REASSURANCE-SEEKING THREATENS EARLY RELATIONSHIPS

So many early relationships fall apart before they even have legs because, without realizing it, one or the other persists in looking for signs of reassurance.

Andrew will have been on a date that went well. He’ll have really liked him, and avidly wants his new guy to feel the same. Andrew “shows his appreciation” early and he expects the other to do the same. So he lets the guy know what a great time he had. Fine. And then he’ll quickly add a bunch of other things he’d like to do together; possibly not so fine. If you don’t wait to get a sense of the other person’s timing and space needs, e.g., how they repond, how soon they respond – it demonstrates an inability to wait for or respond appropriately to the other person’s pacing (Andrew would say he’s just being ‘optimistic’). Not surprisingly, the other may pull back a bit, which then only tends to step up Andrew’s pushing. He perceives his behavior as simply showing care when, in reality, he’s now trying to make the relationship happen – and according to his timeline.

Sandy will often find reasons to ‘get in touch’ with Raj, the man with whom she’s had a few dates. She’ll text asking how a meeting went, or how his boss reacted to a problem they were having, or how he’s feeling after a bad cold. In and of themselves, they’re perfectly reasonable things to ask. But it’s all in the observing and waiting.

People with a need for reassurance – and to know quickly whether the other person likes them – have too much anxiety to really wait for the ‘data’. And the data is critical to moving forward.

What’s key is to be able to look at yourself more accurately to discern:

-am I moving in, in the guise of seeming interested and friendly?

-am I feeling a little tense not yet knowing how s/he feels?

-do I have a tendency to do this?

-would I hurry to ask a friend these questions, or would I be able to wait until we speak or see each other in the near future?

-if I knew for sure that s/he really liked me, would I be able to take it easier?

-do I truly have to know the answers to these questions now?

-do I find myself worrying, “what if I don’t get in touch with him/her… might I risk losing his/her interest?

-were you not able to text, would you be as likely to act on this without thinking it through further?

All of these questions assess how much anxiety and feelings of insecurity are playing a role in how you’re dealing with this person. If even some of these are true, it’s critical to reassess how you’re going about this and take a different approach.

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