Human beings have the need to reach out and to connect and the need to pull away and be by themselves. This is normal and the amount of time that is required with another and by oneself is naturally going to vary from person to person. It can come down to what is going in their life and how they feel; at certain times, one might want to connect with others and at other times, they may want to spend more time by themselves.
When one is around others, they are going to be able to meet certain needs; as to what these needs are will depend on who they are with at any given moment. If they are with a partner/lover they will be able to fulfil their physical and emotional needs, and maybe even their intellectual needs.
Just as if they are with a friend or a family member, they are going to be able to meet a different set of needs. So their emotional and intellectual needs are likely to be met. But while certain needs are being met with some people and not with others, each person is fulfilling ones needs to connect.
When it comes to pulling away and to breaking this connection, one could be around a friend, their partner/lover or a group of people for instance and then there will come and time where they need to pull away. They might go and spend time by themselves, or they might end up going from spending time with their partner/lover, to being with a friend or a family member.
Through pulling away and spending time by oneself or even with someone else, one will be able to get back in touch with themselves and to re-centre. One will be getting back in touch with who they are as an individual and this will enable one to connect to their true self.
During the times when one ends their time with another, it is likely to create an emotional reaction and one could feel sad or annoyed that their time has come to an end. But what this won’t lead to is the experience that one is losing themselves.
And when one connects with another person, their sense of self is not going to be something that disappears. So one won’t lose who they are or feel the need to end the interaction prematurely.
They will be able to pull away when they need a break and to reach out when they need to connect. This will be something they choose and not something they feel compelled to do. At an emotional level, one is going to be interdependent and not dependent; what this means is that while other people play a part in how they feel, they’re still able to regulate their own emotions.
So one is able to reach out to others on one hand and at the same time, they’re not going to see other people as being a threat to their sense of self. Other people can fulfil some of their needs but not all of them and while other people can fulfil their needs, this doesn’t mean that they want to control them. One will be able to be by themselves and still maintain a sense of self, and not feel as though they have been left.
A Different Experience
But while some people experience the above or something similar, there are other people who experience life in a different way. Their natural need to connect and to pull away from people is made even more complex by how they feel when they do these things.
Connecting to others doesn’t feel safe and one doesn’t feel that it is safe for them to pull away either. This is a dynamic that can cause extreme suffering and if this related to food, and one didn’t feel safe eating food, they wouldn’t last for very long.
But although one might not die through living life in this way, it is unlikely to be a fulfilling existence. No matter what one does, they’re going to suffer and this can cause one to feel completely hopeless and helpless.
They want to be around others, but if they are around others, they feel smothered. This then causes them to pull away and to be by themselves and soon enough, they feel abandoned. One can end up feeling trapped and believe that there is no way out of what can be a ‘living hell’.
And as one feels this way, they’re going to attract people who validate how they feel. So one could find that they attract people who are smothering and who lack any kind of awareness as to how they come across.
Or one might find that they attract people who are aloof and unavailable and while this won’t cause one to feel smothered, they will end up feeling abandoned. This could be how ones relationships have always been and a dynamic that has defined their life.
What Is Going On?
There is the chance that this is how one has always felt and this can cause one to believe that it is part of their nature and something they are stuck with. And the reason is can seem as though it is part of one’s nature, is because it is likely to have been a dynamic that one experienced during their formative years.
This dynamic can then feel as much a part of their nature as the need to connect to people or to pull away is. However, it is not part of their nature; it a consequence of early childhood trauma. And what happened during these early years caused them to create associations that have defined their life ever since.
So during ones time as a baby and a child, one is likely to have been brought up by a caregiver who had no awareness of their needs. One was probably used to take care of their caregivers needs, and their needs would have been denied.
And because their caregiver was not in touch with ones needs, they would have been held or touched when they didn’t want to be held and touched, and left when they needed to be held and touched. During these moments, one would have been completely helpless and they wouldn’t have been able to do anything.
How one feels as an adult, in regards to connecting to others and to separating from them, is therefore normal based on what happened to them. As one felt helpless during these years and the emotional experiences have remained trapped in their body, they can continue to feel helpless as an adult.
So all the time the emotional experiences of the past remain trapped in one’s body, they will continue to alternate between feeling smothered and abandoned and feel powerless to do anything about what is happening.
These emotional experiences that have remained trapped in one’s body will need to be faced and released. This can be done with the assistance of a therapist or a healer.
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Oliver J R 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.