Imagine that you are driving a car. After the initial acceleration, you still have to drive it steadily in order to go anywhere and have a quality journey. Sometimes you have to put your foot down on the accelerator; sometimes you have to gently apply pressure to the brakes and sometimes you have to slam down on them. This is the same as holding your own in relationships.
The only position for you in a relationship is to arrive as an equal party and remain equal. You can only do this if you know yourself and don’t think that being yourself, having boundaries and saying NO is a danger to you having a relationship.
I make this point particularly for women. Many of us ‘arrive’ talking the talk of holding our own and then in a blink of an eye, it’s gone or we don’t walk the walk but keep up the talk. We’re putting our lives on hold to wait around for someone that asked for our number to call, relegating friends, family and even work into the background, open 24/7 like a Tesco superstore or 7Eleven and may think it is totally normal to explain and reexplain disrespect.
Your value, your values, boundaries, sense of self and self esteem are not a ‘game’ or only there to serve the purpose of getting someone through the door. If your sense of self and self-esteem go into a decline or are abandoned as soon as you attach yourself to someone or get a sniff of interest, it’s like taking your foot off the peddle. Much like in a learner car with a driving instructor, whoever you’re involved with has the option of taking over the ‘footwork’. If it’s a temporary blip, they are likely yo chalk it up to no big deal. However, much like a driving instructor, if it becomes clear that you’re not holding your own and in fact, you are incapable of it, their confidence in your abilities diminishes rapidly and you communicate all the wrong things about yourself.
The wonderful thing is that you pay a driving instructor to recognise where you need work and help. In relationships, it’s not the job of the other party to teach or force you to hold your own. When you don’t hold your own, there’s either a major shortfall in the relationship or the other party will grab onto the power.
The respectful person that knows their own mind, will recognise that the type of mutually fulfilling relationship they potentially want cannot work. The less you hold your own, the more alarm bells that ring and the further you diminish your own value. The opportunistic person will take you on a drive to Booty Call Town, or Ego Stroke Town, Passing Time Town, Rainy Day Option Town, Last Resort Town or even Abusive Town.
You are not that desperate.
Both sexes are looking for relationship partners that can hold their own, not doormats. Doormats don’t get more dates, commitment, respect, happiness etc – they get people rubbing their feet in, putting themselves on a pedestal, not feeling like they have to commit and being treated like an option.
Desperation, even in its more subtle forms is highly unattractive.
If you’re willing to take your foot off the peddle so soon into a relationship, to be indispensable, to devalue yourself and you don’t even know them or aren’t in a mutual relationship, it begs the question of what you’d do for someone you know or with whom you have even the flimsiest of ‘commitments’ ?
You may think you’re communicating that:
You’re very interested
You’re in love
You love them unconditionally (read: without boundaries)
You’ll do anything for them
But you’re actually communicating that you’re desperate.
You’re communicating that you’re too available, “Let me abandon my friends, family, work, sense of self and personal time to make way for someone I hardly know/who treats me like an option.” You’re saying “I don’t value my time” and truth be told, if you’re willing to do so much or so quickly for them, they assume this is how you are with everyone you’ve been involved with even if you say different.
You’re communicating that you have a disproportionate interest in them – How can you be willing to be and do so much off the back of a potential you’re hoping for but that they’re not living up to? You can communicate that you’re interested without being desperate and throwing your life and self respect away.
You’re communicating that you don’t love yourself enough. If you did, there’s no way in hell you’d be so quick to abandon yourself or put up with shady behaviour. You’re actually saying “I love you or the idea of what you could be more than I love myself.” You’re communicating that you have no limits. For someone that you hardly know or has shown they’re not available for the relationship you want, that’s like a red flag to a bull or for someone half way decent to hit the eject button.
You’re inadvertently communicating that you’re desperate. Leave something off the table and be indispensable to yourself! They’re just not that special and you’re not that desperate. Really you’re not. You’re not that desperate for a relationship that you need to throw away everything and unless someone is adding to your life rather than detracting from it. Never let someone think that they’re irreplaceable when they’re not even in the same relationship with you or treating you with the basics of love, care, trust and respect.
Relationship smart people of both sexes recognise inappropriate behaviour, have their own lives and aren’t so afraid to walk away that they’ll keep banking on someone else that keeps disappointing instead of banking on themselves. They value themselves, their time and their lives.
Get your foot on the peddle of your life and hold your own. Only you can hold your own. Try not to make decisions based on fear or the idea that if you give it all up that they’ll reciprocate. By loving blindly and giving excessively, you’re missing the point that they’re not holding their own and being mutual.
Oh and one last thing, as soon as you recognise that they like busting up your boundaries, put the peddle to the metal and leave them in the dust.
If you’ve ever been with someone who blows hot one day, professing their love for you and talking about the future to cold the next day saying “I don’t want to hurt you” or even ‘going dark’, you will know that being on the end of someone’s indecision is neither good for your soul nor your self-esteem.
A friend was excited when her boyfriend said that he was taking her away and that he was going to buy a ring without any prompting from her. On the day that they were due to fly, he showed up saying “I can’t do this”. Somehow she forgave him and then watched as he flipped and flapped for another few years, until she ran out of patience and sympathy and made up his mind for him and removed herself from the equation.
Vulnerability is something that the great majority of people have some degree of fear about. However, it is a necessity for something as basic as feeling our own feelings and taking in reality as well as being a fundamental component of our relationships. None or limited vulnerability equals intimacy issues equals commitment issues equals balance, progression and consistency issues equals you dealing with someone who isn’t available for an available relationship.
They’re on the fence instead of being in the relationship with both feet firmly planted in.
Indecisive people have commitment issues. They appear to make decisions and then afterwards start to panic and backtrack to relieve their fears. When they feel calm again based on the change in decision, they then worry if they made the wrong decision. And round and round and around they go.
You can end up falling into the trap of trying to help them make up their minds and even attempting to allay their fears and in the meantime, you end up forgetting your own needs and cross into over-empathising instead of recognising what indecision means in the bigger picture. You can also end up internalising their anxiety. Maybe I should I have doubts too?
Indecision is actually a decision in itself and to be on the receiving end of it can be torture. Someone who truly cares for you and is empathetic will recognise that it’s not acceptable and will not continue the flip-flapping or take advantage of your own decisiveness about them.
When someone starts telling you that they’re being indecisive because they don’t want to hurt you, it raises a question of which crystal ball they’re using? It is more to do with self knowledge and experience. They may be afraid of being honest and assertive or they may just lack the self knowledge to understand their own needs, which would help them make a decision that reflected not only who they are but also some respect and consideration for you. If they don’t understand their own needs or feelings, they’re certainly not going to be able to empathise. They tend to be reactive and will reel you in on a whim and then flush you back out of their hot attention with a bump back to earth.
It’s not ‘bad’ to have a wobble or to be a little afraid of stepping forward. I think it comes with the territory with relationships. The difference though between the person who’s indecisive and the person who has both feet in is that the latter knows that vulnerability is needed and weighs evidence against their fears and proceeds based on the feedback.
The person that’s indecisive keeps wobbling and after a while, you can end up being uneasy because you’re trained and attuned to expect a wobble. You end up feeling distrusted. You end up feeling like you’ve got to campaign and make them feel better about you than any one else that they were with. It’s not your job to help someone get over their previous relationships and trauma. You can be empathetic and sympathetic but if these issues are getting in the way of them being able to differentiate between past and present and forge a mutual relationship with you and they’re not making it a priority to resolve the issue, you have to step away.
The biggest problem with indecision is the expectation (explicit or implied) that you have to do something to relieve that indecision. In reality, the indecision is about not about you, even if they try to put it on you. The next biggest problem is this inherent assumption by them that you’re supposed to be ‘OK’ with this indecision (like a show of your commitment to their uncommitted selves) and if you respect what they’re saying and don’t want to participate, you’re ‘pressuring’ them. NO, you’re respecting what they’ve said instead of letting them have it both ways.
This is how so many people get downgraded to casual. “OK I’ll let you test drive me in casual mode until you’re over your wobble.”
Relationships require a leap of faith. You don’t want to be taking that leap and then being dragged back or left hanging and pleading for the other person to join you. It takes the joy and the fun out of the relationship and after a while, it’ll begin to erode at your sense of self because it’s human nature to wonder what you’ve ‘done’ and that’s just not fair. If you’re faced with someone who’s indecisive about you or the possibility of a relationship, let them make up their minds on their own time, not yours.
Try not see it as a challenge and an opportunity for validation. See it as great big red warning that whatever it is that you thought you both have had going on, they aren’t on the same page as you. If you blame you for their indecision, you will miss some very vital feedback about this person and your relationship. If they come back, they return decided and if they then start to passive aggressively roll it back after a time or flake out again, cut them loose.
Ultimately, there is something not right about you being decided on a person and a relationship when the other party is not. It is akin to thinking that you’re co-pilotting when the other person is trying to make an emergency exit. If they’re on the fence and you’re waiting on them, you get put on the fence too. In the end, you’ll have to do for the both of you what they clearly can’t do – make the decision that puts an end to all of this indecision. Above all, that decision should leave you with your sense of self intact and available for an available relationship with an available and decisive Other.
While some people openly admit to being competitive, many people who are do not see themselves in that way. Often, I find that these people are perfectionists, people pleasers and people who are prone to comparison, self-criticism and highlighting how they’re not ‘good enough’. They don’t regard themselves as having or showing a strong desire to be more successful than others. It is almost as if they are saying ‘I’m not getting what I want so how can I be competitive?’ This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’ve ever wondered how or why you are with with an emotionally unavailable person, the answer lies in acknowledging that you’re competing with someone or something.
I’ve explained in previous posts that the ‘fallback’ is the person who takes the passenger role in the relationship and who allows the other party to default to (fall back on) them for sex, a shoulder to lean on, an ego stroke and basically anything else that involves the fallback sacrificing their own needs. Which role we take up and the type of unavailable relationship we may find ourselves in provide clues about who/what it is with which we are competing. Note: although I have written the scenarios below for women, men can be in any of these roles plus these dynamics apply in same-sex relationships.
The Yo-Yo Girl competes with the next partner.
Going back and forth with someone who can’t break/won’t break (but also isn’t committing to a relationship) is about competing to see if we still have the power to draw the person back. Even if it means remaining in an unworkable situation, we might want to be the best at it.
The Buffer competes with the ex(es).
We strive to be better than their ex, so that they will choose us. We make ourselves indispensable, try to figure out how to be different to the ex in the areas where we think they went wrong or we try to be better in areas where we compare ourselves. Sometimes, we subconsciously choose someone whose ex represents everything that we feel insecure about. We then try to feel superior with something we value ourselves for (e.g. intelligence, success) while also wanting validation about what we criticise or doubt ourselves for. Yeah, messy.
The Other Woman competes with the existing partner or spouse.
In an affair, we’re validating ourselves on the notion that we’re ‘the best’. We think we’re giving them something that someone who is inferior (they’re not) is not. We want to be chosen, often positioning ourselves as ‘the best'; at letting you be as bad as you like or the best at understanding/giving you what you need. There’s also another competition going on in parallel, in that we’re trying to right the wrongs of feeling relegated or even replaced by someone else in our earlier life. Or… we’re continuing a competition and inadvertently recreating that dynamic to feel special.
Florence Nightingale competes with the past and whatever a partner is dependent on.
When we attempt to make ourselves the solution to someone else’s problems, we have plenty to compete with. From exes they didn’t do ‘better’ with to the family who have contributed to the issue, we’re trying to be the best at being needed by them. We also compete to be chosen over whatever they may be dependent on such as alcohol, drugs, workaholism or gambling.
The Renovator competes with the past and future ‘replacements’.
Ploughing all of our energies into a ‘fixer-upper’, we may think we can make him/her into what we want. We’re competing with, for example, the family who we think didn’t raise them right or the exes who didn’t help them to realise their potential. We may also reason that if we’re giving everything to someone who we don’t think could have been with someone like us or achieved their potential without our input, then they have no reason to leave. We live in fear of being replaced by someone who will reap the reward of our investment. Our efforts are about demonstrating why we’re the best and why they should stay (even if we’re miserable).
The Flogger competes with the past, present and future.
We figure that we’ve suffered the most, and hence earned the right to the relationship we want. Investment, titles and history matter to us. We try to outstrip all the people in our partner’s past, present and future who either didn’t do as good a job as us or who might try to have a go at being better. However, we’re also competing with someone or even a number of people in our own past. We’re proving that we can do better than them, ‘I will handle a man like daddy better than mom‘ or, ‘I might be miserable but I’m the only person in my family who’s stayed married.’
Miss Self-Sufficient competes with all women.
These women are socialised to fight over a limited supply of decent partners, jobs, opportunities etc. This zero sum game feeds insecurity and a scarcity mindset. We figure it’s safest to pretend that we have less needs than we do. We act as if things don’t bother us when they do. There’s a fear of being like those ‘other’ women – too needy/dramatic/demanding/weak etc. What if we end up trapped, lost, overwhelmed and having to sacrifice too much? Some of those women might be our own family members or just people we’ve come across that scare the life out of us with their choices (that we don’t have to have or we can but don’t have to do it their way). We try to enjoy the fringe benefits of a relationship without commitment.
The Dreamer competes with everyone in their imagination.
Sometimes our way of competing (while secretly accepting failure from the outset – the long-shot mentality) is to be in a fantasy. Any of the above roles can exist within a fantasy relationship but sometimes a relationship is attractive because it’s not real. We can be whatever we want in our imagination and feel like The Best. We’re putting us in an impossible situation because if the fantasy came true, it would allow us to meet an unmet need.
Sometimes it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees when you’re in an unavailable relationship. Acknowledging who or what you’re competing with removes a blind spot that you may not have known you had. Shining a light of awareness on your pattern helps you recognise how unresolved pain, fear and guilt is calling on your attention for you to address and heal it. There wouldn’t be a need to compete in unavailable relationships if you weren’t, on some level, trying to finally be made the best or the priority to make up for someone else not doing it in your past. If you hadn’t blamed and shamed yourself for their inadequacy and/or based your self-worth on being the favourite, you wouldn’t be in this relationship.
It is not necessary for you to prove your worth by validating it on the destruction or bettering of someone else. That’s a path to pain, insecurity and missing out on a genuine, loving relationship. When you stop competing, you lose the agenda of fixing a past that was never your responsibility to fix in the first place.
When we are being, doing or putting up with something that isn’t a true reflection of who we really are, we may mistakenly believe that it must be because it is what we really want. This is why, for example, so many people remain in unfulfilling relationships with commitment resistant, emotionally unavailable partners. They have resigned themselves to the situation. What they didn’t do was begin with the end in mind. Putting up with or doing something that’s at odds with our needs, desires and feelings reflects a lack of clarity and commitment on our side that we’re possibly not conscious of yet.
It’s not unusual to focus on doing good, working hard, being as loving/understanding/ accommodating as possible. We assume that being and doing these things will influence and control receiving the desired outcome. This leads to inadvertently blocking one’s own success.
When you over-invest in someone and a situation that lacks love, care, trust and respect, no matter how much you do or how much you suffer, it’s not going to yield the relationship that you want. You might think that you have begun with the end in mind but if you’re misappropriating your energies, then I’d posit that you have not. Living like this, you’re not going to feel the way that you truly want to and it stands as a block to your own growth and intimacy.
We don’t have to try harder, suffer even more or even give up altogether if the way in which we’ve been going about getting what we want yielded the desired results. It’s nothing to do with us being not ‘good enough’ and everything to do with us being mistaken in what we think it takes to create, forge and sustain mutually fulfilling loving relationships.
If we mistakenly believe that love conquers all and that we can in essence, hitch our wagon to anyone and that with enough effort, the rest will take care of itself, and we then keep repeating this mentality in our efforts, we’re essentially walking into the same relationship pothole again and again..and again. The way out of that pothole is to figure out what we want, where we want to go and how we want to feel. We can then point us in the right direction and also steer ourselves away from anything or anyone that isn’t in alignment with that.
If you’re serious about being in a serious relationship, accept no substitutes.
The second habit in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is: begin with the end in mind. No, that doesn’t mean that you should start a relationship with the breakup forecasted. What it does mean is that you need to get clear on what you want. You need to decide exactly where you’re aiming…and be truthful to that.
So many people tell me that they want a committed relationship with love, care, trust and respect. They want to be themselves. So, what are many of these people doing?
- Dating anyone who shows an interest even if they’re not feeling it or the person has the boundary issues.
- Flailing around in casual relationships where they’d originally hoped that their involvement would lead to something more serious.
- Chasing after an ex or even bouncing around with a number of them.
- Staying in the wrong relationship because they’re afraid to leave, start over and be on their own.
- Pretending to be something they’re not, using relationships to audition to be whatever they think the other requires of them or wants them to be.
Why aren’t we committing to what we want? Well, because it’s a commitment. If you don’t admit to needing or wanting something, then you don’t have to be vulnerable. You avoid exposure to disappointment.
Dating and relationships are an experiment. They put all of our ideas, beliefs and assumptions about who we are, what we need and how we think relationships work to the test. Staying in our uncomfortable comfort zone hurts but you figure it is safe and can’t get much worse; until it actually does. We’re also prone to distraction and often have a ‘some crumbs is better than no crumbs mentality’ so even though we’re in an incompatible relationship where our emotional needs aren’t being met, we’ll stay. We gratify the temporary and so we’ll lap up the attention, affection, acknowledgement, sex or whatever it is. It is kidding ourselves that we’re getting the best of both worlds while sacrificing emotional needs and true desires. In desperately trying to avoid disappointment, you may just end up experiencing even more of it.
Very often though, we feel as if we have made a commitment to what we want. What we’re unaware of though is the unconscious intentions and fears that scupper our efforts.If we want commitment in a loving relationship but secretly fear that we’re unworthy, that we’re going to be trapped [like a parent], that we’ll lose ourselves, our career or something else that spells too many sacrifices, or that we’re going to wind up with or like one or both of our parents, we’ll cater to the fear not what we want.
Acknowledge your desires. Begin with the end in mind.
Beginning with the end in mind isn’t a guarantee of what you want (especially if you’re controlling a ‘plan’). It’s guaranteed that you won’t get what you want if you don’t define it. Unless you are living a life that’s conducive to that end or consciously directing you there, then you can not even get close.
When you treat and regard yourself with care and trust, that which you say yes and no to is very different to someone who doesn’t know, like and trust themselves. How will you know if you’re fulfilled if you’ve never put your line in the sand or have never really put some definition behind who you are and your core values. How will you know when you’ve had enough, that something isn’t right, or that you’ve veered off track? How will you know what to do in the day-to-day to further your aims? Many struggle as without clarity on healthy boundaries, things that don’t matter a great deal begin to overwhelm them.
Acknowledging what you want also helps you to recognise what you’re afraid of.
This is good as now you know what to address and what to be mindful of. Acknowledging where you’ve paid attention to these fears wakes you up to the realisation that catering to them isn’t leading you to anywhere but pain.
It is scary to commit to what you want but in truth, it is not anywhere near as scary as self denial and delusion. You have to take a leap of faith. Commitment means that you have to decide without knowing exactly how you’ll get there or when things are going to happen. You commit without knowing exactly how things will turn out. It’s taking a step, any step (however imperfect it might be) and keep trying to move in that direction. It’s about progress, not perfection.
My friend was six weeks away from getting married when her fiance abruptly announced with no prior warning that he wanted out. Two weeks before he was writing ‘I love you’ in the condensation of the kitchen window and and then in one fell swoop, the wedding off and he refused to explain, speak with or see her and cut her and all of their mutual friends out his life. She was devastated. She could accept that he didn’t want to get married but she just couldn’t fathom how he could cut her out so cruelly and offer no explanation. Around their wedding date, he forced himself to call…to tell her that he was seeing someone else, and that was only because he’d been seen all over town.
Anne (pseudonym) reconnected with an old flame from ten years ago. They’d always kept in touch and when she visited her home country, they often got together. Emails, calls, texts, and plans to get married next year, promises followed and he booked a flight to visit her and they spoke right up to the night before. The big day arrived, he went dark, refused to speak to her and cut her off. The brief time they spoke he said “Life will go on with or without me”. When she called him another time, he hung up.
These are just two examples of a story that I’ve heard many times. When a relationship ends abruptly, you’re cut off. If there is no explanation and you wonder what you did, you have to process the loss and closure alone. You may feel duped, play the relationship back and search for the signs, but you ultimately end up blaming yourself. I guess it’s the relationship version of being told you’re doing great at your job and then being sacked or made redundant out of the blue with little or no explanation.
So here’s what I told my friend, Anne and all of the others in the same boat: People that break up by abruptly and rather aggressively cutting you off with little or no explanation and pretty much act like you never existed, have to do so to avoid any responsibility for the consequences of their actions and their impact on you. In short, this is so they can press The Reset Button.
Acknowledging even a fraction of their actions is to get drawn into acknowledging themselves and your feelings. They can literally pretend like you didn’t exist and tell themselves anything they like. It’s like ‘Get the consequences of my actions as far away from me as possible’. They’re afraid that if they discuss, they’ll get talked into committing themselves to something they don’t want to.
They might even feel bad, or heaven forbid, remorse. They want out so badly, they have to sabotage your relationship in such an abominable way that it would make it difficult for them to go back (unless very brazen) or for you to think there was a chance. They safeguard themselves and avoid the commitments that they’ve made by sabotaging their way out and if they’re ‘lucky’, they’ll get a 2 for 1 deal and you’ll think it’s your fault.
The overwhelming likelihood is that they didn’t feel that there was a strong enough reason to pin on you so rather than admit they’re scared or they want out, they announce they’re out and cut off. Sometimes, people become stifled by a situation often of their own making, triggering anxiety and fears about being vulnerable, intimate and committed. Some like the idea of doing stuff more than the reality, and when the future that they’ve often billy-bullshitted and Future Faked about starts getting too close for comfort, they extricate themselves in a big way. They may genuinely have believed that they were going to be and do as they’d committed themselves to but if they were honest, they’d acknowledge that going out with a bang was always a ticking time bomb.
People, especially dishonest, deluded, scared, and fickle people, are changeable.
Some are not the type to engage in an open and honest dialogue with you in the relationship. When they experience anxiety, their feelings change, there are problems etc, they may not say anything and then erupt out of the relationship like they have a hot poker up their bum. You might wonder what you could have done differently – unfortunately if someone’s way in over their head, you’re not going to know about it until they say or do something or you ask. Even then they may not tell you.
When someone can rip you out of your relationship and their life from one day to the next, and go all Jekyll and Hyde on you, while it’ll hurt like crazy now as it feels like no closure, you can’t decipher what was real and what wasn’t, and you don’t get why you don’t even deserve an explanation, you’ll eventually come to be thankful that you were spared from spending even a minute more in the company of someone that doesn’t play decent, never mind fair.
They’ve got all switchy on you because they’re very afraid of commitment and/or they want out but don’t know how to handle these situations with integrity. The pressure and the fear mounts and they panic or they’re the type that doesn’t voice concerns and problems, or solves their problems by lining up a new partner, which then creates the urgency to get shot of you.
Being scared doesn’t excuse their behaviour but it does along with their subsequent actions, tell you why a relationship with them isn’t an option. There’s no easy way to broach fears or endings and with them, you were going to get hurt anyway.
It would be great if they could respect you and the time you shared by dignifying you with an explanation and decent treatment, but they wouldn’t have ended it this way if that was ever going to be on offer. That…and they would have to explain about themselves and as they don’t want to know themselves and have that level of honesty, you’ll either be in for a long wait or some distorted version of events that will leave you with more questions than answers.
Don’t envy the next person because who knows what kind of switcheroo stuff they’ll be pulling there – they may have left a hole in your life, but you can fill it with a better person and new hopes, dreams, and plans.
I love TED talks. Having a browse on the weekend over a cup of tea, I was drawn to The Art of Creating Awe by Rob Legato, the man behind the special effects for films including Titanic and Apollo 13. Right at the outset he says that making the latter film taught him “…how our brains work is that, when we’re sort of enthused with enthusiasm or awe or fondness… it changes and alters our perception of things. It changes what we see. It changes what we remember.” Ahh…. hasn’t this got a lot to do with our dating and relationship experiences?
When special effects are really good, you think that they are real (possibly even better than the real thing) and they begin evoke emotions in you. Rob explained how we can have emotion built into certain events/experiences and have memories attached to it. And so it is with creating special effects; they try to work out which elements that they need to recreate for a scene that combined will give the impression of realness. For instance, clearly he didn’t go and build an entire Apollo 13 – in a car park, using a tin can, fire extinguishers, fire and wax over the camera lens to look like ice, he successfully hooked the audience into the scene.
“If you believed any of the stuff that I just showed you, what you were reacting to… what you’re emoting to is something that’s a total falsehood.”
Special effects in films can be awe inspiring, but judging by the stories shared with me, it is mind-blowing to experience this in a relationship…but not in a good way. When it comes to an end or reality bites, it can be incredibly painful and difficult to decipher between what was real and what was fake. It hurts because what was felt during those times were genuine emotions and they’re real even if someone is blowing smoke in the situation and the possibilities aren’t as real as we think.
There are certainly people out there who are very good at creating ‘special effects’ in dating and relationships (they rely on charming their way around people who are not as ‘reality vigilant’ and are possibly vulnerable), and to be fair, there are also plenty of people who are very good at creating their own special effects with their imaginations and the image that they present to the world.
People definitely enter into dating and relationships carrying a certain amount of built-in emotions and memories; some about themselves and some about previous experiences. For instance with unavailable relationships, there’s a lot of trying to ‘recreate the feeling’ whether it’s with an ex or just chasing that feeling of being loved, adored, desired etc. Equally we may be carrying around hurt and bad memories and that in itself can create a great deal of anxiety and even cause us to see danger when there isn’t or have us trying to right the wrongs of the past. These experiences in turn can end up bringing out a lot of our worst fears. Ultimately, whatever we bring into it influences how receptive we’ll be to the ‘special effects’ whether they’re our own or someone else’s.
When you consider people who ‘Fast Forward’ by using intensity to speed you through the early stages of a relationship, you can see ‘special effects’ at work. They are quite practiced at it and their cycle may be a few hours (collecting attention on a dating site), one night (a date or one night stand), a few days or weeks (a fling) or for a few months The intensity may be a mixture of words, actions and generally being out of context with how long you’ve actually known them. This is their tin can, fire extinguishers, and wax in a car park.
Of course, our own enthusiasm can trigger our overactive imagination and possibly our libido. Sometimes, we can be so eager to be in the throes of a romance, to be getting attention, to have possibilities with someone, that we end up getting high on our own supply. Of course, it’s not that we shouldn’t be enthusiastic about dating (Eau de Cynicism and Skepticism aren’t attractive) but it’s where the enthusiasm comes from – the possibility of abandoning ourselves and our own lives for the promise of someone we don’t really know yet. When we’re high on the possibilities, we like ourselves more than usual, we have an extra spring in our step, and everything that happens in the relationship gets correlated into more possibilities – even if they’re unrealistic.
Sometimes we’re so enthusiastic that we don’t remember a date or our interactions with a person as accurately as we focus on the things that make it easy to maintain an illusion and our ‘high’. We remember things ‘differently’. It’s the very simple reason why when we wake up in a less than attractive relationship and wonder how the hell we got there and play the relationship back in our mind, we suddenly spot the code red flags. Sometimes we’re so carried away that our hopes and expectations for a relationship and a person don’t really have any basis in what’s happening in reality.
When we get enthusiastic about someone because they look like someone who we’re attracted to or they have certain characteristics, qualities and values, we can fall into the trap of over-correlating that information which is where our minds end up filling in the gaps and ‘mocking up’ a person who possesses other qualities, characteristics and values. They go from being a tin can to a rocket launching into the skies.
If we are not as aware and mindful as we could be, we can also be caught out by the hallmarks of a relationship (sleeping together over a period of time, time itself passing, plans being made, meeting friends, our feelings and expectations increasing) because we don’t realise that the landmarks (commitment, shared values, progression, balance, consistency and intimacy) are absent. Let us not forget the ‘awe’ and ‘fondness’ – awe makes us operate those special effects where we inflate someone else whilst putting them on a pedestal to look back down on us. Along with fondness, we like to use them to see people in the ‘best light’ which is really us just projecting our imaginations and sometimes what we want people to think about us. We forget that the best light is reality and that we only need to do special effects for people who only seem to ‘work’ in our imaginations.
It’s not that we need to ‘kill’ our imaginations, it is more that our ‘accounting system’ doesn’t kick in and start reconciling reality with our imaginations. By the time we start to consider this or something bad happens, you may be too heavily invested in what may be a partial or total falsehood. It is our job to take responsibility for ourselves seriously and do the due diligence and to put as much effort into keeping our feet in reality as possible. Yeah it might not be as ‘exciting’ but it certainly paves the way to a happier, more fulfilling, authentic experiences, which no amount of special effects can recreate.
In my work, I notice that many people struggle with the idea of being replaceable. We like to feel that we can’t be substituted with ease and that we mattered enough that another person won’t be able to just come along and seemingly take over where we left off. We want to believe that we matter and that yes, people move on but not in a way that we feel would disrespect what we had with them. A prime example of this is after a breakup. It cuts to the core when we discover that they moved on before things had ended or had someone else in their mind and/or bed within hours or days of us leaving. We feel replaceable instead of realising that the person is clearly avoidant.
One of the things I’ve learned from looking at my old relationship habits and those of clients is that often, people who base their value on whether they feel replaced also live in fear of being replaced; spending a lot of their dating and relationship time trying to be the replacement for others.
It is the Replacement Mentality. When we look at who we spend our relationships with and what we’re basically trying to do, it is about taking the place of someone or something. It is like saying, ‘Choose me over him/her or your problems.’ or, ‘Replace him/her or your codependent behaviour with me.‘ If you make your life about competing, you may become too embroiled in what others are being and doing and you may get caught up in plotting about where you can offer a ‘competitive advantage’. Once this begins to happen, then you’re not truly respecting yourself or others.
When you’re so caught up in replacing, you don’t go in as an individual entity, knowing your own worth, values, boundaries or how to show up as yourself. You are in danger of getting too hung up on looking at what others are doing and using that to influence where you think you need to adapt to be even more pleasing than they were. You look and listen for clues as to what will make the object of your affection keep you and not look elsewhere. If they mention that they didn’t like something last time, you start scratching things off of your personality and character to stay in play. Bye bye boundaries, self respect and sense of self.
When we want to know that we are ‘better than’ someone, we wonder why they keep pining for that person when we are right there in front of them, trying to be the replacement. It is what fuels many an affair; the want for the person that you are involved with to take the other party out of their role because obviously something is wrong with that person (even though that may very well not be the case at all) and to be the ‘better option’. Even if you get the role, you might desperately want to give it back or backtrack when you realise the reality of your involvement and what it actually means to be in that position.
When you get into that competitive state of mind, what you are seeing is that you can occupy and do that role best, so you keep yourself available to be the replacement. If you see beyond the ego at play here, that role isn’t about you and actually detracts from you. In this mindset, you will barely have two self-esteem beans to rub together and in all likelihood, you will be living in perennial fear of being replaced at any moment.
When we don’t show up as an equal who is deserving of love, care and respect and who gets to choose what they do and do not want to be involved in, we’re carrying on as if we’re in the X-Factor or Dating Idol and that our job is to position ourselves to be chosen. We want the role of The Next Big Thing. The problem is that when we treat our relationships like this, aside from automatically putting the person on a pedestal and giving them far too much power, we’re basically carrying on as if this magnificent person who actually just isn’t that special, has a vacancy of ‘Good Enough person’ who will provoke me into making them the exception to my rule and closing that vacancy for good. You can see the job description including duties such as…Must be willing to run over hot coals and jump through hoops for crumbs. By trying to be the exception to the rule, you are saying that you will make yourself into whatever someone else wants you to be in order to accepted and to fill up a void. The question is, which void are you really filling, theirs or yours?
The trouble is that when we have this replacement mentality, we keep making the mistake of assuming that if a person is out of a role then it’s because they’re not good enough and that we’re being given the opportunity to replace them, but conversely, when things don’t work out for us, we then assume that it’s because we’re not good enough either and that we’re being replaced by someone who is ‘better’ than us. Round and round we go. Same script, different cast.
Its not a job vacancy. It should be a mutual relationship.
It is crucial to decide who we are and get on with this first and foremost, instead of running around as if we have no choices and that people’s wishes are just imposed upon us. You have got to show up as somebody who is getting to know their worth (or knows it) and be prepared to go through the discovery phase and mutually unfold, not to audition for a role and perform. There is no need to slip into desperation and to slot into people’s lives as if you’re a person who just goes with whatever flows their way. You matter. Trying to be a replacement gets you filling someone else’s shoes and into pretending. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Be mindful of the replacement double standard too. If you don’t like feeling as if you’re replaceable, then you have no business deriving your worth and value from trying to matter more or as much as the last person or the harem. You will lose our integrity in the pursuit and gradually forget and lose your true self. You may just end up realising that you’ve become someone that you even don’t recognise (or even like) because you’ve replaced yourself with a caricature because you do not value who you are enough. The truth is that you don’t own them and they don’t own you. What has their previous or next relationship got to do with it (got to do with it)? You will be a second rate them and they will be a second rate you. If you’re so busy trying to fill a roles that hurts you, you may miss that by being a replacement instead of being ourselves and respecting our individuality, you’re basically trying to give a person the same relationship in a different or slightly enhanced package, even if that relationship isn’t right for you or even them.
Relationships are not job vacancies. You shouldn’t be in training to take over from where your predecessor left off. You are not a replacement.
I have heard many stories from readers and clients of guys (and gals), who have moved the initial dating period along at high speed. There has been everything from declarations of falling in love and ‘I love you’ when they’d barely known them a New York minute, to conversations about babies, marriage, moving in, meeting parents and being whirled around like a show pony amongst friends, to high intensity liaisons with persistence, great sex, average sex, multiple phone calls, texts, emails AND letters in a bottle. All of these people have been whizzed at high speed through the early crucial stage of dating.
What is wrong with a bit of romance? Absolutely nothing when it is genuine. When it isn’t, it is called Fast-Forwarding. It is a technique where someone sweeps you up in a tide of intensity when they’re pursuing you and you’re dating them that you end up missing crucial red flags. They go on to either disappear when they start to feel panicky about the fact that you will want, need and expect in line with the great show they have been putting on. Or…they just revert to the ‘real them’, ripping the rug from under your feet and replacing hot with cold and someone who you barely recognise.
– Push for emotional commitment and often sexual intimacy very quickly
– Make you feel like the centre of their universe
– Distract you from looking too closely at them
– Can be emotionally demanding
– Refer to the types of plans that people who have been in relationships far longer i.e. marriage, babies, etc
– Some will introduce you to friends, family (including their children) very quickly
– Say things like ‘It feels like we have known each other for X months’ when you object to something and mention how you hardly know each other
– Can be petulant and sulky when they don’t get their own way so you quickly learn to minimise conflict
– Even though they appear to respect an asserted boundary, they may often quickly try to recross it
– Are very persistent when you’re not interested in them
– Will privately and sometimes openly think you’re The One pretty much immediately
– Will be eager to ‘title the relationship’ and demand commitment even when you hardly know each other
– Often have strings of high intensity short dalliances that fizzle out quickly
– Overestimate their level of interest
– Often veer between deflecting questions about themselves and over-sharing or telling lies and using selective omissions. People who engage in Fast-Forwarding are Future Faking, whether they directly do it by talking up a storm about plans or do it indirectly by behaving so intensely and putting so many demands on you (emotional, sexual, wanting to be with you all the time), that they let you believe that the level of intensity you are experiencing is what is on offer. You will use a number of the things that they fast-forward you with as basis to trust them with – Trust Points.
It’s crucial to remember that dating is a discovery period. You should date with a reasonable level of trust as a basis and your interactions serve as a series of checks and balances. Positive things increase your trust. Dodgy stuff should have you rolling back and assessing the risk.
Dating is a fact finding period where you should be discovering ‘facts’ that let you work out whether you can proceed, or whether you should be cautious, and/or abort the mission. If you love and trust blindly and get sucked into being moved along at high speed, you will be blind in the relationship, when you actually have a responsibility to yourself to have your eyes open.
Fast-Forwarding creates a pseudo connection. Slowing down and actually getting to know each other at a healthier pace creates a real connection. Whilst there are anomalies where people have had a whirlwind romance that progressed, in the overwhelming majority of cases, when someone wants to be intense immediately or very quickly and fast-forwards you through the relationship, it is a red flag.
Life is not a fairy tale. This isn’t Pretty Woman or a rom-com where you move at high speed to a happy ending. Doesn’t it remove the mystery and stuff to look forward to when you try to do it all very quickly? Nuff said. Being confident in yourself is also about believing that there isn’t a fire. You can take enough time to get to know each other without rushing to get your pants down and make big declarations.
Be careful. People who tend to fast-forward can go through their cycle in a few hours, a day, a night, a few dates, weeks, months, and in some cases, some can play the long game and draw it out for a year. The end result is the same – the hot tap switches over to cold or lukewarm, if you are ‘lucky’.
When you get swept up in someone Fast-Forwarding you, you will basque in the adoration. When they disappear or they replace ‘the model’ you got with a pared down version, you will wonder what was wrong with you to cause the loss of adoration. While it is very flattering when someone says they love you immediately or makes you the centre of their universe immediately, the fact of the matter is that they don’t know you enough to be sincere about it. Harsh but true.
Why do we allow ourselves to be fast-forwarded? Well, we may not like to appear to be spoilsport, many of us are not aware of the perils of red flags, and we may second guess ourselves. In a startling number of stories, most of these people had some, if not a lot of reservations about the very person that was fast-forwarding them. It is flattering when someone seems to fancy the pants off us so much that they can’t seem to want to stop ripping off our clothes or saying we’re the best thing since sliced bread. If these people are still around in a year or two and your high intensity dalliance yields into something more steady, then all to the good.
However, the problem with people who fast-forward is that they can’t cope with steadiness. They also make the mistake of being so over the top that they create expectations that they cannot deliver on. These people overestimate their level of interest because often the uncertainty of not knowing how you feel and needing to ‘win you over’ and ‘suck you in’, is what triggers their desire for you. When the relationship stops being new, they’re panicking about what you may be expecting, they’re sure of your interest and the desire loses its ‘erection’. If they’re still around and things are going from bad to worse, you’ll be getting the hot and cold treatment while thinking ‘It was so great in the beginning! What happened to that guy?’ and then sinking all your efforts into trying to retrieve the beginning of the relationship.
It’s nice to feel adored and if you’re a passion seeker that tends to talk about ‘type’ ‘passion’ ‘connection’ etc, you’ll be ripe for someone to fast-forward the hell out of you and then feel desolate and inclined to go on the validation seeking trail when things start to go wrong.
Why do you need to demand so much of the person and the relationship so early on? How much validation does the ego need? You shouldn’t have to emotionally or literally commit to someone you hardly know. There is a reason why you were not interested and whilst sometimes we get things wrong, it’s important to assess why you weren’t interested rather than just letting yourself be swept along.
If in doubt about someone’s actions and motives, the best thing you can do is put your foot down and press ‘Play’ and see how the relationship copes at a steady pace. If it’s already over, ‘Rewind’ the relationship tape and mentally play it back and you will spot the red flags.
A new client, Kat (pseudonym) is struggling with feelings of betrayal and anger after being duped and deceived by her ‘best friend’, Heather. Heather shared private and confidential information about Kat amongst their mutual friends, causing great shame and embarrassment to her. The relationship took an even worse turn after Kat discovered that a series of malicious messages that she received, apparently from one of Heather’s ‘enemies’, were in actual fact, sent to her by Heather. Perhaps worst of all, Heather used Kat to create tension between other people and even trolled her online with fictional accounts in order to make Kat believe that both she and Heather were victims of the same common enemies. When Kat discovered this quite by accident, she cut all contact with Heather. Kat came to me in disbelief and shock; not quite able to understand why this had happened. It made her question everything about her so called friendship.
In Kat’s view, Heather had used her and abused their friendship to exact a revenge on somebody else . Kat always knew that Heather was capable of lying as she had witnessed her doing it many times (sometimes they even schemed together) but she never expected that she would be the one to whom Heather lied and that she would be turned on. Did the friendship mean anything? What was the truth and what were the lies? How could a best friend and someone who called her “sis” cause her so much stress and lead her to believe that she was in danger of online abuse. It felt too overwhelming for Kat. She needed some help in processing what has happened here and acknowledging her feelings of anger and betrayal.
When the web of lies and deception was discovered, Kat felt duped. She had based her own version of reality on the lies told to her. She had said and done certain things in support, which had helped Heather, as the deceiver, to gain further advantage. Lies and deception give power, while aggressively and passive aggressively robbing power from others. It’s like holding all of the cards and being privy to knowledge that the other parties are not.
How had the situation had got so out of hand for two supposed best friends? My best friend and I have known each other for 13 years. I struggled to imagine using her as a pawn to hurt other people. You simply do not behave in the way or treat others so poorly. We do not have a connection that I would jeopardise; and vice versa. I wondered what had driven Heather to deceive in such a hurtful way and how she managed to Discount the level and impact of her betrayal? Kat felt that she was made to look like an idiot. She feels used and angry because she let her friend do it; not realising that Heather wasn’t sticking around because of a ‘ride or die’ sisterhood bond, but more because of the home she provided when Heather was homeless, the trendy holidays and dinner out to those ‘see and be seen’ places that she often funded.
The immutable truth is that a person cannot give what they do not have. If they care more about something else, such as ‘winning’ and hurting others, these will always take precedence. Kat feels outraged because Heather turned on her. However, can you legitimately expect a person who lies to themselves and to others so freely to be honest with only you? Why would they? How would they even know that they were being honest when they have not cultivated that within? Their version of truth is so patently different. Some people believe that something is true as long as they believe it. Some people say the same thing for so long that they believe their own lie and some people play a role for so long that it becomes second nature. There is an awfully big appeal in deception because it allows a person to remain in their uncomfortable comfort zone, to not open up their mind and face things and to quite simply avoid being responsible and accountable for their actions.
Kat struggled to understand how Heather could betray her so easily Kat listed all of the things she had done for her, as Heather’s only close friend; She taught her how to stand up for herself because Heather was a people pleaser and easily influenced; She listened to every jealous rant about various women and family members that Heather despised; She helped Heather to move out of a former partners home and allowed her to live with her for months. In short, Heather was truly Kat’s best friend, but now she can not honestly say that Heather felt the same. All of this makes it easy to understand why Kat feels so angry, but this doesn’t remove the responsibility to assess the situation. It seems the deeper issue here is around Heather ‘obtaining goods by deception’ – when a person is convincing you that they are the victim, and you jump in to defend and help. When in actual fact, the Persecutor had played the Victim all along.
Uncovering the fact that you have been deceived means having to manage your own mind f*ckery. You end up ‘playing back the tapes’ and going over every word. It might feel like your eyes, ears and mind were deceiving you. You might have defended the person who duped you. You might have listened to them vehemently deny what was actually true or you might (as Kat did) never have suspected them of what they’ve been saying and doing. When you play things back, certain things start to make sense, you recognise the signs of the deception and various conversations get dismantled. What was real? What was fake? This is when we discover that the same person who would screw someone else over, will also do the same to keep us exactly where they want us. Strangely enough, in spite of knowing that she was best friends with someone who lies and deceives, Kat was surprised to discover that, yep, Heather had been lying to and deceiving her too. Surprise surprise! There really is no such thing as a honest cheat.
Heather felt ashamed at being caught out and tried hard to win Kat over again. Kat felt that she was only remorseful as she had been caught out and so, she would not be able to trust her again. That’s the problem with lying and deceiving; once it’s been allowed to continue or the person has gotten away with it for a very long time, it’s incredibly difficult to know whether you’re standing in reality with them or are standing on the ‘portion’ of reality that they’ve allowed you to see. That’s why the last thing you should do when you sense or know that you’ve been deceived, is to continue to whitewash it with denying, rationalising and minimising. How does someone who has told a whole load of lies and deceived even know that they’re telling themselves the truth? You believed them when they were lying; now you’re supposed to believe them when they say it’s the truth. Those who lie and deceive can end up lonely with only their illusions to keep them warm at night, especially when the faithful harem of supporters dry up.
Being used as a pawn in someone’s game hurts, as does getting duped and run over in the process and participating in someone else’s bullshit. The main thing here is not to fool yourself – that’s a deception in itself. If you want to live your life authentically, stick to your own values. We can spend a lot of time wondering or asking why, especially if we feel like we’ve given them everything so that they wouldn’t ‘need’ to deceive and have had plenty of opportunities to tell the truth. Unless you think and act like they do, their behaviour isn’t going to make sense to you. They had a motivation. It’s like trying to think like a sociopath and wondering why they do what they do. Unless you’re inclined in that direction, you’re not going to be able to wrap your head around what they’re doing.
When we live a lie, we’re putting out falsehoods and in time we’ll look back and have little substance to hold onto and plenty of regret. It’s better for us to state and live our truth than to spend our time deceiving the hell out of ourselves in order to hold onto people who are deceiving the hell out of us. If you live your own truth, it’s difficult to live someone else’s incompatible lie.
A sad truth is that almost everybody tells lies. Family members lie, your neighbour lies and yes, even your best friend tells tales. Yet, a betrayal of trust marks the difference between a rupture that can be repaired or one that renders a relationship of any kind irreparable. The moment that you lose the trust, then arguably, you lose everything.
‘Not my circus, not my monkeys’ is a translation of a Polish proverb, used when one can look back on a former partner and relationship, whilst safe in the knowledge that they are now someone else’s problem. When a relationship is over, it’s over, right? Well it is, unless you are dealing with a narcissist. After many moons and whole years of freeing myself from the grip of one, would you believe it, just like Michael Myers in Halloween, he is back for a third attempt. His efforts to get some supply have become just plain embarrassing, because the world has moved on; except him. I am not the same person he once thought he knew, nor do I have the same perspectives or trigger points. Yet there he is, still trying the same tired old tricks. Square pegs into round holes. Wasn’t it Freud who defined insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results?
Narcissists like to play this game. They love to play the victim of their previous relationships. They will attempt to get their new target to feel sorry for them. The more they can convince the new target how awful a person their ex was, the more the new target will try to prove that they are nothing like the ex. Classic manipulation tactics. The new target will want to prove they are the very person that the narcissist deserves and can provide the right kind of love that the “poor” narcissist has been searching for. The new target may think that they have just struck gold. Little do they know. It’ll be the same new target who will tell anyone who will listen that they are perfectly okay with the extradyadic behaviour of the narcissist and who will get weirdly enraged that the narcissist has been rejected. How dare I. His reappearance will no doubt be explained away as being part of a perfectly constructed and co-created plan. Of course it is…denial and delusion are fantastic bedfellows when trying to save face and justify why you’re clinging onto a fantasy. The term codependent springs to mind.
Let us try to maintain some sympathy though, as Lord knows it is challenging and exhausting being involved with a narcissist. It is especially exhausting when they try doing a reappearing act months and/or years after the fact. So, how does the narcissist justify repeated contact attempts after a significant period of time has elapsed? The answer is in the timelessness of the hoovering tactic. You see, the narcissist lives a compartmentalised life where time basically stands still, allowing them to juggle numerous compartments, go completely silent and return to the scene of the crime as if mere seconds have passed. How do they do this? Easy! To a narcissist, time basically stands still. Like some ageing, lycra-clad super hero, they believe that they can swoop in and pick up where they left off because time and tide will be waiting for them. The thing is, time doesn’t stand still. I did not need rescuing then, and I certainly do not now. This means that the superhero is left no longer looking dashing and powerful, but rather pitiful, pathetic and a little embittered in their attempts.
At this point, there are two paths to choose between: the path of least resistance or getting the hell out of dodge. I think it goes without saying which path I took. Imagine, if you will, had I gone down the path of least resistance; re-engaged and started contemplating another proverbial trip around the mulberry bush with him. He may admit that he has issues (no sh*t Sherlock) but then make no indication of whether he is dealing with them and in fact, would probably just be resigned to them. Flattering, not. ‘I have things to offer you’, he protested. Really? He doesn’t really have anything to offer (no washed up wannabe super hero does) unless, in this case, you’re prepared to play Pollyanna. He hasn’t dealt with the issues that keep breaking his relationships and he doesn’t like to be alone. He is basically looking for a quick fix from a woman that he still believes can always rely on to get a good reception.
When the hoovering ex tries yet again to come back into my life, would I even contemplate putting my hand back in the fire? Definitely not. I steer clear of toxicity so I wasn’t exactly busting a gut to take up the role of Mummy to help sort out his sh*t for him. Life keeps throwing you the same lessons until you heed them – so understand this. Understand that the narcissist is highly unoriginal in the patterns they employ and would repeat them on anyone, given the chance. They will continue to live via these patterns, no matter who they meet. There are no exceptions and no one gets to win. It is the same script, different cast. It is a shallow and desperate existence, which is why they project this on others. They attempt convincing others that they are the same as they are because misery does indeed, love company.
You will have no regrets when you start listening to yourself and grow as an individual. Regret kicks in when time passes and you find yourself in the same situation. And so it is with a narcissist. Narcissists don’t love, they secure supply using the same tricks and trap that supply with what appears to be love, but isn’t anything near it. They repeat the exact same pattern over and over again. Whilst healthy and non pathological development means change and growth, the mentality of a narcissist precludes them from doing this.
The narcissist in point struggles to understand why he isn’t able to just insert himself back into my life and pick up where we left off. I explained yet again, he had his chance and now it is over. My life and those in it are for me to know and I see no reason to disclose details, only to have him think I’m trying to set up a Game of ‘Let’s You and Him Fight’ (Berne, 1962). I have nothing to prove to him as his opinion of me is genuinely inconsequential. I felt sad to think that someone has nothing better to do with their time but hope to show up in the lives of their exes with a text, email and friend request on Facebook and just like that, the Reset Button will be pressed. What is clear is that he finds himself in an unhappy place; isolated; few friends left and he wants out. I am not that way out. Like all adults, he needs to face up to and deal with the consequences of his poor choices.
When a narcissist goes through their mental roladex of who is most likely to still be open to them and they think of you, it is because they’re living in the past. They tend to get in touch before and/or after they’ve hurt someone else, so that you can pump them up and give them a clean bill of health, like “Look, I’m not that bad! My ex who I’ve effed over a few times will still give me the time of day!” Then, they launch themselves into their next relationship.
Now let’s get back to our pathway of choice. Using the perspective that you only get with time and distance, you have the power to draw a line under such attempts and handle them with high esteem. Remember that nobody can breeze up in your life time and again and wreak havoc without your consent. When a Narcissist is pursuing you, do not misinterpret it. What it really is, is an attempt to control you and is a complete disregard for your wishes and your boundaries. If you tell someone no and they continue to pursue, that’s incredibly disrespectful and fully indicative of someone whose only interest is in their own needs – not yours.
Narcissists need people more than most. Their entire sense of self-esteem and self-worth is dependent on the admiration of others, so their emotions are a precarious balance of needing others and having no empathy. When a Narcissist is bent on revisiting a supply, they will throw everything at you to see what sticks, much like a chef will throw pasta against the wall to see what hangs on. Extricate yourself from the cycle of insanity and see the narcissist for what they truly are. Remember the insanity of doing the same thing and expecting different results? There is absolutely nothing for you in the crazy circus. Don’t be just another monkey. In fact, you could also try not being a sheep…