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Come here – Go Away! by Dr Candess M Campbell
A friend recently shared she entered back into a relationship with a man she had been dating a couple months ago. The chemistry was great and they had a lot of fun. Soon he began setting boundaries around their time together and then didn’t want to be with her any longer. As I listened to her share, I could hear how hurt and confused she had been. Then at a local music event, after a long talk they reconnected and reunited.
He had been married for several years and his wife cheated on him. Because of the unhealed pain, he was afraid to get too close to another woman. In the midst of their reconnection, and after a few drinks, he dropped the “L” word. So now, she has decided to be present, but cautious. She noticed throughout the whole relationship there was the simultaneous, come here, go away.
Listening to her triggered a memory of mine. I had reunited with a former boyfriend after several years. Due to my mounting career, I hadn’t dated anyone since him. When he was in town one night, over a glass of wine, I shared that I loved him. I meant as a friend, but he lit up and confessed his feelings for me. Within a week, he visualized and shared his dream life for us and although I attempted to be emotionally cautious, I walked right into his dream. I fell into the intense high that comes from early love and our intimate connection was ablaze.
During the next week he planned our lives together. He talked about how we would age and care for each other, our plans for retirement, and he even mentioned pre-nuptials although I was adamant that I didn’t want to be married. Occasionally I saw sparks in his eyes when he looked at me. I wondered what happened to this man I knew previously who was self-protective and controlling. For the first time, I met his adolescent daughter and he introduced me to his family via Skype.
Being right in step with him, I was elated. We connected well in intelligence, lifestyle, travel, music, abundance, and we were on our way. We texted every day and talked every night. While he was transitioning back to the city where I lived, some nights we would Skype. We spent fun filled weekends together, either here or there.
And then it happened. At the same time he was making plans for us to be together, he was pulling away. He would call and tell me he wanted to see me on the weekend, whispering loving, romantic, and suggestive words. I cleared my schedule for Saturday. Morning came and he called to tell me he was going to play the piano, organize his office, watch the soccer game and he’d contact me later. I was confused.
When I attempted to get clear on his timetable, so I could be available and also plan my weekend, he got defensive. Eventually we got together to listen to music, see a movie, or go to an art gallery. We would be intimate and he would continue to espouse the dream of togetherness. The next day we would separate to do our own thing and in the next phone conversation he would be distant and disconnected. The relationship was continually filled with the tension of come here, go away.
I began to get a sense that he was scaring himself. He jumped in too fast. This is somewhat similar to the example I shared of my friend earlier. Her boyfriend was scared because his former wife had cheated him on. In the case of my boyfriend, he had never been in love (admittedly) and was scared. He was too close to the flame. In both these cases, there was the crazy making behaviors of come here, go away.
This was a repeat of a previous experience. Jonathan and I had a lot of fun together. We traveled to music concerts, had great chemistry, the same interests, same friends, and similar work. We lived together for many years and we were great friends. Yet, there was always this sense of push and pull.
Over time we moved to an isolated area in the country and my awareness of our distance increased. The more I asked for connection, cuddling (which we never did), the more distance he became. Eventually, knowing his mother, I understood that there was a small attachment disorder and the deep connection I desired was never going to happen.
Given my word for this year is Relationship – I have not only been studying and writing about love and relationship, but I have been preparing for dating myself. I am fortunate to be in a few singles groups where communication between men and women is open and we have a lot of fun dancing, listening to music, attending First Friday events downtown and actually, dating as a group.
Dating and creating relationship later in life is different. Early on it’s easy to be distracted by raising children and demanding schedules, but later in life, we often have more disposable income and better choices regarding time. The women I know tend to be more aware and pickier. Some are afraid to be alone and jump in unconsciously. In either case, for women and men both, past experiences create caution and fear going forward.
Although the examples used to demonstrate come here, go away are those of men, these dysfunctional patterns happen with women as well. Would love to hear other women and men’s views in the comment section.
Some reasons for come here, go away behaviors.
- Fear of being cheated on and hurt.
One of my friends said she thought it was more difficult for men to experience infidelity. I think it may be that it’s more difficult for those who are able to open up their hearts and invest deeply.
- Fear of being controlled and having to give up the life they’ve become accustomed.
This often shows up with people who have lived alone for a long time. Learning to share and compromise comes more easily for some than others.
This issue is common with those who have acquired a lot of toys (race cars, 4-wheelers, etc.) or created habits such as spending all day watching sports on TV, hanging at local pubs or beach bumming.
In some cases, I’ve seen men who want all the attention and act as if they ‘own’ the woman.
Another way this may happen is that one of the partners cannot have a voice in the decision-making.
- Fear of loss of alone time or feeling suffocated.
People definitely vary in how comfortable they are being close, although most people become more introverted as they age. Some have strong boundaries around personal space and others have very little. Being able to have a relationship where there is a healthy balance of merging and separating can be tricky.
Having separate space in a home and enjoying separate activities can help.
- Fear of sharing their resources, especially through marriage and divorce.
Loss of half your income or more due to a breakup of a relationship or marriage can be devastating. It is critical to a healthy relationship to share your needs and expectations around resources early on.
A client shared with me that her husband’s former wife receives half his retirement even though she has been married to him longer. This bothers her because “it eats at him!” Money is an issue, especially when dating later in life.
Relationships with children can be problematic. Whether one partner says “my children come first” or the new wife tries to create distance between her husband and his children, it can be problematic. This occurs even when the children are adults. I strongly suggest that couples think in terms of “this and this.” With a little creative thinking couples can be inclusive at times and at other times have quality time with the children alone and their loved one alone.
As stated in Marko Petkovic’s book Feel Good Marriage – 7 Steps to a Rock Solid Marriage Without Counseling “It’s a scientifically proven fact that, during this time, [in love] our brains produce drugs that would be illegal on the street or need a medical prescription.”
Initially with hormones flying, it is difficult to see the signs of come here, go away. When you are high on love, it is like being on drugs.
Steps you can take now to prepare for creating a healthy relationship.
- Inventory your past relationships. Notice your own patterns. Think about whether either sending the come here, go away message or being the recipient has been a pattern in your life.
- Think about your boundaries and whether you are continually in other people’s personal space or whether you set boundaries that make it difficult for others to reach you.
- If you find yourself attracted to a man or woman that is emotionally unavailable, ask yourself if you too are holding back. Is this safe so you don’t risk sharing your feelings and your life?
- If you have a history of unresolved pain in relationships, give yourself the gift of either therapy or relationship coaching. These are luxuries (if not necessities) you deserve!
When writing this article I couldn’t help thinking about Leonard Cohen’s Joan of Arc. For those who do not hold back and jump right in, it says it all! http://youtu.be/c2rS2wnWSUA
Candess M. Campbell, PhD is the #1 Best-selling author of 12 Weeks to Self-Healing: Transforming Pain through Energy Medicine. She is a Blogger, Intuitive Success Coach and International Psychic Medium. She has practiced as a mental health and chemical dependency counselor for over 30 years.