Communicating Vs. Connecting Emotionally – Pt2

emotional-connection-emotional-bondBuilding a strong emotional bond goes beyond “good communication skills”.

Building a strong emotional bond is about emotional intimacy.

Intimacy! Now, that’s a word that scares many of us, including the “experts”. Why? Because you can’t talk about “intimacy” without talking about vulnerability and the possibility of hurt.

When we ask for advice, we want someone to tell us how to avoid getting hurt. The last thing we want to hear is that we will get hurt and that it’s okay to be vulnerable and risk hurt. Many of us “experts” know what you want to hear, and since some of us are afraid of vulnerability and the possibility of hurt ourselves, we will tell you exactly what you want o hear:

1. Don’t call him, let him call you first (Translation: He might not be interested, don’t put yourself out there to get hurt);

2. Play hard to get, she’ll become more interested (Translation: Don’t let her know you dig her, she’ll exploit your feelings for her — and you’ll get hurt);

3. “No Contact” is the best way to go (Translation: If you don’t contact him/her, and she doesn’t contact you, you’ll both move on. No one gets hurt).

I could go on and on. What I find really sad is that the fear of vulnerability and the possibility of hurt is so much more common in North America than in many places in the world. That’s why don’t call first, play hard to get, No Contact etc, seems “normal” to most North Americans and “weird” to many non- North Americans.

When avoiding vulnerability and the possibility of hurt is your “normal”, your efforts at emotional intimacy are all about avoiding vulnerability and the possibility of hurt. Everything you do is about not getting hurt and little to do with connecting effectively or efficiently.

In your heart and in the depths of your soul, what you really, really want is to love and feel loved no matter how the other feels or acts, and no matter what they say or don’t say. You want to know you can count on each other no matter what happens. But your actions, habits and the way you behave say, “I can’t allow myself to love you so much or count on you because I fear I’ll get hurt”.

Guess what? That’s exactly what happens! YOU GET HURT.

But instead of recognizing where the REAL PROBLEM is. We wrap it up in “we have/had communication problems” and continue with the same mentality that got us where we are in the first place.

We still fear to make the first contact or call first because the other person might not respond/answer, and we’ll GET HURT. We still play silly mind games because we fear the other person will exploit our feelings for them, and we’ll GET HURT. We do “No Contact” because, hey! we don’t want to GET HURT.

If you want to love hard and deep, and feel truly loved, you have to get comfortable with being vulnerable and getting hurt.

Be the first to call, tell someone how you feel about them, keep in touch just because you enjoy having that person in your life, stop calculating every move and over-analyzing every word etc. In other words, stop being over-vigilant about getting hurt.

Will you get hurt? Possibly! But so will you if you are all the time fearing that you’ll get hurt or trying to avoid getting hurt.

— Experience deep love and get hurt OR never feel really close to anyone and still get hurt?

— Take the risk and contact your ex OR not contact him/her at all and for the rest of your life wonder what might have been?

— Tell your ex you want him/her back OR pretend you have moved on and have him/her think you have when you haven’t?

— Learn “good communication skills” OR learn to connect more effectively and efficiently?

Your choice!

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11 Comments

  • It was a bad break up, I tried not talking to him for a while, but it didn’t last. He texted me a couple of times apologizing and I texted him back taking responsibility for my role in the breakup. Since then, a day has not gone by without us texting or talking on the phone. He does not however want to talk about the breakup or old relationship, and I’m struggling to figure out if he wants me back or just wants to be friends.

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    • It’s very normal for an ex not to want to talk about the old relationship or the break-up. It’s a sign that it’s too early in the process. Given that you have not had enough emotional distance from the old relationship (see my article: Emotional Distance And How It’ll Help Get Back Your Ex), it’s actually a good thing for the long term. It’s not only healthy for the relationship but also good for your chances if both of you are ready to start fresh, not trying to recapture what’s gone.

      The best you can do at this point is not pressure him but instead focus on creating that feeling that things are new and fresh.

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  • Yangki, I absolutely love your last comment on this page. I’m in exactly the situation where I hold a lot of resentment towards my ex (who is afraid of getting close to me because of this). My question is, what if you’ve already expressed your hurt to them, and they don’t feel empathy or sorry? What if you’ve come across as needy by letting them know how they hurt you? What if you have ruined the warm feelings and good communication you have worked so hard for? Do you just have to start again?

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    • Unfortunately, yes…

      The reason most people don’t feel empathy or sorry when you express your hurt to them is because:

      1) they don’t think they hurt you (you are just being oversensitive or over dramatic)
      2) they don’t believe you are fully aware/taking full responsibility for your role in what happened
      3) they think you are not sincere in your apology/regret
      4) they don’t believe you have changed/can change

      When you “ruined the warm feelings and good communication you have worked so hard for”, you sent the message that nothing had changed. Every time this happens, it gets harder and harder to get the other person to warm up to you.

      Make sure you work on what’s causing you to have to restart things over. After a certain number of tries, the other person won’t want to do it again.

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  • Thank you for this article! This is refreshing and needed information. I appreciate the suggestion of connecting effectively and efficiently, instead of just working on better communication. I recall you also said in your eBook to pose thoughtful questions and be ready for whichever way things go. I have been doing this and we seem to finally be on the same side of many issues we previously fought over. My question is, how do I stop myself from bringing up how much he hurt me? We get along so well, until someone says something about the past. Any suggestions will be very much appreciated.

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    • I don’t see how else you can stop yourself from bringing up how much he hurt you other than let go whatever hurt feelings you are holding on to.

      Trying to talk it over with him at this stage in the process is just not wise. It will only end up in an unnecessary tension and ruin the warm-feelings and good communication that you have worked hard for. On the other hand, trying to suppress them for the sake of getting along, as you are finding out isn’t helping much. The hurt keeps coming back up.

      Letting go is your only option, if you want this relationship to have a chance. There may come a time later on when you are able to talk about whatever he did without so much hurt feelings, or him getting defensive about it. If it’s not something so important that it requires a talk, you may even find that there is no need to bring it up again.

      Remember (I have written this in many other articles), letting go is not the same as saying it’s okay that he hurt you or that you deserved it, letting go is accepting that at this point in time there is nothing you can do to change the past, you can only work on making a better future!

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  • My ex says I’m a “negative person” and although she says she still loves me she does not want to come back because I drag her down emotionally. I try to be positive but when she brings up things from the past, I have to defend myself against her false accusations. Am I just supposed to take it while she says all these lies about me?

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  • I was together with my ex for 4 years and he broke up with me a few weeks ago. It’s our third breakup. I was prepared to never talk to him again until I started reading your blog. I want to contact him but I also want him to be scared of losing me again. He has also not apologized for the breakup, so I think that if contact him I’m losing my dignity, and he will not respect me. How can I make sure that this time he wants to be with me?

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    • I understand the part about not wanting to lose your dignity, however, I think that something is faulty about your thinking.

      1. When someone breaks up with you (3 times), there is a good reason why, at least as far as he is concerned. He doesn’t have to apologize for doing what he believes was good for him.

      2. Being scared of losing you is not a healthy foundation for any relationship. In fact many of the things people do to make the other not leave are the very things that make him/her leave.

      I don’t know if he will want to be with you again or if this relationship can even work, but if it does, you have to create healthy conditions for someone to want to stay. I know it sounds like it’s all your fault and that you have to do all the work, but that’s because the only person you can change or make do anything is you. You do what you have to do, and do it to your best, and let the rest take care of itself. The more you try to control him or control what happens, the more you will make things worse.

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