HomeMain PageWhich Essays are Popular? (Updated April 1, 2019)


Which Essays are Popular? (Updated April 1, 2019) — 7 Comments

  1. Al,
    I am a fan of your work and would like some outside ideas on my current problem.
    I am in a 6 month relationship and I find myself in the rare position of avoider trying to practice the university of life skills with my stage-5 clinger partner.
    I try to practice many skills, and I often find that I allow myself to get so overwhelmed by his neediness that I stop working on the skill at hand and flee in any way I can.
    I even tried to use of Time-outs. I tell him that I need space to sort things out, and I'll get back to him after the period of time is over. He'll then give me physical space…and then start pushing via text or online messaging as soon as he can.
    I would like some ideas on where to go from here, even if it's just to help myself feel safer so that I may not flee as much.
    For some background information, I used to be a stage 5 clinger in another relationship. It's kind of jarring to me to be on the other side. I also wonder if having that prior experience might help me understand his need better, and if that might help in fleeing less.
    Thank you for reading,

    • You are so lucky, Tamra.

      Most people don't get to be on both sides of the Clinger/Avoider issue and thus do not have as great a chance of developing some empathy for your partner. I like your label for him – a stage-5 clinger.

      Ok, here's some thoughts. I see the Reliable Membership issue as non-conscious and cannot be negotiated with.

      In any way that you (as the Avoider) don't get quiet/down time, then the both of you are still moving toward trouble. In any way that you (as Clinger) put up obstacles to your partner getting quiet/down time, then….. the same.

      The tool of choice, I am very sure, is TimeOuts, practiced well. I gather you are still learning to use them, TimeOuts, successfully.

      The place in your post where I hear "trouble" was the phrase "I tell him that I need space…" Change that to "I announce I am taking space and I give him no choice. But I do it kindly." Don't "ask". Tell him that if he tries to contact you during your "named" quiet time, you will make the time longer.

      E.g. "Hey, hun!. I'm going to take a TimeOut.  I need a break.  I will check in with you in 2 hours.  Please be patient, cuz I'm only doing this so we can have a great relationship.  I need a break."   Or even better.  "Whoa, whoa! I am going to need some quiet time if we continue.  I think I can hang in here for 5 minutes.  Then I will take a break.  Feels to me as if I am going to need about 6 hours of quiet.  I am real overloaded."

      He, whoever is Clinger, has to calm themselves and learn to be a "source of quiet time" to their Avoider partner. The Clinger has to "get it" that giving their partners space is paradoxically the way to keep them close. The Avoider can help in this by being firm and kind.

      Good luck. 



  2. Dear Craig,
    I am glad you have learned so much around here. The challenge you face is tough. I have written on it several times but that doesn't make things easier. And there are all those people out there telling you what to do.
    Here's what I think. Standing in the behind your ex-partner, illumined in the sunlight and moonlight is the Biological Dream – an deeply held unconscious belief it the kind of partnership you are built to have – both biologically and by early upraising. This defines an Imago Partner. I say that the BD is standing behind her at the moment. It lights her up in your life. How can you ever get rid of that?! Well, the principle is that the only thing that makes you forget your last Imago Partner is your next Imago Partner.
    How long should you wait before choosing to move on? No one can make that decision for you. Besides a new Imago Partner might show up at any time. If you hide away, that chance is smaller.
    Me, I'd look at how old you are, guess how long you can wait to have a partner to work with, look a where you are living and how far do you have to go to meet people. Assess thingies like this. As a rule of thumb, I think that 6 months is an outer limit of how long to wait.
    But then, after you start being open to new people it may take you a year to find a new Imago Partner. If the old one shows up again, you might want to stop the search for a new. Maybe not.
    Two things I've written on this are When to Hold “em” and Finding Mr. / Ms. Right.
    As to those people giving you advice I suggest two things.
    First there seem to be an awful lot of people who are so scared of marriage/relationships that they choose to play with each other. I like playing, but see it as something to do after the work of life is done for the day. Some see play as the purpose of life. Sometimes these people date and use each other until the opportunity to work/grow up appears and then go find another playmate. I don't think that is your goal. Besides it never achieves Vintage Love. You may have to turn to some of these people and refuse their invitation.
    Second, I suggest you don't ever give up the Biological Dream. If you can't get it with your current partner, go get it with another!

  3. Dear Al,
    I really like the way you've pulled things together on this page. I also like your basic synopsis of why she (or he) left the relationship – “because the relationship sucked.” Thanks to your writings on this website, I have learned tons about things such as the lizard, master-slave and friend-friend talk, the paths of relationships, healing, etc.
    But back to why she left the relationship. She left because I didn't adequately meet her need for safety. We were both very reactive when we were in the power struggle. I know this now. I've taken your advice to learn as much as I can to be a safe partner, and also taken your advice not to push her now that she's left me.
    A month after our breakup, she got into a relationship with someone else, and she has asked me to keep a “safe” distance away. I have respected her request. Because I don't think she has focused on learning during this time, I think it's likely that her current relationship won't last. At the same time, I believe that we would be very happy together, now that I've learned how to be a better and safer partner. We would need to learn some things together, but I believe it's entirely feasible. Thus far, I've been patient to wait for her. That is, I have not emotionally cut her out of my life.
    My question is this: How would you respond to the throngs of people who say things like “You have to let her go,” or “You have to move on.”
    I get these comments all the time, and I'm very curious what your take on this is.

  4. Thanks for you input and a great question. How to use your single time (between partners) to develop relationship skills? I also like your comment about “partner thinking” vs “just me thinking.” I will consider this as a topic.
    I can share just a couple of thoughts now. When you drop out of a relationship, my experience says you will be exhausted and will need some nice vacation or recreation time. I suggest you do not push back into any relationship for a while. Wait for your own internal “connection clock” to ring. It will and you will start feeling lonely. Don't rush.
    A lot of the exhaustion has come from trying to make your last relationship better, doing things that do not work, thus tiring and frustrating yourself, until finally seeking the benefit of “quiet time” or what you call “just me” time.
    I believe the long term goal of a relationship is the achieve the benefits of “just me” time while also having the benefits of a buddy or partner. To me, this is worth the work.
    When you are peaceful, rested, and perhaps with friends, you might want to look for what you were exhausting yourself doing that wasn't working. You might want to also look into what you were exhausting yourself doing to protect yourself while your partner was doing things that were not working for him.
    Practicing how to do those things that work in both situations, make them easy to do. And you will probably need them.
    Good luck.

  5. Well, I must say thank you for your hobby. I've really found your articles most interesting and really appreciate the time you put into everything.
    And as for suggestions on topics, perhaps how to work on relationship skills while between partners. I've just gotten out of a 3.5 year relationship and am a bit up in the air changing my habits from “partner thinking” mode into “just me” mode.

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