Another Disorder! Is Anyone “Normal”?

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Well, I am surprised, but I’m not surprised.  While trying to understand the quick, recent, and apparently final departure of my girlfriend of just shy of 6 months, I came across some interesting data that explains many things.  At the same time, it makes me wonder 1) If I will ever find anyone, and 2) If I will be with them a year or more later.  Let me explain…

Having gone through a painful divorce from my narcissistic ex-wife almost 3 years ago, I learned a lot about narcissism.  I didn’t even know such a thing existed until she left for the fourth and final time.  It also allowed me to determine that I displayed co-dependent tendencies.  As a result, I have worked on eliminating the co-dependency issues from my life over the last couple of years.  I thought I had figured out what I needed to know to move on and be successful.  Not so much.

 

My girlfriends unexpected “ghosting” a little over a week ago caused me to do some more research, as things just didn’t seem to add up.  The internet is an amazing thing, and I came across something that I do NOT recall seeing during all of my research on narcissism (and I did a LOT).  Apparently we all have an “attachment style” with the main 3 being (and I am summarizing – there’s lots of data available by searching):

  1. Secure – This is the most desirable style where all is pretty much good
  2. Anxious – This isn’t so good and can be seen as needy or clingy, desperately seeking intimacy and needing validation from a partner
  3. Avoidant – This isn’t so good either and is seen as being independent and not really needing anyone.  In fact, the avoidant fears intimacy and will do almost anything to escape it

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Being a recovering co-dependent, I recognized my underlying style as “anxious”, although with the work I have done to curb my co-dependency, I am sliding into the secure style.  I proved this to myself during the recent breakup by sincerely apologizing to my girlfriend once, and then not calling or texting again.  It has been 10 days.  There’s been no pleading, no begging, no “just one more chance”.  I feel a bit helpless, but I know its the right thing to do (or not do in this case).

Here’s the thing – Once I started researching the Avoidant style, I determined that it fit almost all of the attributes of my girlfriend.  Some of the attributes include:

  • Refusal or inability to acknowledge your feelings
  • Secrecy
  • Emotional stinginess
  • Constant emotional highs and lows

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I have been keeping a journal ever since the crap with my narcissistic ex began several years ago, and I have kept one while dating this woman too.  It is fraught with confusion and questions.  First off, she never acknowledged or indicated that she loved me and, in fact, never even acknowledged that she even really liked me.  Yes, most of the time she acted like she did, but she essentially refused to communicate it.  She clearly knew how I felt about her as I would tell her how I felt, how she looked, what I loved about her, but she would just look at me.  Hmmm…

 

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In hindsight, I knew little about her.  Yes, I met all of her family (father, sisters, brother, her kids, friends, etc.), but I knew little about her past, other than her hatred and contempt for her ex-husband.  She simply didn’t say much, and pressing her for data would be met with either silence, changing the subject, or an indication she didn’t want to talk about it.  I figured eventually she would talk about it.  Knowing what I know now, probably not.

We already talked about her inability to share her feelings and thoughts.  It goes further.  She would never compliment me, whether it was on how I looked, something I had done, some little success that I had that I shared.  Actually, once in a awhile she would give me a tidbit, but you could tell it was hard for her to do.  On top of that, I used to massage her and rub her and touch her all the time.  I always wondered why she didn’t return the favor (and we are talking months and that I was touching her constantly).  Now, knowing they cannot be intimate as it challenges their independence and their need to not let anyone get too close, I can understand.  Touching someone in that way is a sign of intimacy.  Strangely, she loved for me to do that to her, but there was never any reciprocation.

I am sad and almost embarrassed to say that I simply got used to the emotional highs and lows.  I never quite knew who I was going to get on a given day.  She would sometimes go on a rant about some subject that I had broached (God for example), and I would just sit there wondering what just happened.  A few minutes later, it was as if it never happened.

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Sadly, most of the data on attachment styles say that a relationship with an avoidant is not likely to survive more than a few months as they start to feel things getting too close and simply jump ship.  Research also indicates a good majority of potential online dates are avoidant, as “secure” types are already in good relationships, and that avoidant’s simply continue the “find and dump” process, resulting in them repeatedly ending up in the dating pool.  Isn’t that great news?

Right now, I am at a loss.  I do not really know what to do differently.  The silence in my life (once again) is deafening.  No, I am not as needy as I used to be and I am able to control my urges to engage when I know that I shouldn’t.  No matter, being with someone for 6 months pretty much non-stop only to have them disappear due to a mutual mistake that we both made is hard to understand and even harder to overcome. Sadly, I now know that this relationship was destined for doom before it even started.  Even sadder is knowing my now ex-girlfriend is likely to repeat this over and over as I do care for her a great deal.  I miss her and I certainly didn’t see this coming.

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I think I am going to stop researching things now.  It gives all the indications that my chances for success in a relationship are getting smaller and smaller.  Yes, I still believe there is someone out there, and I am also getting smarter about recognizing what may and what may not work, but I really wish it wasn’t this hard.  Stupid disorders.

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9 thoughts on “Another Disorder! Is Anyone “Normal”?

  1. Hi Laurel. Thanks for the feedack. I get that, that we are all screwed up somehow, some worse than others. Sadly, I want to understand things, whatever that means. I know understanding human behavior and emotions is a crazy thing and has so many tentacles and nuances that it is nearly impossible, but I couldn’t help but try to figure out why what happened actually happened. It just seemed so outrageous given the event that preceded it.

    I also now struggle with understanding there are people out there that simply don’t want to be loved, or at least don’t want to get close to someone. Until now, I thought that was a pretty common desire. Even my narcissistic ex-wife wanted to be loved and reciprocate in her own crazy way. To meet and be with someone that can only take and not return is just strange, although I am glad to know they exist. They want you to get close to them, but they don’t want to get close to you. Weird.

    Yep, I guess I want to compartmentalize, to put everything into a nice square box. I know, that isn’t really possible. I will back off on the research for a bit. I don’t really want to know anymore.

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  2. Have you read any of Jeb Kinnison’s work on avoidants? He goes further into “fearful avoidants” and “dismissive avoidants.” Oddly enough, I think I’m more of an avoidant than anxious. I think I have a fear of intimacy and am attracted to avoidants (and narcissists) because they feel safer. I am more comfortable working to gain someone’s approval than having it right away. My ex was not big on compliments or telling me he loved me but I felt like it was ok because he acted/showed me he felt that way (or so I thought). Honestly, I though he was crazy about me! I had been doing so great moving on until I made the mistake of going on Instagram and seeing a happy photo of my ex, my replacement and her kids…ouch, I guess it still really hurts. It doesn’t help that like you said, the loneliness is deafening. At least you’re out there trying to meet someone, I haven’t done anything, no on-line dating, nothing. My problem is I’m attracted to the bad boy and guess how that works out? BAD! I still can’t believe you never heard back from that girl, it has to be hard not to text something.

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  3. Hi Eclipse. I haven’t read that specific person’s work, but I have read about all of the different types. I’m taking a break from anymore research as it is exhausting at this point and, sadly, it doesn’t change anything. I’m glad to know about it going forward though.

    Regarding wanting to text my ex-girlfriend, not so much. I believe the tenacity with which I implemented No Contact with my narcissistic ex-wife has enabled me to stay in control of my thoughts and actions here too. Yes, once in awhile I will have the old “I wonder what she is doing” thought, but I quickly dismiss it with the fact that I haven’t heard ONE WORD from her in two weeks now. That is f’d up and it takes a special kind of… person, to be able to do that. Besides, when I evaluate the past few months, I can see all the actions of her need for independence and only going so far and then pulling back. A couple of examples include silly things like we went kayaking near her house and she was always way in front of me. I’m thinking we would be withing talking distance, but no, she was always way ahead. I remember thinking at the time, “why is she going so fast”. Same thing happened when we were on bikes once. She had gotten way out in front of me and I had lost site of her. I actually stopped at a nice spot thinking she would come back looking for me. Nope. Later, I found her a mile or so up the road sitting at a spot. She didn’t ask what happened or where I was. It was really quite weird and, again, I’m asking myself at the time “what does this mean”.

    There are quite a few other quirks and things that she did that I couldn’t understand at the time that now make sense. With that said, I don’t want to keep going through that with her and I suspect it would be another roller coaster ride.

    On that note, Eclipse, you have got to stop stalking your ex. What did you think you were going to find? You knew before you looked what you were going to see. That ship has sailed. In fact, that ship has sunk and you need to leave it at the bottom of the sea. It does you no good to keep looking at what is going on because it is always bad. Besides, you already know that he is not acceptable, that he will never be able to give you what you really want (or need), ever, so move on and find someone that will. That person is out there somewhere. Hang in there, and know that you don’t need to know what he is doing. You deserve better.

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  4. I know you’re right, I don’t know why I torture myself. You know what I really want to find when I look? Some sign that they are breaking up or that she’s miserable. Why do I even need that when I already know that he’s not a good person? I suppose it’s the whole fear that she’ll get all the good (which was great) and none of the bad (which sucked) &that somehow I’m missing out. My logical head knows that’s not true. Your examples of your girlfriend doing subtle “off” things were relatable. With my ex, he would walk way ahead of me or would sit on his lazy boy instead of next to me on the couch. Not huge deal breakers but little
    indictions of his mindset. I get not wanting to read anymore about pathology because it gets to be too much but sometimes when I’m feeling down, reading research helps me to get out of my emotional thoughts and back into logic and facts. It helps me not take things so personally.

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    • Here’s the thing – she is getting all the good… for awhile. Just like what happened to you, soon she is going to be wondering what happened, and on to the next he will go, all the while trying to keep you and her and the new one all interested at the same time. It’s the way it is and looking at what he is doing isn’t going to change anything.

      You know you’ve got to let it go. The sooner you do the sooner you can move on. One day, you are not going to care about him and all you are going to think of is what an ass he was and what he missed out on.

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  5. You’re right, overall I’m doing much better, I just sometimes slip into old habits. Being alone is difficult but being with the wrong person is worse. I know you’ve had 2 disappointing girlfriends after your ex, but you too deserve better. Good for you for letting them both go instead of trying to stay together to avoid being alone. Sometimes I’m embarrassed at how much crap I put up with from my ex just to make sure he didn’t break up with me. And you’re right, now the new girl is doing the exact same thing and will suffer the same result. Not only that, she has her kids involved since they moved in together. Things are not back to normal for me where I don’t still think about it but everyday things are getting easier and better. Slowest process EVER but hey, it’s progress!

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  6. You know, I know a lot about attachment disorders and issues stemming from insecure attachments to our primary caretakers. I run a support group for people intimately affected by those with Cluster B psycho-pathologies, and my whole career is now dedicated to this cause. It’s a sign of healing for us to educate others. It’s very hard to explain what we went through in normal terms because these experiences are so abnormal. I love your genuine sharing. Thank you.

    I hope you meet a woman who will relate so intimately to your pain with genuine care and concern. The mirroring and the Cluster B’s ability to mirror back to us what we may be needing is such a craft. How they do it so well is crazy, but at the same time, we could probably do that, too. It’s just that we’re not so sinister and motivated by selfish desires. Like you, I was very anxiously attached, but the further I get in my recovery, the more secure I’m becoming.

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    • Thanks for the feedback. I honestly have learned more about human behavior in the last 3-4 years. It is truly more than I ever wanted to know (although it is helpful now). As far as meeting someone that will relate, part of me is concerned to even communicate some of the things I have experienced. I’m not sure everybody would understand and I imagine it would alienate some women. I hope you are right, that I can meet someone that understands what has occurred.

      I truly appreciate your comment. Thanks again.

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