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Second Date Revulsion

An astute client of mine coined an expression the other night: SECOND DATE REVULSION. She was referring to a few disappointments she’d had recently in the dating world, and in a phrase, managed to capture a syndrome plaguing the love-lives of millions of people. You feel some chemistry when you start seeing someone. It builds your hopes and you think, “This time I found the one!” And then you go on another date and the real person shows up rather than the fantasy person on whom you’ve projected all of your wishful thinking. And here is the clincher: If this new person remains fully available and sincerely interested in a relationship with you, you panic. You don’t know why, but you go from feeling those little butterflies of love to emotionally nauseous.

You were inside a bubble of “feeling that special connection” (oh, what biochemical bliss!) and now that bubble has inexplicably burst. You’re no longer intoxicated. The sober reality of that person’s emotional availability – and all if its attendant needs and expectations – have triggered something in you, and you automatically go into romantic shutdown mode. This is not a happy state, because it sends you right back to where you started – alone. It’s the crash following the high.

The irony is that Second Date Revulsion does not set in if your new person remains emotionally detached, keeps you at arms length, or seems to have other (possibly better) prospects. Under these conditions, you might get hooked by the challenge and/or feel so insecure that you can’t sustain your emotional cool. Either way, your relationships get nipped in the bud because you freak out. Do your friends have this syndrome? Do you?

To get out of this vicious cycle, it helps to understand the dynamics. Second Date Revulsion is one of many love-wrecking patterns governed by your hidden nemesis – your self saboteur – your Outer Child.

What is Outer Child?

For those not already initiated, Outer Child is the part that acts out your inner child’s feelings – especially your abandonment feelings – without giving you, the adult, a chance to intervene. When you feel hurt, insecure, or challenged, Outer can act out these feelings in ways that sabotage your relationships and your life-goals. Outer works like a bungling undercover agent to protect (overprotect) you from the potential hurt of being left. Stealthy, quick, and misguided, it intercepts love before you ever know what happened.

Recognize that the underlying cause of your self-sabotage is none other than abandonment fear. This primal fear can split off in two ways – either fear of annihilation– the fear of being rejected, left by someone you love – or fear of engulfment – the fear of having to abandon yourself, lose your autonomy, or lose your option to find an even better partner.

As you attempt new relationships, abandonment fear causes your emotional pendulum to swing back and forth between the extremes of fear of annihilation and fear of engulfment. When this fear remains unresolved, the pendulum never rests long enough in the middle to form healthy attachments.

The primal fear of abandonment is multi-faceted in the ways it manifests in relationships (you can take one of the surveys in my WORKBOOK to find out which ways it interferes in yours). It’s important to recognize and deal with this fear so that you can heal from the inside out, and adjust the mechanism that drives your self-defeating love patterns.

An important aspect to the healing mechanism is gaining self-wisdom. Recognize that infatuated feelings of “chemistry” are often false feelings, especially if you’re like millions of others who, thanks to early abandonment histories, have your emotional wires crossed — and you’re only “attracted to the unavailable.” When you can clearly see – without denial and projection – how self-defeating it is to pursue people who are either unavailable or downright rejecting, you are ready to base your choices on your real values, not on “biochemistry.” Choose on the basis of what you know you truly need in a person, on what you know a good person to be.

When you’re love-wires have been crossed, you need to take yourself in hand and make sure that your new choices in partners are realistic choices. Go ahead and enjoy real life experiences with someone. Only through courage, consistency, time, and conscious choice can a lasting, quality connection develop.

Categories: abandonment, Outer Child
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