How to Break A Pattern Of On-Again-Off-Again Relationship


Question: How I am the aloof type through and through. I know this about myself, but then I don’t see it as some sort of game. I truly just enjoy my ‘me’ time and have become quite a bit more introverted as I’ve aged. Some people cannot handle that and attempt to cling or get jealous of such things as my wanting to stay in and read a book.

I have become painfully aware of my penchant for becoming involved in push-pull relationship dynamics. I desire that closer intimacy, but can never quite reach it. And I know I do this to myself by choosing the relationships that I choose. I even know that this stems from not feeling worthy and fear of that intimacy I desire. I’ve read the books, taken the classes, etc… but it hasn’t changed a whole lot. Sure, I like me a lot more and that is good, but the pattern seems to always creep back in there.

It’s actually made me feel that maybe I should simply remain romantically alone, which is what I have done for the vast majority of my life. So anyway, I’ve written this to simply ask, what in your opinion is the best way to break this pattern?

Yangki’s Answer: Enjoying one’s “me time”, being introverted and intentionally making oneself inaccessible in order to affect someone else (acting aloof) are three very different behaviours that can and do exist separately or together.

Some people who are extroverted can and do truly enjoy their “me time”. Some people are naturally introverted and that’s just who they are, it is not an “act”. Then there are people who “act aloof” but can’t stand their own company. They intentionally seek out people who have clingy, needy, jealousy, etc. tendencies because it gives them that “high” of acting aloof and having these people fall all over themselves. It kind of makes the person “acting aloof” feel desired, wanted, valued or something.

And then there are people like you who are aloof type because of not feeling worthy and fear of intimacy. The aloof thing is not a game you play consciously but one that is played out sub-consciously in the type of relationships you choose.

All emotionally mature and emotionally healthy people enjoy there “me time”.  The “me time” becomes a “problem” if it’s keeping you from experiencing intimacy with someone else – that is, if you even want intimacy with another person in the first place.

To try to change any pattern, you just don’t address the set of behaviours, you must also address the root course. In some instances, just reading books may help but in others you may need to seek help from a professional who can and will help you with how the people you choose are your attempts to replay some past issues to try and “make it right.”

From experience (personal and professional), I know that fear of intimacy is really fear of “being known”. It’s the fear of “being truly known” (physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually and spiritually ). Just you… exposed and vulnerable.

It’s only in this place of  “exposed and vulnerable” that you can truly experience intimacy.  Sometimes (and often times) opening and exposing yourself to someone else (no offense intended) puts you at risk of being hurt.

It’s this fear of the risk of being hurt that makes some people talk too much about nothing personal, act superficial, play mind games, wear masks (and “multiple personalites”), over please, act aloof or avoid relationships altogether.

Besides reading books and attending classes (which are all very “safe” because there is no emotional “risk” involved), how are you reaching out to others and sharing yourself? And what have you done to allow yourself to be vulnerable, not just one time but consistently, even knowing that you could be rejected or hurt?

This is the subject of my next post on Love Mistakes – with holding self (presence, attention, feelings, love, sex etc.) You might want to check it out.

There is also a post I wrote what I think has some helpful tips for beginning to let oneself be “truly known” intimately – Can Emotionally Cold and Unavailable Person Change?

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  1. says: Clickmaster

    I wasn’t raised to spontaneously express my feelings. For a long time I felt I had to train myself to doing so in an acceptable way. I’ve never been happier.

  2. says: Bart P.

    I clicked on this post because it was on the latest comments. I was pleasantly surprised that you mention the concept of “being known” and its connection to intimacy. Very few people understand it, let alone talk about it. I’m reading a book on it right now and what it basically says is that “being known” is an innate human need and is what drives almost all of our actions and that loneliness is not so much about lack of knowing other people but rather the lack of being known. It also says there is no true intimacy unless we’re truly known and loved for who we really are. The gentleman who said he feels he should remain romantically alone is denying himself not only the experience of true intimacy but also of being truly loved. I felt the same way before reading this book but I’m convinced I felt that way because I had never really allowed anyone to “know me”, not even my close family members. I’m slowly allowing myself to be exposed and vulnerable and altho the fear is still there, the feeling of being known is so much more fulfilling.

    Well, that’s just my 20 cent input. Very nice blog.

    1. That’s deep! You are definitely on the right track towards true intimacy and I’m excited for you…

      I use the “Knowing Vs. Being Known” concept a lot in my work and it’s amazing how when people get hold of it’s “truths” they wonder why it just never was so obvious to them. Results are visible immediately. I actually find it better than the “talk therapy” approach. Many people caught in “find the root causes” appraoch get stuck in looking for “skeletons” in their childhood, past etc. Many more end up using the past as an excuse/reason for everything wrong in their lives. With “Being Known”, one takes resposnsbility for one’s actions (and life) in the PRESENT (like you’re doing… !!!)

  3. says: hailey

    there is certainly nothing wrong with ‘me time’.i’m a self confessed introvert through and through and love my me time but if you want that special someone i think maybe a little balance between both would be good as long as your not being completely selfish with your time all the time then there shouldnt be too much of a problem.but i think the real problem with potential partners is not your ‘me time’its probably more that your quite unavailable alot and seeming not too bothered about new romantic endevours..i say get to the surface of the real reason you keep people at a distance and involve yourself in unhealthy push/pull games.i think maybe you built a wall around you to protect you from hurt but thats the same wall thats protecting you from real intimacy and in order to break this pattern you have to ask yourself what fear did this wall stem from to begin with.if you get to the root of this fear you can break the pattern of what holds you back and find that intimacy your looking for,hope my rambling helps:)

  4. says: redstripes

    I really like the way you addressed this issue. I think most people miss the fact that intimacy is more about the relationship you have with yourself than anything else. Like the asker, I wanted so bad to have that close intimacy with a woman and bought books about intimacy. They seemed to be a mixture of grooming, what to wear, smile and body language, how you introduce yourself, how to talk and engage women, escalate seduction etc. I didn’t feel I made much progress, though. There were many reasons for this, but the main one, in retrospect, was a misunderstanding of what intimacy is really about.

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