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Addicted to Chasing Unavailable Lovers: Outer Child is a Notorious Abandoholic – Part 1

September 9, 2011 2 comments

Outer Child is a Notorious Abandoholic

© Susan Anderson 2010

What is Abandoholism?

You’ve heard of food-oholism, work-oholism, shop-oholism and, of course, alcoholism. Now here comes another, most insidious, addictive pattern – abandoholism.

Abandoholism is Outer Child’s tendency to become attracted to unavailable partners. Abandoholism is one of Outer’s most insidious patterns, and it is shared by millions.

Abandoholism is similar to the other “oholisms,” but instead of being addicted to a substance, you’re addicted to the emotional drama of heartbreak. You pursue hard-to-get partners to keep the romantic intensity going, and to keep your body’s love-chemicals and stress hormones flowing – an intoxicating brew to which you become both physically and emotionally addicted.

What makes someone an abandoholic?

Abandoholism sets in when you’ve been hurt so many times that you’ve come to equate insecurity with love. When your wires get crossed like this, unless you’re pursuing someone you’re insecure about, you don’t feel in love.

Conversely, when someone comes along who wants to be with you, that person’s availability fails to arouse the required level of insecurity. If you can’t feel those yearning, lovesick feelings, then you don’t feel attracted. Your Outer Child has taken hold and got you caught up in a pattern of pursuing unavailable partners. You’ve become neuro-biologically addicted to the high stakes drama of an emotional challenge and the love-chemicals that go with it.

This abandonment compulsion is insidious. You didn’t know it was developing. Until now you didn’t have a name for it: Abandoholism is a new concept.

Insecurity is an aphrodisiac.

If you are a hard-core abandoholic, you’re drawn to a kind of love that is highly combustible. The hottest sex is when you’re trying to seduce a hard-to-get lover. Insecurity becomes your favorite aphrodisiac. These intoxicated states are produced when you sense emotional danger – the danger of your lover’s potential to abandon you just when you start to attach.

At the other end of the seesaw, you start to turn off and shut down when you happen to successfully win someone’s love. If your lover succumbs to your charms – heaven forbid – you suddenly feel too comfortable, too sure of him to stay interested. There’s not enough challenge to sustain your sexual energy. You interpret your turn-off as his not being right for you.

How about following your gut?

If you’re an abandoholic, following your gut is probably what got you into this mess in the first place. Your gut gets you to pursue someone who makes your heart go pitter pat, not because he’s the right one, but because he arouses your subliminal fear of abandonment. And your gut gets you to avoid someone who is truly trustworthy, because he doesn’t press the right insecurity-buttons to create the aphrodisiac.

Enrich your mind. Follow your wisdom. But until you overcome your abandonment compulsion, don’t follow your gut – it will only get you into trouble – because your gut tells you that unavailable people are attractive.

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I Love You, but You Don’t Turn Me On

April 6, 2011 2 comments

Someone wrote to my Forum at http://www.abandonment.net about his partner of 20 years never being turned on by him. He claimed that she had been hot with other lovers outside of the marriage, but with him there was “No Lubrication” (title of his post).” They are in therapy and he asked if there is hope.

I told him, yes there is hope.

My biggest concern would be the couple and therapist failing to identify the real cause.

One possibility: Many people have trouble feeling sexual passion toward a “secure attachment.” They only get turned on when their lover is one of three things: 1) New, 2) Forbidden, or 3) Hard-to-get.

If your relationship has been calm, stable, and caring for a long time, this can be the problem! The sexual dynamic can peter out (if you know what I mean).

The antidote involves a whole new growth process, beginning with recognizing the real cause.

This paradox (the more secure the relationship, the lower the sexual passion) is extremely common. One partner or the other, after being able to take the other for granted, becomes sexually indifferent. So many husbands feel passionless toward their wives because they are “sure” of them. They benefit in all sorts of ways from the safety and longevity of the relationship – and have all sorts of positive feelings toward their wives, but the even-keel of the relationship reduces the sexual heat.

Likewise, so many wives lose sexual interest toward their husbands once they become “comfortable shoes.” This is why so many people in long term relationships have attractions to people outside the marriage – or why they “get headaches” at bedtime – or why the divorce rate is so high.

Partners can easily take each other for granted. The security and safety they give each other becomes like the air they breathe but can’t see. Recognizing this as the problem sets a whole new process within the relationship in motion – if the couple is motivated.

Usually it is only one side of the couple that begins to feel turned off. The other side usually craves more sexual attention – precisely because the rejection served as an aphrodisiac – intensifying the sexual desires for the “unavailable” spouse.

So what is the antidote? The couple must work together, all pressure must be removed, but a great deal of the onus is on the partner who has lost sexual interest. He or she must set about to integrate her sexuality with her attachment feelings. In other words, s/he must learn to experience sex not as a hot conquest of a hard-to-get lover, but as a more sober expression of deeper feelings like caring, trust, and respect.

As obvious as this sounds, this is not an easy accomplishment for a lot of people whose sexuality has become linked with “pursuit.” Without the 1) Newness, 2) Forbidden-ness, or 3) Hard-to-get-ness, there is no aphrodisiac, their libido remains low.

It is nearly universal for insecurity to act as an aphrodisiac. When you sense your lover pulling away, your sexual energy toward him intensifies, motivating you to seduce him back into your bed. The key is to retrain your sexuality to respond even when this emotional tension is not present.

It involves a kind of Tantric approach to sexuality. You are no longer waiting for your passions to be spontaneously aroused by a hard-to-get lover. Since your partner is not hard-to-get, you must tap into your own creative energy. It takes time and patience – and a new way of looking at a new level of sex – a type of sexual caring, sharing bond that can grow and develop between two people

The Bigger and Better Syndrome

August 26, 2010 6 comments

Also known as “Looking to Trade Up,” this syndrome is the scourge of committed relationships. You are attracted to a new person. She turns you on. You’re into her. You start seeing her every chance you get. The sex is hot. You feel close, connected. You begin to imagine a future together.

But as it gets more real, you wonder if there might be someone better for you out there, someone who gets you to feel even greater passion. In other words, if you were to commit to your current partner, would you be selling yourself short? Another woman starts coming on to you, and you start thinking about her. This changes the dynamics of your current relationship. Your partner starts to get needy and insecure. You feel the pressure. You feel engulfed and want to get out. You’re caught up in “The Bigger and Better Syndrome.”

How common is this syndrome? Very. It’s especially prevalent among “good catches.” They know they have options: The other fish in the sea swarm them. Having too many options is a problem. It makes it hard to make a final choice. You’re never sure if there might be someone better. So you delay “choosing the one you’re with.” The opposite end of the extreme is the person who latches on to the first person who shows any interest. You think “this is it.” Underneath, you are assuming “this is the best I can do.” You rationalize clinging to this person with “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” This can work out okay if you’ve picked someone who commits back to you– and someone who will grow with you over time.

But very often the person who clamps too quickly gets dumped. You’ve sent out all of your attachment tentacles to someone who is “looking to trade up.” Your partner eventually reverts to “surveying his other options.” You go into high gear to keep him. You are in pursuit mode. You are desperate to hold onto your catch. The emotional challenge serves as an aphrodisiac. You feel really hooked on this person – addicted. Your entire life revolves around keeping him. He, of course, in the meantime, is pulling back, resisting your engulfment.

Many eligible people out there have Bigger and Better Syndrome. They look like “winners” because they always seem to be on top. They seem to never get dumped. They are the one who does the pulling away, the leaving. They leave a long string of heartbroken lovers in their wake. This is good for their ego, bad for yours.

Yes, these people seem like the winners for a while. But if this syndrome continues into middle years, they wake up one day realizing they have a problem feeling love toward anyone who loves them back – especially for any length of time. Feelings of emptiness and loneliness creep in. Their life lacks a sense of purpose or meaning. They don’t know how to fill the hole except to continue finding partners who can make them feel infatuated. But they can’t sustain that feeling indefinitely, no matter who they fall for in the beginning. So out they go again in pursuit of “Bigger and Better.”

They are searching for the holy grail of lovers – someone who will keep them infatuated forever. He or she must be out there, they believe. But they continue to be surrounded by too many options, and they can never make a final choice. They have “Bigger and Better Syndrome” but don’t know how to fix it. What’s the solution? They have to hit bottom with feeling the emptiness – the futility of their current pattern. They have to recognize they have this syndrome. They have to become truly wise about how self-defeating these romantic escapades have become. They have become committed to change their ways. And then they have to take action.

This action consists of learning how to love – not just enjoying “pursuit mode” and infatuation, but learning how to love. Love as a verb. Love as a choice. Love as a cultivated behavior. Stay tuned…