June 26, 27 and 28 of The Break Up Journal are up. And the icky downward spiral continues. I wasn’t able to figure out why this guy P was not writing to me every day. On the one hand, I grappled with feeling like a nag, always wanting attention, questioning his love for me. On the other, I had valid concerns that this new guy (not so new; we had confessed our love for each other after a couple months) should write more than a line or two after not having seen me in a few days. Was I detecting a red flag? Was I dealing, yet again, with another avoidant? Or, was I to blame? Was I being overly needy and demanding?
Anyone, healthy or not, can get stuck at this point. But for the recovering love addict, who has trust issues and feeble self-esteem, it’s a very perplexing dilemma.
It’s important to remember though, that when love addicts begin a new relationship, it takes a lot (and I mean A LOT) of effort on the part of the partner to help build trust. This is especially true if he’s dating a love addict who has had his or her fair share of deceitful or mistrusting relationships. A new, HEALTHY partner needs to be as honest as possible, have a decent amount of patience for a love addict’s mistrust issues (not forever, but for a relatively reasonable amount of time–6 months? a year?), and be willing to put in extra effort so that the love addict can heal and (re)establish trust. His words must always back up his actions, and his actions must point in the direction of care, respect, love, kindness and maybe even a little selflessness.
As for the recovering love addict, for her part, she must keep her eyes open for red flags, question the validity of her partner, test him (without being rude, deceitful or cruel) and work hard at facing the reality of the relationship (as opposed to keeping her eyes closed so as not to see anything that might remotely mean “the end”). She must be willing to accept and deal with whatever comes her way, good or bad, even if it means a possible break-up. And that means that she must always turn to her values, constantly checking to see if her partner shares those same values. Does he believe in communicating while apart? Does she? Is it more important that he have “me time” while they are apart, or is it important to touch base? If two people do not share the same expected values, a conversation should be had on the subject and compromise and negotiation should follow. I really need you to write me an email every other day, just a few sentences. That would make me feel better. Or, I really need to do my own thing and not feel obligated to write to you more than once a week. Neither of these requests are right or wrong. They are simply personal. And so, based on the couple’s ability to compromise, (he either writes the letters or he doesn’t; she either encourages him to write the letters, or she let’s it go and enjoys her trip), the recovering love addict can formulate her own feelings as to what she is willing to deal with. Can she live with her partner not writing every day or can’t she?
In the case of P, I could not live comfortable with the idea that he wasn’t writing every other day. And the reason is because I had not yet established trust with him. To me, if you love someone, you reach out to them. To me, that would have established trust. Years later, I was put in the same situation with D. I went away to Europe. We were newly dating. I told him I really needed him to write me long letters every other day. He did.
D built trust. P did not.