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Should I Keep Reaching Out?

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Should I Keep Reaching Out?

Postby Robnew » Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:38 am

Hi

I posted in the significant others forum, but was wondering if someone who had avoidant tendencies could help me with a little insight and guidance regarding my ex girlfriend.

Full story is on the other board, but in brief we'd been in regular contact since we split (her choice, after an argument), and everything was quite fun and friendly, and we'd even talked about getting back together. It seemed her feelings for me hadn't changed, and that the main issue was that we weren't living together anymore, and she hated the time we spent apart. She had said several times that she found it unbearably painful at those times, and would admit to acting up because of it. It made me sad to think she felt like that, and said she should just call me whenever she needed to, and I'd always be there for her, but she couldn't do that.

The last time we met, which was about a month ago, was again very friendly, and we'd even made plans to do other things, and so I was hopeful things might be working out. However, since then she's withdrawn and pulled away sharply. There was no explanation, just a complete reversal from friendliness, to distance and a lack of response to any messages. Is that a common thing?

I knew she was under a lot of pressure at work, and was confused about us and so, after a couple of weeks of her being distant I called and said that perhaps I should give her a bit of space, as she had a lot on her plate, and that this was maybe just unfairly adding to it. I thought she may appreciate that, and feel less pressured, but instead she seemed a bit agitated and angry about it, and hung up.

I figured it best to leave it and didn't chase her about it, and left it a couple of weeks before sending a text saying I hoped she was well, and that it would be nice to catch up if she wanted, but if not have a good weekend. I got no response. That was about a week ago.

I admit I find it hard sometimes, as I'm not the type to chase or be overly emotional, and so sometimes she seems to think I don't care, or don't think about her, and yet when I tell her she then tends to pull back again, although never too far, and not like this.

So now I'm unsure what to do. Is it best to just leave her, and let her reach out, if and when she wants to? Although she finds that really hard, even if she wanted to.

Or should I keep reaching out every now and then? I'm happy to do that, but equally don't want to be annoying, or find it pushes her away further. I don't even know if she's angry, indifferent, dismissive, or sad and trying to bury it.

I guess I don't know whether she's just lost interest and moved on, or if she's finding it too difficult and so had pulled away to detach fully, or if she wants some reassurance, and for me to fight harder for her. She did say when we first split that I didn't fight for her, but who knows whether she cares about that now.

I don't mind doing the latter, as she's always responded to me being persuasive and persistent in the past, but that seems impossible now that she's being entirely unresponsive.

I suppose I'm asking the impossible, by wanting some insight into how she may be thinking, but I do care about her very much, and when we were together we got on really well, so don't want to give up on her if I think there's a chance things can work.

So, if anyone has any thoughts on what I should do, or how best to do it, then I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks.
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Re: Should I Keep Reaching Out?

Postby Robnew » Sat Apr 22, 2017 3:05 pm

Oh, and I meant to ask, if I do reach out, what's the best way to do it?

Should I ask if she's ok and why she suddenly pulled away when we seemed to be getting on so well?

Should I apologize/explain why I said I'd give her some space, as she may have taken that as abandoning her?

Should I tell her I miss seeing her and spending time with her?

Or should I just act as though nothing's happened, and send something neutral, like telling her I saw something she liked and wanted to let her know?

How much space is enough? Is reaching out weekly too much, or is leaving it longer likely to make think I've given up and moved on?

A week before she pulled away it looked as though we might get back together. She asked to meet and we had a good time. She was flirty and even hesitantly raised the possibility, albeit with reservations. In hindsight I think she opened the door and wanted me to be more forceful about it, but instead of pushing for what I wanted I tried to be understanding. Would she have taken my hesitance as as rejection or ambivalence? If so how can I overcome that now?

It's hard because she gives no clue what she's thinking. Normally when someone distances themselves it's because they don't care, but how do you know that with someone who distances themselves because they do care? With such a person it could be either, so is there any way of telling?
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Re: Should I Keep Reaching Out?

Postby Robnew » Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:11 pm

As an update, I texted her yesterday. Nothing pushy, just a note to say I saw something she liked, and thought of her and wanted to let her know. Again no reply.

I suppose I should leave it now, and either she'll reach out at some point or not. It's confusing because she's never totally ignored me like this before, and the last time we met we were getting on really well, so it's hard to understand the abrupt change, especially when she had previously said how much she was missing me and how hard that was for her.

If she wants to bury that pain and move on because she thinks a relationship is impossible then I get it, and wouldn't want to add to that by continually reaching out and reminding her, regardless of what I want.

However, if she is as confused as she said, and just needs a bit of space to clear her head, then I don't want her to think I've given up on her. Mainly because she can be like two people. When she's distant she can be very assertive, bad tempered, and even hostile, but when she's feeling closer she can be a little nervous and unsure, and would at best be very hesitant about reaching out herself.

The hard part is that she never asked for that space, and just took it, so it's impossible to know if it's space she wants or a complete and final break.

I suppose, given that she's never completely ignored me like this before, and has always apologised when she's been a bit distant, it now feels like she must hate me. Is that possible, or a way someone might try to detach? Or does someone withdrawing like that have no idea what the other person may feel about it?

If you'd totally given up on the idea of a reconciliation, would you tell the other person, and ask them to stop contacting you, or would you just ignore them and hope they'll just stop?

To be honest I feel a bit silly, as with anyone else I'd just leave it and move on, but I know from experience that she reads abandonment and rejection into almost everything, and does sometimes think I'm a bit aloof and guarded. So, whilst I want her to know I'm here for her if she wants, I also want her know that I'll leave her alone and move on if she really wants that too.

I guess I'm happy to admit that my request for any insight, advice and guidance is in part selfish, as I don't want to lose her, but equally I do care about how she feels, whether she wants me or not. To be honest, if I knew she was happy without me, then I guess I'd be ok letting her go and leaving it at that, and moving on.
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Re: Should I Keep Reaching Out?

Postby psychosquirrel » Wed Apr 26, 2017 2:50 am

Robnew wrote:Should I Keep Reaching Out?


Short answer: No.

I think you did enough. If she has any second thoughts,
she should make the next move.
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Re: Should I Keep Reaching Out?

Postby Robnew » Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:48 am

Thanks, that's what I was thinking too, and just needed an unbiased perspective, as sometimes it's hard when you're in the middle of things.
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Re: Should I Keep Reaching Out?

Postby Robnew » Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:08 pm

I guess it's also hard because whilst she's totally withdrawn and unresponsive now, if that ever changes then
she's not the kind to reach out, and puts on a tough front. A few weeks ago, when I thought she was fine and had moved on, she later told me she was really upset and couldn't concentrate on anything, because she thought I'd moved on and didn't think about her; and that was even while I was the one making the effort to maintain contact. Which makes it impossible to know whether she's just pulled back for a bit of space, and for me to hang in there, or if she's fine and wants me to disappear for good.

I don't even mind looking a bit foolish by my persistence, as she tends to think I'm a bit aloof and guarded, and that I don't really care, and so the only thing I don't want to do is upset or annoy her by reaching out. Would someone avoidant tell you you to stop contacting them if they wanted that?

I suppose I'm just thinking aloud now, as it's so hard to know what to do with someone who does the opposite of what you'd expect, and tells you how painful it is to be without you, is happy when they're with you, and then pushes you away as you get closer.

-- Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:08 pm --

I guess it's also hard because whilst she's totally withdrawn and unresponsive now, if that ever changes then
she's not the kind to reach out, and puts on a tough front. A few weeks ago, when I thought she was fine and had moved on, she later told me she was really upset and couldn't concentrate on anything, because she thought I'd moved on and didn't think about her; and that was even while I was the one making the effort to maintain contact. Which makes it impossible to know whether she's just pulled back for a bit of space, and for me to hang in there, or if she's fine and wants me to disappear for good.

I don't even mind looking a bit foolish by my persistence, as she tends to think I'm a bit aloof and guarded, and that I don't really care, and so the only thing I don't want to do is upset or annoy her by reaching out. Would someone avoidant tell you you to stop contacting them if they wanted that?

I suppose I'm just thinking aloud now, as it's so hard to know what to do with someone who does the opposite of what you'd expect, and tells you how painful it is to be without you, is happy when they're with you, and then pushes you away as you get closer.
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Re: Should I Keep Reaching Out?

Postby Robnew » Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:34 pm

Hi

Thanks for the suggestion, I had a read and it makes sense in many ways, and does answer some questions. However, I'm not sure I see people as "broken" in that sense, and just "different".

In fact, in many ways I see my ex's behaviours as very similar to anyone else, only far more sensitive, tightly tuned, and quicker to react. For example, most people want attachments, but will pull away if someone goes overboard with attention and affection. Such people are considered normal, and their partners are described as needy, or possessive. The average person may take weeks or months to feel smothered and to pull away, whereas the more sensitive may bolt with little warning.

I was even conscious of all that with my ex, as she was open about her distancing and abandonment fears. So, when it was clear I needed to back away a bit, I would do so a little more than with anyone else, and when I needed to be more persistent, I'd do that a little more, and that always seemed to work. I was aware of her need for space, and the odd mood swings, and never let them bother me, and also aware when she needed reassurance. and she always told me I was the only person who never seemed to be bothered by it. In the past when we've fallen out, once she calmed down, she was easy to persuade back with a bit of persistence, which I think she liked, but I haven't been so pushy this time, and at times she's seemed a bit frustrated by that.

Is it common for someone with avoidant characteristics to like to be chased? It seems so with her, but then how does that fit with the dislike of being pressured? Of course I get her fear of intimacy, which she always admitted, but it was just as much contradicted by her always pushing me to admit how much I wanted her.

Despite her doubts, she was always friendly and open about her reservations, and never hostile about things. In fact the only times she's got angry at me since we broke up, were right at the beginning, which had less to do with the argument we had, and more to do with the fact that I did nothing to stop her leaving, and just wished her good luck. I wasn't trying to be uncaring or dismissive, it's just that she was angry and unapproachable, and so I wanted to show I respected her decision and wouldn't make it hard for her. The other two occasions were when she wrongly interpreted my actions as either not being persistent enough, or mistakenly taking a comment as rejection, which we later laughed about when she admitted it was a reflex abandonment response. The only time she got really angry, and has refused to talk to me, was the last time we spoke, when I said I'd give her some space, and until then has never ignored me.

Right now then, I think it's more about what I've done than any issues she might have. Her pulling back sharply after we seemed to be getting closer is kind of understandable, given her work pressures, so a bit of space to catch her breath is not surprising. Even if it was about needing to call it quits because it was affecting her work, then I'd get that too, but then she's always felt able to tell me that and know I'd understand. However, the fact she just took it, by pulling away and shutting off wthout warning, or asking for space, caught me by surprise. I'm pretty sure she resented me saying I'd give her some space, and saw it either as her losing a bit of control, or wrongly thinking I was starting to back away and lose interest, and that her anger was lashing out at that.

So, on reflection, I think that phone call was a mistake, and I should have just been patient and ridden out her pulling away, as at least things weren't heated, just distant, and may have recovered. Now I don't know if it's possible to get things back on track, even if it's only as friends, as we got on so well, and enjoyed hanging out together. Of course space is good, and the more the better would usually work with anyone else but, with someone who reads abandonment into almost everything, it's hard to know how much is too much, and whether it would come across as giving up.

I'm pretty sure she'd tell me to get lost if she really wanted me to, as she's never been afraid to be outspoken when she's in an angry or hostile mood. She's also told me that she needs time to calm down sometimes, and so is unresponsive not to be mean, but to prevent herself saying something she'll regret, but that has usually only lasted hours or days, and not a couple of weeks. So, if being silent and unresponsive is something typical someone unsure or avoidant would do, by leaving the door open for me to be more persistent, to see what I'll do, then I'll keep trying; but if it's just a way of saying leave me alone, then I'll do that too.
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Re: Should I Keep Reaching Out?

Postby tmc115 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:46 pm

Your gf sounds like me so I'm run through the situation like I was her:

You tell me to call you whenever I need you, but if you were busy or asleep I couldn't handle the fact that I bothered you. I can just see you laughing about it with your friends and I would be mortified! Or what if I called you and you told me you were busy? I couldn't handle the rejection! Or what if I called and you weren't busy and you dropped everything to help me? I would feel guilty for ruining your plans.

We had a really fun time on our date and when you suggested that we get back together I was so happy! But when it was over and I was home I realized that it wouldn't always be happy dates and smiles. I would embarrass and disgust you with my behavior. I know I'll be unattractive. The thought of losing you again is too much! I need you, and I want you, but I know I'm no good for you. You deserve a happy life and I know I can't give that to you.

After our date I was very upset that I wouldn't make you happy, but, at the same time, I was hoping you would call me. But you didn't....maybe the date wasn't even real. Maybe you were just teasing me about getting back together. Maybe it was just pity. I'm so ashamed! How could I have thought you would be serious about caring for me? I'm such an idiot. I hate myself and the whole world!

When you called and suggested we should have time apart I knew I was right about it being a lie. It was probably a big joke to you. Maybe you just feel bad about leading me on, so you are calling to let me know you won't be available because you found someone better than me! I can't say I blame you, but it hurts none the less. Goodbye. I'm done. I can't let you hurt me anymore.
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Re: Should I Keep Reaching Out?

Postby tmc115 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:00 pm

If your gf is like me you can definitely get her back, but it's not going to be easy for you, as you are not an emotionally demonstrative guy.

You hafta do something that shows you really care.

When you say: call me when you want or maybe we need some time apart what you are actually saying to her is, "I really don't care what happens in this relationship. If you want me come get me, but I don't find you appealing enough to try to win you."

Show up outta the blue with flowers, pick her up, and say you can't stop thinking about her. Kiss her and say, "I'm sorry I've just been dying to do that since the last time we were together."

You have GOT to be assertive. Even a little possessive. She doesn't feel worthy of herself. You need to make her feel desirable. Open doors for her, do some PDA, call her 'Babe'. It sounds a little dated, but it works.

I know you are thinking, No that's not gonna work because she really tunes out when I give her attention.

She retreats because she thinks you are pitying her and she is sheltering herself from the shame. But if you are diligent and don't let her behavior let you be put-off she will come out. You just have to give her attention long enough to allow her time to trust that what you are offering is real.

But if this is not the kind of person you can be then I'd just walk away. Don't say goodbye or you're sorry because you will only make her feel worse.

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