HOGGING THE WANTING
This is a concept that often moves people to start questioning: And for those willing to look at themselves and their patterns in relationships, they have an “ah-ha!” moment when they begin to understand how it relates to mistakes they’ve been making. What is it to hog the wanting? You may have been on one or both sides of this equation at various times in your life – though most people tend to move into one role or the other.
Hogging the wanting describes a dynamic in which one person pursues another too zealously, creating a situation in which the other person feels increasingly less interested in taking things further. The ‘hog’ is so excited by the hope and excitement of a relationship that he is not aware (or doesn’t want to be aware) that he is crowding the other and giving the other less space to want him/her as well. Although the hog would never see himself this way, he’s so concerned with what he wants at the moment that he can’t fathom what it might feel like from the other side. From conversations with hundreds of people crossing ethnic, racial and socioeconomic lines, those who tend to do this are people who’ve never learned how to think through the dynamics – and the ‘dance’ – of relationship-building. To allow the other person to want you too, you have to be able to separate enough to let them process the experience in their own ways.
The following are examples:
Brad and Anna are starting a relationship. At first, it was easy and flowing: They were both equally attracted…. they began dating, found they had “chemistry” (will write shortly on the fallacies of the term ‘chemistry’), a shared sense of ambition in their demanding careers, many similar interests, etc. Good start.
But Brad stays over on a Friday night and isn’t ready to leave the next morning after breakfast. Instead, he suggests he stay while she goes to yoga. At that point, Anna doesn’t question it. But when she returns from class, he’s now got an idea of what they should do in the afternoon. Early on, Anna is flattered. But shortly, Brad begins to find ways to stay most of each weekend, and at some point, Anna is uncomfortable and desperately wanting time to herself. She tells me she can’t say anything to him about it because she doesn’t want to make him feel bad or embarrass him (more on this inaccuracy later). This continued for a while until Anna couldn’t bear the sight of Brad.
Lawrence seeks illustrious women (it’s not an accidental association that his father often (obliquely) compared his mother negatively to other women). She has to be smart and beautiful, have a job with clout and status, and be utterly confident. He wants to be with her often, be seen with her and make himself ‘necessary’ so that she’ll need him.
He then meets Kendall who is busy with many work and social activities and though they’ve started well, Lawrence isn’t satisfied with seeing her once or twice per week. So he steps it up (without seeking a sense of whether she wants this); if she’s writing an article and having some computer glitches, he suggests he come over to clear those up for her. If she’s going to an event, he tells her that he was thinking of going to that event too. He’s ever available and always wants to ‘help’, (see post about “If all he wants to do is make you happy, run!”) and is seemingly unaware that this isn’t just about being excited by someone new. It’s about ingratiating himself into her life so that he never has to worry that she’ll leave him.
If you’ve been a relationship hog, It’s way too easy to want or ‘have a crush’ on another person; it fills up your thoughts, and allows you to fantasize about being with this seemingly perfect person. But to truly allow closeness to happen, it would mean you’d have to be willing to find out who this person really is: Someone who has his/her own needs, timetables, times for closeness and distance. It’s harder to allow the potential partner to take the time to want you. It means you have to withstand waiting for him/her to get back to you. It might mean that person has a slower trajectory in getting close. This would require that you get comfortable with having alone time, not necessarily knowing exactly how the person feels about you at all moments and, thus, without all the reinforcement that comes with immediately feeling liked. And many people can’t stand this unknowing state. In fact, I suspect this is becoming an increasingly prevalent phenomenon.
A second kind of ‘reckoning’ for the hog, and this only happens in some cases (about which the next post will be written) is becoming comfortable with the other person beginning to want as much time with him as he himself has been seeking. The hog is now stopped in his tracks; the chase is over and he’s faced with a real person with needs for closeness as well. This is the quintessential dilemma for the hog/chaser: ‘Can I let this person want me and strive for me – as only I’ve been doing thus far.’