My Boyfriend Only Wants to See Me Once a Week

My Boyfriend Only Wants to See Me Once a
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My boyfriend and I have been seeing each other regularly for 4 months. I waited for sex a bit after we were exclusive (he asked me to be exclusive after our third date). Things maybe moved (OK, maybe I moved things) more quickly than they should have, in the sense that I brought up the future casually, jokingly, but he took it very seriously, as I would later find out. We see each other all day Friday (we both work from home that day and I go to his house to work), spend the night, go out to dinner, and all of Saturday we do something active like a hike or a ride. Saturday evening I go home to my teenage kids (he has a daughter in college).

This summer my kids are gone, and I’m renting my house out for 10 days. I asked him a while ago if I could stay with him for those 10 days, but that there was no pressure as I have girlfriends to stay with. He said it was OK. I kept asking him in the following weeks and he kept saying it was perfectly fine.

OK, so here’s the thing– after a week in which we spent one weeknight and Friday and Saturday night together, he told me that the magic is gone and we’ve fallen into the mundane, that he needs his space and the 10 days looming in the horizon are weighing on him. At the same time he wants to keep seeing me, just maybe Friday and Saturday, with the occasional weekday lunch. But Sundays are for him. I get that, believe me! I need my own space as well. He still texts me every morning and night, and is warm, attentive, and kind. But this caught me completely off guard and sent me spinning with panic.

He’s 55 and has been alone for last 10 years, with relationships that have lasted 1-year tops. I’m 48 and recently divorced. By his own admission, he’s a pleaser who says yes to everything until he explodes or disappears. He’s working on how to say “no”. I applaud him for his honesty and his journey to be a better man, but I’m a confused mess. Should I just play it cool and reassess a few months for now? Sometimes I’m afraid to make plans for fear of overwhelming him. I don’t text him unless he does for fear of suffocating him. It seems that his ideal relationship is one where people keep their independence and see each other once a week. I’m not looking to get married and with my kids here I’m not thinks about anybody moving, but I think I need more of a emotional anchor than that. I just don’t know in what shape, though. It could be a weekly companion but I’m not sure.

Is it OK that he doesn’t hint about a future? Or that he doesn’t tell me he loves me (other than indirectly)? Or is it a matter of giving the relationship time to develop organically while trying to find a balance that works for us? Should I let him go? He does treat me well otherwise and we are compatible in our values, just not aligned in our dating habits I guess.

Sorry for the rambling, but your advice is much appreciated. I’m sure part of the problem is that I don’t know what I want, and that’s why I can’t find an answer in your blog.

Many, many thanks.

Patricia

By the time you read this, Patricia, your relationship will probably have dissolved. If it hasn’t, your sanity will probably have dissolved.

That’s the cost of dating a man who – based on your description – has an “avoidant attachment style.”

From the book “Attached” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, avoidants think like this:

It is very important for you to maintain your independence and self-sufficiency, and you often prefer autonomy to intimate relationships. Even though you do want to be close to others, you feel uncomfortable with too much closeness and tend to keep your partner at arm’s length. You don’t spend much time worrying about your romantic relationships or about being rejected. You tend not to open up to your partners and they often complain that you are emotionally distant. In relationships, you are often on high alert for any signs of control or impingement on your territory by your partner.

Avoidants may not be bad people, but they’re really bad partners. They claim to want intimacy and, when shit starts to get real, they pull away from it.

Avoidants may not be bad people, but they’re really bad partners. They claim to want intimacy and, when shit starts to get real, they pull away from it.

I’m no psychologist but here are the hints that your guy is avoidant:

He’s 55 and has been alone for last 10 years, with relationships that have lasted 1-year tops.

By his own admission, he’s a pleaser who says yes to everything until he explodes or disappears.

Sometimes I’m afraid to make plans for fear of overwhelming him. I don’t text him unless he does for fear of suffocating him.

It seems that his ideal relationship is one where people keep their independence and see each other once a week.

He doesn’t hint about a future.

He doesn’t tell me he loves me.

Yep, that’s pretty much your whole letter, Patricia.

And not to give away anything from my signature program, Love U, but when you find an avoidant guy and you’re walking on eggshells, RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

There is nothing you could tell me about him or your relationship that would change my feeling. You can tell me he buys you flowers, rubs your feet, and cures cancer on the side. Doesn’t matter. He’s an avoidant timebomb waiting to explode.

You need a man who WANTS intimacy, not one who avoids it.

Get out and find a relationship in which you can relax and feel connected.

 

 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    S.

    “he told me that the magic is gone and we’ve fallen into the mundane”

    He told you in words the magic is gone? After four months? Wow. My question to him, not you Patricia, is why stay if the magic faded so quickly? Why accept the mundane? Maybe he doesn’t want magic.

    Either way, you do. Another coach said something recently, “don’t let confusion over him cloud your life.” I’ve learned if I’m feeling confused and the partner thinks that’s cute or doesn’t try to help me make me feel clearer, I can do it. By leaving. It’s SO nice not to be stewing over someone else’s motivations. I wish that for you.

    Why do avoidants even get into relationships? It doesn’t seem like they understand what’s necessary to keep one going. Or maybe they can date other avoidants and see each other once a year. There was a movie about that once.

    1. 1.1
      Jeremy

      Keep in mind that outside of Amir and Heller’s book, “avoidants” are referred to as “anxious-avoidants.” In other words, their lack of secure bonding during childhood (along with their own inborn proclivities) has made them anxious. But while some people with anxious attachment believe the key to getting what they want is to pull closer – change themselves, do whatever it takes to secure an attachment, others believe that doing so will just cause more pain. So they distance themselves from people, and they set up an interesting internal dichotomy – a part of them desperately longs to form an attachment with someone, but another part of them believes that doing so will cause pain, is undesirable – and further, that anyone who’d actually want to attach to them must have something wrong with him. “Why do avoidants even get into relationships?” Because they desperately want them. And don’t. And so do, but only under totally unrealistic circumstances that will never actually exist.

      “Maybe he doesn’t want magic.” – No, I’d say that magic is exactly what he wants. Problem is, magic doesn’t exist.

      “It’s SO nice not to be stewing over someone else’s motivations.” Why stew? He’s told her what he wants. Her problem isn’t that she’s stewing over his motivations, her problem is that she believes that by changing herself she will change him. One can not be in a successful relationship and not understand the motivations of one’s partner. Or, rather, if one is in such a relationship, its continued success will be very much a crap-shoot.

      1. 1.1.1
        Emily, to

        Jeremy,
        “Problem is, magic doesn’t exist.”
        It does exist just not very long. Per the OP’s letter:
        “We see each other all day Friday (we both work from home that day and I go to his house to work), spend the night, go out to dinner, and all of Saturday we do something active like a hike or a ride. Saturday evening I go home”
        That’s enough time together, after four months, for the newness and intensity to wear off. (With the exception of Marika, for whom it lasts nearly a decade. 🙂 ) And the OP’s boyfriend apparently isn’t interested in having the relationship shift to something deeper.

      2. 1.1.2
        Patricia

        Well, neither my sanity nor my relationship have exploded yet. I read The Untethered Soul (based on Evan’s recommendation) and The Surrender Experiment, and I’m applying some of the principles to my life and relationships. I’m letting go of my need to control everything and know the future. I’m relaxing into watching how this plays out. We had a wonderful weekend together, and he’s being gradually more open with me. He told me he loves me. We’ll see.

        I know what Evan and all of you are saying. Believe me, as I read my letter, I thought I’d probably would say the same thing. But there’s something about taking a look at yourself and self-examining your blind spots, too. While I recognize his faults I’m waiting to see if I have a very cautious man or a truly avoidant one. Only time will tell.

        I’ll keep you all posted. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond.

        1. S.

          Thanks for the update! Glad you still have your sanity. 😉 And it does see like he is trying. And I applaud you owning some of your own stuff here as well.

          Wish you luck and hope he becomes the emotional anchor you want. And feel free to reply back to this post later.

  2. 2
    S.

    @Jeremy

    I’m glad they are called avoidants. So I (and Patricia) know to avoid them. Way, way too messy.

    Maybe magic doesn’t exist. But I heard it as the sparkly honeymoon stage (which does/did exist) was over for him way quick. And that’s my point, if he wants that stage over and over, why not break up with her and move on to the next? He’s like deliberately not investing so it becomes a real relationship but not going on to have a series of short-lived ones, either.

    Messy.

    I say she’s stewing because she says she’s a confused mess. It may be clear what to do from the outside but she’s in it and definitely stewing. Though I hope, like Evan said, this situation had dissolved by now.

    One should desire to know a partner’s motivations, but if they aren’t willing to meet one half-way and the other isn’t willing to leave once they realize this, there isn’t much more to know. Patricia even admits that she doesn’t really know what SHE wants.

    I agree with you about a crap shoot.

  3. 3
    Ames

    Any 55 year old, male or female who is chasing chemistry and “magic” months into a relationship is immature at best. At worst, they hurt others and will be single for a very long time. Four months in you should be having routines and feeling more established as a couple. Start over with someone who will build a relationship, not a wall. Sorry to hear about this experience. He’s a weirdo, don’t let it shake you up.

  4. 4
    Malika

    This is one of those posts whereby i hope the writer of the letter tells us how it is now going.

    When you meet someone you really like, you don’t want to rock the boat and you do your utmost best to make things work. The thing is, how is Patricia going to feel further down the road? Is seeing each other 1-2 days a week and waiting for him to initiate contact for fear that he will otherwise run the other way really the best way forward? Does Patricia want to be in a relationship where she is playing a misguided version of the Cool Girl-The Rules Style instead of being open, vulnerable, spontaneous and affectionate?

    It’s also good to show the other side of the fence. While I am aware that avoidant people get a bad rap on the dating scene, I would like to show that not all hope is lost. I fall into the avoidant attachment by nature. It took me quite a long time to adjust to a more secure form of attachment and that process was largely done while I was single. It was only in the couple of guys i dated before i met my partner that i started to open up to the intensity of a real relationship. While I am still quite avoidant ( I need lots of alone time but I see my partner two to three days a week and we call every evening) the combination of being ready for a secure relationship and finding the right partner has changed things a lot. He does not need to tread on eggshells. If he wants to get a spontaneous dinner somewhere or see me on another night, he knows i will mostly say yes and that i will always be very happy to see him again. If he needs me or wants to talk about his vulnerabilities I won’t freak out and leg it. He has stated he feels very happy and secure in this relationship. The key to succes is the effort we both put into this relationship and clear communication of each others needs. Without that effort i feel that there would be a deep chasm between us that would make neither of us happy.

    Patricia, I hope your partner is able to go through his own process and come out being the partner that you need. Otherwise I would definitely recommend finding a partner who would be more open to being the kind of partner you want in your life.

    1. 4.1
      Lynn

      Sounds like me! After being unwillingly dumped after 21 years, I had an anxious/avoidant attachment style. I did a TON of work (therapy, reading, workshops) and after seven years I have an amazing boyfriend who has helped me slide into the secure attachment style. If Patricia’s guy wants to do some “work” around his attachments styles that might be a relationship saver. Otherwise, go find a partner closer to what you desire.

    2. 4.2
      S.

      @Marika

      Thanks for sharing your experience. And mentioning the work done during your singlehood. Some work can only be done alone and it’s worth it to take that time to do it.

      1. 4.2.1
        Marika

        A few compliments are being directed to me (Marika) which should correctly be attributed to MaLika.
        Different people and much different experiences ; )
        Malika is far wiser than I!

        1. S.

          Sorry to you both! Bad eyes at work. I have to concede to increasing font size.

        2. Malika With an L

          Thank you for the compliment! You have your fair share of wisdom too. I woke up this morning and i suddenly realized that it would be a good idea to call myself ‘Malika With an L’ for a while so readers can differentiate between the two of us.

    3. 4.3
      Marika

      Lovely words, Malika. I agree avoidants get a really bad rap in the dating world. It’s unfair, we all have our ‘stuff’. I definitely wouldn’t ‘run the other way’. Otherwise I should expect people to run away the minute I act in a way they don’t understand…

      The book talks about how being in a relationship with a secure person helps you be more secure. But it sounds like you did it on your own. Okay to ask how?

      Are there still moment you have to fight the urge to pull away or push him away?

      1. 4.3.1
        Malika with an L

        Hi Marika:

        We all have our ‘stuff’! In my dating experience I have never come across a person who would be perfect partner material for everyone. The man i dated who was working bravely through his sex addiction as a coping mechanism wasn’t the best match for a woman who was coming to terms with vaginismus (which i have only recently overcome). The man I dated who was practically wedded to his work was not a match for a woman who needed more time from a partner than he could provide at that time. Yet they were both great men who I am sure would be good partners for someone else who had different needs and approaches to life and i hope they have found their match.

        Alone means for me being single but having regular dates via OKcupid, which i was on intermittently between 2015 and 2018. While I worked through my patterns with the help of this website and therapy elsewhere it became more and more clear what was holding me back. When I dated I became more mindful of what my triggers were and how to work around them. One time dates lead to more dates with one person. While the more serious dating didn’t lead to a serious relationship at first, it did become a mirror and an opportunity for self-reflection. By the time I met my current partner, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and how to communicate my need for alone time without sacrificing the promising development of a relationship.

        While I sometimes feel the need to push away, I see it as a sign of needing more time to be alone and recharge the batteries rather than a sign to run away from a relationship, but that was a difference it took me quite a while to learn. It felt as if setting boundaries and wanting to spend evenings alone was unromantic, but it is actually necessary to keep the together time from being overwhelming. We are now slowly introducing evenings wherein we are around each other reading books and writing on the laptop. Being close yet not engaging each other for the whole evening. They turn out to be just as recharging as spending an evening alone!

    4. 4.4
      Patricia

      You’re very right Malika! I’m trying to be a compassionate person and see his side of things. Thank you so much for sharing your experience

      1. 4.4.1
        Malika With an L

        I am glad you got back to us, it was good to hear about a follow up! If you are both making an effort, then I am sure that good things will come from it.

  5. 5
    Lynn

    My suggestion to Patricia would be to date more people before settling into a relationship. It’s a different game at midlife; all the rules have changed and the “baggage” is real. Follow Evan’s advice on EVERYTHING and don’t waste time trying to change people. It’s not your job to “fix” men or find a “project.” Look for the guy who’s got his stuff going on and wants to be with you for you. Best of luck out there!

  6. 6
    Lynx

    I’m lightly familiar with “anxious attachment” and “avoidant attachment” (but not the anxious-avoidant term Jeremy uses). Echoing Marika, I’m also avoidant and want to “show the other side of the fence”. So, let’s look at it from the guy’s point of view and review his actions over the past 4 months of dating a woman with teenaged kids living at home:

    – he asked to be exclusive after the third date
    – they see each other every Friday morning through Saturday evening
    – he’s not ready for 10 straight days living together in a routine way but still wants to spend Friday and Saturday, plus the occasional weekday lunch
    – he texts her every morning and night, and is warm, attentive, and kind

    Her actions/reactions:
    – moved things along more quickly than she should have
    – initiated spending 10 routine days together and kept asking him about his agreement to it
    – is in a panic because he shared his honest feelings that 10 routine days sound mundane, not magical
    – is a confused mess

    He may be avoidant, but she sure sounds anxious.

    1. 6.1
      Jeremy

      My father is among the most avoidant people you’d ever encounter. He wants a relationship with his grandchildren, but only on his own terms. “Jeremy, why don’t you ever invite me over to see the kids,” he’ll ask. “Sure dad, why don’t you come Sunday morning?” “No,” he’ll answer, “Sunday morning I work out on the treadmill and then go to the bagel shop.”. “How about Sunday afternoon?” I’ll say. “No, Sunday afternoons I like to go to the art gallery. Do the kids want to come there and meet me, and I can teach them about art?” “No dad,” I’ll reply, “they aren’t terribly interested in that. Especially not the 3 year old.”. No matter what I’ll suggest, he will say no – unless it’s something he already wanted to do anyway. He wants a relationship…. But only if it isn’t too inconvenient. “Well,” he’ll say, at least I’m being honest about what I will and won’t do. “.” Of what value is your honesty, and to whom, ” I ask.” When you exit the moment and look back on your day, would you rather have a relationship or not?”. ” I would,” he answers. “What’s it worth to you?” I ask. “I don’t know,” he answers. Because part of him desperately wants a relationship….and part of him believes that any relationship in which he is in any way beholden to another is worse than death. Like his father before him, he lives surrounded by love he refuses to take hold of, and may die without ever knowing it. His blindness is one of my great griefs.

      1. 6.1.1
        Marika

        Oh dear…children don’t want ‘honesty’ from their grandparents, they want unconditional love and cheer-leading! Although, that being said, grandparents can often fill in the blanks which some parents can struggle with while juggling jobs and other children and marital issues… In your kids’ case, Big J-meister, they seem to get all of the love and security they need at home.

        Parenting aside, do your parents have a good relationship? As in good, in that it works for them? They both seem pretty avoidant, and a few people are musing whether an avoidant-avoidant marriage/LTR can work?

        1. Jeremy

          They are both avoidant… One of the only avoidant-avoidant marriages I’ve ever observed to last. They celebrated their 50th anniversary last year. But they aren’t exactly together. They live in parallel, the one not knowing what the other is doing at any given time. She will go to a movie, he will go for coffee. Each by themselves. All day, every day. When I phone my mom and invite her over, I need to specify that she should tell my dad to come too, otherwise she will just assume the invitation is only for her. They still live in a 4 bedroom house, a house that is falling apart from lack of care, because any less space and they would drive each other nuts. So much to learn from them…. By negative example. It’s not that the relationship they have is what they want, it’s that what they want has been so mutated by their upbringing. Their want for love and their want for independence hit each other like hot and cold air, resulting in a tornado of destruction that seems calm to them, living in its eye, but obvious to everyone else.

          I have avoidant tendencies too, but have learned that I need love, need GOOD relationships to be happy in this world. So I ask myself the same question I asked my dad – what’s it worth to you? And then I pay the price…rather than pretend that the price doesn’t exist or that it will one day go on sale for less.

        2. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          Ok, you don’t like avoidants. Ok, you don’t like idealists. We get it. But that doesn’t mean they are all living a life of quiet desperation, as your stories paint them to be. That’s how you interpret their lives because that’s not how you would want to live. I have a friend who has a boyfriend. She seems him twice a week. They are in daily contact. The relationship is serious and she thinks permanent but she does not want to live with him. She’s been married before and doesn’t want to remarry. She has friends and wants to do her own thing sometimes, wants to have her own space as she likes it. Does that make her an avoidant? Idk but who cares if they are both happy? There are other perfectly valid options that exist somewhere between marriage and casual.

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          @Emily: I predict your friend won’t be happy with a 2x/week boyfriend when she loses her job or her parents die. The guy who signs up for such a gig only wants the fun of a girlfriend, not the responsibility that comes with being a boyfriend. There’s nothing “wrong” with a casual relationship that keeps distance, but those relationships, in my experience, usually dissipate or disappoint in the long run.

        4. Jeremy

          Emily, you asked “Who cares if they are both happy?” Certainly not I. Big if, though.

          It’s not that I don’t “like” avoidants or a certain type of idealist, it’s that they tend not to make good marriage partners, or committed partners of any sort. Because their focus is always on themselves – “What am I about, what makes me feel individuated, what do I need right now?” They believe that’s ok – ideal, in fact, – as long as their partner is the same. Being married to such a person would be like being married to my favourite muppet, Beaker. “Me me me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrsCPUI98fE

          Is this not the exact problem you had with your ex-friends? The ones who were never there when the shit hit the fan, when you needed them? They were just about themselves? The older we get, the more we need others, not the less. When my dad had a heart attack a decade ago, he didn’t tell my mom, just took a subway and 2 buses to the hospital. When the doctors told him it was a heart attack, he called my mom….but she was too busy to come to the ER. Cooking dinner, and all. So I went. About a month later, as he convalesced at home recovering from his quadruple bypass, my mom went into a deep depression. My dad drove her to the psych hospital and left her in a rubber room for a month. He felt kinda bad about it, but was relieved to have her out of the house while he recovered. She made do without him, and when they released her she returned to her life of parallel existence.

          Are they happy? Tricky question – happy about WHAT? Well, each of them is happy with who s/he is, but neither is happy with the partner they have or their life in retrospect. Each feels that s/he is giving enough, but neither feels that the other is/has been. Each is content enough when going about their own individual pursuits….but neither is happy when they actually need anything from the other. They have not chosen the path of happiness, they have chosen their perception of the path of least pain.

          Remember, regarding avoidants, that it’s not that they have lost the basic human need for relationships. It’s that they’ve confused their need for relationships with their fear of pain. The very real pain they’ve felt when their childhood attachments betrayed them. You and I both know what I’m talking about. We see the anxious as moths, drawn masochistically to the huge flame of human need – and we sneer at them….until we look down at our own grey wings, beating at the fire.

        5. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          Again, you are as biased as the rest of us in using your own life. We all do it but it limits us. I went to a women’s group the other day and one of the woman brought her mom. She said her mom was staying with her for 3 months. I inadvertently winced and she caught me. But they LIKE each other. They party together. My world view was: How in the hell could you deal with family moving in for that long because I don’t really care for my family as people and I don’t enjoy them. I endure them. It was good for me to see that not everyone experiences this.
          ” Being married to such a person would be like being married to my favourite muppet, Beaker. “Me me me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrsCPUI98fE
          I could say thing about being married to a STEM person. It would be like being married to Beaker … All in his head. No emotion.If you prick him, does he bleed?
          “Is this not the exact problem you had with your ex-friends? The ones who were never there when the shit hit the fan, when you needed them? They were just about themselves? ”
          Those particular friends, yes. It was ttmo. Time to move on.

        6. Emily, to

          “I predict your friend won’t be happy with a 2x/week boyfriend when she loses her job or her parents die. ”
          She did lose a parent within the last couple of months. Her boyfriend was there for her the whole time. It’s one of the reasons the relationship has lasted — she saw that he could show up.

        7. Jeremy

          I use my life as an example, not an extrapolation, Emily. One thing I am really, really careful about is to try not to make assumptions about whether or not someone is happy based on my own perspective. Rather, I use theirs. I have no doubt that some people are happier alone, in casual relationships, or distant committed relationships. Those are the people who exhibit signs of life satisfaction rather than Seeking behavior.

          BTW, I always thought that Beaker was wonderfully emotive. I have no evidence he’d bleed if pricked, but I know that he responds normally to electric shock. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yqJaN8C7ho

        8. Shaukat

          “I predict your friend won’t be happy with a 2x/week boyfriend when she loses her job or her parents die. The guy who signs up for such a gig only wants the fun of a girlfriend, not the responsibility that comes with being a boyfriend. ”

          Sounds like in this scenario the woman also just wants the fun that comes with being a girlfriend without the responsibility, so not sure what the problem is? And people have different support systems they could turn to in case of a job loss or death in the family. Everything doesn’t always have to follow a formula.

        9. Lynx

          Ha, Emily, you would be appalled at my living situation! I did a life reboot last year, downsized my belongings to a 5’x10′ storage unit to move in with a sibling and nephew, plus my daughter is sharing my bedroom during her summer break from college. 95% of the time, it’s great — interesting conversations, enjoyable just hanging out walking dogs, making dinner, or trying to find something on Netflix worth watching.

          I allow my close family to enable my relationship avoidance — I don’t need to worry whether my boyfriend will be there when crap hits the fan, because my family absolutely will. Not bragging about that whatsoever, just admitting I’d probably make more effort in a romantic relationship if I didn’t have such a supportive family.

        10. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “BTW, I always thought that Beaker was wonderfully emotive.”
          Of course you do. You’re a STEM person. 🙂 STEM people are my trigger like yours is idealists. I was raised by them on both sides. It was like living in a family of ice cubes.

        11. Emily, to

          Lynx,
          Tight quarters indeed in terms of your living situation!
          “Not bragging about that whatsoever, just admitting I’d probably make more effort in a romantic relationship if I didn’t have such a supportive family.”
          I envy you. The better the support system, the less you need from the outside world. So you have the power if you date someone who doesn’t have that same “emotional infrastructure” in place. It’s not a criticism, just that that’s how it can feel from the other side.

    2. 6.2
      Patricia

      Haha! Yes, exactly. I’ve become less anxious and more confident in the last couple of weeks, and he in turn has become more open and vulnerable. We’ll see.

      1. 6.2.1
        Lynx

        Good to hear things are trending positive for you, Patricia. Hey, Jeremy, what do you think about creating subcategories, like Avoidant-Self-Oriented-And-Clueless and Avoidant-But-Trying-Hard-To-Communicate?

        1. Jeremy

          Trying hard is good, Lynx, but what one should try hard at is not communication. Communication is a smokescreen. Of what value is a relationship partner who is really really good at telling others what she wants? Or really good at listening to what her partner wants? The value is in the learning to accommodate, in the ability to AGREE, to occasionally give up one’s prerogatives …without resentment. Without this, all the communication in the world will have no value. The communication is not the fish, the agreement is. See John Gottman’s research on this. And if one can master this, he/she will no longer fall into the avoidant category. At least, not purely. Ask me how I know.

        2. Jeremy

          Goal, not “fish.” Damn autocorrect.

        3. Lynx

          Jeremy: I adore the sentence construction, “The _____ is not the fish”, and will probably use it in conversation sometime, forgetting that I’m the only one who will get the joke.

          Really interesting point about communication. Communication is my strength, my armor, my go-to in every interpersonal challenge. I make a tremendous effort to actively listen to the other person and comprehend their point of view, and praise myself for being so very empathetic.

          But you’re right — I don’t make much effort to agree. I’m primarily using that information to formulate my offense, because I want things done my way without the appearance of being pushy or self-centered. Hmmm. Lots to mull over.

          It sounds like you’ve put your parents’ bad example to the best possible use. It’s inspiring.

        4. Marika without an L

          Haha, me too, Lynx! Before our J corrected it, it somehow worked in my mind and I thought it was deep.

          Similarly, if you wisely say to people, “ah but that algorithm is not the fish” you’ll have people working harder, longer and you’ll definitely get promoted.

          Me, I’m just going to drop it into random conversations to get people to take a good, hard look at themselves.

        5. Jeremy

          @Lynx, yup. My wife is a psychologist, and she’s suuuper good at “active listening.” It pisses me off whenever she does it, because it is so very counter-productive when it comes to relationships. So many people (and women especially, IME), believe that they are compromising by listening. That by the act of listening well, they’ve achieved some sort of relationship goal. Bullshit. Compromise is about evening the power scales, not about nodding and repeating what your partner said in different words.

          So much relationship advice tells us that it’s better not to “keep score” in relationships, to not pay attention to power inequities because it will make us feel resentful. This is, IMHO, exactly one half of good advice – it is the Yin – and actually poor advice without also offering the Yang. Yes, we should not focus on our own perceived power disadvantages….but we should DEFINITELY be hyper-aware of our partner’s. Be aware that their perception of the power balance in the relationship isn’t the same as ours. That what we perceive are the compromises we’ve made aren’t necessarily perceived as compromises by our partner. That the things we think we’ve done for our partner’s benefit aren’t necessarily the things they wanted….in which case, who did we do them for? We need to focus less on our own power balance and focus more on our partner’s – that is the Yin and the Yang. That is the path to compromise…not communication.

          Because communication is not the fish.

        6. Lynx

          Hahahaha – I so wish we were sitting on a sunny deck drinking Margaritas. I’d cheers you both, Jeremy and MaRika, for making me lol on a Tuesday afternoon.

        7. Marika with an R not an L

          “Communication is not the fish”. Got it. All you needed to say. All anyone needs to say 😉

          God love you for including that, Jeremy -is -the -fish.

        8. Jeremy

          BTW L’Marika (I put the L back for you), don’t think I didn’t notice your “I thought the fish was deep” comment. It’s like Friday everyday 🙂 🙂

        9. Marika all Rs no Ls

          The Catholics got rid of the Friday fish thing some time ago, my Jewish Jeremy. Vatican II, baby!! Now it’s only Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. That being said, I never understood the modern fish thing. Fish is much more expensive than beef, even in this island nation. And a nice grilled flathead is hardly a penance. Chuck a prawn and a scallop in the mix and I’m in heaven.
          Make me be Vegan for the day – now that’s a penance.

          Emmeister, not sure medicine is STEM? We introduced a thing where doctors-to-be in some in -demand uni’s had to do another undergrad degree and then transfer into medicine, as well as pass an interview. To ensure they had some life experience/life skills and ability to communicate with other humans.

          I think Mr J is a specialist? Some specialists I’ve met are certainly highly objectionable robot-like humanoids. Others are just lovely. My guess, given that he actively sought out advice and therapy when struggling (and didn’t assume he just knew everything), is that JJ may be closer to the latter. The worst doctors I deal with have a massive issue with allied mental health practitioners. Very nasty and patronising. Not at all collegial. If he is married to a psychologist, he couldn’t be *quite* that bad.

        10. Jeremy

          I guess it shouldn’t surprise me at all that you like fish, what with your being a PIRATE, Marika. ‘Cause, you know, all Rs.

          When my son was little, we used to play the pirate game – I’d ask, “Where does the pirate cook his meat? On a bAAAARRRbecue. Why did the pirate wear glasses? Because he was fAAAARRRsighted.” And then I asked my son, “Ok, where does the pirate keep his jam?” And he said, “Oh, oh, I know, [cue 3 year-old gruff pirate voice] – in a JAAAAAMM box.”

          I don’t often talk specifically about what I do for a living, partly for reasons of anonymity, and partly because it isn’t really relevant to our discussions here. Not like it would be if I was a plumber, for example….ok, I won’t take that joke any further. It isn’t Friday, after all.

  7. 7
    coyote

    Long time reader here…. likely an avoidant female myself at this stage of my life 54, divorced, like my own space, alone time and inner sovereignty. Is there such a thing as a mutually satisfying, long term relationship where people keep their own homes and independence yet still feel connected/committed to another ? I don’t feel like I would want to see anyone more than a couple of times a week at this time in my life !

    1. 7.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You will get a guy who is similarly avoidant – fun when you’re there, not thinking about you when you’re not. You can see him 2x a week for dinner, movies, laughs and sex. But he will not be wheeling you to chemo in 30 years. He wants you for the fun, not for the rest. That’s why I encourage women to aim for marriage oriented men. Choose the guy who never wants to get married and you’re choosing a man who prefers independence to true commitment.

  8. 8
    Jenn

    Yeah, he could be avoidant, that’s true. Or, in the words of Greg Behrendt, “He’s just not that into you.”

    1. 8.1
      Clare

      “He’s just not that into you” is an answer commonly given to women (and men) who find themselves in this situation, but it’s far too simplistic in my opinion.

      It’s an easy, “pat” answer by those who don’t understand the dynamics of attraction and attachment/intimacy all that well, in my opinion.

      Being “into” you guarantees absolutely nothing in a relationship.

      1. 8.1.1
        Emily, to

        Clare,
        “It’s an easy, “pat” answer by those who don’t understand the dynamics of attraction and attachment/intimacy all that well, in my opinion.”
        I agree with you, but as an avoidant I can say that I am less avoidant with someone I really like. With someone I like somewhat or am on the fence about, the interest isn’t strong enough to pin me down, for lack of a better description.

        1. Marika

          Yes, Em-meister, but what Clare was saying, in part was when you were really into someone, it doesn’t mean it worked out.

        2. Clare

          Em,

          Yes, what Marika pointed out is exactly what I was saying.

          The way “he’s just not that into you” is thrown around, you’d think that being “into” someone is the magical key that unlocks the door of every happy, lasting relationship. But that is far from being the case.

          How often do we see couples who have mad passion at the beginning, who could not imagine being more into anyone else on the planet, who want to spend every waking moment together… only their relationship to fade or fail because they don’t know how to care for it properly.

          Sure as an avoidant, you might make an extra special effort for someone you really like, so I’d say it’s pretty essential. But what does that really matter in the long run? Being “into” someone is the absolute minimum requirement for getting into a relationship to begin with. Beyond that, it becomes about relationship skills. All the “being into” each other won’t help if people have qualities that are actively harming the relationship or driving other people away.

        3. Emily, to

          Clare,
          “All the “being into” each other won’t help if people have qualities that are actively harming the relationship or driving other people away.”
          I see what you are saying. I thought we were talking about getting something off the ground, which is not an easy task with an avoidant.

        4. SparklingEmerald

          Clare said “The way “he’s just not that into you” is thrown around, you’d think that being “into” someone is the magical key that unlocks the door of every happy, lasting relationship. But that is far from being the case.”

          IMO it’s that “being that into” in not a magic key that unlocks every door, but withOUT it, a relationship won’t happend, no matter how great of a partner you are.

  9. 9
    Clare

    My opinion on this is really divided, and it is one of the very few times that I don’t agree with Evan. Maybe because I have tendencies which will seem avoidant to some, and maybe because I understand/sympathise with avoidant types quite a bit.

    In my experience, what initially present as avoidant tendencies are often simply a person who needs to build safety, closeness and particularly trust with someone over time. Some people are the type who pull away when they are stressed or overwhelmed (I am definitely one of them). It’s very easy to write off such a person and say “Oh well, he or she is just closed off and doesn’t like to share and has a hard time being close to people or just doesn’t like to let people in.” But for me anyway, there *are* some people I will let close to me during such times – these are the people who have proven their loyalty over time and whom I can trust to be supportive and constructive. People who understand me. Everyone else will get kept at an arm’s length.

    I think a lot of “avoidant” seeming people will not let it all hang out with people who have not earned a special spot in their lives.

    They can act the part at the beginning, but actually becoming intimate with them takes a lot more time, patience and effort. I had an ex-boyfriend like this, who was about the most avoidant person you could ever come across. He kept me at a distance for a long time, and of course I eventually walked away. After years, he came back and confessed his love for me and wanted to commit, but by then it was too late. We are still close friends to this day, and I know I am one of the few people he trusts or is close to.

    I can’t say what the case is for Patricia’s boyfriend, but I am encouraged by her update that he is opening up little by little. I personally think this is a good sign. I also think it takes a certain type of person to be with someone who has these avoidant tendencies. It’s not for everyone.

    1. 9.1
      Patricia

      Clare,

      What a thoughtful comment! Thank you.

      I was feeling more confident after our weekend together and how the following two weeks have been playing out. We now talk on the phone every night, and last weekend he insisted on spending the whole weekend together. I feel he’s pulling closer not away, after the initial shock of what he clumsily told me.

      He’s going through a lot at work, and I feel for the poor man. It would be nice to see a post here on how middle age transitions influence dating decisions. We don’t want kids, we each have our own house, retirement is looming for him, but not for me…The priorities and how to manuever around them are different than in your 30’s.

      Now I’m confused more about the contradictory advice than anything else 🙂

      Thanks everyone for replying. I’ll come back in a couple of months with a broken heart or full on sail.

    2. 9.2
      Marika

      I can sympathize and handle people who need their space. As *long* as they explain it and don’t just disappear. I thought that was just being introverted, though. Introverted isn’t necessarily avoidant, yes?

      The only thing I would ask, or that I really need, is for them to similarly try to understand my needs. That isn’t always how it pans out. A person tending towards anxious, for all their flaws cares about pleasing the other person. IME, very avoidant types (not introverts) aren’t that way inclined and need constant reminding to consider the other person. Look at Js Dad with his grandchildren. If he can’t be there for an adorable 3 year old, how would he be with an adult who needed him?

      It can also be hard to guess when they need you vs when to step away. Hasn’t that been an issue in your friendships?

      None of this is to shake fists at naughty avoidants. It’s to say that anyone’s world view is all well and good, but how is it impacting your relationships? The very avoidant people need this reminder more than others, IME. And of course very anxious types need constant reminding to back off!! I get that.

      1. 9.2.1
        Marika

        Sorry, forgot to add, and I actually really want to know this – a very anxious person will eventually learn to be less in your face, as they are motivated to not lose the relationship. The very independent types I know who tell me ad nauseum what they need in a relationship, yet never seem to find it – what’s their motivation to stay in a relationship when there are those inevitable bumps in the road? That’s what I was really asking Jer Jer re his parents. What’s the motivation to make a relationship work out? If it is to find someone similarly independent, why aren’t avoidant – avoidant pairings common?

        1. Clare

          M,

          “Sorry, forgot to add, and I actually really want to know this – a very anxious person will eventually learn to be less in your face, as they are motivated to not lose the relationship. The very independent types I know who tell me ad nauseum what they need in a relationship, yet never seem to find it – what’s their motivation to stay in a relationship when there are those inevitable bumps in the road?”

          I can’t speak for all avoidant types, but I have extensive experience with my ex-boyfriend who was and is, as I said, one of the most avoidant, independent men you will ever come across. He the other day told me that he has made the conscious decision not to rely on other people because they cannot be trusted. So I said, “well, if it makes you happier to do that…” To which he responded “it doesn’t necessarily make me happier. I just don’t want to have to need people.”

          He, like I think most avoidants, is a walking contradiction. As Jeremy was saying, he wants a relationship as much as any other person. So in this sense, referring to what you said above, he is as motivated not to lose the relationship as an anxious person. He truly derives a lot of pleasure from relationships and has always pictured himself in one. I think it would depress him massively to wind up alone. However, at the same time, he gets frustrated with other people needing him. He also gets frustrated with people giving to him when he doesn’t perceive himself as needing them.

          It’s massively frustrating to deal with someone who doesn’t see how these two sets of ideals are at war with each other. It can also be very frustrating and lonely to be with someone who is not motivated to open up to you and care about your needs the same way you are with them. Of course, this is why I left him.

          But I realised simultaneously that avoidants really *need* the more anxious or secure types, and on some level, I think they realise this. People who are in touch with their feelings and express them openly and vulnerably offer them access to their own emotions that they probably wouldn’t be able to achieve on their own. I learned with my ex that, as frustrated as he got with me always telling him how I felt and trying to get him to open up, he would keep coming back because it touched something in him that he hadn’t felt before or in a long time.

          I honestly believe avoidants have feelings and emotional needs like everyone else. But they have been buried under layers of issues and defense mechanisms. Those feelings are there, and I think they sometimes surprise themselves with how much joy they can experience when they finally allow themselves to feel them. I actually think avoidants need anxious and secure types *more* than the anxious and secure types need them.

      2. 9.2.2
        Clare

        Marika,

        “It can also be hard to guess when they need you vs when to step away. Hasn’t that been an issue in your friendships?”

        Luckily, I’m not an avoidant person by nature, and would describe myself as “very warm, but reserved.” My mom has commented that people tend to love me but do not know how to get close to me, and I know that opinion is shared by a number of people who know me. The honest truth of the matter is that if someone is having trouble getting close to me, it’s because I do not want them close to me. Or not very close.

        As I said, for the most part, I am not avoidant – I think I’d say I’m secure with both anxious and avoidant tendencies. However, when I am stressed, overwhelmed or grieving, I am as avoidant as they come. I want to be left to process my feelings in peace. To answer your question above, I honestly feel for my friends and family who don’t understand this about me, and I can’t say whether or not they feel hurt or rejected by my doing this. All I can say is that they seem to have made peace with it and seem to love me anyway, knowing I will eventually come back when I am ready.

        You say you would like it if an avoidant person communicates when they need to pull away. Well, I do this in a warm and gentle way. But I have one friend who refuses to get the hint. I will continually get questions from her saying she hopes I’m ok, and telling me she is sending hugs and is there for me and pestering me about getting together. I am sure she feels she is just being caring and supportive, but it just makes me feel put on the spot and as if she has not heard me, and makes me more determined to avoid her. I know this sounds harsh, but her neediness registers to me as a lack of respect, and she and I will never be as close as she wants us to be.

        On the other side of it, I have friends who are really calm and give me my space and who are “non-reactive” to me. I just know that they are there any time I want to talk or distract myself or just be in someone’s company without any pressure. These are the people I tend to pull close to or who will at the very least see me regularly even when I am keeping other people at a distance.

        That’s why I said it often boils down to a feeling of safety and trust with avoidant types. Can they just be themselves with you, without being pushed or judged? That will often cause them to relax/open up a bit more.

        I guess this is true of introverts as well.

        I would agree with you that avoidant types do tend to be very focused on their own needs. I know I am when I am having a hard time. But I have personally experienced that avoidant types can be very giving and generous when it is on their terms and with people whom they deem as deserving. It’s often just about unlocking them as a person, which of course not everyone wants to do and is not good enough for every person!

        (Gosh, this response is very long now. I could write about this all day!)

        1. S.

          I’m a recovering anxious type. Depending on the relationship, I can be the more secure one which is very interesting. I was thinking about this last night and I realized I attached really securely to my primary caregiver. So how did I end up ab anxious attachment type? Well, I used that pattern for every relationship. I thought that that’s how all relationships were supposed to be. It took a therapist years ago to point out to me, no, they’re not that close. Interesting, I’m secure in most relationships, but I wasn’t in romantic ones because those are most like family.

          I think I used to attract other anxious folks, more anxious than I was. So by contrast to them I was secure. I don’t mind clinging. And the way men clung wasn’t like how women cling. It was more like me planning everything and initiating all the emotional talks which was fine until I got exhausted with it. Not with a single person but like DONE for good with men like that. Being in an anxious-anxious relationship feels yummy at first not just because it replicates a relationship from childhood that’s familiar, but because both people are on the same page about how they want to be loved, even if that’s not healthy.

          I’m also 50/50 with introversion/extroversion. (Some online quiz said 60% in favor of introversion but I disagree.) I totally understand needing to recharge alone. But I’m also fairly binary. When I want to be alone, I’m alone. I don’t date. When I want to be with people, I really want and need to be with people. I focus and work hard to get whichever one I need at the time. Being on this blog is part of that work. It’s hard for me to understand having contradictory feelings at one time. I generally only want one thing at a time and focus hard on achieving that.

          I appreciate avoidant folks sharing. It’s like learning a very difficult foreign language. And just listening is exhausting as I try to understand. It’s not a judgment of avoidant folks, more a judgment and awarenenss of my lack of patience and understanding.

          I started dating secure folks and it was so . . . easy. It didn’t even feel like dating because there was/is such a lack of me having to think and work and try to figure someone else out and trying to be patient. I am patient. But I don’t have to stretch my brain in extraordinary ways to accommodate differences. That is restful. I used to think all of that work was part and parcel of being attracted to someone. Again, nope.

          I still initially display anxious attachment style tendencies. I like to be really, really emotionally close with people. The introversion in me is a natural boundary setter, but I let it be crossed–absolutely willingly–at times.

          Being more secure also means that I pour a lot of love on me which is actually . . . AWESOME. I get to be really, really close and snuggle and do all the clingy things I used to do just.for. me! I journal instead of sending folks e-mails. I take myself out. I’m on my own love boat. It’s delicious. 😉

          Secure people get snapped up fast so it does take patience to find the right one. The avoidant ones . . . it’s like Lucy with the football. I just finally stopped taking a swing at it. The sad things is, some avoidant folks do come around after a long time but it’s usually way, way too late for me. But I’m glad to hear others are more patient than I. I guess they have to work out their own stuff at their own pace. It’s just been nice to meet folks who are so open and so ready without me having to wait or do much of anything. It’s such a relief to just go into relating. And it’s rebuilding my trust in people that it doesn’t take years and years to actually start trusting and have people trust me.

          I’ll always be in recovery, though. Once you’ve been down the anxious road many, many times, you know when to pull back. But the tendency will always be there. I know the feeling well now that I know immediately when to get out of it.

          Are there any naturally secure folks who read the blog? I wonder what’s the incentive for a secure person to date an anxious or avoidant person.

    3. 9.3
      Lynx

      Clare: Great point when you wrote, “…what initially present as avoidant tendencies are often simply a person who needs to build safety, closeness and particularly trust over time”.I think there’s a big difference between card-carrying lifelong avoidants and those who say they’ve become avoidant in mid-life.

      I can honestly say EVERY long term relationship I’ve had is with someone who is emotionally and/or geographically unavailable at first. I can feel safe, close and trusting yet still need a lot of space and withdraw when things get rocky. If I want to change, it is going to take a lot of work because it’s how I’ve always behaved in relationships.

      Contrast that with the person who has had the experience of “normal” attachment previously, but was burned and now feels extremely cautious about giving their heart away again. The bar to overcome newly-found avoidant tendencies is far lower.

  10. 10
    Selena

    From the letter: “This summer my kids are gone, and I’m renting my house out for 10 days. I asked him a while ago if I could stay with him for those 10 days, but that there was no pressure as I have girlfriends to stay with. He said it was OK. I kept asking him in the following weeks and he kept saying it was perfectly fine. By his own admission, he’s a pleaser who says yes to everything until he explodes or disappears. He’s working on how to say “no”.

    So you had been dating 2-3 months before suggesting staying with him for 10 days? Can you understand his reluctance about that? It seems a tad presumptuous to me particularly for people well into middle age. And if he has trouble saying no to things he doesn’t want to do…is it surprising he didn’t speak up sooner?

    You are recently divorced. Dating for 4 months is nothing. You can take more time to evaluate this man as a potential future partner. Which from your updates, it sounds like you are doing. Smile.

    1. 10.1
      Clare

      Selena,

      Yeah, I think I would find having a new romantic partner in my space for ten days to be a lot of pressure, even if I was really into him.

      I adore my boyfriend, but if he had asked two or three months in if he could stay with me for 10 days, I would have given him the serious side eye. I think it would have caused me to pull back, worrying that he saw our relationship as more serious than it was yet.

      I think I would also have worried about becoming irritable with him and would not have wanted to put that strain on the relationship.

      1. 10.1.1
        Lynx

        If a guy I’d been dating for that short a time wanted to play house for 10 days, I’d opt out of everything. Too much, too fast. There’s plenty of time to discover morning breath, grooming habits, and digestive behaviors. Why the hurry to quash all mystery?

        1. Emily, to

          Lynx,
          Because some of our posters want to dive in and date naked! Let’s let it ALL hang out immediately. 🙂

        2. Clare

          Lynx,

          EXACTLY. 2/3 months is a mere blink of the eye in adult relationships. And even though you might *feel* a lot of intimacy that soon, I would argue that you’re still just heavily under the influence of “honeymoon” hormones.

          Why rush to kill that off?

      2. 10.1.2
        Marika

        Haha, ‘side eye’. Is that like side boob?? 😉

        10 days together in the first few months of dating is NOT THE FISH. Got it! hehe.

        Weird, the last guy I dated (strong avoidant tendencies) asked me to pretty much spend the whole Summer break with him (he lived on the beach) 2 months into dating. We were both into it. And he certainly suggested it, not me. That said, he did get weirdly snarky over nothing during that time. Food for thought!

        Lynxy, you lynxy mynx – I hear you. But I think online creates this false sense of emergency. For me anyway. Like an out- of- sight- out- of- mind thing and they’ll just move on to the next person. Remember Tom10 tried to slow himself down a bit and not get ahead of himself by logging back onto the site the morning after he got ‘to know’ a lovely chicky. The chick got some notification he logged back on and put him in the playa category. Lots of misunderstandings like that can happen. And all dating coaches talk about how if the person isn’t consistently showing effort you should move on. So I’m not sure how you juggle that against taking your time. Ya know?

      3. 10.1.3
        Selena

        Clare: “I adore my boyfriend, but if he had asked two or three months in if he could stay with me for 10 days, I would have given him the serious side eye. I think it would have caused me to pull back, worrying that he saw our relationship as more serious than it was yet.”

        If someone I’d been dating for 3 months asked to move in for 10 days in the summer, I’d feel they had put me in an awkward position. In a relationship so new, no way to know where things would be, or how we would feel about each other in another month or two. I wouldn’t want to be committed to having them as a houseguest if I were having doubts about the relationship at the scheduled time.

        And asking for something like that puts the other person on the spot. Suppose I said I wasn’t ready for that, or let’s see how things go, meanwhile make plans to stay with a friend. Are they going to take that negatively? Like I’m not into them/see a future/open/reliable/ whatever whatever? Are they going to get distant? Break it off?

        It seems to me the offer to temporarily co-habitate should be by invitation not an ask of new lover in advance.

  11. 11
    Mrs Happy

    I’m with Selena. When dating, at just 4 months in, I’d not have wanted any partner in my home for 10 days. I’ve been married a decade now and my favourite days are the ones I get to be in the house alone (rarely happens), all alone, just me and my books and the heat up high and lots of chocolate. I love my own company.

    Intensity and frequency of connection differences break lots of relationships, not just romantic pairings. We all have numerous other important relationship in our lives, connections with family members, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, and so much of our happiness and comfort level within these relationships depends on how equal the connection patters are.

    For example, the regular readers will know of my big friendship cull of 2018, which lasted the whole year, and was precipitated by a long-term close friend not calling me at all even knowing I’d just received an upsetting health diagnosis in Jan 2018. Well forward to this last month, and after 20 months, she out of the blue called me. Just to chat. As though nothing had happened. She did say, “sorry I haven’t called for a few months” – which point I paused for a moment, thinking, will I let it (A FEW!) go, or explain how long it has been and the effect it had on me? (I did the latter, because I only want genuine connections in my life; at my age I’m over the superficial.)

    My interpretation of this is, she is comfortable having a friendship in which we chat once every 20 months, and that’s it. Whereas to me, that doesn’t really feel like much of a connection, like an intersection of lives, of much meaning. In fact sure enough, she has called twice more over this last month, and I didn’t bother picking up either time – not to be mean, just, it’s as though now I’ve been without her friendship for so long and I know the parameters of her preferences, I can’t really be much bothered at the moment.

    I think any relationship is like this. People differ on what they want to put into the connection, and tend to hold fast to their boundaries, or only be a little flexible under duress, which creates discomfort for them. When we find someone who matches us in a balance – connection and frequency desire – it’s so easy a relationship, and can bring such happiness.

    1. 11.1
      Marika

      Is it okay to ask a follow up question Mrs H? Not to pick apart what you said, and certainly a once-every-20-month friendship is not for me. I only ask because I truly do want to understand this:

      You decided not to let the few months thing go and instead explained the impact that had on you. Certainly annoying you had to do that, but you chose to go down that path. Your friend took it in on board (clearly needed it specifically outlined to her..uggh), and then altered her behaviour to call you more as a result. At which point you ignored her calls….Can you understand the mixed messages that sends?

      I’m honestly not giving you a hard time. A true friend should call you and ask you how you are and show genuine care and concern, particularly during a health scare. It’s just that the toughest thing about some personalities is the mixed messages. The push and pull. I deal with this a lot (particularly in dating). If you want genuine connections and she’s altering her behaviour to be a more genuine friend – wouldn’t you want to encourage that? Otherwise why bother telling her the ‘few month’ BS thing bothered you at all?

      1. 11.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        It was a confluence of things – she was calling at bad times (I was putting the kids to bed, which is a 1-2 hour exhausting production in this house, it was after dinner, I had a few hours of paid work still to do that I wasn’t going to get to start until after 9pm even without a long phone call thrown into the evening, I was already tired from the day, not wanting an emotionally draining or even chatty catch-up phone call that would delay my getting to bed to 1-2am (and the kookaburras wake me at 5am), i.e. I just didn’t want to spare the time or energy at that point).

        But I suspect really the biggest reason I didn’t pick up, was as I previously wrote – I’ve learned to be without her friendship because it wasn’t on offer for so long, and so I just found myself not wanting to pick up the phone.

        Things aren’t always mixed messages. Sometimes they’re not messages at all, they’re just a practical reality; i.e. I didn’t want to talk with her. I was not trying to send her a message. People often aren’t. I think people just usually do, what they want to do, messaging be damned, in most relationships.

        Her behaviour, and my reaction to it, has changed my feelings about our friendship. She was a great friend and we went through a lot of important life events together over the last 16 years, so I really hope my feelings change back to what they were, because I used to really value the friendship. Now it’s value to me has somehow dropped a lot, and I don’t completely understand that.

        Maybe I should have picked up the phone. But I live most of my day from 6am till at least 9pm catering to other people’s needs and preferences, and it exhausts me. I just didn’t want to cater to hers in that instance.

        1. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          Were you afraid she’d drop off the planet again? I’ve had one of those heart-to-hearts with friends who’ve fallen off the planet and they change their behavior … for about a month. And then go right back to what they were doing before. Once someone you counted on falls off the planet, your trust in them greatly diminishes, as does your desire to put forth a lot of effort again.

        2. Marika

          Emily

          But she keeps calling. ..and having her calls rejected. I understand she’s ringing at the wrong times and possibly lacks a bit of social judgement, but wouldn’t you stop trying if your calls repeatedly didn’t get answered? I would. She stuffed up – no doubt. She’s trying to rectify it. What more can she do? Why not give her a break & the benefit of the doubt?

          I have a friend S whose friendship with J broke down because he didn’t call her, nor arrange to catch up, after a difficult time in her life. We’re all in a group together and she eventually saw him out, gave him the cold shoulder. He realized she was upset, checked in with her, arranged a coffee with her, talked it out, apologized etc. Didn’t tell her – nor did she ask – what was going on in his life (lots of difficult stuff) that he was flat out dealing with his own stuff and went to ground for a bit. Didn’t check in with anyone during that time – it wasn’t personal. This was a few years ago and she’s still funny with him, won’t make any efforts to catch up and doesn’t trust him anymore. She tells me this and I just nod & smile (she’s a bit scary) – I have an entirely different take on the whole incident.

          He’s not meeting her standard of friendship so she’s put him in the ‘bad friend’ box, instead of recognizing he’s a fallible human being with his own stuff to deal with.

        3. Emily, to

          Marika,
          “But she keeps calling. ..and having her calls rejected. I understand she’s ringing at the wrong times and possibly lacks a bit of social judgement, but wouldn’t you stop trying if your calls repeatedly didn’t get answered? I would. She stuffed up – no doubt. She’s trying to rectify it. What more can she do? Why not give her a break & the benefit of the doubt?”
          Mrs. Happy’s friend knew she was going through a health scare … and she disappears for TWENTY months? C’mon. That’s not acceptable and simply apologizing isn’t enough. She has to earn back Mrs. Happy’s trust and that takes time. I don’t mean that in the sense of being a martyr but that she really let Mrs. Happy down. She needs to show her she’s not going to do it again. You’re going to be a bit guarded around someone who showed you they can drop the ball. (Although I probably would have texted after the phone calls that I was busy with the kids and it wasn’t a good time to talk.) I wouldn’t have downgraded her to ‘bad friend’ like your friend did, but definitely to casual acquaintance. I think most women know the bare minimum of what you called a standard of friendship is not disappearing in the middle of a health scare. She can’t simply reappear, apologize and wipe out everything that previously happened.

        4. Marika

          Emily

          I agree with everything except the ‘earn back her trust’ bit. I wouldn’t be willing to grovel and be treated with suspicion because I made a mistake (a big one, yes). If I tried to rectify it and the person wasn’t responsive, I would give up. That said, I’m wondering if friendship may be the one relationship type in my life where I’m a bit avoidant. Any hint of that need to earn back trust and I pull away. It would feel controlling to me. I said that to J, actually, that I thought S was being unfair and he didn’t need to keep trying with her if she was going to keep holding his silence against him. She’s trying to bring him closer by pushing him away.

          Mrs H, obviously I don’t know you or this woman so I could be way off the mark, but if she’s a worthwhile friend I would let the past go and enjoy her company (assuming she’s enjoyable company!). Maybe try to do a coffee rather than endless phone calls during the 2 hour bedtime horror?! I know my (very busy exec) brother has a no phone calls at night policy. Seems fair. He calls back the next day or the weekend. I hope you had a bit of nice time off during the hols? Or are you saving up leave for warmer weather? I also hope you have fully recovered from your health scare.

        5. Mrs Happy

          Yes Marika I think I’ll take your advice, it’s good advice, I’ll embrace uncertainty and dive back into the friendship. Emily TO also makes sensible remarks. I value all of you and this lovely worldwide support and advice group we all have here!

          I’m all off balance with proper genuine friendships in general over the last 2y, and am finding various low-level acquaintance type connections disappointing or unrewarding; frankly I’m obviously doing something wrong, as I’m the common denominator here. Friendship things weren’t this hard to navigate when I was younger.

        6. Emily, to

          Marika,
          ” I wouldn’t be willing to grovel and be treated with suspicion because I made a mistake (a big one, yes).”
          Well, Marika, if you disappeared for 20 months, do you not expect the friendship to be a bit different? I once ended a friendship and regretted it. I contacted my friend a few years later and she forgave me, but it took a while to build things back up to where they were. In fact, the friendship was better the second time around. Deeper and closer but it didn’t happen overnight and not because I simply called after 3 years and said “sorry.” She was happy to hear from me but there was still some initial tentativeness on her part to completely warm to me and I understood. I had screwed things up. I didn’t feel I had to grovel but the onus was on me to get things going at first.

        7. Marika

          I’m not sure what else to say about this Emily. We’re using the example of Mrs H’s friend. Yes, she disappeared, Mrs H told her the impact it had, now she’s ringing regularly and making it up to her. She took it on board. What else is she meant to do, sign an oath in blood never to take that long to call again?? If it happens again then probably the friendship is over. But everyone deserves a second chance. Making someone work for your trust is risky. It could easily backfire (like I said with S, she’s trying to make J come closer by pushing him away).

          Also, I have no idea why this woman disappeared, but she has her own life, her own kids (probably?), her own marriage (maybe?) and likely marital issues (?). She may have thought people who are unwell want time by themselves with their family. Not everyone wants the same thing when they are ill. That is definitely a time I personally withdraw. I know this gets under your skin, but there are other ways of looking at this than: bad friend, earn back my trust & I’m gonna make you work for it. S feels exactly like you do, though, so I know this mentality is a thing, I just see it differently.

        8. Emily, to

          Marika,
          “That is definitely a time I personally withdraw.”
          I bet you don’t withdraw from everyone. I bet there are still people you are in contact with. People choose who is important to them and they put energy and effort toward those relationships. It really is that simple.
          ” I know this gets under your skin, but there are other ways of looking at this than: bad friend, earn back my trust & I’m gonna make you work for it. S feels exactly like you do, though, so I know this mentality is a thing, I just see it differently.”
          I said someone would have to make some effort at repairing the relationship and you took it to mean “I’m gonna make you work for it.” Ok. Sure. If that’s how you want to interpret it. I surrender.

        9. Marika

          Emily

          I gave it some more thought. To give some context (if you’ll indulge this rambly thread, sorry): this thread really caught my eye because atm I have some friends, one in particular, who is trying to force me to be her friend in the way that *she* wants. Like her version of friendship is the ‘right’ one. If I can’t make it to something she tries to guilt-trip me into going. If I’m not sure I can make it at the time she asks, she won’t accept “I’m not sure, I’ll let you know”, she has to know why. And then keeps following up. Sometimes she’ll say “are we your second choice?”. Which makes me feel like I’m in grade 4.

          Anyway, of course you wouldn’t do that. Mrs Happy wouldn’t do that. It’s not about that. But it is about what friendship means to different people. Lynx talked about her family always being her main support network. Me too. They come first in my life. A boyfriend who has the potential to turn into family would take priority over my friends. I love my friends. I want to spend time with them. But I don’t want an unspoken ‘friendship agreement’ I have to stick to in order to not incur their anger or cold shoulders. This example is extreme, but what this particular friend of mine thinks is perfectly reasonable and what I do are two very different things. And her behaviour is pushing me away. (And I’ve told her twice it’s too much pressure, and she’s not hearing me).

          Of course, no one should have people in their life who are rude and flaky and consistently unreliable or make them feel bad – but a person could be just going about their life and following their own priorities and inadvertently hurt you (the general you). Because they meant no harm I’m not sure how open they would be to having to earn back trust. If someone disappeared for a couple of years I would assume they had other stuff going on in their life. If I wanted to see them when they called again, I would. And I wouldn’t be funny with them. If I’d moved on from their friendship or felt no need to see them I wouldn’t. I don’t want a friendship where there is any hint of guilt or obligation.

          S.
          I just wanted to say that your comment rang true for me too. I’m probably not completely securely attached to my mother as her father died and she had 3 kids under 5 when I was born. But I get that and my grandma was around a lot giving me her love and I always generally felt loved and definitely like I had support. So I always wondered why I’m far more anxious with guys. But you’re right, it’s because I expect boyfriends to act like family (not outwardly and I don’t push it, but it’s in my style of attaching). And often they don’t. Particularly in this world of internet dating and instant gratification. I’m glad you wrote that, it was a real eye opener.
          Sorry again for the length and ramble. Someone said this is something they could talk about all day – me too! 😉

        10. Clare

          Marika,

          ” I have some friends, one in particular, who is trying to force me to be her friend in the way that *she* wants. Like her version of friendship is the ‘right’ one. If I can’t make it to something she tries to guilt-trip me into going. If I’m not sure I can make it at the time she asks, she won’t accept “I’m not sure, I’ll let you know”, she has to know why. And then keeps following up.”

          “what this particular friend of mine thinks is perfectly reasonable and what I do are two very different things. And her behaviour is pushing me away. (And I’ve told her twice it’s too much pressure, and she’s not hearing me).”

          Oh my God, I have a friend JUST like this. Except her response when I pull away for a bit (and it may not even be pulling away, it may just be me declining an invite or not wanting to field her weekly text messages about what I’ve been up to) is to go all pitying on me, “Are you ok??” “Sending hugs” that sort of thing. And my protests that I am perfectly fine fall on deaf ears. She will happily go and air her concerns to our other friend, who then also sends me text messages. Instead of taking the (to me) very obvious hint to just back off a bit and respect my freaking autonomy in the friendship.

          I have also tried to tell her nicely to stop pushing, and she also isn’t hearing me, so I have decided to distance myself while still keeping her as a friend on the periphery of my life.

          She also is a person whose version of friendship includes weekly get-togethers, weekly text conversations to check in and an expectation that we will confide in each other about all important aspects of our lives. Oh, and attendance at her annual birthday party. Heaven help you if you should miss that. And in her mind, her version of friendship is the only one you’re allowed to have if you want to be friends with her.

          She has pushed so many people away with this attitude. I’ve lost count of the number of people who just stopped being her friends by pulling away from her. She’s got an overall bossy, pushy approach which I think grown adults don’t take kindly to.

          I am absolutely the same as you in that a hint of guilt or obligation in an adult friendship, and I am out. I give a lot of leeway to my friends, and I believe friendship should be entirely freely given, so I don’t take kindly at all to someone trying to dictate to me how I should behave in the name of friendship. If I’ve been a bad or neglectful friend and they air their hurt, that is different. But if I’m harmlessly just going about my life, then no.

        11. Emily, to

          Marika,
          “I have some friends, one in particular, who is trying to force me to be her friend in the way that *she* wants. Like her version of friendship is the ‘right’ one. If I can’t make it to something she tries to guilt-trip me into going. If I’m not sure I can make it at the time she asks, she won’t accept “I’m not sure, I’ll let you know”, she has to know why. And then keeps following up.”
          You’re giving her flim-flam answers. If someone did that to me once, I wouldn’t ask again her to hang out again. She’d have to ask me. I don’t like vagueness. If you don’t want to go, just say so. If she keeps bugging you, it’s because you haven’t put up a boundary. She’s not wrong in wanting a definitive answer. But, yes, her continual pressure is over the top and would push me away. It’s too much.
          ” (Family) come first in my life. ”
          But I don’t have that as an option. So I am always acutely aware that my friends me more to me than I mean to them. It’s a horrible place to be.
          “If someone disappeared for a couple of years I would assume they had other stuff going on in their life. If I wanted to see them when they called again, I would. ”
          That’s because you have another support system so you don’t take it as seriously. This isn’t a criticism. You expect less from friends. I have heard so many people say “my friends are my family.” But when push comes to shove, it’s just not true.

        12. Emily, to

          Clare,
          “She also is a person whose version of friendship includes weekly get-togethers, weekly text conversations to check in and an expectation that we will confide in each other about all important aspects of our lives.”
          She sounds really pushy, but that aside, what’s wrong with a weekly check-in? I mean, it’s just by text. I get that maybe you can’t get together weekly, but texting is hardly taxing unless she expects a conversation to go on for hours, which is not reasonable. I wouldn’t mind having a weekly check-in call with friends if I”m not seeing them in person. The calls don’t have to be long but you can’t really conduct a friendship entirely over texting or email.
          I guess my idea of friendship is different than yours and Marika’s. I’d be perfectly happy, for the rest of my days, hanging out about once a week posse-style like Sex in the City (minus all the fashion bullshit) with a group of friends, going to clubs/bars to hear music, hitting up a drag show every know and then.

        13. Clare

          Emily,

          “what’s wrong with a weekly check-in? I mean, it’s just by text. I get that maybe you can’t get together weekly, but texting is hardly taxing unless she expects a conversation to go on for hours, which is not reasonable. I wouldn’t mind having a weekly check-in call with friends if I”m not seeing them in person. The calls don’t have to be long but you can’t really conduct a friendship entirely over texting or email.”

          What’s wrong with it is the obligation attached to it. And I *do* see her in person, regularly. We have a lot of friends in common, and it’s not uncommon for us to see each other an average of once a week (sometimes we might skip a week, and other times we might see each other 2 or 3 times in a two week period). We have a lot of friends in common and it’s a smallish town where I live.

          What’s wrong with it is that if I don’t reply, I’ll get a follow-up text the next day, and then another one. Once, I was going through a break-up and just didn’t really want to see or talk to anyone, and I got 8 messages, 8 days in a row. Another time, she had done something which caused I thought was inappropriate and disagreed with, and instead of giving me time to cool off, she phoned and texted me to have coffee with her *every day* for three weeks. The idea of a weekly check-in loses its charm with such a person. And as I say, I see her in person regularly.

          Other friends, with no such sense of entitlement, I can happily talk to and see several times in a week without feeling burdened by them.

          I love a weekly check-in with friends I don’t see often. But the context and tone of it counts for a lot.

        14. Marika Fish

          The Ester and the Cster In Da Houssse!

          Haha flim flam, yes my friend would agree with you, E. I know me saying I’m an adult and I can decide myself how to arrange my weekend without being beholden to this chick won’t cut it for you. The other reason I’m flimy and flamy though is, how would she feel if I said: “I’m trying to figure out if I have the emotional bandwidth to see you this weekend. I’m also waiting for other people to respond so I know whether we’ll be alone or I’ll have a buffer and whether there’s any potential for this to be a catch up where you lecture me on my life and friendship”. C, you feel me. Do ya think she’d be cool with that? One time I was figuring out my budget. She kept pushing and I had to say I wasn’t sure I could afford it. Embarrassing. She said: “well maybe if you spent less on X…”. F$@K Offff!!

          Every week I have to come up with a new way to get her to back down a bit and give me a tiny bit of room to think.

          C, can we have a weekly catch up where we let off steam so we don’t murder these friends, please?? (but you can cancel without retribution) 😉

          Your point about family is well taken. I’m very aware this friend’s (and one other who’s similar) family live overseas. So I give them both far more leeway than I would otherwise. But they are definitely pushing me away. So, like mr-text-9-times-in-5-minutes what they want and what’s actually happening due to their actions are two very different things. Play it a bit cooler and we’re friends for life.

          Pressure is not the fish.

          The sickness thing – am I the only one who wants zero attention when sick? That’s not entirely true. If a boyfriend didn’t care or my mother. Devo. But even then I want none of this “ohhh poor you”. “How are you feeling???”. “You didn’t respond – should I come over?????” “I’m soooo worried!!”

          I want to be seen as healthy and functional. Not sick and where’s the wheelchair for sickly old Ms M. Also, talking about illness really cramps my attitude of denial, which is my preferred way of dealing with health scares… 😉

        15. Marika

          A weekly catch up is fine as long as if you say: “I can’t make it this week”, the response is “Okay, doll, see you next time. Toodles xx”. (Doll and toodles optional).

          Remember in your early 20s you’d be in a group of gal-pals out partying. Every week, without fail. Everyone would come. Then someone gets a boyfriend and misses a few. Someone gets a real job and is too tired or is travelling too far. Etc. There was always one queen bee who Did.Not.Like.This.One.Bit. She’d guilt you for having other stuff going on, for moving on. I thought I was past dealing with that…apparently not.

          C, let’s brainstorm some No Questions Asked excuses:
          “Sorry, my BDSM partner is coming over and I’ll be tied up….literally”.
          “Sorry, I have an STI to manage”
          “Sorry, my foot fell off”…

        16. Emily, to

          Clare,
          “Another time, she had done something which caused I thought was inappropriate and disagreed with, and instead of giving me time to cool off, she phoned and texted me to have coffee with her *every day* for three weeks.”
          Yeah, that’s crazy town. I don’t do that. But I will tell you that if it becomes pretty obvious over time that I want more of a connection than the other person–maybe I’d like that weekly check-in and they’re ok with a two-sentence email once a month, and even that’s pulling teeth to get –I shift the friendship to casual. Like you, where I live is relatively small. I may run into the person again or there may be a group event we both attend. I will be perfectly pleasant but I won’t put any more effort in building a one-on-one friendship anymore.
          “Other friends, with no such sense of entitlement, I can happily talk to and see several times in a week without feeling burdened by them.”
          I see what you’re saying. She’s too much. I’d feel like I was being backed into a corner, and I do not like that. I wouldn’t want her as a friend.

        17. Emily, to

          Marika,
          “Every week I have to come up with a new way to get her to back down a bit and give me a tiny bit of room to think.”
          Do what I did with a recent person — downgrade her to casual acquaintance. You clearly don’t like this woman. I’m not sure why you’re even responding to her. If you go to a group event and she’s there and asks why you’ve been avoiding her texts and calls, say you’ve been busy and leave it at that. Or just respond to the ones about where and when to meet. Ignore the more personal texts. I don’t have this problem. You need to learn to be a little bitchier. 🙂
          “Remember in your early 20s you’d be in a group of gal-pals out partying. Every week, without fail. Everyone would come. Then someone gets a boyfriend and misses a few. Someone gets a real job and is too tired or is travelling too far. Etc. There was always one queen bee who Did.Not.Like.This.One.Bit. She’d guilt you for having other stuff going on, for moving on. I thought I was past dealing with that…apparently not.”
          I don’t have a problem with people having other things to do. But it’s the women who get the boyfriend and the disappear for 2 months, only to reappear when they broke up who irked me.

        18. Clare

          Mary Mary Mary (That’s you Marika),

          “C, can we have a weekly catch up where we let off steam so we don’t murder these friends, please?? (but you can cancel without retribution) ”

          I would LOVE this. I usually feel like such a b!tch for complaining because this friend is so loyal and earnest. But, you know… there is such a thing as too much concern. Like you, I want to be seen as strong, independent and functional. Being the object of pity without any reason at all is one of the few ways you can provoke me to violent rage (ok, I don’t actually get violent, I just excuse myself, but your reference to murder above is well-taken).

          As it is, I have to make do with letting off steam to my best friend who used to be close friends with this girl and is no longer. I will sometimes let her read the message threads between me and this girl, and she just laughs, which makes me feel better.

          I’m noticing a common theme between our two annoying friends – the fact that they automatically go to condescension and pity with us (eg. the way she tried to tell you what to do with your money). What do you think is up with that?

          “There was always one queen bee who Did.Not.Like.This.One.Bit. She’d guilt you for having other stuff going on, for moving on.”

          This friend that I have been describing is like that, not surprisingly. I was once involved with a really possessive, jealous guy, and I (misguidedly) was trying to reassure him by not doing anything to set him off, hence no girls nights for me. Instead of trying to be understanding (this relationship of mine actually turned really awful), she would repeatedly bitch to our mutual friends about how she “never sees me any more.” She does this with all her friends who start moving on and drifting away, as if she wants to keep us all locked in some eternal time warp.

          This is why I need to keep her on the periphery of my life. I have no wish to justify the way I live my life to my friends who should be doing the same thing.

          “C, let’s brainstorm some No Questions Asked excuses”

          Haha, I like the ones you’ve come up with. But for my money, I still think you’re being way too nice and accommodating with Miss Nosy Pants. I usually just let my friend make do with “Sorry, I can’t.” Or even, “Thanks for the invite, but I don’t think it’s my scene.” I know these sound blunt, but if you’re going to be pushy with me, that’s what you get. I find it just minimises pushiness the next time round. Excuses just tend to beget more excuses.

          However, if you really want to, you could try “I entered a competition and won an all-expenses paid date with Bradley Cooper.” or “I locked myself in my house and lost my keys and the locksmith can only get here on Monday, so I’ll have to enjoy your night out vicariously through Facebook.” or “My boss told me that if I don’t come in and work overtime tonight, he’ll kill himself.”

        19. Emily, to

          Clare,
          “She does this with all her friends who start moving on and drifting away, as if she wants to keep us all locked in some eternal time warp. … This is why I need to keep her on the periphery of my life. I have no wish to justify the way I live my life to my friends who should be doing the same thing.”
          I don’t understand that. Do you not want to keep friends? Why is someone in a time warp simply because she wants to keep a friend group? I mean, I’m in my late 40s. Most of the women I know are single. If they have kids, they’re out of the house. What I mean is … marriage and babies aren’t on the horizon so I’m not sure what someone would be “moving on to.” And why is there an implication that what someone is “moving on to” is somehow better and less frivolous? I don’t like women who use other women as stand-ins for men.

        20. Clare

          Em,

          You know I love your comments, but I fear mine are being taken terribly out of context and misunderstood.

          There is so much more to this particular person and my friendship with her than I could possibly share on this blog, and I don’t really like the fact that assumptions are being made about my motives and that I feel like I have to defend myself.

          I would answer what you’ve asked (which as I say, I think is a huge exaggeration of what I initially meant), but I’m worried that I’m just going to have to defend myself some more when my answers are taken out of context. So I think I’m going to bow out of this discussion.

        21. Emily, to

          Clare,
          “There is so much more to this particular person and my friendship with her than I could possibly share on this blog, and I don’t really like the fact that assumptions are being made about my motives and that I feel like I have to defend myself.”
          Sorry if made yo feel that way. I wish the comments were posted in real time so we could clear up any misconceptions faster.

        22. Marika

          Completely understand where you’re coming from, Clare. This friend once said to me: “you and X (another mutual friend) tend to not be around much when you’re in a relationship”. I agreed – and said I’m sorry but that’s our choice.

          Equally, she is welcome to only be friends with people who aren’t looking for a relationship, or who manage to be in a serious relationship and prioritize their friends just as highly as their partner. That ain’t me, but I wouldn’t blame her if that was her choice.

          It’s the judgement that *she’s* right and the good friend that I definitely don’t appreciate.

      2. 11.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        Marika, I can’t reply directly to your “bad friend box” comment below, so will say here, I found that really insightful, and I will now be careful not to do that, thank you.

    2. 11.2
      Jeremy

      I love being alone too. Funny thing – when life is busy and the kids are whiny, my brain tells me that what I want more than anything else is for my wife to take the kids and just go somewhere. That leaving me alone for a few hours will make me happier than anything else. Sometimes she’ll do exactly that, and as I find myself in the empty house I’ll fix myself a coffee and snack, tinker with a hobby (just took up hydroponic horticulture) and engage in hours of pure Flow (I know you know what I’m talking about). But after a while I’ll stop and take stock of my emotional state – how happy am I right now in a scale of 1-10, with 5 being the point of equilibrium and each number above of before a standard deviation? And I’ll surprise myself and answer… About a 6. Not happy, just engaged. And I’ll further ask myself, ok, if I’m just at a 6 right now, what would I need to get up to, say, an 8? And my brain will answer…. With wistful images of my wife and kids, whom I just wished would leave.

      Marika asked above why avoidant-avoidant relationships don’t often work, and I think the answer is that often avoidants legit don’t know what they want. Want what they don’t have, don’t want what they do. The anxious might be misguided about how to achieve their goals, but are clear at least about what their goal should actually be.

      1. 11.2.1
        Clare

        Jeremy,

        “I think the answer is that often avoidants legit don’t know what they want.”

        I agree with this so much! If you ask the avoidant person what they need to be happy or fulfilled, they give some really bizarre and conflicting answers and seem to be quite unaware of that.

        I find they also tend to be oblivious to how much their relationships are being propped up by the other person’s efforts.

        The ex-boyfriend whom I mentioned earlier, who is really, really avoidant, does have a girlfriend now, of nearly a year. When I ask him if things are going well, he says yes, but the only reason he ever tells me why he thinks it’s going well is that he says she is “very low maintenance, very, very easy, nothing riles her up.” *However*, this girlfriend of his does 100% of the driving to his house, because their entire relationship must be conducted on his turf, not hers (something I remember only too well from being with him). He never goes to her house, never fetches her. I wonder if she would regard this relationship as easy? Or whether she simply sees all her trips to his house as the price she has to pay for being with him?

        1. Mrs Happy

          Clare – hmm – it is going really well, isn’t it – FOR HIM.
          Maybe Dante should have a circle for people who don’t put relationship effort in, and another for people who do not drive. Don’t get me started on the (without reasonable reason) non-drivers or my rage may take over the whole thread.

        2. Clare

          Mrs Happy,

          My favourite response that I heard to people who won’t drive to other people but expect those people always to come to them was:
          “It’s just as far from here to your house as it is from your house to here.”

          My ex-boyfriend would probably respond that his house is more comfortable and that he pays for everything when his girlfriend gets there. But of course that is missing the point entirely. It’s the fact that he *won’t* drive to her, rain or shine, which is the problem.

      2. 11.2.2
        SparklingEmerald

        Hi Jeremy, you said “Marika asked above why avoidant-avoidant relationships don’t often work, and I think the answer is that often avoidants legit don’t know what they want. Want what they don’t have, don’t want what they do. The anxious might be misguided about how to achieve their goals, but are clear at least about what their goal should actually be.”

        Not sure where I fall on the spectrum of extroversion, avoidant, etc. but my last marriage was definitely two avoidants. We actually went to a marriage counselor who specialized in attachment theory. We answered a questionaire and both of us came up with some sort of avoidant attachment style. I think mine might have come up “disorganized” but I don’t remember for sure.

        Our counselor told us that we married each other because we both didn’t give the other what we DIDN’T want, and that was a close intimate relationship. Boy, was that a kick in the stomach, because it was true. When I met my hubby, I was a person who needed lot’s of “space”. Yet I loved to socialize alot, but had no problem socializing with other people, withOUT my significant other. My ex hubby had his extreme sports that were too difficult and scary for me to participate in, so in the beginning it worked very well for me (or so I thought). He would be gone on his weekend warrior (or 7 day warrior) journeys, and I spent the time having my girls luncheons, going to concerts in the park etc.

        However, after our son was born, I guess the oxytocin really kicked in (I nursed him for 9 months) and all I wanted to do at that point was bond with my family. I hoped my hubby would feel the same way, but no, he continued to come and go as he pleased. I really felt like I couldn’t ask for him to spend more time with the family, since our relationship started off in parallel lives to begin with, and the few times I asked for family time were not well rec’d. He basically fit his family time around his extreme sports, and not the other way around. I would ask to do some family or couple thing, and he would have to “get back to me”, and after calling up all his sports buddies, if none were available, then I got a piece of his time.

        When he divorced me, he gave me such a confusing, contradictory mess of an explanation. He resented that I had “turned into a housewife”during the first 5 years of our young son’s life, but when we got engaged, he told me he would like me to be a stay at home mom. He said that I “withdrew” from the relationship, and that I was “too clingy”. He said that I was “holding him back” in his extreme sports even though I only asked him NOT to go on some particular trip a total of maybe 3 times in the relationship, twice due to an illness in the family. He said there was a lack of “friendship and conversation” with us, but he also said he didn’t like it when I asked him how day went when he got home, because then he would want to hear about how MY day went, and he didn’t want to that. He complained that he just wanted to do whatever he wanted to do, whenever he wanted to do it, but that’s exactly how we lived for 23 years. He pretty much came and went as he pleased, a nice hot dinner waiting for him whenever he happened to be home, access to his child whenever his extreme sports life had an empty day. Before we got married he said that we would attend every parent teacher conference and be involved with our child(ren) school life, but his sports life took precedent, and I attended probably 90% of the PTA meetings, baseball games, school performances of my son alone.

        I honestly think what you said about avoidants legit not knowing what they want, wanting what they don’t have, not wanting what they do have, is so true for the ex. When he was complaining to me in one rant, about not wanting to share our day after work, I said to him, “wait a minute, I thought the lack of conversation was the issue with you”. He just stared straight ahead like he had been kicked in the stomach. Then he put his head in his hands and said “WOW, I have really put you in a no-win situation all these years”.

        He now is very remorseful about how things went down between us, and I can see now, that he didn’t deliberately set out to hurt me, but his extreme avoidant style, legit made him the way he did.

        Luckily now, I am re-married and we are both retired. So we can have a good mix of space and togetherness. But still, I do have to consciously not plan to much without him, or I could slide right back into spending more time doing “girly stuff” with my friends, or family and putting him on the back burner. I have seen first hand the damage to a relationship when living separate lives, and being married in name only.

        1. Marika

          Oh wow…SE, some of that is sounding so familiar! That therapist sounds great – I wish there were more like that around. I never thought about my marriage that way, but I had similar experiences with my ex. And it’s relieving to hear an explanation.

          I recall once he said ‘I didn’t show enough respect for his work’. I thought this was great he was expressing that, and asked what it would look like for me to show him I respected his work. He just got annoyed and huffy. So I had no idea what to do to make things better. I guess even he didn’t know what that meant. He thought I wanted him to spend too much time with my family. So I asked how often would be reasonable. Couldn’t tell me. But then other times would say we would see his family ‘a lot’ if they weren’t interstate. Huh? Apparently I had too much closet space. I made more room, but he wanted the long hanging space. But I have dresses…And on and on. There were times I honestly thought I was going crazy. He used to want us to be ‘spontaneous’ about things and not talk them out, but was pissed I didn’t read his mind. And how ‘spontaneous’ can we be with full time jobs and him having three kids? None of it made sense.

          He once disappeared for a few days, over Easter, needed time (but didn’t tell me this until he was on the road) – then came back with a letter listing all the things I’d done wrong! Didn’t apologize for leaving, of course.

          It’s nice you got an apology / some recognition from your ex later. Did he remarry? Did you get super busy as a coping mechanism, or is that your preference too? I guess in my mind a marriage is about two people spending a lot of time together, but no doubt there are a number of ways you can structure a marriage to make it work. My ex was actually great company, all the weirdness aside. I genuinely loved his company and spending time together. Of course I had work, my family and my friends, but I wanted us to be a team. Were you upset he prioritised his friends, even when you had a child?

        2. SparklingEmerald

          HI Marika Thanks for your response

          You asked “It’s nice you got an apology / some recognition from your ex later. Did he remarry?” I guess it is nice that I got an apology, a heartfelt note that I was a good wife and mother, and gifts on mother’s day since the divorce (rarely got those while we were married, hmmmm,) but it makes me feel guilty for any lingering hard feelings on my part.

          Yes, he has also re-married. Funny thing is, when he was divorcing me, he gave me some BS about no longer believing in marriage (despite really being anxious to marry me when we were together). I guess he was just blowing smoke. Also, he friended me on facebook, and it appears that his wife does not participate with him in his extreme sports. One of his gripes was that I did not participate with him in his extreme sports (because they scared me to death) He also said he hated to do the types of things I do, and that I was just soooo boring. Yet I see pix of him and his wife at museums and restaurants, the things he told me bored him to death. He seems to still come and go as he pleases, doing his extreme sports with his buddies, and squeezes some time in with her in between his adventures with his buds. Of course FB doesn’t tell the whole story, but the numerous posts of him out with his buds, never shows her name or picture in the post. I have never met her, but I do feel bad for her that they might be headed down the same path, that he will dump her when he gets bored with her, or if she should face serious health or family issues.

          You also asked “Did you get super busy as a coping mechanism, or is that your preference too? ” Yes and No. When we first met, we both led fairly busy lives apart from each other, but in the throws of new sparkly love, we both cranked it back a notch and spent a reasonable amount of time together, and then over the next few years, began spending more time pursuing separate activities. I was fine with that UNTIL, I became a mom. Seriously, there was a BIG hormonal surge and when I looked into my baby boy’s face for the first time, I just wanted to hold him and never let him go, and I wanted the 3 of us to really merge as a family. Honestly, motherhood completely changed me. My hubby cried tears of joy after the birth as well, and does love his son very much, but his need to come and go as he pleased never went away. Also, I nursed my son for 9 months, so the oxytocin cocktail was being fed to us on a regular basis, so staying at home, being with my son was like seventh heaven to me. My ex, while he adored his son (who looked like a carbon copy of my ex), really didn’t cope with the responsibilites very well, so off he went practically every weekend and vacation day, leaving me to care for my son myself. I tried to keep him close to home and hearth, but he wouldn’t have it. I was pretty distressed about it, but didn’t feel like I had the right to change the situation, because that’s who he was when I married him. He would even say “you knew I was this way when we got married”. As our son got older, he would take him on some toned down version of his adventures. Sometimes I would join in, but I was lousy at that sort of thing, and that fueled the beginning of my ex’es contempt for me. Once our son was older and didn’t need constant supervision, I DID start getting super busy as a way to cope with the lonliness of an absent spouse. I took acting lessons, and got involved with film and stage acting. He resented me not being home to cook dinner during rehearsals and performances and the fact that he had to occasionally pick up our son from various activities. I pointed out to him that while he was constantly away, sometimes for 10 days at a time, that I was doing ALL the work of caring for our infant or toddler son, and the my acting never involved overnights, and was quite sporadic, while his was constant. He was only occasionally needed to fill in for some parental duties, whereas as for the first 8 years of of our son’s life, it all fell on me. He just told me I was being “tit for tat”. I told him that my acting was my passion as his sports were his passion. He scoffed at the very idea.

          Also, when I first started carving out a piece of my life apart from my family, I FOOLISHLY thought that if I pulled away a bit with my own passions, that it would make me more interesting, and perhaps give him some room to “miss me” and draw him closer. (Since nothing else I did seemed to draw him in) PFFFFTTTTT, that didn’t work at all. He had “mentally exiited” the relationship already (as came out in MC) so nothing I did or didn’t do could have saved us. He had already made up his mind to dump me, he was just waiting for our son to be grown.

          But yes, having my theatrical life, a new circle of friends really did help me cope with my lonely marriage. I really wish it could have been something that added to an already good marriage, but it wasn’t.

          Contrast that to my now hubby. I no longer act, but when we first met, I was in rehearsal for a stage play. He bought tickets to 3 performances and offered his service for any technical stage support (which wasn’t needed, but it was so nice to offer) He bragged on facebook about how proud he was of me. He gave me rides to rehearsal when my car was in a compromised condition. The ex pretty much refused to come see me perform. The few times he did, he complained about how boring it was.

          Now that I am retired, I might get back into it. At least I know that I will have the support of my hubby, and since I am retired, it won’t cut into our together time too much.

      3. 11.2.3
        Mrs Happy

        Happiness isn’t the aim of everything for me. Engaged is great.

        And you only got wistful images because you’d had time away from the noise and needs. Had you been immersed in that, instead of had time to recharge, wistful would not have been your emotional state, not by a long shot.

        1. Jeremy

          I’m sure you’re right. The best definition of civilization I ever heard was “time to think between meals.” Because if all you’re doing is hunting food all day, you got no bandwidth for much else. Similarly, if you’re tending to children all day, you don’t have time to think about how they enrich your life, only how they sap your energy. I am very familiar. Did you hire a new nanny/cleaner yet?

          BTW, engaged is great because it’s a way to achieve happiness. If it weren’t, there’s be nothing great about it. Ask a data entry clerk. I did that one summer as a student. Just sayin’

        2. Mrs Happy

          Yes I took your advice (I usually do) re cleaner. Thank you. Still (smiling) mad though. Change your mind.

        3. Jeremy

          Sophistry…..my opinion on it has changed somewhat over the years.

          There is a rule in Orthodox Judaism that one is not allowed to carry items on the Sabbath from the private domain to the public. For instance, if one has a book at home that one wants to bring to synagogue, one would not be allowed to carry that book out of the house on Sabbath because to do so is to carry across domains. Of course, after this rule was set, people began to complain. Because, of course, one NEEDS to carry certain things if one is to go about living – carry items, carry clothes, carry children, etc. So the rabbis gave the matter some thought and came up with an idea. They would tie a piece of string around an entire neighborhood, from gardenpost (or telephone post) to post. And because the string would encase the entire neighborhood, it would essentially include everything within it as an ostensibly single domain, thereby allowing carrying within its boundaries on the Sabbath. This is called an Eruv, and you’ll see one in just about every city with a Jewish population.

          I remember learning about this as an idealistic young teenager, and throwing my hands in the air. “Sophistry!” I shouted. “Whom do you think you’re fooling? D’you thing God doesn’t know what you’re up to, that your house and your synagogue aren’t really one single domain? That you’re creeping around the spirit of the law?”

          Hmmm. Foolish certainty, whether of youth or idealism. Because, of course, the Eruv has nothing to do with God. It has to do with the stories we tell about ourselves, the people we believe ourselves to BE. If one needs to carry but one also needs to keep the law, how does one proceed? Does one chuck the law (and the person one wishes to be) due to pragmatism? Does one painfully restrict one’s self every 7 days? Or does one come up with a solution that enables both, with just a little bit of selective blindness that allows everyone to get the best of both worlds – to do what one needs to do while still maintaining one’s identity? Is that not the best possible solution, sophistry nowithstanding?

          I no longer concern myself with the rules of carrying between domains on the Sabbath…..but I find that domains do affect my life in other ways – that it is difficult to cross them in some ways. When faced with an impossible decision – whether to betray a trust I can not betray or to deny communication I desperately want…..I find an Eruv in an unlikely place and find myself returning to it.

        4. Mrs Happy

          Yes, during your transient retirement I realised I had already had what I’d asked for, though in a limited way. I’ve often wondered whether the local Sydney eruv is fair for the other inhabitants. To me relying on the eruv seems like shape-shifting. It’s better than nothing, but it’s more logical to challenge the initial restrictions, which frankly are bizarre in the modern world. Logic is the fish.

        5. Jeremy

          LOL. The Fish is exactly what logic is.

          The other day my 3 year old crawled onto my lap as I sat watching my aquarium. “I wanna see the fishie,” she said. “Which fish,” I asked. I pointed at a pacific blue tang fluttering by – “that fish?” I asked. “No,” she said. I pointed at a trio of pink and yellow anthias darting out of the coral – “That fish?” “No, that’s not the fish,” she said. I pointed at a regal angelfish, a royal gramma, a fluttering mandarin fish, but none of them was the fish she meant. Then, the tentacles of a red anemone at the bottom of the tank opened and a tiny orange clownfish poked its head out. “NEMO,” she shouted, “that’s the fish!” Of course, they were all fish…but only one was the fish she meant.

          One of my own personal breakthroughs came when I realized that mine was not the only pathway to rationality. That although my personality-type has been called “rational”, it is not necessarily any more rational than any other type. After all, if one’s goal is to be accepted into a community, would it not be rational to act like a guardian-type and not like me? If one’s goal is to constantly trigger dopaminergic pathways, would it not be more rational to live like an explorer? Emily recently wrote that she watched a group of women who seemed like they had their lives together to see if they had the secret to having more fun. She was disappointed to discover that they didn’t because….having fun (as she would describe it) was not their goal, only hers.

          This world might be modern, as you wrote, and the fact that we’ve rid ourselves of some rancid bathwater is overall good for society, I think….but we’ve lost some babies along with it. I try very hard to distinguish between the babies and the bathwater….am slow to pour out the one before I’m certain the other isn’t going down the drain with it.

    3. 11.3
      S.

      @ Marika (with an R ;-))

      Gosh, it’s hard to find things addressed to me in this comment section! But glad some things in my long post resonated. The truth? Why shouldn’t a boyfriend be like family? He’s in my super-intimate space. Regularly. Yes, I have more expectations for him than others.

      As for the bad friend box. (At first I was looking for an action comment box about bad friends, lol. ;-)) I look at the relationship as a whole. If I’ve been doing the heavy emotional lifting the whole time and a friend screws up and tries to make up for it once, that’s not going to cut it for me. Especially if you have a cancer scare or something like that. I get it that for the person that may be heavy lifting for them. I’m not trying to torture them over a mistake. In that moment I’m about the business of literally trying to save my own life. They either get what that means or meant or they don’t.

      And yeah, it would be a slow return and some trust building back. Serious health issues (mental or physical) threaten your very life. And could recur. I wouldn’t just go back to relying on them for support with that topic again. But I would try them out on smaller things. It’s all so scary. The one thing you think when things go wrong is that people close in your life will be there if you need them to be. Sure, some folks lick their wounds in private but never assume. Simply ask what they need as support. I take it personally when folks disappear in a crisis.

      Which reminds me, my mom has a sick friend home from surgery yesterday. She’s an elderly lady with no kids. I need to go visit this week and bring the sick lady some cheer. (I’m not asking cause she loves when I visit. :-)) Heck, that could be me someday!

    4. 11.4
      Marika

      Em

      The thing is I really like her. She’s fun. She’s kind. She can dance. She’s flirty with guys in a way I was never taught which is fun to watch and learn from (she’s South American). I’m telling you the bad stuff because her need for me to prove my friendship is pushing me away. That’s what I was trying to express in response to Mrs Happy and her friend. Of course I didn’t disappear for 2 years on my friend, but I have done things *she* considers ‘not good’ friendship. But I’m not willing to just play by her rules.

      1. 11.4.1
        Emily, to

        Mariks,
        “She’s flirty with guys in a way I was never taught which is fun to watch and learn from (she’s South American). ”
        YOU BURIED THE LEAD, my dear. This woman is a man magnet and you are doing exactly the right thing: sitting back and watching her work. Heck, you may even land some of her leftovers. 🙂 Every chick posse needs a man magnet, and she has valuable a skill set –which she probably knows — so I am afraid you are going to have to follow by her rules of friendship. Don’t mention her again. Only talk about other friends who don’t brink so much to the table. 🙂

  12. 12
    Selena

    Spending the equivalent of every weekend together plus a lunch date midweek doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Especially if one person has kids at home. I can see a parent who is childfree for the summer might like to change up the routine a bit though while s/he has the opportunity. A weekend away might be fun.

    I don’t think not hinting about the future or not saying ILY after 4 months of dating is a clear sign of an avoidant personality. What’s worth considering is, is there a mutual connection that continues to develop? Have the two of you grown closer in the last 4 months, or does it still feel like casual dating?

  13. 13
    Rampiance

    What a great thread!
    As a former anxious/avoidant type heading toward secure, I find this conversation fascinating.

  14. 14
    Selena

    @Marika Fish

    “The sickness thing – am I the only one who wants zero attention when sick?”

    No, you are not.

    When I am sick or in pain, I don’t want to have to deal with “making conversation” with well-meaning friends or family members. A heartfelt, “Please call me if you need anything” is appreciated, but frequent calling out of concern isn’t.

  15. 15
    Patricia the OP

    Hi everyone!

    I broke up with him. It was my first relationship and first breakup post divorce. I’m devastated by how much it hurts, but I know it was the right thing to do. I’d been trying to be my most understanding and compassionate self, but it was at my expense. We were completely at odds as to what we wanted from a relationship.

    Please, good people, send good healing vibes my way.

    And Evan, you were so damned right!! Any advice on how to recover from this pain?

    1. 15.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Sorry to hear it, Patricia. If you want my best mass-market advice on moving onwards and upwards, click here.

      If you want to talk with me personally, fill out an application thru one of the coaching pages and I’ll do my best to make sure this is the LAST time you ever feel this way.

    2. 15.2
      S.

      I, too, am sorry to hear it. The pain takes time to heal. Take care of you right now and I will send you healing vibes for the future.

      1. 15.2.1
        Patricia

        Evan and S,

        Thank you.

        We had so much in common and had some really good times together. It was the time in between that killed me, and the walking on eggshells not to set his alarms off. But he was a kind man, who cared about me the best way he knew how. I hope he finds happiness.

        Part of me wishes we could have found a balance that worked for us. And I blame myself for wanting too much. Maybe I’m too much, in general 🙁

        Oh well.

        This is a fascinating thread, by the way. I’m learning a lot about other ways of being in the world. I didn’t know that the people who hunker down when stressed or sick feel it as a lack of respect when you keep knocking at their door to help.

        1. Clare

          Patricia,

          “Part of me wishes we could have found a balance that worked for us. And I blame myself for wanting too much. Maybe I’m too much, in general ”

          Please don’t blame yourself for wanting too much. You and he had different needs – sometimes that works in a relationship, and sometimes it doesn’t. And if it is going to have a shot at working, both people need to want it. It sounds like the bottom line is that you were trying to be understanding and meet his needs, but he wasn’t doing the same for you – either wasn’t capable, or did not want to.

          It may not seem like it now, but letting someone like that go is a blessing. When two people are at odds about what they want, no one is to blame – it sounds like you really tried. Sometimes it’s best to realise that it’s not working and let it go.

          What makes you think that you were too much?

          Sending you positive vibes… I know how difficult break ups can be.

        2. S.

          Sometimes people are so . . . different. Your story reminds me of coming home from a date once and bursting into tears. I thought I was being overly sensitive. We liked each other so much! But there was such a disconnect when we were together. You were braver than I and did the breaking up. Good for you. I waited for this guy to break up with me.

          Both people being great people and caring about one another isn’t enough. Compatibility is key. And it’s not supposed to feel difficult and angsty. No eggshells, no tears. I met a new friend a few weeks ago and it’s so easy to get along with them. I had forgotten it could be that easy. It’s been a while since I made a new friend that easily.

          Hang in there. That feeling, the egg shell feeling, you know it well now and what it means–Get Out. Which you did. You are not too much or too little. Just not for him and him not for you.

          This thread was fascinating! Though like reading in Spanish for me, most of it. I know enough to piece it together but I don’t really understand the avoidant life. When I’m ill or upset I want people around. (Exception is during my menstrual cycle. Even then they can be in the apartment, just not in the room with me.) I like being close with people if they like it too. It’s okay!

          I have the capacity for deep, lasting, loyal attachment. Not too soon, but when I’m ready. Don’t be apologetic about it if that’s you too. Just save it for the right person. 🙂

  16. 16
    Patricia

    Claire,
    “What makes you think that you were too much?” I don’t know if you ever have that feeling that you’re too enthusiastic and feel too much. I want to be celebrated and bring a twinkle to somebody’s eye. I want to serve somebody and care for them. I’m 48, going on 14, I guess 🙂

    S,
    “I know enough to piece it together but I don’t really understand the avoidant life. When I’m ill or upset I want people around. ” Agree 100%! Since breaking up, I’ve heard of at least two couples who live 10 min apart and see each other once a week. I wish it could work for me. Maybe it could, if it the time in between there was a strong connection otherwise

    Are either of you in a relationship? Thanks for being so supportive.

    1. 16.1
      Clare

      Patricia,

      I’m in a very happy relationship with a wonderful guy, and for me, it was a combination of finding a man who was more secure and emotionally available, and also working on things in myself (personal growth) and relationship skills.

      In my opinion, it is not usually about extremes (like the thought that you are too much and hence broken), it’s more about degrees. Tweaking things rather than feeling like you need to overhaul who you are.

      Finding someone who is more compatible with you, while at the same time learning about yourself and smoothing out your own rough edges.

      Like I wrote on this blog a couple of weeks ago, we don’t live in a world of ideals. It’s more about lots of incremental steps that you take to move towards your goal. Don’t give up 🙂

    2. 16.2
      S.

      I’m totally enthusiastic! It’s part of my charm and what attracts people to me. Why would I want to change that? For instance, everyone I know wilts in the heat and the hotter it is outside, the stronger I get. The summer is MINE. 😉 No apologies. Everyone else gets ten months, I get two and live it up. Gotta enjoy life.

      You’re not much older than me and I think it’s this joie de vivre that keeps us youthful! I’m not in a relationship right now but I’m not really looking, either. I want to travel and foster kittens, and have a career change but not everything all at once! So I’m kind of excited to be able to make these decisions right now without thinking about anyone else but me. The right man will come along (who will love kittens!) and it will be an even more fun ride. But we’re almost half-way through this life, I can’t spend that time unhappy or confused if I don’t have to be.

      And neither do you! And what Clare says about working on personal growth in one’s self is valuable. There is so much work (and fun) to be had and done on one’s own.

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