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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Fear Run Amuck Part I (The Neediness Cycle in Relationships)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fear Run Amuck Part I (The Neediness Cycle in Relationships)

To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another. ~Katherine Paterson, Jacob Have I Loved

Here's how the thinking goes: "If he loved me, he would know how to communicate with me!" or "If he really loved me, then he would put up with...." or "If he loved me he would always want to be with me." or "If he loved me he would get outside of his comfort zone, overcome his nature, his fears, his hang ups, and be what I need!"

And then here's what happens. Well, here's what happens sometimes:

She (well it's usually the she, because we tend, sorry to generalize) to need more verbal reassurance than men do) gets upset and

a) cries
b) criticizes him
c) yells
d) stops taking care of herself
e) maybe finds another man
f) ignores him
g) withholds sex, food, love, attention, affection
h) complains about him to her friends, mother, mother in law
i) berates herself for being so needy (when she really is quite normal)

And then here's what happens: (sometimes) He:

a) withdraws
b) gets angry
c) withdraws
d) gets angry
e) decides there is no pleasing her
f) feels stupid and helpless and clueless
g) withdraws
h) maybe gets another woman
i) yells
j) does not know what to do with his frustration

And then she:

a) becomes convinced that he never loved her
b) becomes convinced that she may not be lovable
c) becomes convinced that he is an......
d) tries to figure out what keeps going wrong

So this happens sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, sometimes in little ways, sometimes in big ways.... but it usually ends up in a mess.

What's going on? Well. Fear run amuck. At least that's part of it. And the belief that good communication is a natural by-product of love.

What's missing? Good Talking, for one. And some slowed-down gentle curious attention to what kind of fear is driving the boat.

I see it so often. Women pressing over and over for reassurance and love, for words. And for actions. Like that he should put spending time with her above studying for his exams, working, going out with his buddies, riding his dirt bike. I am not talking about him disappearing into an addiction, or slipping away for hours into a hobby. I am talking about normal time out in a relationship. I am thinking about the emotional messages, interpretations, misinterpretation. Expectations.

And how when she feels so needy, and looks to him, too starts to become a turn off. And when he backs up, or out, or off, it triggeres fear, and loneliness, and sometimes more. It's really necessary to pay attention to the effects of all this on our normal, love-seeking, connection-wanting souls, and on our human relationships.

Lest you think I am picking on my gender....well, I am. I am saying that when women pay attention to effect their approach has on their man, and when men pay attention to the effect their words, aggression, frustration and withdraw have on their woman, things can start to get better.

Confident, Complimentary and Clear. We start out that way, but somehow it doesn't hold. We have to pay attention to how things unravel, and tend to what's best for the relationship.

When fear gets the best of us, and we act accordingly, we can start a cycle of craziness that is often hard to climb out of.

I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert. Eat Pray Love ... "When I get lonely these days, I think: So be lonely. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it...Welcome to the human experience....Never again use another person's body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings."

I think that when we get lonely, fear runs amuk. I think we have to protect our relationships from our fears. It's not that we should not turn to our mates for help with the loneliness, it's just that it's good to know when we are asking for what we need, and when we are going overboard.

And to not let fear rule the day.


Lee Horton, Ph.D. said...

Good post Melissa,
I tell clients that we tend to divorce by degrees. It begins by withdrawing physically, emotionally, sexually, and, as you pointed out, by withholding food (that tickled me, but it's so true). Prior to distancing, you want to have give a very clear signal for what you want.

I also enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love. That passage does embody the concept of accepting discomfort that cannot easily change.

Melissa said...

Thanks for stopping by Lee. Yes, divorce in degrees, very good point....its painful...the thing is, that we can do better for ourselves when are able or willing to pay attention to it and sort it out...just takes a bit of work...but can be so worth it!

Deeptii said...

probably am going through a similar phase but then nothing seems to help am just in looking out for help from all ends sply my man! alas ! i dont find any.wish there was someone who could really help me out and pull me out of my situation which is affecting my everyday life....