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):
- Secure – This is the most desirable style where all is pretty much good
- Anxious – This isn’t so good and can be seen as needy or clingy, desperately seeking intimacy and needing validation from a partner
- 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
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
- Emotional stinginess
- Constant emotional highs and lows
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…
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.
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.
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.