“Why do I always end relationships just when we’re getting close?”
“I always find myself wanting to break up when relationships get to a certain point.”
“I always burn my support people out after just a few months.”
Different stories, but with some similar feelings and undercurrents.
Someone tells a friend, “I don’t know why…..I just start to despise the person I’m with. All of a sudden, it’s like he can’t do anything right. It’s a different reason every time, but……it’s frustrating! Is it just that I have high standards? Have I just not found the person for me? Is my “picker” broken and I keep getting with losers? Or am I being too critical?”
Another person gets dismissed after a few months, and has been broken up with yet again, and she wonders aloud, “What is this? Do I keep picking people who are unavailable and insensitive? Or am I expecting too much?”
Sound familiar? Some people experience this kind of thing anytime they get close to someone: friend, lover, therapist, even a group of friends. Others have lots of stable relationships, but particular ones and particular kinds of closeness elicit this kind of push-away.
The good news, if this is your struggle, is that there’s something really rich to be seen, heard, learned about, right in the middle of those sticky feelings right at that 6 month (or however many months or weeks it is for you!) mark.
That mark is right where your History is probably kicking in. Those old scripts about the world and about relationships. It’s where you’re confused, disoriented, sad, angry, and pained, that you are in touch with something within that can be transformed.
I had a client once who, whenever she felt people begin to like her, would begin to panic and to feel her dreaded need again. It was an agonizing need, a frustrating place for her to be, because she would feel, all of a sudden, LOTS of need for LOTS of contact and reassurance. At the same time, she felt terrible shame and fear. She had a long history of people rejecting her once she started calling too much. Close friends suddenly were accusing her of being too much, pushing the boundaries……and she knew they were right. Yet she didn’t know how to stop this pattern without a self-imposed, rigid exile from closeness. Turns out that this place in her that called people so many times was a place that really DID need help. A focused kind of help and attention that somatic, connection-focused therapy began to meet. There was a very young, scared part of her that needed help to feel seen, met, held, and safe. Once she could take that in, her grown up part became capable of doing relationships differently. And that little one in her could feel the care of others without that “more more more” thing kicking in. Big relief!
Another person I worked with began to dismiss people when they got to a certain point of closeness. He was an expert fault-finder, and could always see validly what in others was of concern. His biggest pet peeve, however? “Neediness.” People were always too needy, he said. Turned out that there was a young part of him that had unmet needs, a part who had learned early on to turn away from those needs — to suppress tears, to “get alone” to find himself where there would be no ridicule. Meeting this young part and helping the defender of this young part to relax both enabled him to embrace both his vulnerabilities and the vulnerabilities of others. His relationships improved a lot and others remark now on how much more open, soft, he seems to be.
Relationship healing can happen. It’s those bewildering feelings that keep coming up over and over again that offer the clues as to what needs healing within you.
Often, what feels like intractable behavior is something covering over precious parts of ourselves with simple needs, yearnings, desires. These places can be found, met, transformed.
And this can free you to be who you really are meant to be in relationships. And to begin to have relationships that last longer, if you want them!