There are some people who not only feel comfortable in a relationship; they also feel comfortable when they are not in one. This means that their boundaries are strong enough for them to open up and to experience intimacy without losing who they are.
And when they are not in a relationship, their sense of self is going to be strong enough for them to enjoy their own company. However, if one doesn’t have a strong sense of self, it is going to be a challenge for them to have a healthy relationship with another person or to enjoy their own company.
What Can Happen
This can then set up one to go from one extreme to the other or they could end up being stuck on one side of the spectrum. On one side, it could mean that one is almost always in a relationship and on the other, it could mean that they end up doing everything they can to avoid them.
Yet, it can all depend on how they feel as to whether they choose one option or another. If, for example, one struggles with the feeling of being abandoned, it could cause them to do everything they can do be with someone. But if they struggle with feeling smothered, it could mean that they avoid being with others.
One could reflect on how they feel and wonder why they feel as they do. Others could also wonder one feels as they do and therefore, behave as they do. And although one’s emotional experience is having a negative effect on their life, it doesn’t mean that they will be able to just ‘let go’ and to change how they feel.
There could be times when one feels smothered and times when they feel abandoned, and this is why it is not black and white. The reason one feels this way could be put down to their beliefs and the thoughts in their head, but this isn’t going to be the complete truth.
When one does feel this way, it is going to affect their ability to experience intimacy. This is because one is either going to want to enmesh with another or do everything they can to stop another getting too close them.
The first person could be seen as someone who embraces intimacy; especially if they are always in a relationship. And the other person could be seen as someone who fears intimacy.
But the need to become one with another person is not intimacy – it is simply a way for them to avoid feeling abandoned. Here, one has regressed to a symbiotic state has merged with the other. One is then boundary-less and this has then means that they are dependent on the other.
Another way of looking at it would be to picture one person as the mother and the other person as their young child. If appearances were put to one side, this is what one would see. It is then not an adult to adult relationship; it is a parent-child relationship.
In A Relationship
When they are in a relationship, it will be possible for them to regulate how they feel. Through being with someone else, one might believe that they have found what they have been looking for their whole life.
And all the time they are in another’s company, they might feel whole and as if their life is perfect. But if one was away from the other person, they could soon feel as though something is missing.
How they feel during these moments is likely to remind them of how they feel when they are not in a relationship. When one is in a relationship and is not in the others company, they can end up believing that their emptiness is being caused by the others absence, whereas, when one is not in a relationship, they are not going to have anyone to project their feelings onto and they could end up wondering why they feel as they do or they might have disconnected from how they feel.
It is then going to be important for them to do everything they can to be around the other person. In the beginning, the other person might appreciate the attention, but as time passes, they might soon feel smothered. When one has a fear of being abandoned, they are generally going to attract people who fear being smothered.
Being with another then takes away the feeling of emptiness, and this is something that one can feel in their chest. And these feelings can end up causing one to experience physical pain.
However, just because one’s feeling of emptiness is taken away in the others company, it doesn’t mean that one is missing something. What it is likely to mean is that one is projecting their unmet childhood needs onto the other person.
Unmet Childhood Needs
When one feels empty, it can be a sign that they were neglected during their childhood. And because of what happened, one will have ended up being emotionally undeveloped.
One then doesn’t need the other person to feel whole, what it comes down to is that one is projecting their unmet childhood needs onto them. One then sees the other person as their caregiver and expects them to give them what they didn’t get whilst they were growing up.
As a result of one’s childhood neglect, they can end up carrying a lot of pain and this can then stop them from being able to realise what is actually taking place. The other person is then not only seen as the cause of their pain, they are also seen as the ones who will take it away.
Ultimately, the other person is triggering one’s unmet childhood needs and the pain that they experienced through not having these met, and these will need to be grieved. If one was neglected during their childhood and not given the attunement that they need, it is going to be normal for them to feel empty and as though something is missing as an adult.
However, in order for one to feel whole, it will be important for them to grieve their unmet childhood needs and to be affirmed. This is something that can take place with the assistance of a therapist or a healer.
They will hold the space and allow one to get in touch with their unmet childhood needs and to grieve them. Through their presence and the positive regard that they offer, one will gradually begin to develop a sense of self.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.