Question: I’m 38, not married but want to be. I’m trying to meet suitable men and I’m successful in the initial stage, but my relationships never last. As soon as I sense the slightest indication of disinterest or withdrawal, I get really anxious and insistently call asking men why they haven’t called me or if I have done something to upset them or if there is someone else. Sometimes I say things and act in ways that I regret especially when I’ve taken some alcohol. That’s when I feel completely relaxed and free to say and do things I wouldn’t normally say. The rest of the time I really try to be the perfect woman but I think that sometimes comes off as too needy and clingy and trying too hard.
I have been hurt badly by men before and I believe that my anxiety, jealousy etc. turns them off. I have tried things like completely “blocking” my feelings but that comes across as “cold and distant.”
I’m tired of being the fall back woman who’s told she’s perfect only to be dumped. I want to be open, take risks, not freak out as soon as I sense any signs of disinterest or things not going my way and be calm and confident about whatever my future will bring. But most of all I want to be relaxed and fun. I stopped drinking but now I feel I’m just boring and tiring. Why do men always end up dumping me? Please help!
Yangki’s Answer: Sometimes it helps not to drink at all, but I don’t think alcohol is necessarily the problem here.
1. “Manage” your emotions by “letting go”
The emotions inside of you — feelings of betrayal, wondering what he thinks of you or feels about you, wondering what he is doing with his life (jealousy) etc. – all these often come surging to the surface as soon as you think things are not working out. Instead of working hard to manually “manage” your interactions with men – and I’m sure you have noticed that the canned “tricks and techniques” advocated by many dating and relationship coaches all fly out of the window the moment the emotions take over – you might want to deal with these emotions first. Emotions are a very powerful part of our make-up. It’s hard to be “relaxed and fun” when all those emotions are running all over each other. Even if you completely stop drinking, those emotions inside will find another way out.
2. Learn to accept that rejection is a healthy part of life
Neediness and clinginess are partly caused by extreme sensitivity to rejection or abandonment. Extreme sensitivity to being abandoned and/or rejected sabotages your attempts to feel cool, calm and confident when attempting to bring love into your life.
When the other person displays the slightest indication of being bored or disinterested, you take this very personally (read too much into the conversation or the interaction) because your mind is telling you that the other person is acting that way or saying this or that because he wants to abandon and/or reject you. The anxiety builds into fear and this fear makes it almost impossible for you to see the “big picture.” Instead you find yourself focusing or obsessing about why they are saying this or displaying that behaviour.
3. Learn to separate your own needs from the needs of others
When you have “expectations” of how things should BE, there is a tendency for most people to project what is going inside of them to what “must” be going on inside someone else (i.e. if I don’t call, he/she will feel abandoned) but chances are that the other person doesn’t feel the way you feel, didn’t even take notice that you did not call or doesn’t really care if you call or not. Whatever feelings you project on them are your own feelings. Again, these “feelings” and emotions cause you to insistently call, worry about what you may have done to upset them or if there is someone else.
To recognize the needs of others you must first recognize your own; to understand what someone else wants (in this case when to call and not make others feel like being pressured by a needy person) you have to become aware of not neglecting your own needs.
4. Try not to idealize the other person
When you idealize someone you barely know, you run the risk of making him “better” than he really is. You will find it difficult to express your feelings, desires, opinions or allow yourself to be “just human” with faults and weaknesses. You may not even ignore what you know you want or what you believe because it might be different from the person you so badly want to please or see you as “perfect”.
Try to take the “pressure” off by letting the other person reveal himself — his own humanity – to you in his own time, way and space. And let your own humanity show. If you don’t genuinely feel like being all “too nice”, then don’t. You may think you are being nice but the thing about energy is that it works at deeper sub-conscious level and the other person will sense whatever energy you’re working with. While some may bask in the attention (and exploit it), most feel pressured to meet your “ideal” image them. You hear words like “I can’t be myself with you” or “I need my space” or “Let’s see other people”.
But once someone sees you are just “human” they feel “freed” to be the same. Those that expect “perfection” (super human) often reveal themselves because “just human” is not good enough. Good riddance! Such people are hard to please – and can never be pleased.
There is a lot more you need to do to get to that place of “open, take risks, calm, confident, relaxed and fun” but this is a good start.