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Rag on Rebound Relationships

I agree with the people who disagreed with me in my last blog entitled ‘Riding High on the Rebound.’

They emphasize the need to get to know yourself first and give yourself time to learn the lessons of the previous relationship. They suggest that there is nothing wrong with being alone. Alone does not mean lonely. Being alone offers a tremendous growth experience. The important thing is to take responsibility for your own emotional reactions and needs, rather than lay them at the feet of your new love interest. I couldn’t agree more.

My concern is and was that there are some folks out there who think they have to wait until they are no longer anxious around potential significant others before attempting to actually reach out to make new connections. They think that if they feel vulnerable it means that they are still “unhealed” and therefore not ready.

The truth is that for many abandonment survivors, no matter how long they wait, they will have fearful, vulnerable feelings when they attempt new connections. This is because, as I said in my previous blog, FEAR, rather than dissipate, tends to incubate over time. Abandonment is a trauma and feeling anxious (indefinitely) when you are around a love-object is a symptom of post trauma.

This is not to suggest that everyone should force themselves to get back out there and date. To reiterate what one of the responders said, there is nothing wrong with being alone. Being alone, you learn to be with yourself and develop emotionally independence – highly desirable goals that will help you greatly when and if you do enter a new relationship.

One client who is highly responsible about her personal growth, is holding back because in the past she has been “abandoholic” – that is, attracted only the unavailable (and gets turned off by guys who genuinely want to be with her). “I’m not ready to like the kind of guys I’d like to like,” she says, “so I’m working on changing my values first so I won’t go back into my abandonment cycle again.” Wise woman.

There are folks out there who would like a relationship, but feel they aren’t ready because, though they’ve waited six months to a year or longer, they are still anxious when attempting to be with new people.

In more extreme cases, some have come to believe they are emotionally incompetent.
”The minute I attempt to get into a new relationship, these gigantic emotional suction cups pop out all over me and they aim themselves directly at my new prey – and scare them away. It always winds up the same way – where I get abandoned – so I’ve given up.”

“I become an emotional basket case every time I try to get close to someone. I’m just not capable of a relationship.”

Believing that they need to be non-vulnerable and non-anxious before making new connections can cause a lot of them to put up unnecessary barriers and become “avoidaholic.” The longer they avoid getting back out there, the more awkward and vulnerable they feel with new people.

For the folks who have these problems but still would like a relationship, they need guidance and support from friends, sponsors, and therapists to help them negotiate the treacherous emotional waters of reaching out for love.

It is controversial to suggest that sometimes the healing work of abandonment recovery is enhanced by reaching out to make new connections. The key is to spend time with new people (notice, not a new person, but people, plural) without merging with them. The goal is to interact with others to get to know yourself better. It’s important to be clear with yourself and your ‘others’ that you are working on your emotional self-reliance, maintaining your boundaries, applying lessons learned from previous life-experiences, and learning to nurture and care for yourself – and that you are not ready to clamp on.

The fact that this is so controversial is important in and of itself. When I bring this up on talk shows, people call in with highly charged emotional responses. Some FOR, many others, AGAINST.

That says a lot right there. This is an important issue to dialogue. It might help some of those avoidaholics out there (current responders are not deemed part of this group) look at their current situation a little differently and promote some positive change. It might help those who disagree to give themselves well deserved pats on the back for achieving emotional self-reliance. Thanks for your comments.

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Categories: abandonment, Outer Child
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