By Dr. Linda Sapadin
It makes no sense.
Some people, like Sandy, crave intimacy. Yet, the things they do to obtain it have just the opposite effect. Their behavior drives people away, even the most patient of people. Here's an example of how it works:
Sandy has a new boyfriend. He seems to be everything she ever wanted. He's handsome, cool, suave, and in love with her. The more time she spends with him, the more she wants to spend with him. She admits she has developed an insatiable hunger for this guy. He fills her every need.
Sounds like a great whirlwind romance until Sandy admits that, on occasion, she lashes out at him with fury. What does he do that is so awful?
Last week, he went out with his friends rather than be with her.
This felt treasonous to her. How could he choose to be with his stupid guy friends over being with her? How dare he? Who does he think I am? Just somebody who could be disposed of like that? No way! I’ll make him pay.
She made him pay, all right. She accused him of being selfish and mean and miserable. She chewed him out with choice curse words. Doesn’t he know he should not hurt her ever? Her needs should come first. He should think of her before he thinks of his friends.
It only took a short time for Sandy’s anger to escalate into red-hot rage. When the embers finally began to smolder, Sandy’s fury turned to another target - herself.
"I can't believe how I acted. I was out-of-control. How could I have cursed him out like that? I’m so embarrassed. I wish I could crawl into a hole and die. How could I make it up to him?"
One way she could make it up to him was obvious. She could be sexy. She could be seductive. She could tell him how much she loves him and how sorry she is. And it works. Pretty soon, he comes around. He forgives her. He even tells her how much he loves her passionate nature.
And all is well with the world until the next time. And there is always a next time.
Sandy desperately wants to have love in her life. Yet, she can act so unloving. She’s not stupid. Nor uneducated. How could someone so smart act so completely irrational? She feels confused.
It doesn’t seem to make sense.
One thing she does know, however, is that in those crazy out-of-control moments, she’s feeling totally abandoned. It’s like she’s being tossed about and battered by a huge wave that crashed down on her. No sense of self to turn to. No safe harbor. No sanctuary. Nothing she can rely on. Nobody she can count on.
How can Sandy tone down these powerful feelings of abandonment? The answer does not lie outside of herself (with the perfect lover), but inside of herself. She needs to develop a stronger sense of self. And learn how to modulate her feelings and calm herself down. And be there for herself when others disappoint her.
The road from irrational love to mature love is a long, hard road.
But is it worth all the effort? No question. Ask anyone who has made the journey.
Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email