Many (most) women who come into my office with their partners to work on their troubled relationships are quite high functioning. At least from my observations, these woman really display a skill in multi-tasking. Sometimes, this remarkable functionality keeps her busy – so busy that I get the impression that she’s racing to keep ahead of something. While I am not a fan of long dissections of our childhood to get at what is going on now, I also believe its impossible to understand that now without some flavor of the past. Our families of origin are where we learn our earliest and most indelible lessons. True or false – here is where we first learn about ourselves in the world. Are intimate relationships safe? Am I worthy of love? How do others really see me?
The highly effective woman will often come into my office with the most poignant, powerful dilemma. On the one hand, she has gotten it done throughout her life – often in the face of an utter absence of love and support from her important caretaker(s). She grew up believing that there was nobody she could ever really lean on. In fact, the idea of really leaning on anyone is so frightening – What if they can’t or don’t want to be there for me. What if my need is an imposition or a reason for them to judge and dismiss me as not worthy of love. Better I take care of myself.
Yet that is exactly what a close, bonded, adult attachment relationship is – Knowing that you will be there to catch me if I fall. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be taken care of. There are lots of ways that can happen for us. Guys need it in their ways. He may think of it in terms of sex or as being okay and still loved even if he screws something up. She may just need to know that she can collapse every once in a while – to be exhausted or overwhelmed or scared and it’ll be okay. She will be okay. She will still be seen as strong, worthy, desired – still be loved.