In my last post (3 reasons why intimacy is scary), I talked about how delicious it is to share deep love and caring with your partner, and gave some reasons why intimacy might be scary. When you are afraid to get too close (which most of us are to some degree) you develop ways to push your partner away. Becoming aware of your push-away behaviors is the first step toward change. Here are 3 examples:
1) Loading up your life with activities, either work or play, so there’s no time to be together. “Oh, I really want to have intimate talks and make love with you, but I’m too tired from working so hard for us.” Translation: “Stop bugging me, can’t you see I’m sacrificing for us?”
2) Bringing up subjects that push your mate’s buttons at the most vulnerable times like right after making love. “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, sweetie, but I notice you’re putting on a little weight.”
3) Continually focusing on your partner’s weaknesses, either by being overly critical, or carrying on secret wars against them in your head.
Many times your actions come at the most bewildering times–like when you’re having fun and getting along swimmingly, then BAM! out pops a push-away behavior. Why then? Because you’ve been overloaded with more intimacy than you can handle so you do something to put yourself back into your comfort zone. Keep in mind, the motive behind these behaviors is probably not conscious. But whether conscious or not, they inevitably lead to an argument, a fight, or inflict so much hurt that your partner withdraws. Either way, you have created distance…comfortable, but hardly satisfying.
So what do you do if this is your pattern? Here are 3 steps you can take:
1) Become aware of the specific things you do to push your partner away (as in the examples above) and notice when you do them. Please don’t judge yourself…just notice.
2) Feel the consequences of your behavior…“We’re fighting again. I feel lonely. I’m sad to see my partner hurting.” When you allow yourself to feel the negative consequences of your behavior, it gives you the motivation to change.
3) Do something different. For example, when you find yourself pushing away and creating distance, you could say, “I realize that I started a stupid argument because we’ve been so close and I got scared. I’m sorry, honey, I don’t want to hurt you. I didn’t mean what I said. I really want us to be close.”
If you allow your fear of closeness to stop you, you deprive yourself of the exquisite feeling of deep love and trust with your partner. Most of us have experienced that kind of intimacy at least for moments at a time. It’s good to remember those moments and use them as a reference for how you want to feel. And remember, as you’re taking steps to change, please be kind to yourself. You’re not bad. Just learning a way to have more in your life. Believe me, the journey is well worth it!
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, www.infidelityandaffairs.com and buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (both print and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble.