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.

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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.

Non-judgmental view of fear of enmeshment

Most relationships are characterized by certain pattern – you have the puller and the pusher. For some reason it is always easier to understand what is driving the pusher – the abandonment fear seems somehow relatable. However, I myself, have spent long time trying to deny the opposite drive in me – enmeshment fear.

A lot of negative assumptions are made about someone who pulls away, maybe because a lot literature is geared towards women and ‘traditionally’ it is males who pull away. However, I am slowly starting to get and not judge my wish to withdraw. As I am in the midst of understanding my own urge, I will also share my realizations here, in the hopes that maybe someone else can relate.

Something that has become more visible to me is that my life has always been about what other people want me to do and be. It started with me trying to anticipate all the needs of my mother as she went around telling me what a disappointment I still was. I grew up constantly being afraid of disappointing her and being abandoned or punished by her. So to me, being in a relationship, has always meant trying to somehow become what the other person wants me to be.

I have come to realization that naturally I also have tended to pick guys who are somewhat controlling. Interestingly my boyfriend has been in the habit of telling me how he is doing all the favors in the relationship and how I somehow owe him. I am starting to understand now, that in fact it has been mostly me who has tried to compromise and not make him angry. I have spent years trying to become what he wants me to be and blamed myself for feeling so strangled in the process. Naturally it is both on me and on him; I could have fought back, but because of my history the only thing I knew was to be obedient.

So my fear of enmeshment has to do with my desperate unconscious outcry for something of my own. For finally thinking of my own needs. It is quite funny though, because as I am going through the process, I am realizing that in the midst of all the accusations my boyfriend has thrown to me about how I am not fulfilling his needs and standards, I never asked what about my standards. What about if I am having fun and am content. Pushing aside your own needs and wishes becomes a lifestyle and the only thing reminding you that you are doing it is this inconvenient feeling you get when you think about spending your free time with a person who mostly prioritizes their own needs. If you are like me however, you try to control this feeling and tell to yourself – there is something wrong with me.

I am wrong

I grew up with the feeling that I was doing everything wrong. After all, when something happened at home, I was the first one to point a finger at. If my mother was in a bad mood, I was the first one to be blamed for it. Inside of me, there grew a feeling that I could never get it right.

So this is how I become people pleaser. I wanted to get it right. I really tried hard. When I got negative feedback, I tried harder. I worked longer. I went out of my way to achieve whatever I thought would bring me my mother approval.

It was not only that I grew sad because of constant blaming. No, I also felt afraid. Afraid that again, I might have done something wrong and this would entirely ruin my safety. After all, my mother angry was a horrible view. She did not control her actions at all. For a small child it felt life threatening.

So, in order to avoid dealing with this anger, I internalized her messages. I developed a strong critic that was always able to see potentially pitfalls in my actions. I started to see myself as always wrong. Soon she did not even have to say anything, I already blamed myself to the degree that what she said was completely irrelevant.

So when my inner critic got stronger, I started feeling more and more wrong. Inside of me there has always been this sadness. Feeling of being devalued and unregonized. I, in fact, have devalued myself the most. I have no idea how to solve this yet, but I am trying to move slowly towards banishing this inner critic so that I could stop blaming myself for all the things in my life that I have not achieved.

Shift away from the question – does he want to marry me to do I want to marry him

I think I am not exaggerating much when I say that women are taught to be obsessed about male approval. I mean, look at the journals – seven ways to cook delicious dinner for your boyfriend, sex tricks to keep him hooked etc etc. I wonder when we will see the day that one male magazine will start talking about how to impress women with seven course dinner or at least recommendations on which kind of restaurant to take the wife. One could argue that men impress women differently, through making money etc etc, but I would still assert that there is so much stress around will he like me and nearly not enough stress on will she like me.

I read relationship blogs for fun. I like to analyze people and forums are the perfect place for this. Once in a while you get a woman asking questions like – my man cheated on me with another woman and now he cannot make up his mind as to with whom he wants to be, what can I do to make him stay? Again, at this point alarm bells should start ringing, because the real question should be, what can and should he do. By rewarding his bad behavior – cheating, you are just going to send out the message, that this is a good strategy to get you working harder.

This all is of course very personal, because I have dedicated my life to being liked by guys. My own relationship has not moved much during the last couple of years and we have had many heated discussions on family and kids. All this time I was trying to figure out how to make him commit, but to be honest, that was the wrong question to begin with. The real question is, do I want to commit to him. Is he measuring up to my standards?

Now this is a question which presumes that you do not have strong abandonment issues. My abandonment issues made it impossible for me to ask this sooner. They also made sure that my boyfriend felt like he was in total control because I would never leave him. I am currently working on my abandonment issues and to be honest as a result I understand how tired I am. I am so tired of guys who cannot make up their mind and drag the relationship on and on. I am so tired of guys who assume that of course it is woman’s dream to have a family and marriage and hence it is the woman who needs to impress him and sell him this idea. I guess I am in general tired of convincing someone of anything. In the end if the commitment is so difficult to make for one side, what is the value or the point?

Ode on bullying

Can I talk to you? Can I trust you. To be honest I just feel so scared. Everything scares me. The world, the knowledge that I have to be brave enough to go outside and face it, it scares me.

It is easier when I am anonymous. It has always felt safer for me to be anonymous. I like living in big, unrevealing block buildings. Thousands of other people like me. More weirdness. More others to judge. Nobody notices. People not knowing and noticing feels safe to me.

I like to run away when I notice a familiar face. I have taken parallel streets just to avoid facing familiar people. I have literally escaped. What is so scary about those that know me?

Maybe it is the expectations. Disappointing them. Knowing that they judge me. Knowing that they can see me. I am suddenly not part of cityscape anymore. I have been noticed, spotted out.

When you are anonymous, you have the invisibility coat. Nobody can hurt you because nobody cares. But suddenly you have become a person. They have noticed you and singled you out.

Thousands of eyes on you. Everybody agreeing that you deserve to be picked on. That you should be casted out. That you do not belong.

As long as you are invisible, then maybe you can still enjoy the warm feeling of being surrounded with people, imagining that you are not alone. But suddenly you are put on a spotlight and your aloneness becomes apparent not only for you, but also for those around you. It is like a signal – she will have nobody to protect her. It is safe to attack.

Commitment phobia and trust issues

I am starting to understand that my addiction towards unavailable men has two main causes. One has been my feelings of unlovability which have now finally been addressed. The other one, however, is feeling that I cannot trust anyone. This is all evasive feelings which is now coming up strongly.

Finally I understand how I in fact do not want to let anyone close enough. I am afraid. I am afraid that they either become mean and put me down or that they will leave me. It is somehow safer to be in distance, because then at least nobody can hurt me. Then they will not endager my safety. I am at least somewhat in control. But somebody coming in, trying to torn down my wall of safety……this is so damn scary.

I am also starting to understand why physical contact has always been problematic for me. Why I needed to get drunk in order to enjoy physical contact. It is again the same feeling – I am unsafe. Someone is coming inside my bubble. They cannot be trusted.

It is very difficult to describe this feeling to someone who has never experienced it before. It is partially the feeling that you are all alone and partially the feeling that someone is trying to torn down the walls that you have built. You do not understand that in fact these walls to assure that you will be all alone. But you want to protect yourself against other people, not to show that you are so alone and defenseless. You assume that if they would know, they would automatically use it. If they knew you are so helpless they would abuse you. So this is how you never even give people a chance to prove the opposite. They will never get close enough for you to be convinced that they in fact are safe.

So who are the people who are willing to be in a relationship with someone like this? Other people with intimacy issues. No sane person would like to hang around someone who is mortally afraid of intimacy.

Deciding and becoming the person you want to be

One of the most fundamental events in my life was no doubt meeting and breaking up with my ex boyfriend, lets call him here Paul. See Paul was this committed, hard-working, responsible, wise etc etc guy. I idealized him. Among other things Paul was however also very perfectionistic and I never felt that I measured up to his standards. Not really. A familiar feeling which had sent me my whole life with my mother.
Breakup with Paul devastated me. In my mind he was someone the kind I would never find in my life. After Paul I met Greg, my current partner. Greg seemingly at least in the beginning appreciated me the way I was. The problem was, I did not like myself very much at this point. I did not respect myself much.
Now all the self-help books tell us about affirmations and all the other bullshit. In my opinion telling to yourself six times a day that you are lovable does not really change much. And I am going to also make a really harsh statement here – sometimes you have some work to do with yourself in order to be at least more lovable. I know everybody keeps telling how one’s partner needs to accepted them for who they are, but frankly, if you partner is obsessive gambler – would you really want to accept them this way. Or furthermore, would it do them any good if you did? In my case I was irresponsible at the point I dated my ex. I did not take responsibility nor for my life nor my feelings. I just kept believing that a man could solve all my problems. I just shifted all the responsibility to Paul. Now mind me, but this is not a very lovable behavior.
During next years Paul’s words kept haunting me in my self-development. He was my staple for male ideal and I guess partially I wanted to become worthy of him. Now on some level it sounds sick and twisted, but on another level I think it is a good idea. It is similar to having role models in life. Paul to me helped to define who I want to be.
So who do I want to be and how has therapy helped me to reach there? Well, I want to be someone who does not complain about her life, but actually does something to improve this. I want to be someone who dares to show other her real colors. I want to have integrity in all parts of my life. I want to be faithful to my commitments.
I think the previous pretty much describes the most important values for me. So with five years in therapy I have lost quite a bit in my easy-goingness and my lust for life. I am also not the center of parties. I am not this cute, smiley and innocent girl. But instead I have become someone who I think if I met today, could respect.
I will never meet up with Paul again, I think. But I suspect that he as well, would be proud of me today.