Why what “feels right” is often wrong – (aka don’t ever go back to an ex and 3 ways to break the addiction)
I had been down this road before.
But I thought this time might be different.
Time had passed. I had changed. He had changed.
At least I thought he had.
I went back into a relationship I had found courage to walk away from years before.
But this person reconnected with me and initiated a campaign to win me back.
I know that this is part of the game. It’s the chase.
And I had stupidly chosen to be part of this cat and mouse game before.
I should have known better.
As a strong, empowered, confident grown woman, I should have known better.
But I allowed myself to be duped. To buy into the words, the seductive texts, the attention.
Because I wanted or needed a relationship? No.
Because I craved the attention? Not really.
The attention was nice. Let’s be honest. But it wasn’t that.
I wanted to believe he had changed and was ready for me.
I wanted to believe that his love for me was undying and he was healthy enough to be in a relationship with me.
I had loved him before so I was pre-wired to use that pathway in my brain again.
From a neuroscience level, this is one of the reasons we get hooked on one person and keep going back to them. Familiar pathways.
In that sense, the draw towards him, the chemistry, is a pre-existing pathway. That’s why we rationalize it with a list of justifications – because it “feels” right.
That’s just because it’s familiar…which usually means it’s unhealthy.
Old pathways from unhealthy pasts will always draw us in and convince us it feels right.
It’s dead wrong.
And I don’t mean sometimes – it’s dead wrong almost 100% of the time.
Old pathways come from early attachment disruptions. And we keep using those pathways and making them stronger until we stop and take a break and see that we have significant patterns in our relationships as a result.
We also like to be chased. We are wired for it.
That works, because they are wired for to chase.
But guess what? We have frontal lobes. Which means we have choice – all pre-wiring and biology aside.
And we often make choices that don’t increase our level of self worth or ones that we’re proud of.
This isn’t about what someone has done to you or how you’ve been treated. This is what you allow. What you choose.
Rewiring, breaking that, changing that, is like breaking an addiction. It’s old and wired tightly and requires tremendous amounts of insight and will. But it’s not a prison we need to be chained to forever.
For me, the old patterns arose too quickly.
As soon as the chase was won, the retreat began.
Gaps in contact. Gaps in emotion.
You feel them pull away and panic sets in.
Not because you’re a juvenile idiot or a desperate crazy woman, but again, the brain reads separation as threat and responds accordingly.
This is how strong women become stupid, foolish girls. This is where the crazy comes from that repels men faster than lightening.
I didn’t go female crazy. I generally don’t.
I’m very aware of my state and I think things through thoroughly – sometimes too much. Almost always too much.
I also really want a man to be a man. Which means I don’t try to change them. I don’t try and convince them. I give them freedom to choose.
And sometimes that sucks because there’s no game there and the choice to date has not been me.
And I’m good with that, in fact I always know it in advance.
This cat and mouse, push and pull game went on for almost a year.
I was kept just close enough to be accessible, on demand, and just at arm’s reach not to be close.
Look for patterns – people live in patterns.
What happens in this set up is that women are given crumbs of cheese and scurry like little hungry mice for these tiny morsels.
They are so delighted with the morsel (attention, affection, words of love or commitment) that they get a high – literally a dopamine hit – and so the addiction begins.
Then there’s the retreat and we wait.
Hungry. Jonesin’ for the morsel.
They dole out just enough to keep us from looking for another source and feed us just enough lines to keep us from realizing that we deserve the entire block of cheese and could have it all to ourselves if we could break our addiction to the morsels from this particular block.
We forget that it’s not good enough because they’ve given us the message that we aren’t quite good enough for them.
Not good enough to make a commitment.
Not good enough to fully love us.
Not good enough to elevate us to any level of priority or consistency in their life.
We’re so busy scurrying, at least in our heads that we forget our own worth.
When this happens, we are no better than a junkie and as much as shame-based learning is ineffective, sometimes it’s important to see yourself in the right light to motivate change.
At the very least, we aren’t proud of ourselves. Not even a little bit.
Because we know that we are allowing someone us to hold us hostage and effectively blocking out anyone that might legitimately love us and want to be with us.
We are naive in wanting to believe the best in others and wanting to believe pretty things people tell us.
In our core, we actually know different.
And the battle isn’t between us and the other person – the battle is between us and the betrayal of our self.
We know we deserve better. We crave better. We know this makes us feel crazy – and we allow them to play on that… it’s us being crazy.
It’s not. You know better. You’re not crazy. Stop acting like it. Stop playing into the hand.
I knew this person really hadn’t changed…in fact they might have gotten worse.
The pattern I was seeing I was sure was being played out to others. I knew he wasn’t being honest or faithful but I didn’t want to appear a jealous nut to confront.
I didn’t really need to…I already knew. I didn’t know how many. But I knew instinctively more than I ever said.
And I rationalized because of the old love pathways.
I rationalized that eventually he would see how incredible I was and get his head out of his ass – maybe it just needed time.
And really – stupidity.
He wasn’t near the quality of man I wanted in my life.
1. What do you really want?
In fact, I knew exactly what I wanted.
Really smart. Motivated, successful….sure.
Mostly… kind, funny, honest. I want a man with integrity.
Integrity means no guessing games. No push and pull. In and out. Cat and mouse.
I am here. I want you. Just you. And I will give this an honest effort to see where it goes.
We want to be seen. And we settle for less and betray ourselves.
And this wears down even the most confident woman’s self worth – because she knows what she needs to do, what would make her proud of herself. And she doesn’t do it.
It’s ghastly and repugnant…. And sadly common.
We give all of our power away over time or overnight and then feel trapped in a tangled mess of feeling madly in love with someone so emotionally crippled that can never reciprocate.
We feel one-sided heartbreak from our own choices.
My story ended quite badly, but it ended the only way these addictions can end properly.
No more contact and I mean forever.
Someone that would know me for that long, know my battles, see my scars and all that I am and treat me that way doesn’t deserve a place in my life and not a second of my time.
Not a second.
When it ended I was relieved. And embarrassed. I had to deal with both.
I called things out. I refused to be inauthentic and shrink down.
2. Be prepared for the rebound
Be prepared for it to blow up and be huge.
It’s not the end of the world.
Be prepared that they’ll try and come back – even harder – with bigger gestures because now their prewired brain is going into panic.
Don’t think that the chase is about you and how wonderful you are. It’s not.
I’m not saying they are doing this on purpose – though some are aware and do it anyway.
I’m saying it’s your job to be aware of your processes – to bring your unconscious patterns to consciousness – not to do that for them.
It doesn’t matter if it’s intentional. Their work is their responsibility.
Your job is to treat and love yourself so well that you attract people into your life that would be good enough for your child, your best friend, your sister, your mom.
To command respect and maturity and not have to beg for integrity and the consistent connection that comes with it.
A broken heart is not the end of the world. Neither is a shattered ego and all your pride.
You’ll get through it and over it.
It can be painful without you having to over-dramatize it.
You know it needs to end.
So don’t wait for it.
Take your power back and own your life and make it end in a way that in 6 months when it doesn’t hurt anymore you feel amazing about yourself.
Loss of connection is not the end o the world. You’re making room for the right connection.
3. Stop wasting time.
You don’t know how much you have. Reserve it for people that see how amazing you are and let you own your own block of cheese.
Don’t wait until you feel like you don’t love the person anymore.
That’s not going to happen.
This is one choice you need to make before you feel ready because you never will feel ready.
Before you stop loving, because you might love this person forever.
Like an addict loves their substance you must say goodbye out of sheer will and making a choice that you feel resonates with who you want to be and who you will be proud of.
Addictive love is the toughest to break. Both people are caught up in a codependency trap and the entire set up is toxic.
Not just for you but for him too.
How much better did I feel not having to chase someone down for connection?
How much better do I feel having room in my life for someone worthy?
How much better do I feel for setting a lifetime boundary around someone I know that I love too easily that could never love me back in any healthy way?
Stop waiting. Stop hoping. Stop fixing.
I don’t care what their childhood was like. Most of people who are emotionally unavailable with anxious/ambivalent attachment styles have had trauma.
It’s their job to work on it. Not your job. You can’t fix this. You can’t wait it out. You can’t use it as a way to justify their handicap.
Why don’t you believe you are worthy of a healthy, available partner?
It’s not about them and what they’re doing. They, like most people are just on autopilot in their lives – doing what they feel led to without question.
You’re the one in control of your life and making choices for it. Only you.