Naked Truth: Is Someone You Love Pushing You Away?
Hi Lisa. I just lost a great woman I’ve been dating for the past year. It was going really well, but then she started nitpicking about things about me that never seemed to bother her before—my dog, where I live—and said she needed space to find herself again. I’m happy to give her that, but it’s been almost three weeks now and I haven’t heard from her. Her family says she’s confused and hurting. It’s painful knowing she’s suffering and there’s nothing I can do to help. I love her and her six-year-old daughter, and I was ready to ask for her hand in marriage… but I can’t wait forever. My question is, do I give her space and see what happens or just let her go?
I am so sorry you’re going through this. I can tell you really care about this woman. From everything you wrote, it sounds like she has an “avoidant” intimacy style that is causing her to push you away. She’s afraid of getting close and needing someone. The closer the two of you become, the more uncomfortable it gets for her. This fear is so powerful that it causes her to nitpick and push you away. What’s tricky is that she doesn’t know that her fear is what’s causing her to feel uncomfortable. She thinks the reason she starts to feel uncomfortable around you is because you’re not the right person for her.
There are some excellent relationship books that could help you understand attachment styles better. I would start with one called “Attached.” Ninety-nine out of a 100 of my clients who read it say they love it! Two other excellent books about adult attachment theory are “Hold Me Tight” and “Wired for Love.” Another option to consider—if she’s willing—is to see a therapist with her. If she is, in fact, avoidant, she will need the help of a therapist understand where her urge to run away is really coming from and how to stop it. You might also want to take a quick compatibility quiz on the “Attached” website. Here’s the link: www.attachedthebook.com/compatibility-quiz You can see what both of your attachment styles are. This information can be crucial to understand what’s happening. From what you’ve written, you seem to have a secure attachment style. When a secure person is in a relationship with someone who is avoidant, it can cause the secure person to become anxious.
My last word of advice: don’t get defensive and block her. I know she broke up with you and it’s really painful, but women are funny. Sometimes, we push men away when we really want them to come back. If you truly adore her like you say you do, I suggest you read these books (or listen to them on audio) and then give her copies. It will be a revelation for both of you. I would love to know how it goes. If you see a therapist, try to find someone who”s done some trainings with John and Julie Gotman or Sue Johnson.
I wish you the very best. I hope this helps, Rick. You sound like a good man.
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