Here's a brief rundown of the situation:
I have issues with fears of abandonment that manifest in very strong anxiety triggered by certain things, such as my girlfriend going out partying for the night. I am currently in a long-distance relationship, which does not exactly make things easier.
Now, first of all: I am well aware that this is my issue, and she is in no way obliged to "not upset me". That I shouldn't feel this way, and that she's in no way responsible for how I feel. That she should never feel obliged to do or not do something based solely off how I feel about it. And that anything else is very unhealthy and will lead to pain and resentment further down the road, that she never has to ask me "permission" to do something, etc. And I tell her that explicitly.
But due to her character, previous experiences, and potentially certain mental health issues of her own, she is very afraid of upsetting me. And I cannot hide the fact that I am upset. I do (truthfully) tell her that I would never get angry at her about anything of this kind, and that it's not her fault or her burden to bear, but the crux of the matter is that such things do cause me crippling anxiety (e.g. quite vigorous physical shaking, racing heartbeat, and inability to sleep). So to her, that is a sort of "punishment", even though I do not want it to be - effective enough that she on her own actively avoids anything that she thinks might upset me, which in turn leads to her feeling controlled.
I have been having difficulties with this for a while, and while it has gotten better over the years, it recently worsened drastically when my last girlfriend, weeks before we were to move in together, cheated on me and ended the relationship without any prior indication issues (she claims she herself was not aware anything was wrong). We parted ways amicably, since there's no point in blaming her and the whole episode caused her a lot of grief as well, but it reinforced a lot of fears.
The resulting questions are the following:
- How can I communicate to her (besides just saying it obviously) that while this is obviously some kind of trust issue, that doesn't reflect on how I feel about her and is in no way her fault?
And, if this is still applicable to this stack,
- What are strategies to feel less anxious about those things? I receive plenty of affection which I appreciate a lot. And in the moment, it makes me feel alright with those sorts of situations. But having very emotionally heavy conversations every time she wants to go out is not feasible.
This whole thing was more or less triggered by her intention to "dress up like a slut and go to a party" for Halloween (her wording), and I would greatly appreciate any advice on how not to actively dread that or any similar occasion arising on the horizon, or at least speak to my girlfriend about it in a fashion that doesn't implicitly blackmail her into restricting herself.
This is my first time posting here, so I'm sorry if it is out of place or badly worded. Thank you in advance for any advice