Alex still fails to address the initial conflict – his need for intimacy – and actually finds himself in a worse position than he was before the fight. He works hard to return to the initial, unsatisfactory status quo of the relationship and he tries to compromise more of his needs in hopes to make things work. Being Lost in the Sea of Love washes any hope of a better life down the drain.
Over the years, Alex and Alli continue this vicious cycle until inevitability, Alli has enough and dumps him.
With every clash of intimacy styles, the anxious person loses more ground. It’s frustrating and unfulfilling. This toxic relationship has no checks and balances. The Anxious Alex feels the need to fix the relationship and compromises to the desires of the Avoidant. These types of toxic relationships feel very one-sided from the anxious person’s perspective.
The problem is the anxious person seeks closeness to their partner when something appears threatening, such as a relationship fight or jealousy, while the avoidant seeks separation and seeks distance. Intimacy differences are difficult to harmonize.
This is why I suggest finding a secure person to date. A fair amount of people assume that since Anxious Alex and Avoidant Ally really do love each other, then they’d find a way to work things out. As in the case of Alex and Alli, it is often times impossible to meet each other’s needs. In the typical trap, the anxious partner surrenders and accepts the rules imposed by the avoidant.
Let’s say Anxious Alex and Avoidant Alli ended up getting married, despite their unstable relationship. Things may get worse because intimacy differences impact more than just the relationship. It’s much more than one person wanting to cuddle and another needing space.
It’s reflected in opposed desires, assumptions and attitudes. This may range from the way you sleep with someone in your bed to how you raise children. Each new change in life (making money, becoming ill, having kids, or getting married) will manifest the differences and expand the gap between the partners even more.
This conflict is never resolved, because the solution creates too much intimacy. While the Anxious individual will seek to work out the relationship problems, the Avoidant will unconsciously want to avoid it. This may lead the Avoidant to become more hostile or distant. Since the underlying issue is never addressed, the problem expands like a space balloon and causes a lot of unhappiness.
When I was in this toxic relationship, I was completely blinded by love. I couldn’t see how bad it was. This is why I wanted to take some time to provide you some telltale signs of being Lost in the Sea of Love; I want you to have an amazing relationship, and intimacy is a core foundation of that.
Telltale signs you are Lost in the Sea of Love
1) Can’t Leave Syndrome. You have this nightmarish feeling that the relationship is not right for you, but every time you think of leaving, the toxic emotional connection to the other person prevents you from doing so.
2) Roller-coaster effect. The relationship is never calm. At times, the Avoidant becomes available to the Anxious partner, allowing the Anxious partner’s intimacy button to relax and feel normal. This allows both partners to get close. As a result of getting closer, the Avoidant becomes uncomfortable, withdraws, and the Anxious is forced to drink a cocktail of negative emotions that lead to bat-shit crazy behavior. The Avoident’s drawing away has lowered the anxious person’s self-esteem and heightened their insecurity. Even if things do get resolved, both partners will be dissatisfied with the relationship.
3) Emotional Seesaw. Avoidants often inflate their self-esteem and sense of independence in relation to the extent of their partner’s incapability of being alone. This is why Avoidants don’t normally date each other – they never feel strong and independent in relation to someone who shares the same intimacy button as they do.
4) Stably unstable. Although the relationship may last through the highs and lows, a sense of uncertainty always persists. Since neither partners find a degree of intimacy either is comfortable with, a sense of chronic dissatisfaction will lurk in the relationship.
5) Meaningless Fights. These types of relationships breed fights about things that shouldn’t be fought about at all. Typically these insignificant fights are not about the minor problems, but rather the amount of intimacy between the partners.
6) Your Partner is the Enemy. The Anxious partner will feel like they are getting treated worse and worse -because they are – once they become close to the avoidant.
- If you are an anxious lover, I encourage you to 1) build your self-esteem by expanding your identity and social circle and then 2) seek a secure partner. If you do want to stay with your avoidant partner, you need to work on expressing yourself and establishing boundaries. Check out the Six Commandments of Vulnerable Communication and 4 Powerful Exercises That Make A Toxic Relationship Healthy. It will really help you.
- If you are an Avoidant lover who feels overwhelmed with intimacy, I encourage you to lean into the discomfort. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, and work with your runaway intimacy desires. You can change your attachment type to a more secure model by dating a secure person which will not only improve your intimate relationships, but also your life. A secure person will give you the space you crave. If you don’t want to date a secure, I would advise you to be patient with your anxious partner and tell them that it isn’t them that causes the need for space, it’s you. They may not believe this, so it may take work, but it will help you get the space you need.
This was originally published on Healthy Relationships with Kyle Benson
Want to find a healthy relationship that will make you feel loved, connected and valued? Get your free copy of my ebook Authentic Attraction: 5 Secrets To Finding Love That Last in my Passionate Relationship Toolkit here.