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How do I change my behaviour?

(98 Posts)
CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 07:15:42

Sorry this may be long...

I have been in an on off sort of relationship for well over a year now and am aware that my behaviour (as well as other factors so not just me) is contributing to the off bits!

When things are good we text/speak every day, have lots of nice talks about future, lots of affection, lots of cuddles and gazing at work etc. However if one of us has a bad day or if he is annoyed with me his way of dealing with it is to withdraw. He will no longer text so much because he is "busy" (although he has time to text when he is busy but wants to IYSWIM) and will be detached for a couple of days and not avoid me but not be particularly affectionate etc. I think this is just him and his way of dealing with things. Unfortunately this makes me really upset and I in turn get all needy and clingy, apologise repeatedly for whatever I have done and try and engage him more which irritates him and we end up in a cycle of me wanting reassurance that everything is ok and him wanting some space. I then feel like a horrible person because I feel like I am pressurising him to talk to me and it makes me feel really low. Usually a few days later things are ok again but it always feel a bit delicate

I keep trying to tell myself I just need to give him some space, that this is him and he just needs his man cave time but my head won't let me and I feel so unsettled and like one time soon he is just going to walk away and never speak to me again and I would not blame him

Reading this back I sound like a nightmare sad It is just so hard to deal with the swings between adoration and detachment when I just want some kind of constant. I just keep thinking that if I can not contact him for a few days he will call again but I always fail and text. It is just not natural to me to not want to speak to someone I love

Should I just accept this is never going to change? Or is there some way I can make myself not contact? Sometimes I wonder if he is just not that in to me but then when things are nice he is so nice and so loving and affectionate and committed to the future that I struggle to think that is the issue

I know that sometimes I am like this in relationships but I am also aware that when things are good (in this and previous) I am much less clingy and much easier to be around and my normal sort of self so I know I can do it I just don't know how to change my thinking

TisILeclerc Sun 06-Jan-13 07:18:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WinkyWinkola Sun 06-Jan-13 07:21:49

It does sound a bit suffocating even on what you call the good days.

You do sound needy and that's not very attractive especially in the early stages of a relationship.

Do you go out with friends? Do you love your work? Do you have other interests?

Apart from anything else, it's vital not to be wholly and utterly dependent on one person.

I'm afraid I would absolutely run a mile if I were busy or stressed at work or jist enjoying some alone time and someone kept texting or bothering me because I'd not contacted them for a couple of hours. I'd be thinking they should get a life.

Hyperballad Sun 06-Jan-13 07:25:10

He might just not be the right guy for you. If this is just the way he deals with stress then it's unlikely you'd be able to change this. So if you really thought you have a future you would have to change how you deal with it.

I don't think this sounds too healthy though and I think you maybe need to really consider whether this guy is really for you.

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 07:27:16

Tis- how do you mean?

Winky- but on the good days it is often him initiating things. And if things are good then I could happily go a couple of days without hearing from him if I know he has lots on (well I would still like him to text and he generally does but it does not bother me in the same way) If things are left a little strained then I find it really hard if he ignores me for a couple of days.

Otherwise I am fine- I have a lovely job, plenty of other stuff to do, plenty of friends to spend time with

But yes this is why I want to try and change my behaviour because I am aware it is weird!

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 07:28:15

Sorry- I meant the cuddles and gazing at work were from him!

TisILeclerc Sun 06-Jan-13 07:32:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hyperballad Sun 06-Jan-13 07:37:35

I agree with you Tis, I think I'd feel like the OP in this situation (although I wouldn't act). I like upfront and honest so I know where I stand and Crying isn't getting this.

pictish Sun 06-Jan-13 07:41:06

What is gazing at work?

You do sound a bit cloying OP. I am a person that hates to be pressured or harangued to perform though, so I would feel stifled by you. Maybe someone else would enjoy the attention, I don't know.

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 07:54:32

So when all is well I will find him watching me at work and he will apologise and say he just can't help gazing at me because I am so beautiful (I do point out that is a bit vomity). On days when everything is fine we might have long chats or text conversations, often initiated by him. The next day I might text him in the morning, hear nothing for ages and then I will ask what is up. Which is the bit I need to stop doing! If it was a friend it would not bother me in the slightest. But because normally he will text back so quickly it throws me when he doesn't

See. Am a complete loser sad It makes me want to cry that I am so crap

mrsmindcontrol Sun 06-Jan-13 08:05:08

You sound like me in previous relationships. Looking back now I can see that I had shit self esteem & allowed my happiness to be entirely dependent on my partners behaviour towards me. However, I sense there appears to be an element of control / game playing on his part. It's not ok to ignore you for a few days at a time even if he is busy or stressed. That's not how healthy relationships work. I suspect it's this cycle of him being loving, withdrawing & trying to assert power, you being clingy, him being annoyed is a vicious circle which is only serving to destroy your self esteem even further.
It certainly doesn't sound like a healthy well balanced relationship & my advice would be to get out if you can't resolve it by talking. I found in the past that as soon as I was out of similarly toxic relationships, I became a much happier confident person.
Good luck.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 06-Jan-13 08:09:01

You're not crap. It sounds like you're in a relationship with someone who is blowing either excessively hot or excessively cold, deliberately leaving things 'a little strained' so that you are on pins waiting for their call. To me, someone who is constantly telling you they 'need space' is someone who is deliberately manipulating your emotions.... a psychological bully hmm. I wouldn't stand for it, personally.

In the meantime, make a life for yourself that doesn't involve him. Have your own friends, job, activities, hobbies.... have a full diary of absorbing and interesting stuff that any boyfriend has to fit around, rather than being so reliant that a day or two out of touch has you upset and obsessing. Rebalance your life so that a man is not the only thing occupying your time.

RandomMess Sun 06-Jan-13 08:12:34

I think you're probably with someone like your father - emotionally withdrawn.

I think he is the wrong person for you as it is raising all your deepest insecurities to the surface.

mrsmindcontrol Sun 06-Jan-13 08:14:09

What RandomMess said. I have an emotionally detached father & exH. Spot on.

RandomMess Sun 06-Jan-13 08:17:42

I am suffering with my DH - he has his own issues, but he withdraws and it means I lose my emotional support etc, when I'm in a good place it doesn't affect me but if other stuff is going on in my life it cripples me.

If I had understood that before we had children we would not be together, we both need to change to make our marriage a "good enough" one.

Please cut your losses and explore why you are attracted to someone who withdraws their affection from you (deliberately or not is irrelevant) it is as cruel as someone deciding that one day you deserve to be hit and others not it just hurts you in a different way.

Anniegetyourgun Sun 06-Jan-13 08:24:02

Romances at work are always fraught anyway, especially if they break up! I wonder what everyone else at the workplace thinks of this on-off drama. Also can't help wondering if the withdrawal periods have anything to do with who's watching.

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 08:42:17

Thank you everyone so much. Lots of food for thought. I have been "non needy" in the past so I know I can do it.

I am still not sure how much is me and how much is him. Maybe it is the combination that is bad. I just don't know anymore. I do just feel a bit crap about myself when he is a bit detached hence why I look for lots of reassurance I think.

And spot on about my dad... Very little relationship and he worked away most of my childhood sad

WinkyWinkola Sun 06-Jan-13 08:47:11

Gosh, op. He sounds really suffocating. Gazing at you at work etc. He sets the tone of your relationship i.e. ott adoration at work and then leaves you floundering when he retreats on a whim.

Very hard work.

I would try to set the tone myself in a balanced way. So if he texts you all the time, don't respond all the time. If he's staring at you at work, just tell him at work you need to be professional. Roll your eyes a bit because it is daft. You be a bit busy - not to play games but to keep things within the realms of normal.

I know new relationships are all consuming and ott and brilliant but this is at work do already two spheres of your life are involved. That's two spheres in jeopardy so it's vital you manage this better.

Other staff may have noticed too and it could be grating on them.

I do feel for you but I suspect he's playing with you a bit on a whim.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 06-Jan-13 08:49:06

I make it a principle of life not to spend it with anyone that makes me feel even a 'a bit crap about myself'. Life's far too short. There are only two ways to deal with a situation like this and the first one... complete cessation of contact... doesn't sound possible with someone who you have to share a work environment. The other.... reducing a boyfriend to a bit player in a very busy and fulfilled life (as per earlier suggestion)... means you flip the power balance significantly in your direction and makes it easier to keep a sense of proportion. However, it takes a very conscious decision and commitment to do this for yourself.

Allergictoironing Sun 06-Jan-13 08:54:52

There could be a number of reasons why this is happening, none of them really that good for the future of this relationship I'm afraid.

It could be that he's simply very self centred - when HE wants lots of contact then fine, when he doesn't then hard luck. What's he like if you are a bit too busy to text much? Selfishness can rarely be un-learned, especially if a person really doesn't see why they have to change as life is fine for them as it is. At the moment he gets attention when he wants, and ignores you if he doesn't feel like it.

There's also the factor that someone being very needy can really piss a partner off. It very quickly goes from "aw how sweet they love me so much" to irritating the fuck out of you.

He could be playing with your head, blowing hot & cold to get the thrill out of being chased so much & enjoying the power he has over you. Your comment or if he is annoyed with me his way of dealing with it is to withdraw does suggest that he uses withdrawal of affection as a form of punishment - that really does not bode well for a healthy future in the relationship as it implies he is already being a bit emotionally abusive.

The see-saw of affection then coldness does suggest that the last is the most likely I'm afraid. Part of the EA "Script" is to keep the victim wrong footed so they don't know if they are coming or going. The sweet times feel particularly good because they are in such contrast with the bad, and the victim tends to accept more & more of the shit so they can "earn" the good.

Squeegle Sun 06-Jan-13 09:24:18

Crying, I do understand. I have realised that my patterns are just the same!

They have led me through relationships with various quite selfish men, my exP was an alcoholic, who I was always seeking to keep happy (obviously very unsuccessfully!)

And even though I am aware of the patterns I have still managed to get involved with someone at work who sounds remarkably similar to your man. His natural inclination is to withdraw when the going gets tough.

I have found this extremely difficult to deal with, have been in agonies of waiting for him to text, call etc. his withdrawal has made me feel needier and more obsessed even though I have tried not to show it, it has been mental torture!

The final straw is that I think I have been dumped- not that he has told me, I just haven't heard from him for over three weeks! And considering we work in the same office, that is quite a feat.

Anyway, like you I have realised:
A). He is selfish, and only thinking about his feelings, hence not ideal for the long term And
B). I have hard wired behaviours that make me needy and obsessive when I encounter this behaviour. Probably prompted by my past.

Like you, and as others have suggested, I think the best way out of this is to build our self esteem. To work hard to think about ourselves and not about them, and to recognise we don't need to "win someone back", if they go distant- that's their problem not ours.

I am starting the new year with a real desire to change the way I think about these situations, to have more self respect, and to not let myself be treated in a way I would not treat others.

Good for you that you have identified your behaviour- but don't be too hard on yourself- I suspect you're not too clingy, but you do want this to work so much that you put up with behaviours you know are not right for you.

Good luck

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 10:55:11

It is very interesting hearing all this and I very much take on board what you are all saying. The thing is I don't think he is selfish- he is a really lovely person and so nice and kind. I guess he maybe just has learned behaviour in the same way I have. It would just seem such a waste to end things when I love him (and he says he loves me) so so much.

I just don't want to end up feeling awful (and I know I am being a horrible person which he doesn't deserve) and I hate my neediness. I just want to be able to change it and make it work. We keep both trying to change- we have sort of talked about it but neither of us seem able to sad Maybe I do need to just walk away.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 06-Jan-13 10:57:11

"The thing is I don't think he is selfish"

Until you accept that he is behaving selfishly you are rather doomed to keep dancing to his tune, waiting for his calls, getting upset when he needs 'space'. I think you need to walk away if only to re-establish your boundaries and have a good think about how you think you deserve to be treated.

CryingRivers Sun 06-Jan-13 11:01:28

I just think he hates confrontation so will withdraw rather than argue. Then I end up forcing it, we have a vague arguement, he says everything is fine but then is a bit off. I guess either of us could change it. And I honestly don't think he is selfish. But I genuinely am listening and thinking about that as a possibility

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 06-Jan-13 11:07:39

So he's passive aggressive rather than aggressive.... It really doesn't change things. All the time you are blaming yourself for his shortcomings and excusing him being 'a bit off' as just part of his personality, you are condemning yourself to playing second fiddle to whatever mood he happens to be in. All manipulative men are 'lovely, nice and kind' when they are not being arseholes. It's how they keep women on the hook... hoping for the 'lovely, nice and kind' man to reappear and the moody, selfish one to go away for a while. If you think it's your responsibility to keep him sweet and your fault when he is distant for being 'needy' and forcing a confrontation then you've put yourself in a no-win situation.

Are you really that desperate to be someone's girlfriend that you'd do that to yourself.?

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