, and even the occasional lovemaking, gives you an adrenaline rush, but also creates emotional pain because there are moments of detachment as well. Even though you sometimes hate it, you have also gotten used to this situation, and are eager to get rid of it.
Micale and Amicone think your question is whether A. deliberate abuse making of you is a step in the right direction. For example, you should think about whether he previously used your help but did not provide the same support when you needed it. “He can ask for great services, but not return them so easily,” the therapists write. “He can assume he will see you soon, provided you will do whatever it takes to be there.”
On top of that, A. may never have clarified your status because “his need for attention outweighs his respect for the other person,” the experts say, because as you mentioned, A. likes to be in the spotlight. . Moreover, you have made your feelings clear to him, and yet he refuses to give you an honest answer.
Because you’re in love with this person, that kind of alarm bells are likely to ring less loudly. You might be clinging to little things, like when he immediately responds to your Instagram post or calls you to meet, and you try to see a deeper meaning in it. You may think this is proof that there is something, a relationship you want, but it does not really exist.
Next time this happens, try to “take some distance,” experts say. Only then can you see if “you have maneuvered yourself into an addictive relationship that does you no good.” The second step is to “give yourself time,” they continue. You can e.g. start with “do not change your plans if he asks you to”. You will be amazed at how much difference it can make if you change your attitude towards him.
The fact that you are not falling for someone else during this time may be due to the fact that you have not yet met someone you really like. But you could also check if you did not want to give others a chance. Waiting so long for someone can make you low self-esteem develops, making it harder to throw yourself into a new relationship. “When you then meet someone who appreciates you, you begin to doubt yourself and you may find it easier to stay in your comfort zone.”
To be clear, the experts do not suggest that it will be the solution to enter into a new relationship. They believe that the energy you now put into this idealized love is better spent on tangible experiences. In the meantime, it can be “helpful to just focus on your interests and share them with other people close to you, such as friends.”
And to avoid relapse, you can work on your self-esteem, perhaps with the help of a therapist. If you feel like you’s done, consider tidying things up with A. “It can be liberating, and you can end the process of gradual detachment with it,” Micale and Amicone add.
Finally, the therapists will emphasize that it is not necessary to blame oneself for having ended up in this position as a 25-year-old. “In life and in love, there are no scripts or protocols to follow,” they write. “It’s not your age that matters, but your emotional development and the stage you are in. We all have our own experiences, and when we are ready, we can learn from them.”