Mutual support in relationships

This is a topic which has caught my attention lately, partially because I had an interesting conversation with my ex lately. Namely my ex has always thought that I am needy. On this occasion he went on to explain to me how no grownup man wants to deal with a woman who needs to call him when she has problems around the house. We were discussing on the occasion where we had a floodage and I called him to ask for our landlord’s number. He was away and I considered it extremely weird that he showed no interest later as to if the problem got solved or not. My ex, however explained that it was needy from me to expect that he would show interest. Furthermore, he also finds me calling him to ask for help in solving the situation needy and a sign that I am not really an independent grownup woman.

This discussion got me thinking if I am indeed needy and if perhaps there are things I need to change about myself. I do know that I have higher need for emotional support than an average woman perhaps. However, even after all the thinking and self-analysis I could not get myself to support his comment. To me, it seems that there is no value in the relationship where every time I want to call my partner for help, I have to first carefully think if actually I should not do this. Maybe me calling and asking help with this particular problem presents me as needy. Furthermore, maybe I am actually needy and helpless for asking for his assistance and support?

I have come to value highly emotional support and being there for one another in relationships. I will probably never start to understand what is the value of having a relationship when there is not mutual support. I mean even with my friends I would ideally hope that there is support when needed. The interesting part is that it is not that my ex does not show any support towards me, it is more that he can support me when he feels like it (when we were in the relationship). However, his giving is related to his state of mind and not my needs. So one can never say that he is not helpful or giving, it is just that he needs the idea that no one depends on him.

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Hanging on in a relationship without the future

This blog has based on my radical honesty. So, I am going to continue posting about the issues which seem like washing my dirtiest laundry publicly. So today I am going to say that I knew already several years ago that my relationship is not going to work out. In fact, I was just too embarrassed to admit this both to myself and to other people.

What exactly was I so embarrassed to admit? Mainly how jealous I felt of other people who seemed to have functioning relationships and even have families. I thought, well this might be my last chance, so I better make it work. For long time I felt that way.

I am not going to say that my ex was a monster and I was an angel, because that was not the case. Rather, I was never completely in the relationship and neither was he. Yet, we dragged on this relationship for nearly six years. I cannot speak for his motivations, but I can only be honest about mine. I had a growing feeling of hopelessness three years ago. I had other guys hitting on me…I just never thought they would and could accept me. I assumed, they would all run away if they saw what I was like. I thought, I better be happy if anyone was willing to deal with all my issues and problems and bare it out. I thought, in fact, I should be grateful for him for sticking around.

I never dared to go for guys I was into and who were actually available, because hell, it would never work out. No way could I pretend to be normal and hide my emotional issues for so long that they would commit. I had tried in the past and it always ended with the disaster. Hence, I was tied to someone who was as messed up as I was, in a dysfunctional relationship with little hope for improvement.

Neither of us I think had any illusions when it came to the functionality and a future of this relationship. I think we both knew it lead us nowhere. Yet, fear is a powerful motivator.

Attachment types and the bumpy road towards secure attachment

If anyone is wondering what I am talking about here, then you can find a better description of these types here (https://jebkinnison.com/bad-boyfriends-the-book/type-anxious-preoccupied/). Anyways, I started my therapy by being fearful-avoidant type. These types often crave intimacy, but find it difficult to accept when offered. This is the most disturbed type out of all the attachment types and is developed as a result of childhood abuse (mostly). There is little written on how one can change their attachment type or how difficult it may be. So I am going to contribute to this obvious lack of literature here.

So throughout my therapy I have peeled off the protective layers in my psyche so that I could finally face my issue without the intense walls. These walls served a good purpose during my childhood and helped me to deal with my life, but nowadays prove to be problematic. At this point I have reached the ‘level’ where I could categorize myself as anxious preoccupied type. The difference is that now I have lost the protective layers, defending me against abuse and just have a high need for intimacy and love. I have somehow managed to resolve the part of my childhood which made me extremely distrusting of others and forced me to carry a mask and have begun to trust others more and more.

Where I however still struggle quite a bit is in trusting myself. Trusting my ability to manage alone. Trusting myself to be attractive enough for others so that they would stick around. I am still anticipating abandonment and I do not trust that others are there for me after I have not communicated with them for a while. I dare to be more of myself around them than ever before, but I still think that they could walk away any moment. Furthermore, I still think that a lot of their behavior is about me and not about them. Someone being a bad mood – surely it is because of something I did and not something to do with some outside hinder. Someone not responding to my facebook message – surely it is because they do not like me.

Theoretically it is interesting how transforming from fearful-avoidant towards secure for me includes first becoming anxious-preoccupied type. I still have some way to go, unlike I thought couple of months ago. In fact there are still some quite big challenges ahead of me, but I believe I am somehow moving to the right direction.

The types of relationships you have with trust issues

I am currently working through what I believe to be the last part of my therapy – trust issues. As I am going through this, I am also starting to notice an interesting pattern in my past relationships. Largely my relationships can be divided into two. An important note here is that I am talking about the relationships that actually existed and not the one’s I was having in my mind with all these unavailable guys. Anyways the two types can be described as follows: the relationships with somewhat emotionally available guy who was clearly more interested in me than I was in him and the relationships with guys who for some reason were not very emotionally available or interested in getting to know me.

This revelation seems currently big and transforming to me so let me continue by describing those two types of relationships in further detail.

Lets start with relationships with guys who were emotionally available, but not really completely down to my alley. So I have two guys in particular in mind when thinking about this category. Both in a way are sweet guys who showed affection towards me. Approaching them was easy, because I could see that they were interested in me. Naturally I had some anxiety, but still I ended up dominating these relationships big time, because I was the less interested side. I could flat out disrespect these guys, because sometimes their emotional availability seemed like a weakness to me. Furthermore their keen and loving interest towards me made them ‘low’ in my eyes. I always connected it with approval seeking and to a degree, I think it also was. Both guys must have sensed that my interest towards them is somewhat smaller than their interest towards me and tried to compensate it with some forms of approval seeking. Naturally, at the time I had no idea what was going on. Oh no, I went around and lamented about some perceived betrayals that these guys had brought about also describing all the moments that they hurt me. Little did I know that I probably hurt them much more.

So lets now focus on the other group. See these guys were safer, because they actually did not seek for deep emotional connection. Instead, they somehow felt also safe in a more superficial relationship. They were not interested in what I felt or even to some degree who I was. Rather they were negatively surprised that there was more to me than the nice and shiny exterior which I presented to the world. It became to annoy them because it meant work. All the feelings, all the layers of meaning – that was not what they signed up for. I was left confused and frustrated, not acknowledging that this was exactly what I signed up for. Their unwillingness to go and explore made me feel safe. They could never find out about real me, because they did not have skills nor interest to do so. Instead, I would know everything about them and again, dominate the relationship.

In both cases I was in control. In the first example because I did not have equally strong feelings towards the guys and in the second case, because the guys never knew the real me. The topic itself is wide enough so I will probably need to eloborate in further posts about some underlying issues related to those two types of relationships. However, for some reason I suspect that these two types are not only characteristic to me, but also to some other people that struggle with letting go of control.

Attracting people with a fake personality

So, this is the topic that I am still exploring about myself, hence my thoughts might not be completely clear at this point.

Lets start by saying that I find myself disconnected from a lot of my earlier friends. Why? Because I am starting suspect that there was never an authentic connection there. There was a connection built on me playing the role of achiever and successful person and never actually showing everything that was behind this mask. Unfortunately once people who mostly hanged out with an achiever type of personality find out how broken you are, there is very little common left.

I have tried to force relationships based on false grounds my whole life. I never thought my real self (whatever that is) was good enough. I am still exploring where this feeling came from, but it probably had a lot to do with my mother’s constant criticism and bullying. The fact is, I never dared to tell anyone how afraid of social crowds I was, or how I was depressed on a regular basis wondering why no one loved me. I thought – who would like such a person?

I still struggle showing my face to the world. Most of the time I do not. I cover it up, I try to look more successful etc. What would I say? Hey, I feel like I have faked my whole life, but here is the secret truth about how I am really feeling about myself and my life? This is a real challenge for me. See I know I cannot continue pretending and hope that I will bond with people I actually like and who I actually care about me, but I also do not want to degrade myself.

Here comes another unfortunate aspect of my rejection issues. People, who actually do know me and like me seem to not be the kind of people I want to associate myself with. All I can see is their low self-esteem and their issues and my own reflection in them scares me to the core. See the problem, I guess is, I do not want to be me. My long standing rejection from both my parents and the world has led me to want to be someone else. Which I was for many years. But it hardly led anywhere but this feeling of disconnect and misery, as I was not really accepted nor loved for who I was.

So as you can see, I am still struggling.

The positive side of letting go of someone you love

I have had to breakup with a guy for whom I moved to another country. With whom I planned kids together. With whom we talked about which house we could live in. Long story short, we both struggled with certain commitment issues at this time which resulted in me feeling less and less secure about the future and in the end deciding that I could not live in a half relationship anymore. It was too insecure and painful.

There were several years where I questioned my choice. It took me two years to get over of him. His shadow still follows me when I am thinking of a potential life partner. However, if I had to do everything over again, I would do the same. I would let go of someone who is ambivalent and cannot make up their mind about their feelings towards me.

There is a certain positive aspect about letting go of someone you love which I am only starting to understand now, years later. Namely, the knowledge that you can do this. It seems like a stupid one, but once you internalize it, it is actually a very powerful message. See, I was in a foreign country with few if any friends and yet, I let go of my ex. To me that says – no matter how much I love you, I am going to let you go if you cannot decide if you want me or not. If you were to consistently treat me disrespectfully and not work on the relationship, I would let you go. I know I can leave you behind even if you are the love of my life.

Dependency and independency needs

As I deal with my own commitment issues, I have found the idea of dependency vs independency in relationships to be very useful. Dependency indicates to your need for care-taking, support and wish to rely on someone; whereas independency refers to the wish to define your own being and identity.

In the past I have struggled with my need for independency. Before my therapy and even during the first years of my therapy, I had the idea that I will have to submit myself totally to what other person wants me to be. I was keen on fulfilling their every expectation, but also never understood why the idea of living together with someone made me crawl inside. Now, of course, it is understandable that if living together equals you never being able to say no or having the will of your own it will become captivating pretty quickly.

As I worked through my issues with independency and setting borders, for some time I became the opposite. As much as I had avoided enforcing my borders earlier, I now started saying no to everything. This was a necessary step and I think I am slowly coming out of this phase as well.

Now the other issue is dependency needs. I started of being extremely dependent on my boyfriend. I really struggled with individual emotional management and always relied on him to take care for my emotional needs. Him leaving for trips or whatnot was always extremely hard for me, because suddenly there was no one to take care for me.

So now, interestingly, I think I have moved to the other extreme with my dependency needs as well. Namely, I am trying to cut them down radically, distancing myself from my partner. It suddenly feels unsafe for me to rely on someone else, because they might go away. I am starting to understand how I have always found it troubling to rely on someone else, but previously was just so unable to take care for my own needs that, I felt I had no choice. I am still working on get a grip on my dependency needs and finding a healthy balance there.

detox from unavailable guys

Well, this is my record, two post a day, but I have just noticed something amazing about myself. Namely as intriguingas it may sound, after years of being attracted to unavailable guys, I am finally starting to develop a certain tiredness about them. The mind games, the chasing, all this seems like a bad copy of the real thing. The really deep relationship. I mean how much depth can you really have if one or both sides keep disappearing and taking their distance? So yeah, guys who are inconsistent start to tire me. Or rather even kind of bore me, because eventually even they become predictable in their ways.

Here is the thing. Unfortunately that also includes my partner, who has always harbored a habit of disappearing when he is visiting his home country. He is a caring man, who once in a while needs to demonstrate to me that I do not have a complete hold of him. It is like he is protesting against something by becoming unavailable. Telling me, you do not own me.

Well, to me the messages is finally coming across, loud and clear. I really do not own him. I really do not even have him or if I do, then only temporarily until the next exit. But what is the point of this insecurity? Really why do I need someone who is in and then he is out. Sure he can be the most caring person ever when he is in, but seriously? How much can I really enjoy this feeling knowing that he will be out soon again.

But my tiredness of such guys and my wish to distance myself from taking responsibility for their behavior is actually a good sign. I used to be confident that there was something I did that would drive my boyfriend and all the other unavailable guys away. Like it was my fault when they were distancing themselves.

Finally I am starting to see these guys for what they are – Guys trying to avoid closeness because they are too afraid of being controlled. Guys who will see the attempt to control even where there is genuine concern. Guys who will probably never become consistent and guys who will never provide me for what I want.

Lack of borders and yearning for unavailable men

I am currently working on discovering why I have always been turned off by available guys. It might sound funny for some, but I am sure there are people that can relate to the feeling of wanting to run if someone comes on too strong. Suddenly you feel the urge to run for the hills to only later complain to your friends how everyone is so unavailable and how your relationships never go anywhere. Exactly….

So here is the thing, probably, relationships that go nowhere feel safe for some people, including me. But why? Well, I am starting to realize that in my case, because I have a need to be in control. I like to be in total command of my surroundings.

This is funny, because I never considered myself a controlling person. To be fair, my wish to control hardly ever includes other people. My wish is to control myself and to not let anyone else control me.

The reasons behind this wish to stay in control are to be found in my childhood. My childhood can be described very well with one of the most recent events concerning my mother. Namely, I was busy having a work call and I warned my mother that I will need about an hour of peace and quiet for that (I am on a vacation visiting her and my homecountry). What happened was that first my mother needed to storm in to water the flowers. I was annoyed and voiced my opinion. However, that did not really stop her. Next she needed to come in to vacuum the floor the very moment I was talking. Finally she needed to interrupt me to ask me something. When I then refused to stop talking to my colleagues and answer to her question, she stormed off angry and slamming the door and now she refuses to communicate with me.

It is clear that my mother is someone who does not accept no for an answer. Furthermore, she cannot stand someone not tending to her needs whenever she feels like it. Finally, your needs, for her, are something to be stepped over without any concern.

It is pretty easy to see how this lack of concern towards my needs and the demand that her needs are to be taken into account every waking moment might motivate me to avoid closeness. Closeness with other people in my mind has equaled to me needing to abandon my needs in order to please the other.

Now this has lead to me longing for romance and love, but still being somewhat hesitant to let anyone close enough so that they could recreate the situation I had to suffer throughout my childhood. Unavailable guys hence seem to be perfect for giving a hint of relationship, but never really coming close enough to seriously scare me.

Fixing your partner

I have only recently come to realize that I have a habit of fixing my partners. You know, I choose someone who is not quite it or more often not quite there and then I start passionately guiding them. How does it work out, well, hmmm, mostly it does not.

I have to give my current boyfriend some credit as he has actually followed some of my guidance over the years. However, the whole premise of starting a relationship with someone who needs fixing to begin with is highly problematic. Naturally all of us need ‘some’ fixing and guidance and it is excellent if our partner helps us to see our blind spots. However, this is not quite what I do.

With my current partner I saw from the beginning that he has problems with functioning and pulling off his everyday life. I also saw financial issues. I thought that somehow I could make these problems go away. You know fix him to the point where these things would not be issues.

With my ex, I saw that he had problems being emotionally open and vulnerable. Again I thought that I will heroically help him to reconnect with his emotions. That did not work out.

I am not sure if I am super critical of my partners or I just choose partners who need fixing because that feels safer. Because then you always have a reason as to why not to invest so deeply yet. This is something I need to spend some more time thinking about.