She starts to DO more.
A woman who has a strong sense of herself and is confident in her own skin is pleasurable for other people to be around. A woman who is insecure, self-conscious and fearing abandonment usually has only the “do more” set of tools in her pocket in order to try to avoid the abandonment she fears. The underlying sense of anxiety that goes with fear of abandonment usually causes other people to keep a “safe distance” from her – contributing even more to her belief that her fear of abandonment is real.
If this is you, you may to use you actions to try to bring others closer to you. You may be the friend who always gives birthday gifts, but you feel hurt if the recipient verbalizes discomfort with the uneven exchange in the relationship. You may be the one who comes in to clean a sick friend’s house, even though the recipient doesn’t feel comfortable with that degree of intimacy with you. The list of potential behaviors varies based upon your personality and your specific circumstances. Understanding the specific action of choice is less important as understanding the feelings that motivate your behaviors.
Doing more is an over reaction and it is the wrong medicine. The right medicine is for you to stop. Think. Feel. Evaluate. Make change. Not easy tasks, but stay with me . . . .
When you allow your anxiety about being connected to drive your actions, the actions make others uncomfortable and your level of discomfort never dissipates, whether you are presenting someone with a birthday gift, cleaning a friend’s home for her, or running an errand for your partner. This is because the real problem can’t be solved by using your “doing” to calm your “being.” This is especially true in intimate relationships. Your anxiety should never be the drive for your efforts toward being attractive or acceptable to your partner. The attraction should come from a sense of inner beauty, confidence and love–not fear. It is very important to examine your motivations and develop your actions based on principles of love and compassion, rather than on feelings of fear and anxiety. When you are motivated by love and compassion toward yourself, love and compassion become your natural way of interacting with others. When you begin in fear and anxiety, those uncomfortable feelings spread to everyone you attempt to connect with. In a dangerous relationship, the anxiety and fear leads to greater danger instead of less danger; no matter what you do.
Within a dangerous relationship, you naturally lose focus on yourself because your safety is always threatened. You often feel confused and perplexed by your partner’s aloof behavior. Both of you have come to believe that it is your job to please him. And you want to being. You may confused individuals.) If you are not happy and tell him so, he is likely to blame your unhappiness on you so that he doesn’t have to experience a feeling of failure.
This leaves you feeling hurt, isolated, guilty and confused. This is when you begin asking yourself the following questions: “What is wrong with him? Why doesn’t he care about my feelings?” You feels desperate to relive the warm, soothing feelings that existed in courtship before he showed you his anger. You come to believe it is your job to heal his emotions. This is where your “doing” kicks in.
You know his moods. You watch and you can tell when the next outburst will come. You begin to do all of the things that you think might calm him. If you have hadand will begin to seek validation and avoid pain by overachieving. You work tirelessly to keep your home spotlessly clean. You work out harder, thinking that losing weight will gain his affection. You dress for him. You will try anything you think will please him enough to close the emotional distance safely.
Most of the time, however, outside of your awareness is the reality that all of these attempts to capture your partner’s affections appear all the more needy to him and he feels more and more guilty about not being affectionate toward you. The result: more distance and danger within the relationship.
The solution is in you focusing on your own personal growth and emancipation process, so that you can become whole and self-sufficient enough to participate as an equal partner. In the process, you are sure to learn that as an equal partner who can validate herself, you deserve to be respected and loved. Safely, without being hurt.
Believe me, you cannot change him. You cannot please him. He isn’t interested in being pleased. He’s only interested in punishing someone else for his own sense of abandonment and failure. If he inflicts pain on you, he doesn’t have to experience his own pain. He doesn’t need to “fix” anything about himself.
And . . . . You cannot do anything about that.
© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2014 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.
In cooperation with 2bsisters, Tamara is in the process of making her recovery curriculum for domestic violence survivors available via a protected online format. This curriculum is for victims who have not yet been able to escape, those who have recently escaped and those who have been independent for a time but still need to strengthen themselves as survivors.