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It is Not Fair! The Testicle Principle — 34 Comments

  1. Al. How can I “diffuse”, Kill the lizard? I am a clinger, real bad, My mom told me she wouldnt have had me if it was up to her so I think I was ignored…ALOT.

    • Well, Allan, that’s a heck of a question that I’ve wondered about and been asked about often. My understanding is that you don’t wanna do it. The Lizard is the piece of your body that keeps you alive and does all sorts of vital (keep you alive) things. Like it runs your heart, your breathing – stuff like that. You can kill it, but that will kill you. “Ice pick to the back of the neck, bullet to back of neck, and the new/old favorite beheading.” Not recommended 🙂

      Best is to learn to take care of your Lizard and learn to protect it, keep it safe, soothe it. Get it used to the idea that a caring adult (YOU) is around all the time, now.

      Best of luck to a fellow super-clinger.

      My wife reminded me of the Jimmy Buffett song, ““>Off to see the Lizard.

  2. I just wanted to say this website is absolutely brilliant, has really helped me understand patterns in my relationship and critically, has really helped with panicky feelings. Thank you so much for providing such excellent advice.

      • Dear Al, I am hoping you can help me as I feel desperate and terrified about the direction my relationship is heading.
        My partner and I met 4 years ago and fell madly, hopelessly, and quickly in love with one another. There were so many incidences of synchronicity and strange things in common – we shared very specific interests, had scarily similar backgrounds, and had even dreamed of one another before we had met. I am in no doubt that this man is my soulmate. We are very different people. He is quiet, kind, low energy, reserved and sensitive – and as our relationship has progressed I have also realised he can be quite passive aggressive and an avoider. I am open to a fault, expressive, outgoing, and energetic, and have realised I can be overly aggressive, controlling, and clingy. We are both guilty of being too critical. We bought a house together and I became pregnant, so we married (I pushed for this). The first year I struggled with postnatal depression, but our relationship was very good – he was loving, demonstrative, supportive and very patient. I had a very good job and he was in an abusive work situation and had no confidence to look for sown thing else. This came to a head when his boss refused to let him attent scans and antenatal appointments, his boss was becoming more verbally abusive and cotinually threatening to sack him. We both knew he had to find something else before te baby arrived, but his confidence was so low that he needed a lot of support and encouragement. He found a brilliant job and I helped him put together his portfolio and overcome his fear of interviews. He got the job, and his self-esteem seems to have really improved – as I say, he then supported me heroically through a year of postnatal depression.

        The problems started about four months ago. I fell pregnant a second time and his contract was coming to an end at his new job. There were months of uncertainly and to make matters works we had to undergo extensive rennovations on our house. I myself was struggling to adjust to the demands of motherhood and pregnancy, and was confused about my new identity – so far removed from the glamourousness career I previously enjoyed. I went from having a fast, demanding media job to being alone for days on end. Almost co-inciding with my resignation at the end of maternity leave, my husband began to withdraw. He told me he no longer knew how he felt about me – he brought things up from years ago, things he had failed to express his anger about at the time. I reacted in anger and confusion to all of this – pushing him to make a decision about our marriage one day, attempting to hide my deep pain with smiles and affability the next. I have both pushed him to talk, and given him lots of space. He is no longer the loving partner I married. He does not touch me, he withdraws when I am upset, he tells me he is depressed and tired and doesn’t feel the same enthusiasm about anything – including me, our daughter, and his job (who incidentally, made him permanent). I am heartbroken, exhausted, and don’t know what to do. I am weeks away from giving birth and my husband refuses to discuss any of this with me – I have told you all I know. He will not seek counselling or help, but does not want to leave our marriage. His behaviour is kind, dutiful, and considerate but the emotional connection and intimacy gave vanished. I am on a roller coaster of emotions and am just desperate for some guidance – please help.

        • Great letter, Anon (suzi), What a mess! You both sound pretty capable and yet lost when it comes to dealing with a relationship. Your tasks, his job, the kids, your career change, I think are huge changes and really demand a partnership that is strong and stable – which you ain’t got. And now you gotta learn everything at once, let along deal with those heavy tasks. Wow. Life certainly isn’t fair. Bummer.

          Hmm, what can I do to help? So far it all sounds solvable. Just seems like there is a lot of it. My first guess is that you don’t need a counselor so much as some who can teach you both how to respectfully talk with each other. That is just a series of skills that anyone can learn. Probably your goal is to get him to reliably chatter with you about anything and that probably means learning what you do that tends to shut him down, stopping that stuff, and learning the stuff that invites people to share. I don’t know where you live but there are lots of people (some counselors, some by other names) who can teach and guide these things. You might want to check out Imago Therapists. Tell ’em you don’t want therapy. You want to learn how to talk. Mention my name.

          Good luck.

  3. HI Al. I’m shocked this is probably my husband and I. We have been in the… he needs space mode.. for at least the last day. maybe longer, a day and a half. I have HUGE issues with this. It makes me feel awful when he shuts down. This all makes perfect sense but I don’t know what to do about it. Our children ask me what’s wrong with daddy and I say he has a lot on his mind. He will do occasional nice things for me, but mostly he avoids me.. he avoids talking to me, eye contact, the room I am in. I press and ask what I did.. he swears nothing. He will probably be better later on today. I may normally say something where this hurts my feelings or just let it go. so am I supposed to say nothing? I’ve expressed how this all makes me feel rejected and I get no where. no clear response. It feels like he is intentionally hurting my feelings, but I really don’t think he is. We’ve been married for years.. and until recently, I would go and comfort myself. BUT he just gave up an addiction and claims that the reason he would do his particular addiction was loneliness… so I’ve made every effort to make him feel less lonely only to feel more rejected by him. What do I do?!?

    • Dear Laura, Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. Sounds really tough, not just the clinger/avoider stuff, but also some addiction/codependency recovery stuff at the same time. And kids. Get some help. Some good professional would be in order. You being a clinger, at the moment, probably need someone to talk to fast. On the good side, probably both of you are waking up. That’s always toward the good. And good luck.

  4. How much space to give him? Easy (so say) answer. Just slightly more space than he needs at any point. You want him to be habitually reaching out to you – a little.
    Your stress and bad habits are yours and not caused by anyone but you. That's a tough lesson, but at the same time it frees you to work on developing good habits and stress reducing tactics. Boundaries. Etc. I've learned myself and written all about this.
    Good luck.

  5. My question: I have been in a relationship with an Avoider, and I am a clinger. (I grew up with an extremely distant father). I have been in this relationship for almost 3 years, and he broke up with me briefly this past summer due to feeling overwhelmed and as though he didn't love me as much as I needed to be loved, etc. He came back after we didn't speak for 3 weeks and we've been working on the relationship ever since. We'd been long distance (much of my clinging took place in the form of text messages insisting something was wrong because I could sense he was pulling away), and he moved to be nearer to me once we got back together and we've been seeing each other ever since.
    Last week, I slipped and went pretty deeply into my clingy behavior, concerned that he was pulling away again and badgering him with questions about our separation in the summer. He reached a point where he said he needed space because it felt as though I was saying all that he's done to show me his commitment and love were not enough. I apologized profusely, and he accepted, but he is still significantly detached so I have been trying to give him some space. My question is, how much space should I give? Is it bad for me to send any messages, even if they are just light and happy in tone? I haven't sent anything negative, even remotely, since we made up because I recognized the pattern in myself to revisit old wounds and push him to reassure me too often, but I cannot tell if it's too late and I should be completely detached and no contact at all? We're not broken up or anything, but I don't want to risk losing this all over again due to my stress and bad habits. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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