Why was it so easy for my exes to walk away?

I am currently dealing with my abandonment issues in my therapy and I am starting to cultivate quite a different view on my past relationships.

So previously I thought that the fact that my exes could walk away easily was a testament of my low value. That somehow I should have performed better, convinced them to care what not. I do not necessarily disagree with this, as I am sure I made many mistakes…However someone being able to walk away easily, I mean, this does not happen because you make small mistakes here and there. This happens if the person does not care much to begin with. My ex made some really questionable stuff during our relationship and never did I think that I could walk away easily. But most of my exes did….

This however means that their engagement in this relationship and their emotional investment where lofty to begin with. I spent much time thinking if only had I been better they would have not wanted to leave me. To be honest, if someone does not either dare to or want to get their feet wet in the relationship, it really does not matter how good you are. They woun’t. Of course you can also with your own behavior make other people invest less which I have done as well, no doubt. The art is to distinguish between your role and your partner’s role.

I am pretty sure I have subconsciously chosen guys who do not want to get their feet wet. My parents’ behavior and the fact that it was so easy for both to just walk away from me left its mark. I started to consider this normality and thought that it was common that you had to work hard for your own parents (or partners) wanting to stick around. Now that I am writing these lines it sounds outrageous that someone would have to go out of their way to convince their parents to be present in their life. I am not even talking about my parents loving me, I am talking about pure presence.

So obviously the bar for the relationships was pretty low to begin with. You just had to show up and seem to be interested. I could never distinguish between real investment and just tagging along. For me just tagging along was all I could ever ask from someone. Anything above that was already way more than my parents did and would raise serious questions about my worthiness for that.

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“We do not meet often but when we do it is like good old days”

I have always been puzzled by how some people define friendships. I have one such ‘friend’ who uses the sentence in the title to describe most of his friendships and to be honest, to me they do not sound like friendships. It sounds more like something for consumption. Like when I have an itch that needs scratching, when I need some entertainment, I will turn to my god old friends and then I can feel good on my way home.

To not get me wrong, I do not advocate having to talk to your friends every day. But to me people who just randomly jump into my life perhaps once a year are not really friends. They might have once been my friends, but they are not friends anymore. How so?

Well simply because I consider the groundwork of friendship to be caring. There I measure others by what I am willing to contribute myself. When I care about someone, I want to know how they are doing. Asking my friends once in a while about their lives requires really minimal effort. People who are not even able to do this, well, I cannot really force myself to define them as friends.

I mean there needs to be certain emotional closeness between you and your friends. Maybe indeed our history together means that we can effortlessly talk about more serious issues in my life. Maybe there is a certain intimacy that one would not establish with strangers. However, I can also have certain intimacy with my exes when I randomly meet them once in a while. That does not make my exes my friends.

I am still struggling finding out if my expectations are just too high. Perhaps I am just overly needy person. Perhaps there are degrees of caring. Perhaps people do not always express their care. But to be honest if this is how modern relationships work, I am not sure I want to be part of it. Also, if a random colleague knows more about my life at any given moment than a friend (because lets face it, how much can you really share in one meeting in a year) then I really do not see the reason to call this person my friend.

I truly think that with people we care about, we do not want to have the contact only once a year or once in two years. It would be painful to stay away from them for this long. So the question really is – do you need to care about your friends and vice versa.

Why some people act entitled?

I am currently visiting my mother and that has given me so much food for thought. Today, inspired by a recent event with my mum, I wanted to talk about entitlement.

The event in itself was following. My mother asked me to help her with something. However it quickly appeared that she had most her days booked and she in fact had only very few times she could do the chore. Instead of telling me, OK fine, I must have made a miscalculation here, she started blaming me for never helping her and resorted to her room where she sat pouting the whole evening. This behavior just puzzled me so much, because there were so many things wrong here. I mean…..

If you ask someone a favor, in my mind you are going to be accommodating towards this person and you do your damnest to agree on a time that fits them. What you definitely do not do is to demand that they cancel their plans. Finally if they refuse, you do not go into pouting mode, which only lets the helper know that you are unable to take into account their needs.

So I concluded that there are some people that just feel entitled. Mind me, my mum does not feel such entitlement about other people, but she feels it about me. She feels that she is entitled for accommodating and nice behavior from me, irregardless of how she behaves herself.

And now comes the moment of honesty. My ex told me numerous times that I acted entitled during our relationship. I never understood what he was talking about. In my mind he had issues with people’s expectations (and he did). However, I am now starting to see his point of view. So why did I act entitled?

I acted entitled, because I thought asking people for things made me inferior. It set me to the position of one man down, so I did not do that with strangers, but in relationships, I thought I should not have to do that. This imaginary position of inferiority made me feel so bad that I would rather go around and tell him what he owed me than actually ask for things. Of course, my ex would also go around telling me constantly what he had done for me, so this did not help with my feelings of inferiority.

Anyways, based on my own behavior, I assume that people who act entitled feel extremely vulnerable when asking something from someone. In order to avoid feeling vulnerable, they would rather go and aggressively demand it, because then the other people do not see that they are actually in need of help. Instead they show as fighting for their rights or whatnot. Anything but not weak and vulnerable. I think, at least for me, understanding where this entitlement comes from, makes it easier to deal with it.

How do people deal with uncertainty in relationships?

Sometimes I wonder how people survive the dating period. You know, you do not have any kind of security, everything seems to be out in the air. Or even, how do people survive any kind of waiting period, waiting for their partner to be ready to get married, waiting their partner to be ready to have kids whatever..

I think my trust in people has never been my greatest strength, but my last relationships have made me just so insecure about people around me. Seriously….First, I move to another country for a guy who then starts doubting whether he wants to be together with me. I mean not that such doubts are ever nice, but such doubts are definitely not nice after you have discussed how many kids you want to have or which kind of house you would prefer. Somehow the security which you thought was there is swiped underneath you feet….Then I have a long relationship with a guy who just makes his own plans and lets me know that he has now planned to go to foreign country for two months, furthermore, he also does not bother to communicate much during this time. Finally, I date with a guy who just disappears without saying a word. My trust in guys is destroyed, I am afraid…

Other people seem to manage just fine, which makes me think, am I somehow with my negative thinking creating these scenarios. Does my insecurity scare these guys away? Or do I choose guys who are insecure about me by definition? I have no idea. Actually I have no idea anymore how I would be able to sustain my trust and cool during the dating period after so many negative experiences.

Even though part of me means that I should work with my insecurities and just learn to accept that I do not know where life takes me, there is another part which says – but if a guy cannot even offer me any kind security in terms of where this relationship is going, what good is he? Maybe trying to keep my cool is what lead me to such situations after all, maybe if I had trusted this insecurity, I had broken off these liaisons way earlier. You see my struggle here?

Honestly, I do not have an answer….The only thing that I can say is that I have not felt myself secure with a man for a very long time.

Different kinds of pains after the breakup

Yes, pain can have different colors, different smells….. Breakup, admittedly, is never nice, but mourning it can bring up quite different feelings. I am not going to go over of the anger, the feelings of wanting to payback…no this post is about different kinds of pains that breakup can bring about…

First there is the pain of…oh my god I lost my only chance for love. Man, have it not been stuck with this feeling for years. When I broke with my ex ex, for whom I moved to my current country of residence, I spent two years thinking that I lost the best thing I ever had in my life. This feeling was not clouded by him right out telling me that he did not love me, no for some reason I thought I was responsible for him not loving him.

Then there is a pain of the mistakes we have made. Don’t we all love to go back and analyze again and again what we could have done differently. If we only had not confronted him about his habit of being at work late…..or smoking or whatever…maybe just maybe we would still be together..

And finally there is the pain that I have recently discovered, the pain of acknowledging that the other one did not appreciate us equally. It hurt perhaps the most to admit that our feelings towards the other person were deeper or at least more consistent. Yet it is a necessary step in some kinds of grieving.

I am currently finding myself in grieving my last three relationships. The last three guys who did not think that our relationship was worth investing. In all three cases I wanted to fight on. I thought problems were solvable. So now I am grieving the fact that they never considered me worthy of the same kind of fight….

Struggling with intimacy and mutuality in friendships

I have spent most of my life being afraid of showing people my real feelings and the real me. Well, most of the time I was even not sure myself who this real me was. The truth is that I have always had my depressive episodes. I have done my best to hide those. I have done my best trying to always appear upbeat, not create any waves – in general be low key. My basic fear was that if I set any demands or stress on the people that surround me, they will abandon me.

I spent my mother’s illness receiving very little support from anyone. Some people in my life knew, but most of them just pretended to forget. I did not make any waves about the lacking support, except with my boyfriend at the time who decided to distance himself. All this time I felt secretly abandoned, but I did not make any waves, because I was afraid of loosing the people in my life. It did not occur to me that people who never even ask how my mum is doing during the chemotherapy might not really be my friends…

AT the age of 31, I have to accept that I have no idea how to form close friendships. How do you create friendships where there is mutual support and closeness? I would not know, because I do not think I have ever had such kind of friendship.

When I look at the current relationships in my life, I have to admit that most of them are alive because of my continued effort. No kidding. It is mostly me that seeks contact. It makes me feel devalued and unimportant. It also makes me wonder if there is nothing better out there. But am I really ready and deserving of this something better myself?

Not having close nor trusting relationship with your caregiver really takes a toll on your relationships. Not only romantic relationships. I think there is an abundance of literature focusing solely on romantic relationships, but I am talking friendships. Friendships are often even more challenging than romantic relationships, because there is no warrantee. Romantic relationships become more stable through marriage or moving in together, but friendships…..Will they ever achieve the kind of security and mutuality that I am looking for? Clearly there is a possibility for that, because I see people around me who enjoy these kinds of friendships. It is just that I am finding myself in the situation where I myself do not have this in my life.

Believing that we deserved to be treated badly by our parents

Every therapy starts with the therapist trying to explain to the patient that there is an alternative way of being fostered. That there actually was something wrong with how we were treated. Every therapy ends with the patient finally understanding it on an emotional level…..

It is easy to read books and rationally understand that our parents messed up. I mean, on a rational level we understand that probably our parents beating us were not really right or kicking us out or what not. But I think on an emotional level almost every therapy patient believes we actually deserved to be treated that way.

Take me for instance. As someone who internalized guilt, I have been in the habit of excusing other people’s behavior. When my ex was verbally aggressive, it was because he had his issues. He had his ADHD, his shame whatnot and I was too needy, I should have not been that way. When a guy that I recently had a developing courtship disappeared suddenly, I understood him, because well, he was feeling like a failure in his life and he needed to gain confidence in order to be available for the relationship and I pushed him too hard. Finally, I understood my mother’s violent outbursts, I mean she was working so hard and I was not cleaning up at home, I was lazy, I was not talented enough. She had her own reasons.

I never allowed myself to be sad. I never allowed myself to blame them openly for how they treated me. I never held them accountable. Instead, I directed the blame back to myself, relentlessly searching for all the things I did wrong. The thing is, you can always find things you did wrong. The problem is when you start thinking that because you did things wrong you deserved to be treated that way.

We all make mistakes, but the victims of childhood abuse are punished for their mistakes and for things that were not even their mistakes in a gruesome manner. Over the years they start believing that this is actually what they deserve. The cycle goes on as we expect the same kind of behavior from our partners. Furthermore, we do not even allow ourselves to feel pain for our partners treating us badly, because in the end we brought this bad treatment upon ourselves, did we not?

Well, I am slowly trying to change the court. I am trying to actually start holding others accountable for at least half of the standards I have held myself accountable for over the years. I am trying to not assume that when other people treat me badly it is because I deserve this. Well, I am speaking in present, but actually it is a future plan….

Why you should never date Florence Nightingale

I am still somewhat ruminating over my relationship dynamics where I would date men who somehow needed to fix me. Not only did I date men who wanted to fix me, I also had friends around me who needed to fix me. I have now cut out most people from my life who had this attitude, however I am still trying to figure out all the sides of it.

To be honest, I find these kind of people extremely dangerous. The thing is, relationships with Florence Nightingale’s are all about control….that is about them being in control. Yes, their acts of kindness might look selfless on surface, but serve a need for them to feel like they are in a superior position. Furthermore, they keep finding issues in you which they think you should fix. Florence’s get the most aggressive when they sense that you are somehow becoming independent and then they quickly try to find a new issue which needs to be dealt with in you.

I am thinking of my ex friend who needed to ‘diagnose’ an eating disorder in me just to somehow stay in control of our relationship. I am thinking of my ex who constantly kept finding issues in me and went as far as to tell me this winter how his friend had told him about me being distant and having obvious trust issues. When you break down and actually accept having these issues, Florence’s are there to help you, not for your sake, but for their own.

What I am still struggling with is accepting that it is not love though. Their care might look like love, but in reality it is pity and sympathy. It is kind of difficult to accept that some of your closest people have looked down on you your whole life. They have said to themselves, well I will befriend or date this person who obviously needs fixing, because then I can be in control. It is not going to be an equal relationship, I am not dating my equal, I am dating someone who is beneath me. How does that sound to know that you are this person who is beneath?

It is however even somewhat healing to see these things. Healing, because I can finally admit that I did not imagine people looking down on me. No, they actually did look down on me. My own dear friends looked down on me. It is a weird feeling really. Weird feeling to see that I still mostly have unequal relationships in my life, because I am only slowly transitioning. But some day I will actually have friends and a partner who sees me as equal. Who does not have such glaring control issues that they need someone below them to feel good about the relationship.

People who enjoy crossing your borders

Recently I am starting to suspect that there is a category of people who has no intention whatsoever to respect your borders. When you set a border, they see it as a recommendation or more like a bargain which could be negotiated or ignored. I am not here talking about some border issues which could be discussed inside the relationship, rather I am talking about people who have repeatedly shown their unwillingness to take your limits into account. I suspect that there are two kinds of people who do this.

The first category of people are people who just cannot hear the word NO. It just does not exist for them. When you say no, they assume that somehow NO does not really mean NO. My former boss is like this. Even when I said NO, she would come back with the same task pretending like she never heard the word no. Negotiating your borders with such people is tiresome because it seems like fighting with the dragon, you get rid of one head and another head appears. I suspect that such people might have learned from their childhood that if they are cute enough or persistent enough, people will give up. However, I still have more respect towards this category of people than the other one.

In the other category I would put people who test other people’s borders because it is a power play for them. They are looking for emotional reactions. I guess other people reacting emotional shows them that somehow they care about them or that at least they have some control over these people. One of my ex friends is like that. He would consciously test my emotional reactions just by saying something hurtful or by disappearing in the middle of our conversation. In the end, I barely reacted anymore – I could see through his actions and I was also aware of what he was doing. However, I was interested enough as to how he would react if he saw that he does not get any emotional reaction (plus he was a very interesting person). Happened something which I think is quite common for this type of people when they feel their influence over you is disappearing – he stopped communicating with me. I did not give him anymore the kind of emotional reaction which he expected and that made him feel insecure and vulnerable.

The last category of people are usually uncomfortable with being vulnerable. In the case of my former friend, he has been exposed to physical violence when he was a kid. So he surrounded himself with people with whom he never felt out of control, whom he thought he could control. The problem is, I am not the same kind of person I was when I met him. This took him as a bad surprise. I on the other hand started losing my respect towards him and his controlling strategies. Whereas I can understand where his needs come from and I empathize, I also feel that I do not want to have such people close to me.

How do you trust someone who you know is constantly calculating the power dynamics of the relationship in his head? Interestingly my ex also showed multiple signs of the same kind of behavior. He too was obsessed with power and often spoke about other people wanting to control him. I am starting suspect that the minute someone you meet is telling you about other people being keen on controlling them, you should be very careful because they are probably measuring other people based on what happened in their childhood but also based on their own behavior. So yeah, I am these days more aware of the people who are consciously challenging my borders, especially the ones that do it because it gives them the feeling of power.

Who is setting the conditions in the relationship?

For the past six years I have somehow mislead myself in terms of not even needing a full commitment nor not wanting a family. I have tried to control my emotions as other friends of mine had kids and told myself that I was investing into self-development. Surely that would lead to better results in the end.

Do not get me wrong, I still believe in self-development, but I am also starting to understand that the road to commitment should not be a struggle. I struggled with my ex. My ex was right, we had multiple problems which were at least in the beginning also related to my own commitment fears, however during the recent years my ex was skillfully using my problems to avoid commitment. I became a cyrcus monkey, trying to fulfill all his criteria, postponing my own wishes and desires, because „I was not ready yet“ and „I had to develop more“. For the first time during the last days I came up with the idea of actually setting criterias for my next boyfriend myself, one of them being – „he needs to want a family sooner rather than later“. I know it probably seems riddiculously obvious for the most people, but I have always dated from ‘a one man down position’. I have been so concerned about being liked by my partner that I never even dared to set my own conditions. Rather I was oriented towards fulfilling all his rules and requirements. I perceived commitment as his reward to me.

This is basically dating from the victim position. In your mind you are so disadvantaged that you have no right to have expectations for your partner. Instead you are celebrating having a partner at all. You fully understand that he is not committed to you yet and you think that for you to earn his commitment you must somehow become better, brigther what not. At the time I was struggling with my ex, I was sometimes really amazed by how easily other girls got their boyfriends to behave in caring and loyal fashion. I told to myself that there was something special about these girls that I was missing. I should develop myself more so that my boyfriend would want to committ to me as well.

I am thinking that the fact I see all this now probably means I am finally reclaiming my power. I am finally growing out of my position where I was the one needing to win someone’s love. My love now also needs to be earned and I am ready to walk away if my conditions are not satisfied. Most importantly I will not put myself into a situation where I am fighting for someone’s love for years. Usually, if you have to fight for someone’s love, you will never have it. I have to accept that I never really had the love of at least my two recent exes.