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Discussion Starter #1
Dear type 5's,
I struggle with unpredictable emotions, is this typical?

My relationship has ended (been together +/- 4 years), feeling pretty bad right now. However, the first few weeks I didn't feel this way at all and told everyone I was doing fine this way. The weird thing is, I genuinely thought I was okay with it. But now, having holiday, I suddenly realize I miss him so much... And suddenly the sadness seems unbearable.
Looking back, this is often what happens to me. About two weeks ago, I even met up with my former boyfriend and was very relieved it went so smoothly; I didn't want him back and told him I would be okay with meeting up again. But a day later, I feel so sad and think about all the good times. Like, how is it possible that I can't even closely predict how I'll feel about something afterwards? Same has happened a couple of times during our relationship, especially when he told me he had doubts about our relationship. The moment itself I'd be very supportive, telling him he should take the time he needs, I'll be there etc. And two days later, I get angry at him for putting me in that situation and feel very sad/scared for him leaving me.

I'm not sure why this keeps happening. I suppose it's typical for a five to not be in touch with their emotions, but even when trying to be, I tend to fail apparently. Does anyone recognize this? Do you know ways to get better in touch with your feelings, to prevent the 'aftermath' of sadness?
 

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Hmm mm, I don't know if it is truly a type 5, or something else, but I related to what you wrote (or I believe I do).

I used to have "delayed" emotional reactions, and been aware of it helped me to first stop reacting like I used to do, because it wasn't a spontaneous deep reaction, but a learned one to cater to others emotional needs in detriment of my own. So now I dismiss this first reaction, and allow myself time to wait for the next one, a raw wave of emotions, and I acknowledge it and take care of it. And I'm now more and more in touch with these emotional responses, and noticed it also allows me to truly be an help to loved ones in return, without been detrimental to myself.

Of course sometimes emotions won't come linearly, it can go back and forth from happy to sad, to anger etc. And you can't "prevent" emotions to come, you just learn to recognise it and take care of it in healthy ways.

Don't know if I truly understood you, and if I made sense, good luck anyway !
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks you, that does sound like the way I experience it. So maybe I should try not to respond immediately and take my time to process... Which is hard I guess, but don't know another way to prevent myself from saying things I actually don't agree with.
 

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I reply again, and hope I'm not imposing my vision of things on you, feel free to take your time about all of it !

What helped me was also that I openly voiced this tendency of mine to people I interact regularly because I knew I would do it again multiple times before been able to properly notice this conditioning in real time and unlearn it. That I was someone with a first reaction conditioned that I noticed and wanted to stop doing and so people shouldn't be surprised if they see a delayed reaction later more different than what I first acted in the moment. Usually people who care about you will understand and even point to you in these moments to take time if needed and it helps because they don't feed the 1st reaction or take advantage of it, but instead break the pattern and wait for you to express yourself freely.
 

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I also can have a delayed emotional response. Not always. Frequently I know instantly how I feel. Most often the delay is with significantly negative events (and/or big decisions). With minor negative things and positive things I tend to know immediately.

Sometimes I've told people "I need to take time to see how I feel about..." Within a day, or few, it becomes clearer.

I put it down to a mix of:
-being relatively detatched from my emotions
-my thinking wanting to take the lead (especially when caution may be required)
-higher emotional control generally (I can interfere with how I feel -- but should I?)
-wanting to utilize my subconscious processesing while I sleep (see how I feel in the morning)
-fear of acting irrationally

I think it's harder on others than me. Waiting for me to work out how I feel is probably unpleasant. Fortunately this happens very infrequently these days (no negative people in my life).

One thing that helps me is introspecting -- sort of a constant mental/lifestyle cleaning house. I tend to decide in advance what I want, what I won't tolerate etc. If something pops up I've usually already decided how I'll handle it. No feelings required...
 

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I'm sorry to hear you're going through a break-up.

I can fully relate to what you write. I see it very much as a five "happening". It doesn't feel so much like a behaviour, does it?

Let me go back to what you are writing and what you are asking for unless I don't get lost in my experiences and what I find interesting about the topic...

My relationship has ended (been together +/- 4 years), feeling pretty bad right now. However, the first few weeks I didn't feel this way at all and told everyone I was doing fine this way. The weird thing is, I genuinely thought I was okay with it. But now, having holiday, I suddenly realize I miss him so much... And suddenly the sadness seems unbearable.
Looking back, this is often what happens to me. About two weeks ago, I even met up with my former boyfriend and was very relieved it went so smoothly; I didn't want him back and told him I would be okay with meeting up again. But a day later, I feel so sad and think about all the good times. Like, how is it possible that I can't even closely predict how I'll feel about something afterwards? Same has happened a couple of times during our relationship, especially when he told me he had doubts about our relationship. The moment itself I'd be very supportive, telling him he should take the time he needs, I'll be there etc. And two days later, I get angry at him for putting me in that situation and feel very sad/scared for him leaving me.

I'm not sure why this keeps happening. I suppose it's typical for a five to not be in touch with their emotions, but even when trying to be, I tend to fail apparently. Does anyone recognize this? Do you know ways to get better in touch with your feelings, to prevent the 'aftermath' of sadness?
When I read it again one of the first things I want to ask you is why you don't explicitly write who was the driving part in the separation of the two of you. Did he end the relationship?

Wow, four years is a long time. I imagine that you were really fond of him and maybe still are. - I conclude that from the fact that fives are picky.

you know what? I gonna stop writing here... I think you should try to get in touch with real people who you can talk to about your pain and who help you feel your loss fully. Or maybe you want to write something about what you have lost in the fives' confessions or just in your own journal?

I'd be there to listen in any case...

I know of no other way to better get in touch with your feelings. You need to practice it. And the not so agreeable message for fives is: You can not do it without others. : )
 

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Discussion Starter #8
@Dare

Thank you for your reply. I suppose this didn't really seem like an option to me before, but thinking about it,probably should be. Most of the time I'm glad to reply fast, but might need some extra time when hard decisions come my way. My mother in law came in contact with me and asked to meet up. I told her I would like to, but need some time to set things straight before seeing her. This way I can have some time to think about what I want to say etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
@Sengai

Thank you. I must say, I didn't notice I hadn't specified the way our breakup went. I left out the details because I didn't want it to be such a long 'sob story' after a breakup. Let's see, it's hard to say who initiated the breakup. I would say it was me, but he's a 9w1 and had had doubts about us for a long time (months). I wanted him to make a decision, but he couldn't. After so many times hearing 'it doesn't feel good, I think we should break up, I'm not sure about us etc', I said we might have to. But honestly, if he still had wanted to, I was already planning on moving in and had already imagined having kids together. However, it was my first relationship, so I suppose that's pretty common. And I am very picky as well, so that doesn't make it easier. Like, thinking I have never 'opened up' as much to anyone before or after him or even feeling that initial spark that we had.
The past week I felt pretty bad, but now I'm feeling better again. I can feel this experience helps me to understand my emotions better or at least, learn to deal with them. I know that I'll be fine and I have a great support system, but I'm not really fond of talking with others about it. It's easier to know what you feel when you have some time to reflect (such as when typing on a forum), rather than having to immediately answer in a direct conversation.
 

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Like, how is it possible that I can't even closely predict how I'll feel about something afterwards?
Two possibilities I can think of: Lack of experience with the type of situation that provoked the emotion and failing to engage emotionally in the moment, which leads to surprise delayed reactions.
Do you know ways to get better in touch with your feelings, to prevent the 'aftermath' of sadness?
I'm not sure that what you described represents being out of touch with feelings.
 

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Thank's for sharing, @Simonis

I am glad to hear that you feel a bit better again.

It was difficult for me to read you giving some details of the relationship in the afternoon and I am still a bit unconcentrated now thinking of a reply because I've experienced a very similar story with most certainly a 9w1 guy in my mid twenties. We were very close too. I am not sure whether I have ever fully acknowledged the pain of these experiences. He hurt me very much with some of his behaviours. Still I went out of our relationship and later also out of our friendship much more self-assured because it was simply the right thing to break-up.

Maybe I can share some of that myself later in this "Unpredictable emotions" thread.

But let me first see what you wrote.

Thank you. I must say, I didn't notice I hadn't specified the way our breakup went. I left out the details because I didn't want it to be such a long 'sob story' after a breakup. Let's see, it's hard to say who initiated the breakup. I would say it was me, but he's a 9w1 and had had doubts about us for a long time (months). I wanted him to make a decision, but he couldn't. After so many times hearing 'it doesn't feel good, I think we should break up, I'm not sure about us etc', I said we might have to. But honestly, if he still had wanted to, I was already planning on moving in and had already imagined having kids together. However, it was my first relationship, so I suppose that's pretty common. And I am very picky as well, so that doesn't make it easier. Like, thinking I have never 'opened up' as much to anyone before or after him or even feeling that initial spark that we had.
The past week I felt pretty bad, but now I'm feeling better again. I can feel this experience helps me to understand my emotions better or at least, learn to deal with them. I know that I'll be fine and I have a great support system, but I'm not really fond of talking with others about it. It's easier to know what you feel when you have some time to reflect (such as when typing on a forum), rather than having to immediately answer in a direct conversation.
It feels painful only to read it. I have some anger coming up too now. This reluctance to deal with his doubts responsibly is unacceptable.

Simonis, sorry, I'll stop writing here. I have so much anger at my ex-boyfriend coming up right now. I hope I can get back to what you wrote at some other time. Thank's for your understanding.

Because: It shouldn't be about my feelings when you asked for some advice. I find it always a very disappointing and discouraging experience when people do that. And it is one of the main reasons why I try to figure out everything on my own. Because my needs get forgotten somehow behind the emotions of others. I hope you can understand what I mean.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
@Sengai

Thank you for your reply. I immediately became curious when you said you had had a similar experience with a 9w1 boyfriend (especially as I'm in my mid-twenties now). I really would like to hear what that was like. However, if you don't feel like sharing it at all, it's no problem. I've been searching for people who had a similar experience with a 9w1 but could never find something even remotely comparable. I always find it very helpful to hear of others, as their approach may learn me some strategies to try myself. Or sometimes just knowing you're not alone. Anyways, you may decide yourself whether you feel like sharing anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Two possibilities I can think of: Lack of experience with the type of situation that provoked the emotion and failing to engage emotionally in the moment, which leads to surprise delayed reactions. I'm not sure that what you described represents being out of touch with feelings.
Thank you for your response. Yeah, you may be right that it's not being out of touch with my feelings. I'm not sure, maybe I expect too much predictability of emotions in general. To me, it doesn't make sense that they change so much in the sense of closely being opposite. Like, after earlier big life events such as someone close to me passing away, I would just feel sad. It's sort of predictable and it would be okay to me. And that sadness could fluctuate over time. However, with the examples I wrote about, there seems to be a strange opposition between the emotions. I could be totally fine with something, a day later angry and another day later very sad. I guess I find it hard to find my way in the diversity of the emotional response, as it's harder to make rational sense of them.
 

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Thank you, @Simonis, for your kind reply.

I appreciate very much that you are interested in my story. I have a lot of sadness and confusion coming up as I try to get hold of my memories somehow.

The first thing that comes up is not from the relationship itself but it is from a friend who observed Benkei and me interacting in a very relaxed and connected way in a time from about four years after the end of our romantic entanglement. I remember that she commented on her observation because she felt that Benkei and I had something very beautiful together and that she wished to have the same.

She got married to a very kind man with the nine style last summer by the way.

The reason why I call it an entanglement is that almost right from the start Benkei made clear that he was very much in love with me and that at the same time he clearly felt that he didn't want to commit to a relationship with me. Since I was pretty much lost in my romantic feelings it took me a couple of weeks to end the affair. I was still very much in love but I also knew that I didn't want to continue to actually have a romantic relationship with him when he didn't want to refer to as such.

I remember that another friend who liked Benkei a lot and had realised how much I had fallen for him told me that she would never have had the same coolness and clarity in deciding on such a right and wholesome course of action when she had been as much in love as I was.

Well... she definitely wasn't a five.

But it was only now that it all started, actually. I think that after two or three weeks Benkei started to text me that he missed me a lot and I was too flattered and simply still too much in love with him to resist and we got envolved with each other again and got close now very quickly.

The main reason why we bonded so well and deeply, I believe, was that being in love with me enabled Benkei to access his grief about the loss of his mother when he was a little boy only. And what he had never had the chance to fully grieve. And I think I want to emphasize that this was happening very naturally and wasn't at all a kind of project of ours. I think that just being together with me and hearing about the great losses that I had suffered as a child allowed him to find his way to his sadness and pain just by himself. When at the same time I had in him the first person who wasn't a therapist who cared about me and my losses in a very profound way.

Although I wasn't really ready to grieve fully what I had experienced as a child because I was too numb and too depressed back then, did his compassionate presence come as an invaluable support. His accepting and balanced reaction to my experiences, my self-hatred and my 5w4ish collected desperation about my difficult life had a dramatically positive impact on my attitude towards myself. I learned from him that there are people who can maybe not meet you in your despair but still are able to just sit next to you and wait until you feel a bit better again and don't judge and blame you as had been the usual reaction of my mother.

So much to the beautiful sides of that relationship. I'm curious wheter you can see any further similarities or if my story has turned out now as something very different.
 

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@Sengai

Thank you for your detailed explanation, I really appreciate it.

What you wrote, doesn't really match my experiences, so I'm curious in what way I reminded you of what happened. I do not have a troubled past and wasn't necessarily very dependent of him. I'm actually pretty healthy (psychology-wise). My ex however, I'm not sure... very out of touch with his own emotions/feelings, which made him doubt everything all the time. However, he never visited a psychologist or something. I don't know how to explain, but during the relationship I found him increasingly incapable of identifying how he felt in certain situations. This went on to the point of him not sure whether he loved anyone at all (including me, his family and friends). This has been going on for at least a year, with me trying to find a way to help him find out what he really wants. Maybe I stayed with him for too long... But that's what I'm thinking now that it's over. I really wanted to get connected again, but he stopped sharing his doubts about us with me and started to talk with others about what he should do with us. That's when my trust was broken. He should've talked to me instead of others, otherwise you can't really talk of a relationship anyways...

Mmm I can feel I'm getting angry again. Just wished it could've been different, that he could've been different I guess...
 

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Thank you so much for sharing more, @Simonis.

I think that I wanted to remember the beautiful things about that relationship first in order not to go into a typical unfriendly five view of the nine which is very well described on the website of the Enneagram Institute under the 5-9-relationsship:

Fives [...] begin to become cynical and pessimistic about the relationship, analyzing the Nine and intellectually dissecting the relationship both as a defense from being hurt and as a way to express anger over their disappointment.
I could observe myself doing this with my nine friends regularly over the last months when I was annoyed about them so I now tried to take a different approach. What I didn't realise when I wrote it is that it wasn't quiet the thing what you had asked me for or needed at the time because you are of course at a very different stage just after the ending of the relationship.

Sorry, I totally forgot about your situation when I had that kind invitation of yours to share something of my relationship.

But I was still glad that it had the effect that you felt invited to share more about your relationship and that you got angry again. : )

I think I felt a bit offended that you wrote that your relationship didn't evolve around dependency and that you were pretty healthy psychology-wise compared to me back then.

I don't think that it is necessary to discriminate our relationships through this characteristic. Because I really believe that Benkei and I did have a very healthy relationship for the greatest parts because we were honest all the time and I at least was growing a lot through the whole experience. I was never accepting him not committing to the relationship or pretending to be okay with it and he never started to pretend that he didn't feel this clear resistance to commit.

So, to come back to your question: It's here that your description reminded me of my relationship.

Benkei and I were from the beginning constantly talking about the issue of him not committing. I'm not sure whethter you got that wrong because I didn't mention it explicitly? The reasons he brought forward to support his doubts can be subsumed in one word. It was exactly this big ninish "Dunno" if you will, that you are also writing about, I believe. So I see the similarities exactly here. It was just coming from the other side.

From my knowledge of the nines I think it is even possible that your boyfriend was actually opening up about his ninish doubts and becoming more honest, when at the same time he enjoyed an almost total absence of relationship and communication skills and didn't know how to communicate his doubts without hurting you deeply. And from there you were spiralling down understandably.

I hypothesise that many average nines unfortunately believe that their high capacity to adapt to others and the fact that they feel almost universally liked means that they have good relationship skills when actually the opposite is true because they haven't had any practice of conflict management since they were two years old, and for the sake of being loved and accepted decided to ignore their anger and become unconscious of their having an agenda of their own and on the other hand developing this rich array of passive (aggressive) strategies to get their needs met.

There is a very clever nine, @Napoleptic, at the nine venting thread often who is just coming out of a relationship and is talking like this:

I've learned a lot of things over the last several months. The thing that feels the most important for me to really understand, and which I'm posting here because it's a Nine thing (even though this came from a page about INTPs) is this:

...tend to be conflict-avoidant, especially in their romantic relationships. They are prone to mistaking relational harmony for relational health. While harmony can certainly be a part of a healthy relationship, it really has little to do with genuine intimacy or effective communication. Developing genuine intimacy is often quite painful and difficult, requiring confrontations with one’s own and one’s partner’s fears, insecurities, and ego issues. When couples are working through these issues, moments of disharmony are all but inevitable.

I wish someone had told me to watch out for mistaking relational harmony for relational health. My parents (who I think are both Nines) have been married for over 40 years, and they've had two major arguments (I was there for one; it was terrifying—not in a violent way, just in an obvious these people have no tools to deal with conflict and are unnecessarily suffering far more than they should be because of it kind of way). Otherwise, there's rarely any conflict. Their relationship does for the most part seem to be fairly healthy. In any case, it's the only romantic relationship I've ever seen up close, and it's the example I had to work with. I thought because nothing major seemed wrong, we were okay. Boy was I ever wrong. It's such a hard lesson to learn via hindsight, and tragic that the way I had to learn it was through first-hand experience.

And after wanting to know how to build intimacy for so long, it's also a bit ironic that I've learned a couple of important things about it after the fact. 1) Intimacy requires vulnerability, and 2) conflict can actually lead to intimacy are both things I didn't know until it was too late.

Anyway, mostly just wanted to point out that just because a relationship is conflict-free doesn't necessarily mean there are no major problems. Since I'd never run across the concept before, or at least never really internalized it, thought I'd mention it for fellow Nines who might be in the same boat.

(Still wish I could find that article about Nine relationships where some Nines use counseling as an excuse to announce their intention to split, I think I remember there being some similar lesson in there, or maybe it's just that it was the first time I realized that there was a high likelihood we weren't going to make it as a couple.)
And nines have big issues around autonomy. And with fives it must be terrible for them because fives feel their autonomy for granted, wouldn't you agree? This is now only wild speculation but the nines might feel that it is actually the five who has doubts whether they want to continue to observe the relationship or to fully commit in the end.

But I hesitate again to continue writing. I think I'll stay quiet after this. Because I think it's so important for fives to more learn to feel when they are hurt.

"I don't like what you have done", "I want you to never do that again", "I am hurt", "This is painful", "You go away". I'd practice these sentences with an angry face every now and then until you feel more and more connected again to your anger. Whether you are doing well you know when you have a lot of shame and fear to deal with during and after the exercise.
 

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There is a very clever nine, Napoleptic...


I'd practice...
Perhaps this isn't relevant to the discussion, but I don't have time this evening to read through the entire thread as I need to go to bed right away, and I likely won't remember in the morning, so I'm just going to throw this out there and hope it might be of some use to someone:

The therapist I've been seeing to help get me through the end of my marriage said, "To develop any skill, you have to practice—that's the only way to become good at something. I don't care what skill it is. You can read all you want at it and maybe even give yourself a good head start and avoid common pitfalls, but you can't actually get good at a skill if you don't practice."

I have found that learning to identify what I'm feeling is, at least in part, a skill...which means it can be improved with enough practice. For me, that's been reading through a list of emotions, marking the ones I realize I'm experiencing or have experienced that day, writing a bit on where they're coming from, and then just sitting with them (however long that takes) and allowing myself to actually feel them fully.

It's the last bit that's really difficult, particularly if you're like me and have decades of experience of just shutting emotions off as soon as they arise (to the point where sometimes it's almost an impossible-to-override reflex). An immediate shutoff of emotions is a good coping mechanism for a (very) limited amount of circumstances, but it ultimately does me far more harm than good. I sometimes find it quite difficult (or even impossible) to access them again once I've shut them off, so it's obvious this is something I still need to do a lot of work on.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hello @Sengai,

Thank you for your reply. I'm sorry I offended you, I certainly didn't mean to do that. I suppose I thought from your reply that the underlying traumatic experiences were an important factor, but if that was an incorrect assumption, I won't mention it.
I'm not sure whether my ex had a problem with committing, as he didn't have that in the beginning of our relationship. I've been thinking about it though, as it would explain why he would find it so hard to think about our future together.

Thank you for the insight about a lack of communication skills. That certainly seems like a thing to him. Three weeks ago we called again and I asked him why he never asked me to call (we did have some contact every two weeks, but it was always me to initiate the conversation). He started a long story about him not being sure whether he wanted to talk to me, being stressed about calling but also feeling better after having contact. He said he did want to keep talking, but didn't feel like initiating it himself.
However, he knew how I would hear this and how hurt I would feel. I asked him how he wanted to have contact and he was very vague, only saying he surely didn't want to have contact on a regular basis (even telling me he didn't see us talking every two weeks forever. As if I had proposed something like that!).

Anyways, I got angry with him when he wanted to talk a few days ago, telling him he very well knew how his vague words would feel to me and that I didn't want to talk with him about us anymore. It's okay if he wasn't sure about how to move forward, but it's all in the way you communicate that. It feels like there is no space to think about me in his foggy brain. And that certainly doesn't work for me. So I felt like this was an example of his inability to communicate his needs in a thoughtful manner.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
@Napoleptic

Thank you for your reply, it's nice to hear the experiences of another 9. I do recognize the problems you describe in my ex and certainly wanted to talk with him about it. I think it's sad he never wanted to try visiting a therapist to further examine his difficulties recognizing his emotions/feelings. I suppose you have to really want to and to put a lot of effort in it in order for it to succeed.

Anyways, I know it doesn't matter anymore though. Like, I won't get him back by trying to understand him better (nor do I want to). It's such a thing I'll try to do in order to get things straight, but the truth is I'd better focus on myself instead of him, trying to find my way.
 

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Thank you for your reply, it's nice to hear the experiences of another 9.

...

Like, I won't get him back by trying to understand him better (nor do I want to). It's such a thing I'll try to do in order to get things straight, but the truth is I'd better focus on myself instead of him, trying to find my way.
You're welcome, hope it helped. I don't think I mentioned it and don't know that it adds anything to your understanding, but my ex and are I both Nines.

Thank you for that last bit. I hadn't quite put it into words, but I'd been having those same thoughts, that if I understood maybe something positive would come of it. I think the thing that really helped me let go was when I was talking to my therapist and expressed my frustration that my ex hadn't shared anything about what was going on with him and that I wanted to talk to him about what happened with us because I still wasn't entirely clear.

The therapist pointed out my ex may not be clear on it either. He may not have any answers for you. I think that was kind of the last major thing I was holding on to. Maybe on some level I thought if I knew what the problem was I could fix it, I don't know.

But hearing that my ex might not have any answers made me realize that delving into it with him and potentially not getting any answers made it so that I no longer really wanted to have that discussion. And that discussion was all that he could really offer me right now. So for the time being, I'm keeping my distance and have no plans to initiate any sort of new relationship with him. If he wants to, I might. If things change, if I change, maybe I'll try to have some sort of relationship with him in the future. But for now I don't think he has anything to offer me. I don't think he can make my life better in any way. All he can offer me is pain, so I'm holding my tongue and keeping my distance.
 
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