The worst my thoughts became, the crazier I behaved. Since I couldn’t achieve my goal of gaining the security I needed in my relationship, I resorted to Protest Behavior. (11) Protests behavior unhealthily protest the relationship connection in hopes of getting your partner’s attention.
Protest Behaviors (12)
1. Excessive Efforts to Reconnect.
Such as calling, texting, emailing, desperately waiting for a phone call, or trying to “accidentally” run into your partner. I remember a day when I called my partner 9 times and texted her 22 times in the span of 5 hours during a workday in which she had meetings all day. She was mad, and I felt ashamed.
2. Pretending to be preoccupied when you’re not.
Such behaviors include saying you have plants when you don’t, acting busy or unapproachable even though you want to be approached, or ignoring phone calls because you want to “get back” at your partner.
3. Keeping a Scorecard.
People who keep score count the number of minutes it takes for their partner to return a text or call back, and then wait just as long to return the call or text. This also includes not leaving voice messages, or acting distant and waiting for your partner to make the first “make-up” move.
4. Acting Hostile.
Rolling eyes when your partner talks (AKA contempt), looking away for long periods of time, or getting up and leaving the room while the other person is talking (AKA Stonewalling).
5. Threatening to leave.
I would threaten to end my relationship in hopes that my partner would stop me from leaving and “prove” how much I mattered to her. The problem with this tactic is the other person may want to break up and so they may just end it.
6. Trying to Make a Significant Other Jealous.
This may include talking about someone hitting on you, attending a singles event, or making plans with someone else with the sole intention of making your partner jealous. For example, I intentionally missed my partner’s soccer game and made up a story about walking around with a woman I met in a coffee shop. This made my partner sick to her stomach and when I saw her reaction, I first thought, now you know what it feels like, and then as she started getting physically sick I felt disgusted with myself.
7. Exaggerating the Problem
Exaggerating the Problem and your distress, even unconsciously, to gain your partner’s attention.
8. Behaving in Childish and Excessively Needy Ways
Behaving in Childish and Excessively Needy Ways to emphasize your vulnerabilities, helplessness, and dependence, in hopes of receiving support and care.
Not to mention, our deepest insecurities can motivate us to maintain emotional and/or physical closeness to our partner at all times. As a result, we often sacrifice our autonomy and can become intrusive of our romantic partner’s life, which can lead to more relationship problems.
“No one is perfect. Even the most confident people have insecurities. At some point in of our lives, we may feel we lack something. That is reality. We must try to live as per our capability.” – Anil Sinha
While protest behaviors may get your partner’s attention from time to time, they encourage intrusive, coercive, and aggressive behavior towards a relationship partner leading to relationship dysfunction, dissatisfaction, and eventual rejection or abandonment. In other words, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I will tell you from experience, it’s terrible to feel so overwhelmed with the fear of being abandoned by your partner that you behave in these crazy ways only to have your fear become true because of how you behaved.
I felt shame for behaving in the ways I did in that relationship. It was completely out of character for me. And my insecure behavior became a big motivator for me to improve my relationships.
You’re Only As Insecure as the Relationship You’re In
For many of us, myself included, being unaware of how our clingy attachment system works to prevent us from creating or finding a secure relationship. My attachment system was constantly activated in my relationship with Crystal because of her emotional unavailability and opposing attachment strategy.