Last week I wrote to you about avoidance; how and why it’s hard for us to talk about hard things in our relationships —for some of us chronically hard, and what we can do to make it easier to just say the thing (hint if you are afraid that feeling scared or needing space makes you an asshole it can be very hard to share). If you missed this gem you can check it out here.
But what about the other side of the avoidance coin? What if we are ANXIOUS because someone is AVOIDING US? What if we are guessing, waiting, trying to reign in our enthusiasm, our expectations, our eagerness to get to know them better, to spend more time, to take the next step or go on the next date? What if we feel amazing one day but then they seem something; distant quiet busy aloof preoccupied or just different in a tiny barely perceptible way but it’s not good and we want the other thing back and now we’re lost in some limbo land of confusion and insecurity, even if we are not really otherwise insecure!!!
Does that mean we have an anxious attachment style?
Does it mean that they aren’t that into us?
What if we are sure the connection is real but we’re not getting our needs met?
When do we wait for them and when do we let it go?
How do we initiate meaningful conversation without feeling or appearing (dun dun dun) NEEDY – ahhhh the terror!!!
AM I A STAGE 5 CLINGER?
What if we are just triggered because of what Kelly did?
Well gather ‘round children, the Teacher is here with some learnings.
Which brings me to our first important point of discussion.
How do you know if it’s you?
To begin with it’s important that we clarify the question. So often when we ask is it me, we fear that something is wrong and shameful and broken in us. The other end of the spectrum of avoiding is shaming ourselves for wanting or needing more. Better to ask the more helpful question —Am I seeing this clearly or through a lens of fear? Am I behaving in ways that are fearful and may trigger my love interest?
The answer is yes if we often feel afraid or fear abandonment even when our love interest is happy and chill. If we often panic when nothing is wrong, if we see Kelly in everyone we meet, or if we are consistently questioning, demanding, sabotaging, or asking for reassurance regardless of the situation at hand then we need some help or support to heal some old wounds and un-abandon ourselves in order to kick this pattern. Just because it was trendy to call it a “style” doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it for life!
But simply feeling ANXIOUS because someone is avoiding you does not make you ‘insecure attached’. It may be that you just don’t get off on being put off or danced around the world one day and dusted by the dirt on the shoes they run off in the next. You may be feeling anxiety because you are actually healthy and ready to show up and they are not. Or they’ve hit a trigger. Or they are secretly a secret agent, which explains so much, doesn’t it?
Now if it’s not you in that blamey shamey way and it’s not you in that fearful of old abandonment way, then what the frick do you do with this stand-in for your beloved; the spy who might dump you?
Well firstly you take a moment to receive this validation from ME and every other YOU who has been through this shit.
It’s crazy making.
Once you feel all those dreamy connected feelings, once you have the date that was so perfectly ridiculously romantic or whatever it was that promised you giddy happiness it’s hard to watch it deflate into an episode of Dr. Phil (btw I thought you’d wanna know that my mom is so put off by Dr. Phil that we have to race for the remote if it accidentally airs after her Home & Garden). But all is not lost, I promise. Below I provide a survival key for dealing with emotional avoidance without losing yourself or what may actually be a promising relationship. I like to call it:
Your Survival Key for Dealing with Emotional Avoidance Without Losing Yourself or What May Actually Be a Promising Relationship.
- It’s okay to like them. It doesn’t make you a “foo” if you liked them when they turned on the charm and before they freaked themselves out and you are still spinning in that connection. It should be that way, they actually WANT you to like them they have now just reached a fear cycle, a sense of inadequacy, or they have some needs they don’t know how to talk about.
- It’s okay to be patient for a short period of time, step back and give yourself and them a chance to deal with their problem or their shit ‘cause we all have some or have had some and no one is every exactly in the same place at the same time.
- Beyond a few days or weeks there should be a process for progress in place. You express what you need in relationship; they share their struggles; conversation and intention need to be at play. If you are nervous to share with your avoider it can be helpful to give them sometimes and often. Sometimes people experience (insert idea here) I wonder if this might be going on for you? This is a non threatening invitation to see an issue or feeling as normal and to share or clarify or reciprocate.
- You need an internal boundary with yourself in order to give some space to the situation and not just smack up a brick wall. You promise inner you that if you invest with this person for a few months and it does not progress, if you are not getting your needs met or it’s feeling unhealthy then you opt out. This removes the pressure for you to have all of the answers today, when you can’t, but is also self caring and protective for the long term.
- Don’t take their shit personally. Don’t pile it on your plate. That is too much shit and too little plate. If someone is hot and cold, it’s more often about their stuff projected onto you, or they wouldn’t be hot in the first place. Now if you’ve always been bottom of the heap or an after thought we are in different territory and the most loving thing you can do for yourself is to move on.
- Don’t give their fear-voice more power than it already has. You’re not scary. You like them. It’s healthy. It’s kind of how relationships are supposed to work. Their grown up self knows this. If their scared inner child is throwing rocks, for the love of all things good and beautiful don’t throw them back.
- Remember who you really are. You are a bad ass at love. You are a sexy beast. You are a thousand rays of light dancing on a lake of fire with a fluffy kitten heart.
- Check in with your own needs on the regular. If your love interest is so deep in the mire that even their “progress” is always about them and you’re giving so much space that your dog is sick of you it’s time to get a new dog. Just kidding your dog is everything.
- And IF and WHEN you throw that fish back, don’t do the really super MEAN thing that you will be very tempted to do and blame yourself for investing time or call yourself names and put a wall on the wall you didn’t put up last time. Instead tell yourself this TRUE THING:
- I am proud of you for investing your heart and for your emotional bravery. Every choice you make to show up, to understand yourself, to give the gifts of your affection, interest, and time goes with you to found the healthy thriving relationship you are creating. NICELY DONE!
‘Cause the creating part is happening now, ON THE INSIDE. It’s not waiting for you to swipe right.
And if you need some help with any of these steps, someone who has seen it all and can stand up to all of the crazy well my number’s on the wall. You know, like the writing on the wall not the bathroom graffiti. I promise to call you back without making you wait three days.
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