Signs you’re in a fantasy relationship and how to stop

fantasy relationship
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If you grew up with childhood emotional abuse and neglect, relationships of all kinds may baffle you. In romance you skip the getting to know you phase and propel yourself into a future of undying devotion. That’s one example of a fantasy relationship.

However, this future exists only in your mind because your love interest has shown no sign with either words or actions that he feels the same way. In fact, he may have given you clues that he has no intention of sharing a future with you.

These maladaptive and self-damaging mind patterns echo a childhood in which you had to convince yourself your parents cared and would do anything to protect you. Even when they demonstrated no such intention.

Here are five signs you’ve created a fantasy relationship.

1. A fantasy relationship is one-sided.

Your partner is either physically or emotionally unavailable for a meaningful relationship. They could be married or have an addiction they prioritize over you, whether that’s work or a substance or pornography.

They might have narcissistic qualities, avoid intimacy, or show no interest in a deeper relationship with you. Truth is, they likely have their own unresolved issues from childhood that make them unable to form close attachments.

They fear intimacy in the same way you do. Yes, choosing unavailable men is a subconscious way to avoid a true connection with someone.

2. You compromise your values.

In an effort to win love, you keep moving your boundaries. You make excuses for bad behavior and struggle to set standards for yourself.

In an effort to win love, you keep moving your boundaries. Click To Tweet

That’s because deep down you don’t believe you deserve to have your needs met. Or part of you believes no one will meet them so you may as well lower them to be realistic.

You cater to their needs more than your own. You’ll abandon yourself to keep this person interested, and try to fit yourself into the relationship, rather than asking what’s right for you.

3. You try hard to win him over.

You think with enough love and understanding you’ll coax this man into committing to you. Even when he has a pattern of evading commitment in the past.

You believe it’s up to you to make things work while the other person gets let off the hook. This is the conditioning your parents instilled in you to assuage guilt they may have felt about failing to meet your needs.

4. You’re obsessed with them.

You have an obsessive interest in someone who shows little interest in you. You suffer the ongoing pain of insecurity due to the power imbalance of him not caring as much as you do.

You have an obsessive interest in someone who shows little interest in you. Click To Tweet

Your obsession makes you compromise other relationships. You decline invitations or cancel dates with friends because you want to make yourself available to him.

5. You believe the fantasy relationship will “complete” you.

Even if someone all but ignores you, you believe he is the one who can solve all your problems. You’re convinced he will make your life perfect if only you can uncover the “real” him.

You tell yourself that once he sees the light he’ll understand you were meant for each other, and you will feel whole. If you only need less and give more, he’ll fulfill the empty space inside.

Why you create a fantasy relationship

fantasy relationship
Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

The feeling of longing for someone who cares less about you is compelling because it’s familiar. It triggers the same false promise it did with your parents: if I only try hard enough, they’ll love me.

As with our parents, we hold ourselves to an unattainable standard of perfection but apply no standard at all to the object of our affection. You second guess yourself and replay conversations in your mind for what you could have done differently.

All this plays into the fantasy that there is some magical way to reach this person if you can only discover it. Instead of taking someone’s actions as indications that they are not relationship ready, you take them as challenges to overcome.

That’s how your little child survived similar neglect from your parents. It’s too scary for a child to believe their parents are unfit, so you told yourself you must be doing something wrong.

It’s your fault someone else is behaving badly toward you. Do you see the ridiculousness of this statement?

But you have been telling yourself this for years and the dating coach industry has been supporting that theory as well.

They say men lose interest because you’re not acting feminine enough or you’re too easy to get. Whatever the excuse, men are rarely called on to make any concessions or do their part; it’s all up to you.

That’s how this nefarious industry plays into and profits from your traumatic experience. They prey on the fact your parents have conditioned you to believe you alone are responsible for keeping a relationship alive.

How to stop the cycle of fantasy relationship

fantasy relationship

Know your core values

Knowing your core values will help you understand yourself better and decide what you will and won’t tolerate. Your values give you a clearer view of the type of partner you want because they tell you what matters to you most.

Values serve as a compass that guide us on the road of life. They help us make decisions that ensure we are heading in the direction of the most authentic and fulfilling experience during our limited time on planet earth.

See dating as information-collecting

If you struggle with fantasy relationships you may treat dating as a one-sided test where you prove your worthiness as a romantic partner.

Begin to see dating as an information-gathering exercise instead. That does not mean you turn dates into interviews.

Begin to see dating instead as an information-gathering exercise. Click To Tweet

However, listen to what he’s telling you without sugar-coating it or telling yourself he doesn’t mean it. Ask for clarification if you need it, but take his words at face value.

If he says he doesn’t believe in marriage and you want to get married some day, don’t assume he’ll change his mind. Take it as a sign that he’s probably not the right pick for you because you don’t share the same values.

Knowledge is power

Read Addiction to Love by Susan Peabody to help you understand your need to create fantasy relationships. Educate yourself on love addiction which shares symptoms with anxious attachment style.

Know that no other person can fulfill all your needs or make your life worth living. Fulfillment comes from within and meeting your needs is an inside job.

You may want to pursue inner child healing and reparenting yourself. This is how you give yourself the care and attention you missed from your caregivers.

The Self-Parenting Solution will help you heal from childhood emotional abuse and neglect that leads to fantasy relationships. Learn more about that here.

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