I think I’m ruining things in a perfectly good relationship due to my insecurities. I ask too much of my partner; mostly I ask for too much of his time, and I need a lot of reassurances that he loves me.
For his time, I try to keep busy when I’m not with him, and for assurances, I try to keep things to myself, but I rarely succeed. I have extreme abandonment issues and I’m vulnerable to codependency. Am I just fucked because of this? Is this a matter of finding some willpower? Do you have any practical strategies I can use?
Holly O – Savannah, GA
For extreme abandonment issues and codependency, I recommend you see a good therapist. If you can’t afford one, search the Google and find an online program or a book written by an expert (the ones with letters after their names) who can walk you through the process of healing and provide a practical process for doing so. In other words, if you can’t afford therapy, DIY it. If you’re shrewd in your selection and dedicated in your pursuit of change, it’ll work just as well. No one deserves to have their issues follow them throughout their lives, wrecking perfectly good relationships as they go—and as I think you know, they won’t go away on their own.
Once you’ve put yourself on the right track in this regard, assess the amount of time you actually spend with your partner. Do you see him once a month? Once a week? Three times a week? Every day? How often do you talk? Text? Write down how much time you communicate and see each other on an average week.
Now, I know your anxiousness might tell you that if you had it all your way, you’d be talking to him every single-dingle minute of every day, but let’s be real here. What’s your bare minimum to be in “good enough” shape where spending time with him is concerned? What’s your bare-minimum face time? Phone/Skype time? Texting? Write that all down.
Now, how does reality stack up to your minimum needs?
If he’s hitting your minimum target, I recommend you decide that everything beyond that is a happy bonus.
Let’s talk about willpower now. Or, rather, let’s talk about willpower through a different lens: the lens of chill. I recommend these practical strategies to keep your brain and heart from overheating when you’re not connected to him in some way:
- Ask yourself, “Did I give him a good reason to leave?” and if the answer is “no,” then breathe—and go find something fun to occupy your time.
- Ask a girlfriend (or five) how she’s doing and if you can be helpful to her in some way.
- Do things that nurture you: Get a massage, hike out in nature, cook and eat something challenging and decadent, etc.
- Take up a social hobby, like dance class or a book club or rock climbing, that you think would be fun and that takes up some of the free time in your week. You’ll learn something new, meet new friends, and maybe even discover a hidden passion.
Finally, you can partner with him. Let him know what “enough” looks like for you. When he gives you what you need, show your appreciation for his willingness to meet you there, and when he gives you even more, let him know he’s making you extra happy. Guys like to know when they’re winning good-boyfriend points.