I Have Trouble Maintaining Relationships Of All Kinds

Cancer vintage silver crab

Hello Elsa,

I have never really been good at maintaining platonic friendships or finding and maintaining romantic relationships. Part of me longs deeply for closeness and intimacy. The other part seems to push people away when they get too close. Part of me aches for touch. But another part of me feels very anxious when being touched or a person is standing too close. Part of me aches with a sense of loneliness. Then another part of me relishes the freedom from emotional entanglements. Part of me can be very concerned for the well-being of others and seeks to be of help. Then part of me feels incapable of empathetic connection and remains aloof. Part of me will try to be there for others. Then another part of me freaks out and needs distance from the pain and drama in the lives of others. Part of me can be very encouraging. Then part of me tends to be bitingly critical, judgmental, and alienating. I am at a loss regarding this internal dance of extremes.

I am beginning to wonder if one of my lessons in this life is to learn how to be alone and be my own person. In the past, I have often found myself either so enmeshed in the lives of others taking on their personas and characteristics or being so needy and clingy to the point of being a nuisance. When people would register their annoyance, I would withdraw feeling hurt not wanting to make myself vulnerable again.

Related to this is my relationship history. I have not had a boyfriend since I was 17. The last time I kissed someone intimately was at 19. The last date was at 23. Further, I have never been physically intimate with anyone. One could argue that my history has more to do with where I chose to put my energy during my teens, twenties, and early thirties (school, work, and religion). But, I still wonder whether something more is happening beyond my control. In fact, others have said things to me that make me think as much.

One woman whom I barely knew and with whom I never talked about marriage told me that she did not think I would ever marry. She also told me that I seemed too picky. Another woman once told me that she did not think that I liked men and even discouraged her husband from setting me up with someone, even though she never told me why. I had one woman tell me that she thought I was gay because she saw me lying on a bed with a woman who was a friend. In fact, other people have subtly hinted to me that they wondered about my orientation.

Can you give me some insight?


Dear Wondering,

To tell you the truth, this is one of the more challenging questions I have ever had. You’ve got it all tied up, see. It’s not like I can say, hey! Go get what you want! Because you refuse to state what you want. You want to be close to someone…not. You want to be dependent… not. You want to be connected but aloof, etc. and so forth.

And this is not so uncommon in a milder form. People are naturally ambivalent. But you are refusing to choose…. anything. You’re 40 and you won’t state a sexual preference?

I’m sorry but it’s very easy to see how someone would become frustrated trying to relate to you. And I can use myself as an example, because I’m a person. And I would very much like to help you but I feel it’s impossible and it’s because you’ve made it this way.

Think about it. And with five planets in Virgo, thinking is your forte. If you refuse to define yourself, your wants, or your needs… if you insist on remaining utterly amorphous, how the hell is someone supposed to attach to you? Where should they grab?

Who do you want to have sex with? Who do you want to kiss? Animal, mineral or vegetable? We don’t know! We don’t know because you won’t tell us! And when people guess, they guess wrong. And I’m sorry but this seems very “baby-like” to me. A baby is ouchy. A baby is hurting but they can’t tell us why. They can’t tell us, “I need food, or I am cold or I am lonely, tired or bored….”

So here’s the deal:

I don’t agree your life lessons are to be alone and blah, blah, blah. You’ve already mastered that, don’t you think?

You’re a Cancer rising with a Cancer Moon. That’s the baby part. But this leaves Saturn ruling the 7th house (partnerships). I’d say your lesson is to learn to relate to others. But to do this, you’ll have to define yourself. You’ll have to be willing to draw some lines and to be very candid, you don’t sound willing at all. Which is your business of course. But you asked for my insight, so this is it.

And how you got this way, I don’t know. But it sounds as if your development is arrested. Because typically as people mature they gain definition. They get clarity around who they are what they want. And this is what you lack.

And it’s fine if you want to leave it that way. But if not, I would say you need to see a professional who will commit to staying in a relationship with you as you struggle to define yourself against them.

Good luck.

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12 thoughts on “I Have Trouble Maintaining Relationships Of All Kinds”

  1. So, is this lack of clarity a consequence of the Cancer influence on this person’s chart? Or is that indicative of a lot of water-heavy charts?

  2. I could be greatly oversimplifying, but it seems to me what Wondering wants is clear. W wants to know if she can be intimate with others without being gripped by anxiety OR if her natal chart is such that she is “meant” to continue being trapped in mutually exclusive extremes: fearful intimacy/loss of self or relational shutdown/being one’s own person.

    In other words, is there anything to be done save a preordained path of solitude? Should W embrace these extremes as the way things are fated to be? In a sense, the letter is asking for irrefutable, supernaturally based permission to remain disconnected.

    Personally, I would say no one is “meant” to live in such extremes and that it is very possible to maintain one’s sense of self in an intimate relationship. I also think it sounds as if W is trapped in an extension of a natural, *temporary* survival response to shut down, disassociate and freeze (ie making no choices) in the face of something threatening (not necessarily actually life threatening, but something the body perceives to be). Discharging the freeze, while challenging, can be done.

  3. I may be going out on a limb here…but yours is
    the first post i have read that has me strongly inclined to respond… and i never respond as i am a seasoned lurker. so for what it is worth here are my two cents.

    Wondering I definately “feel” you with your volleying back and forth emotionally & socially and seeming to land or settle on no where in particular for any length of time. I can certainly identify with your longing and, if I may say, repulsion for intimacy.

    My history is somewhat similar to yours: I make contact and when someone wishes to get to know me better (intimacy) I head for the hills. This bolting may manifest as anger, fear, rage, shame, ignorance whatever, I simply have to create distance because I feel to do otherwise will annihilate me. And why? Because I have very little sense of my beginning and my ending. I haven’t a clue of what “shape” I am in nor could I articulate it if my life depended on it.

    Now I am not saying this is you, since it of course is part of my history, but i am making a connection here. Based on what you wrote, I sense you are going to have to do some major excavation and you will definately need a stouthearted partner (professional) to help you with the digging. I sense that there are many fragmented pieces scattered all over the place from way back when (childhood)that will have to be put back together in order for you to have a
    notion of “you” ~ your core self. From my own experience this is really difficult work so please choose your archaeological team carefully.

    Because you wrote to Elsa, I believe you have that glimmer of self-value that could be used as a springboard for more interactive work with an appropitate counsellor or therapist. I am rooting for you and wishing you all the best (as I am for myself on this journey). Also I advocate, re-reading Elsa’s response to you over a period of time could prove beneficial because she is on to something major here that would be a shame to ignore.

  4. hi its me again. Wondering what I want to further say but didn’t write is that by knowing what “shape” you are in makes it a hell of a lot eaiser to say “yes” to somethings, “no” to others, and further still, hold out before giving an answer and spend a little more time thinking about things.

    I am learning that my boundaries (because that is what “yes”, “no” and, “i will think about it” means to me) are major ways i get to know myself and major ways people get to know something of me.

    just thought i needed to clarify this part of my response.

  5. Nah, Marly–I’ve got so much water in my chart I am permanently waterlogged, and there is *no* *way* I lack clarity the way this chick does. ‘Course, maybe that’s my Mercury Leo, ’cause we all know Leo can be a bit fixed and likes a bit of ta-da…

    Nope, she needs to set a few boundaries (excellent term, Violet!), and yes–define herself. With a stellium in Virgo, mutable energy, it is perfectly permissible to define herself as a person in process, but ya know? That is still a definition! “I am a person who is learning what it is to be an individual person.” And then once she truly realizes that, she can move forward understanding that ambiguity is not an obstacle, but rather a way of life to embrace. *There* is the freedom aspect that will fill her craving–personal permission to be more than one thing at a time–and by filling her urges to freedom in that way she can then also understand that relationships also constantly change and evolve and so there is nothing to fear, just let each unfold and live the experience as it is.

    With Cancer rising, that puts all that mutable energy in 3rd and/or 4th house. Siblings, immediate environment, home, etc. Does she come from a background of foggy boundaries? She should seriously think about that. Just because she came from that is no reason to stay that way–forever entwined with others’ ideas and identities. Cancer rising means becoming a nurturer in her own way, and being 40 means her nodes are same as mine–Taurus north, Scorpio south, another hallmark of foggy boundaries (with Neptune conjunct south also? I’m betting…) Her investment in other people will finally become meaningful (and thus “nurturing”) once she invests in herself and accepts her imperfect forming being and allows it to be exactly that. Ya is wot ya is, whether it makes logical sense or not. So, deal with it already and build from that!

    No sex in 40 years? Wow. I hope she at least owns a vibrator…

  6. “Nope, she needs to set a few boundaries (excellent term, Violet!),” actually Tinkerer that is Elsa’s term from her reply to Wondering…

    and the more i re-read Elsa’s reply the more gold i find within it.


  7. Elsa,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question. After reading it again myself, I even scratched my head. But, I have read and re-read your response. I have been working on stepping outside of the defintions and identities that others want me to inhabit to identify my own wants and desires. I have been also working on establishing and maintaining boundaries (borders).

    To the others who have commented, thanks for your reflections, particularly you violet. And yes, isthmus nekoi, part of my reason for submitting a question was my wondering whether something in my chart pointed definitively towards something in astrological terms that might explain my situation and internal ambiguity. Because quite frankly, it often seems like there is an external or unseen hand restricting me.

    And tinkerer, no don’t own one…but as Elsa has intimated about Virgos, regardless of what I have written, I do have a very interesting secret life.*wink*

  8. Sometimes in my relationship I feel an anxious need to be alone. Some people regenerate by being alone–I sure do. But I also need an afternoon, or a weekend at the most. Wondering, you may also seek that solitude for regenerative purposes, I don’t know. But I do know that people not only want to know us, they often want to like us, and even love us! And there is something that borders on cruelty to the self when we withhold ourselves from interacting with others.

    Do you fantasize about other people? I do NOT need to know the answer to that question as I KNOW it is none of my business, but I have to put it out there. Maybe it will help you to look at that. I just can’t imagine what the secret life holds. But I guess that’s why it’s your secret life, and not mine.

  9. tinkerer

    i stand corrected. Elsa mentions the term “boundaries” in a subsequent post to “Dear Confused”.

    it was Elsa’s “…willing to draw some lines and be very candid..” that automatically signalled for me SOS boundaries.

    i have a saturn neptune aspect and i tend to see things that are not necessarily there in black & white, but in the greys and charcoal tones. sometimes this is a positive thing other times it is negative. so i am following the posts on the current Saturn Neptune transit in hopes of broadening my novice comprehension of how this configuration might play out in my life.


  10. Wondering

    i am so glad you are taking this stuff around your question in the spirit that you are at this time.

    i want to say that given the comments to this thread your inquiry certainly echoed a chord that is resonating with a few folk around here (plus the intrigue). personally i am not sure i would have had the guts to write what you wrote (so raw so vulnerable), but you can be certain that i am grateful that you took the plunge and went for it anyway.

    Elsa’s response here has both underscored and clarified a number of my issues & concerns …as always Elsa, for me, you got to the heart of the matter and it was no easy feat. well done & thank you!

    Wondering i notice from your response that a) you have the ability to generate an interest of yourself in others (which works amazingly both ways …others (interest) to you… you (interest) to others…if you give it a try). in addition, b) ability to titillate in a “cloak & dagger” style (sans vibrator, but with secrets). still you may very well have to see things right through to their end if you want to experience the positive gifts that these two parts of yourself may bring IMHO.

    of course these are just my definitions/ imaginings based on what you wrote of you and not yours of yourself. furthermore, i both hear and respect your need and desire to “self define”. so feel at liberty to chuck ’em ~no hard feelings.


    p.s. Elsa is a current transit (or transits) out there calling on those who are emotionally immature like myself to grow up at this time or face the not so pleasant future consequences? i ask only because i seem to be giving this priority right now in my life. just curious.

  11. Lots of ppl have thought I am gay. But that’s because I have short hair, play soccer and say cunt alot. I don’t mind because I know I like men. Sweaty girls- not hot. Sweaty boys, on the other hand- phwoar…

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