Why You Feel Trapped or Abandoned in Relationships

Have you ever been in the type of relationship when one person moves forward while the other moves back?

One partner desires closeness, while the other needs space?

This push-pull pattern is enough to drive us mad! It’s also very common…

In this article, I’ll discuss why we feel trapped and/or abandoned in relationships, and how to overcome this very frustrating dance of love.

The place to start is here: We all have relationship wounding from childhood. These wounds stay in our psychic memory and cause us to struggle with intimacy as adults. 

It’s important to recognize that being wounded doesn’t mean that’s something’s wrong with you. It also doesn’t mean that your parents really messed up.

It actually just means that you’re an imperfect human being like the rest of us (and your parents are, too).

The reality is: Most of us struggle with intimacy to a certain degree! Two of the most common struggles we face are: the fear of abandonment and the fear of entrapment (loss of freedom). We may identify primarily with one or the other, but chances are, we’ve all experienced both.

>> The fear of abandonment is a wound that stems from a lack of close, emotional contact when we were young.

If there is too much distance in the early parent-child relationship, it’s likely that the child will grow up with an ingrained fear of being abandoned or rejected. This person will be prone to grasping or clinging in intimate relationships.

>> The fear of entrapment stems from too much contact (not having enough space and feeling intruded upon). 

If there’s not enough space provided in the parent-child relationship, the child will likely grow up fearing close contact with others. This person will be prone to withdrawing out of relationships.

In all cases, individuals who fear abandonment will be attracted to individuals who fear entrapment and vice versa. This is what leads to the push-pull relationship (lovely, right?).

So you might be wondering, “Why does this happen?! It’s so frustrating!!” If you feel that way, you’re not alone. Trust me, there’s a good reason it happens, and that is…

So you’ll grow into knowing the REAL TRUTH about who you are.

Here’s what I mean…

If you’re prone to feeling abandoned, it’s because a part of you identifies with this wound within yourself. While you may feel like it’s another person’s job to make this wound go away (similar to how you felt as a child – you wanted your parents to make it better), this actually is not what’s supposed to happen.

It’s not another person’s job to make you feel whole again! In order to evolve beyond this wound, YOU have to learn how to soothe yourself through this fear.

And how do you do that?

Give your inner child the love that he or she is seeking.

Be present to this part of you that’s hurting. Be caring towards her, stay connected to her, and assure her that YOU will never leave her. 

Healing occurs when you make contact with the deep sense of love and connection inside of you. By relying on this inner resource, your need to cling to others will lift.

This is what it is to grow into who you really are.

For those of you who fear entrapment, the same goes for you. If you want to experience deep intimacy in your life, then you have to face this fear head-on.

Notice that you feel scared to be close to others, be with yourself in this fear (instead of running away), assure yourself that you are safe (and no one can take you over). 

Shower your wounded self with love.

Connect to the deep feeling of Love within you – feel it’s expansive nature and space. Know that you cannot be consumed by another person; know that you’ll be okay.

If you practice staying in relationship while soothing yourself through your fears (rather than trying to get your partner to change and make it better), your relationship with your partner and yourself will expand into new depths of love.

And that’s what we’re here to do. 

When it comes to love and intimacy, we have to be very compassionate with ourselves and each other. Instead of going into reaction-mode when your fears surface, get curious about this wound within yourself.

Love her, stay connected to her, give her what she needs. Doing so will grow the love within you and will take your relationship to a completely new level of love.

In the comments below, please tell us what your most common fear in relationship is, and how you plan on soothing it yourself the next time it comes up. We look forward to hearing from you!

Comments

Mary Beth

Shelly – you are awesome ! I love how you clearly identify confusion in a positive understanding manner!
I find i or we have both – like you said the dance – the fear of abandonment and then the fear of entrapment …i like the challenge but then scared of the trap- we are wounded but like you say learn the akills to help yourself and love others

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Shelly Bullard

Yes. We all have these challenges. I think it’s important for us to recognize it’s normal, and we can change. xo

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Claudia

Thank you Shelly! I am always pushing my boyfriend, asking a lot of times if he is going to continue our relationship, because I want to be sure, this issues comes from my childhood, I didn’t grow up with my parents so every time I have a partner I feel that he’s going to leave me, I’d like to ask you what else I can do in order to heal my inner-child.
Thanks again for you help.

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Shelly Bullard

Finding a good therapist to do inner-child/ abandonment work would be a good start.

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Dana

You cut right to the core of it! Awesome! Clear and direct on the wound and how to heal it. Thank you.

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Mindy

Hi Shelly,

I always find myself in “push” mode at the beginning of a relationship until I trust the person, then it switches to “pull.” How can I balance this out so my emotions are so extreme?

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Shelly Bullard

The “push” is the counter phobic mode of the person who tends to feel abandoned (it’s like, “I don’t want to become attached to you because it might eventually hurt.”) There is no easy solution–the solution is finding an anchor of love within yourself. Without this grounding core, we feel tossed around in relationships. But when we develop a sturdy sense of self, we feel more secure in the relationship, too.

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Maureen

I found this really helpful. I are just come out of a relationship with a man who felt trapped …and I felt horribly abandoned and let down. I can see that I need to learn to soothe and comfort myself through this .

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Kirsty

I definitely identify with the dear of entrapment. I only recently realised this during a Shamanic Healing and I am trying to work my way through it, although it’s difficult. I have an overwhelming desire to separate myself from both my mother and my husband, although logically I know this is not the solution , but I’m not sure how to soothe through it?

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carol sullivan

I found myself wanting a close relationship with my husband and the more I tried to get close the farther away he pulled. With therapy, I learned to relax and allow him the space he wanted. It was after I learned to relax that my husband became overbearing and smothering. I finally experienced the grip he had tried so hard to escape. What I don’t understand is why he moved from one end of the spectrum to the other and found it so difficult to relax his grip and find comfort in the middle. I felt like I was trapped on a see-saw and he rarely felt happy and contend. I lost him to cancer two years ago and as I begin to think about letting a new companion into my life, I sometimes feel as my head is spinning because I don’t know how much closeness to aim for. Any advise?

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Shelly Bullard

There is no advice for that. The dance is going to unfold as it will–and you have to deal with it as it comes. Thanks for sharing.

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Jess

Dear Shelly, this rings so true with me. I have been in a relationship with my current partner for nearly 7 years (engaged for 3 years), it all started out on an even keel (with regards to how we both felt), but over the years, I have found I am becoming more clingy than I would normally ever be, which I find really frustrating & upsetting as this is not how I want to behave in a relationship. The more I push for closeness, the more he pulls away, ending in me being upset & frustrated @ the lack of intimacy. Maybe I over think things too much & should just let it be I’m so upset & not sure what to do?

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Lisa

Thanks, Shelly. I enjoyed the article. How do you make contact with the deep sense of love within one’s self? What are some things I can do or tell myself when I start feeling clingy(besides I shouldn’t feel this way)? I don’t want to be a clingy girlfriend. Thank you!

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Shelly Bullard

Hi Lisa. People do it by developing some sort of deeper spiritual practice. Meditation, yoga, working with a therapist. It’s a process of going within to find strength, and it’s an ongoing process.

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Ilovelove

This article was right on time! I recently met a guy from out of town with whom I have amazing chemistry with. I feel that I embody both these fears, which is probably why the thought of an unavailable man is appealing. Out of my fear of abandonment and intamacy, I found myself explaining what type of connection I desire with him and I felt him pull away with his misinterpretion. Classic example of how we hit eachother with our fears. Clearly we have an attraction for one another that is worth exploring. After some distance I just disclosed that my last encounter with him offered me a platform to see myself and since I’m more grounded, he won’t be experiencing me in my turmoil. I realize part of our design is to offer assistance to one another in our growth. I hope we can continue to do that for one another. But at the least he’s definitly awaken me.

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sunmile

i met a guy far away ,we try to keep ”normal ”contact and waiting that we will meet again soon and start a relationship .
in this long distance ”contact ”i start to feel so strong ”push ”and ”pull ”. i want intimacy but then i am afraid my pull make him feel bored and tireness ,and i start to push myself away from him and also push him ,then i miss him ,and i want him ,then again ,pull.this made me feeling ”drama queen ”and can not enjoy my life ,actually i can not live presently ,who knows whether we will finally meet again ,i want a peaceful,open mind and heart again .help me ..thanks

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Shelly Bullard

Hello. Yes, that is an exhausting pattern. It sounds like you need to start developing some inner-resources to stabilize you. Meditation, or=ther spiritual practices, and reading books about self-love will all help.

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caelum

Dear Ms. Shelly,
Ive been on this dilemma for quite a while now and I have searched the net for over a thousand times on how to deal with my situation, then i came upon your article and it made me think. But Im not even sure if im on the right category. Im really confuse and depressed.
I have a relationship with a guy who is of a different nationality. He was clear even from the start that he is not sure if what we have will last. No one in his family knows about me. He says that if one of his relatives finds out it will be the end of us. Me being blinded by my feelings for him decided to be with him nspite of what might happen in the future. We became an item, we go out, he visits me and we have been together for three years up to now. the relationship was ok in the first months and even up to a year, but has changed when I found out that he was chatting with other girls when he is not with me, i show him the proof and he tried to deny it by saying that he was doing it for a friend. By this time I felt I couldnt trust him. I have become paranoid, that everytime he is not with me, i was thinking he is with another girl. I could not sleep, i could not work properly and it has made me so angry at myself for thinking so much negativity that i always end up fighting with him. I always check up on him, and it has come to a point that im beginning to loose confidence on myself. I know its not good to make him feel lke Im jailing him, but this negativity keeps on eating my common sense. And i always complain that he never showed affection towards me all throughout our being together, like he never hugs me when he comes home to visit me, never holds my hand in public and never really make me feel loved, when i told him about this, all he had to say for himself is that he is not like that even from the start so why should he be now. I also told him of how many times I felt he was trying to avoid making love to me and he says he is not even thinking like that, and told me to stop thinking stupid things all the time. I always have to be the one to initiate affection which really makes me feel so uncared for. He says that he cares about me, but why cant he even show me.
My question is , which I would really appreciate you answering it is that:
Shall i stay with him still, or should i let him go? has he done anything bad that its reason enough for me to call it quits or should i stay with him and continue even if i know i will still complain of the same things about this relationship? Is it right to let him go just because of the reasons I stated earlier? am i making a big istake if i end up what we have? please kindly help me on this. I would appreciate a response from you . I need your advice so desperately . .

Thanks so much,
Caelum

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Shelly Bullard

It sounds like an awful relationship. I would leave it immediately and do some soul-searching about why you have been willing to stay with a man who has not been honest with you.

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Cassie

I can identify with Caelum. I have been in a relationship for 4 years, but it has been on and off throughout. We recently broke it off altogether. I’m emotionally worn out and although I miss him I am beginning to enjoy my freedom!….No more confusion, no more wondering, no more rejection, no more waiting, no more guessing, no more not feeling good enough, no more yearning for his affections and love! When a woman is not given affection, attention and appreciation, she is at best like a flower that withers up and at worst, becomes like a puppy dog waiting to be petted and given a treat! The less he gave, the more desperate for His love I became…..and we know this is not attractive to a man! I have been deeply affected by his treatment of me. At first I thought maybe I was too demanding, so I tried to live with it all…but it became unbearable. I am picking up the pieces of my heart and life. So mad at myself for waiting so long for things to change. Part of my healing is realising and accepting that this goes way back to my childhood. I have had a lot of dreams in the past few weeks about my sister rejecting me. As a child, I accepted that I was not loveable, and I am now asking God to pour his love for me into the gaps! and help me to believe that I have worth as a woman. Thank you for helping us Shelly.
Cassie Hope

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Genene

Cassie,

I am so proud of you for letting go. I can truly relate to your story as I am going through a similar situation and chose to let go as well until I can come to grips with my emotional turmoil. Again kudo’s and many blessings to you.

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Anya

Read the book 30 day love detox – how to to cleanse yourself of bad boys, cheaters and men who wont commit.

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S Kapoor

Last weekend this chap who is my ex proposed marriage to me. He has been doin tht on and off. And when I said yes to him he kept a clause. He told me that he will keep two wives who will stay together with him forever. Ours is a case of interreligion. I am an agnostic hindu and he is a muslim. My country law allows muslims to keep as many as 4 wives. I was quick to react tell him no and I felt bad that he could suggest that I share my man with someone.

My fear of being left alone and the fact that I still love him made me say yes. But he again played game with me.

After a week of internal struggle I am now in sane state of mind.

This article captures what I was thinkinh about – I have faith in my capabilities and will never ever budge to such a man again.

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Sib

Thanks Shelly for sharing these very true facts about the pull/push effect in your own words – so very simple yet so true. I have found myself in relationships where the feeling of abandonment was so strong I thought I could not live without the acceptance and love of my partner anymore. After lots of soul searching, and I mean LOTS, lots of books to read and turning the attention inwards, I feel that I finally understood my childhood ‘issues’. I am nowhere close to being healed yet but at least I can understand myself and work on how I would like to be and feel. Love really comes from within and to really grasp that concept was the most difficult thing but now I got it and all of a sudden the people who come into my life, really respect me and love me for who I am. which gives me all the confidence in the world that the right guy is out there ;) thanks for sharing!

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Shelly Bullard

Love this, Sib. I know – it can be a long, hard road, but it is so worth it. Love starts from within.

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vili

I loved your article, but I have a question, Im of the abandonment fear type, but it seems to me that fear of entrapment is caused more by distrust? is that right? i can see someone that was over “watched” can grow to wan to be free……….but I can a feel, theres more than that…….shame, not trusting……is there something like that……………. thanks everybody for u time………

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Shelly Bullard

Both are caused by mistrust, or, in other words, the belief that you are going to get hurt. With a fear of abandonment, we trust the person is going to leave. With fear of entrapment, we trust the person is going to take us over. It is our job to look our own fears in the eyes, and make a choice to believe differently. This is the healing.

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Chels

Thank you so much for this article! I feel like you have laid out in words everything I have experienced in relationships, and where exactly I can grow. I grew up in a family that gave me infinite space, and I tend to hide in it, push potential relationships away, until finally letting them in, and becoming too attached for the fear of abandonment. I have only woken up to the fact that I need to build stability and self-love inside, regardless of my upbringing, very recently. But I’m making strides. Relationships test me so much, and I have a tendency to feel my fear of abandonment, cling for a while, get frustrated, and then shut them down and run away so I don’t get hurt. I think I need to try staying. In the right relationship. Thank you endlessly. Your articles really speak very directly and clearly to me. I love them!

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Gail

Wow…Shelly this is so insightful.
It helps me understand someone in my life I deeply care for. He is emotionally close with me but does not want an intimate relationship. He is a soulmate.
I am working towards being a good and loyal friend by trying to take ownership of what my feelings were in this perceived rejection (my fear of abandonment) and to work through them. He’s been a wonderful friend and would rather have him in my life as a close friend than not at all by chasing him away. And you have provided me with the tool to understand him. Now I can respect that his rejection may stem from his sense of entrapment. This has been liberating for me because I thought it was because of something wrong with me. Now that I know it isn’t because I am flawed or am not attractive as a woman, I feel happy and more empowered. Would it still hurt if he found someone else? Of course. But at least I dont have to deal with a feeling that I wasn’t good enough or attractive enough and focus on healing my disappointment and moving on.
Thank you

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Shelly Bullard

I’m so glad Gail. As I said, we tend to take people’s distancing very personally, like we are being rejected. But what is usually happening is that person is scared to be close. Many people are very scared to be close, and they don’t even know it. It’s our job to meet this with empathy and compassion, and to not take it personally. It’s much easier said than done, but this is the work. xo

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Karen

I am in a fairly new relationship. We live 2.5 hours apart and see each other at least every other weekend, sometimes more often. Although we are both in our mid to late 50’s he has a 7 year old daughter and owns a couple of businesses so he is very busy whereas I have gotten rid of a lot of stressors in my life and have more time on my hands. I have always struggled with abandonment issues but these issues raise their monster head especially during the times we are apart. I am doing my best to try to stay centered and not react out of abandonment as I know that will make him run the other way and not towards me. It is so hard to know if it is better to try to calmly explain my feelings or what to do. He is intuitive enough to know that something is up and for me to just back off or ignore doesn’t work – thats just another sign/symptom of my abandonment. Sometimes difficult to become that vulnerable over the phone. I just really want to grow through this and not live out of the pain of it. Thanks for your article!

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Shelly Bullard

You have to convince yourself that you aren’t being abandoned. Even if he is distancing, that’s almost the secondary problem. The biggest problem is that you expect to be left. This belief system is what you have to shift for yourself.

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Jill

Hi Shelly. I love your articles!!!
My problem is, that I’m afraid of abandonment and entrapment. I just don’t even want to be in a relationship anymore. I’m afraid that I will be too old when I want to be with someone again or maybe too set in my ways.

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Shelly Bullard

Hi Jill. Take time off from relationships, heal yourself (really look at your fears and start to transform them from the inside-out) and, eventually, start to believe in the possibility of love again. There will be a time for you to be in a relationship again; you will intuitively know when that is.

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LIllian Rodriguez

Thank you Shelly for opening my eyes to what I am feeling right now. My feeling of abandonment starts with the lack of emotional connection and therefore feeling rejected by my father. He showed his love by working hard every day but that was it. Even though, I understand this, is still hard for me to find emotional heeling. I recently ended a pull and push relationship. Even though I love him so much, the relationship makes me feel weak and desperate. It was a long distance relations and my jealousy and lack of thrust became unbearable for both of us. I have worked on myself before and started to feel better but then fell on the same behavior again. Is like a vicious cycle. I know I need to work on myself again. Sometimes I fear that if I get better, I might fall in this clingy situation again. Is curious the fact that I recently distance myself from my mother and sister because of their control and dominant behavior but then on my romantic relationships I tend to be clingy. I know I need to work on my inner love and self worth. How can I do it effectively without relapsing?

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Shelly Bullard

There is going to be a relapse – you need to learn to soothe yourself through the process, rather than give your fear all the power. Yes – you can see how it feels on both sides. It sounds like you needed to distance because you felt overwhelmed by your Mom and sister, yet you are playing the opposite part with your ex-boyfriend. You need to recognize that no man is going to make you feel safe, secure, and un-abandoned. That is your own spiritual work – to realize that YOU will never leave you. Also, it’s important for us to understand that when people play out these defenses, it is because of fear. We often take other people’s actions so personally, but really what’s happening is we’re all trying to avoid getting hurt.

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denise

Shelly,
I loved this article but am wondering about something you said: “In almost all cases, individuals who fear abandonment will partner with individuals who fear entrapment.”

Why is that? Can you elaborate please.
Thanks so much
xo <3

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Shelly Bullard

There’s a lot of ways to talk about why this happens, but essentially it’s because: We attract what we believe and what we fear. So, if you fear being abandoned deep down – if it’s a significant wound – you’re going to attract people who are more likely to distance from you. And they will attract you – someone who they will feel pulling on them and will trigger the feeling of entrapment. The point of this is for both partners to work through their fears and grow.

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Lei

Thank you Shelly. I’m the girl that fears abandonment and sure enough it leads back to childhood being neglected or told straight to my face that I wouldn’t be good enough. I can look back and see now how I went looking for love in all the wrong places and stayed in two abusive relationships until I became pregnant and decided to seek God and his love which through my daughter is feeding my soul with the love and light I know I deserve. To look back and see how dramatic I’ve been with my exes is scary and so unattractive. My daughter is helping me to see the woman I choose to become, to be a role model for her to show her the respect and love she deserves, and to be strong in all her feminine and masculine glory. I used to be a doormat letting everyone from my parents to exes walk all over. With the birth of my daughter I literally feel as if I too were reborn and given a second chance with a higher level of consciousness that allows me to see where I can improve and grow to achieve some balance through my new found faith in God. This is what keeps me grounded. Exercising, eating healthy, surrounding myself with positive people, doing what makes me happy, being in nature and swimming in the ocean give me strength and faith. Crystals, praying, journaling, and sharing my life with loving friends are all so empowering. And my daughter-her light is amazingly healing. I have to remind myself to be there for her and give her space to grow. This dynamic is teaching me so much about the fear of abandonment and entrapment. Her father told me a long time ago he feared being trapped. I didn’t understand it then. When I broke up with him he became obsessed with me. Eventually we broke up and I had babygirl. He’s enjoying his freedom and sometimes gets obsessed with our daughter then he pulls away. It’s exhausting dealing with his push and pull. So I choose to remain calm-like in the center of a hurricane, with my daughter. Love your posts Shelly!

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Janet Quinteros

Shelly ,

You hit it in the knob your right .I believe we have to learn on how to mange it and try to understand our partner .

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T

As happy as I am with all facets of my life I still have trouble being single. I think it has to do with my fear of being alone or fear of abandonment. And because of that I always end up settling for relationships that don’t serve me well. I feel like I have grown so much and am overall a happy person. How do I deal with this niggling issue??

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Wissam Medal

I have a wondful story . I loved a woman, who really admired my personality and erverything, but didn’t love me . I loved her alot and helped her alot and offered to give her everything she needs and more and more… then after a period of time even though she started to kepp far and far from me , till no contact anymore . I’m so wounded because of her behavior with me , and I hope that you advise me what to do . Thanks alot !

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Shelly Bullard

It’s not your job to give her everything. This is actually harmful to both of you. I hope you heal.

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Sammy

Shelly,
I’m the push and my husband is the pull. He wants to be with me every minute of the day and I’m searching for space to be alone or to have time with friends. It drives me crazy as well as it seems to make him neurotic. Do you think it’s fair that I still make time to do the things that I want to do without him because it makes me happy? Am I being selfish?

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Shelly Bullard

Yes, it is definitely fair for you to do things without him. I would just have compassion for him, and talk to him about it kindly. Tell him that you aren’t having an independent life because you don’t want to be with him. Ultimately, it’s his job to understand that, but you can help him understand with kindness and love. :)

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Anya

Hello Shelly, thank you for the article – a big issues for people it seems, ive read the comments above as well, and its mostly women that cling and men push away. i wonder why this is.
Ive also noticed that my exes want me back whilst im not interested in the slightest now. whereas before when we were together – i was clinging so much after them, and they were pushing me away.
im just reading a good book called 30 day love detox – cleanse yourself of bad boys, cheaters and men who wont commit, – it speaks about having sex with men too quickly into the realtionship and how that is guarantees the relationship for failure. men base their love on trust – if they see you having sex with them too quickly – ie before at least 30 days – you as a woman are devalued in their eyes and they cant fall in love – because men fall in love through trust.
my on – off relationship is exhausting – im clining as i normally do and he is pulling away. its painful and stressful. as soon as i give him space – he comes back to me.
cant erally work this out – we did have sex kind of quick into the realtionship before we became friend really – so i blame it to that – as well as my inability to give him the space he needs. which pushes him away,. Any advice Shelly? thank you , much appreciatated. :)

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Shelly Bullard

You have to work through your issue or you are going to continue to cling. Working through the issue looks like this: understanding why you are clinging – what fears are there – and how can you transform those fears? That’s going to be the shift and the answer for you.

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bebby

Wow.. this article very similar with what I learnt before on Dr. Margaret Paul..
yes this is the only way to the Real Love
thanks for remind me again Beautiful Shelly…
may I ask something.. d oyou have a man , or boyfriend recent ?
Thanks
xoxo

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Shelly Bullard

I’m actually reading one right now that is great for this practice. He doesn’t talk about it in the same way, but it’s the same practice: Natural Rest – Scott Kiloby. Louise Hay is a good author for this subject as well (You Can Heal Your Life is her book)

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Diana

Dear Shelly,
Being someone who was adopted, by someone who is bipolar, I sure identify with the fear of abandonment. It’s been a real issue in my marriage and has taken my husband a long time to understand. I recently read an article on MindBodyGreen that stated the number one reason for relationship failure is self-abandonment. I can relate to that fully. This year, after surviving tragedy after tragedy, my husband had an affair. That really brought out all of our issues individually and together. We each abandoned ourselves in different ways, and in turn, each other. I buried myself in my work, coming home with no energy for my family, did not keep up with my diet or exercise and my health started to decline. He is a stay at home husband due to a serious injury that left him disabled and unable to work. At first he would cook, clean and take very good care of our daughter. But after time, we each built up this resentment towards each other.
After the affair, I eventually started researching ways to work on myself. I wanted to be a better woman, a better mom and a better partner. I wasn’t focusing on saving our marriage and in fact was resigned to the fact that it was over. I started looking and feeling better. My stress levels went way down and I was less distracted at work. My husband on the other hand withdrew even more to the point of severe depression. He knew that life as he knew it was over. We separated for a short while and that distance helped us both to realize how much we really want and like each other.
Since that realization, our relationship has never been better. Articles like yours are what helped us get to this point. I can honestly say our relationship with each other has never been better because our relationships with ourselves have improved greatly. We now know where we left our relationship vulnerable and work everyday to keep our home happy and healthy.
Thank you Shelly for sharing your insight!

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Shelly Bullard

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story, Diana! What you described is common – the relationship hits a crisis, but it has to get that bad for both people to get serious about change. The crisis makes you evaluate your life and ask yourself the very important question of “What do I want?” Then… you change (like you and your husband did). Good for you both – I feel proud of couples like you. :)

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Breeze

I am so terrified of not having my space and will start pushing someone away at the slightest inkling that I don’t have “my space.” Then I feel bad for asking for my space and time to work on my own things. And project that onto the other person and make them wrong when they want to be in their silence and their space. SO MUCH TO LEARN AND GROW FROM!

Thanks :)

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Shelly Bullard

Yeah – you’re caught in the cycle. Practice finding space within yourself, and learning that it’s okay to set boundaries. You’ll grow. :)

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Beauferd

My most common fear in relationship is definitely being smothered, or having my sense of self obscured or lost. I indulge many behaviors to keep myself autonomous. But mostly they turn out to be destructive to the bonding that I ironically long for, and am capable of. It is my intense intimacy that I am afraid of, and am also very good at. It is a love/hate relationship with my power.
So, now I am focusing on the deep desire and need for intimacy. The thrill of loving and bonding with a life-partner. I recall to mind the vision (I am an idealist), and I see the moment of wanting to reject or retreat as an opportunity to be vulnerable, and to let down the aloofness. I remember how unfulfilling it is to be isolated and alone, even though I know it well and have enjoyed it to its fullness. The time has come for something different. Thank you.

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Olivia

My partner and I have been together for 1.5 years and everything is perfect in our relationship except one major thing. Every few months he turns off all his emotions and claims he doesn’t want to be with me that he feels trapped and needs to be alone and wants to be selfish but he is still completely in love with me. Then either a few hours or two days later we talk and he cries and apologises and thanks me for fighting for our relationship because he loves me so much. I know he loves me and we never have any other issues except this one. I’m confused and don’t know how to deal with it anymore. It’s always out the blue when we are good in our relationship. I don’t know how to deal with this anymore.

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Lauren

I am currently struggling with a fear of misaligned morals/values. Without going into too much detail, I feel that my current partner does not see how his actions contribute to a “hookup mentality” that exists within my generation, and he does not agree that they do. He sees these actions are harmless interactions between friends and jealousy from me, but I see unnecessary flirtatious behavior that disrespects me and my values with it’s continuation. I do not wish to change him, but I am not able to accept his interactions without much distress to myself. I’ve decided to take a break because I do not currently see how we can resolve this.. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

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Tasha

“Instead of going into reaction-mode when your fears surface, get curious about this wound within yourself.”

Wow, I love the way you put this! I’m very involved in self-development and being my own little experiment, so framing my fears of intimacy into a more curious sense with compassion seems perfect for me.
To go further- when fears surface in a relationship, it can be hella scary because it can feel raw and intense because someone else is intimately involved. But taking a moment to pause and see the whole picture can help get you out of that reptilian, lower brain mode,and prevent negative emotional reactions. Such a great, fresh perspective, thanks Shelly! :)

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Obiy

Hi Shelly!
The write up really caught my heart.
Please I’d need some advice from you on other ways to make my relationship work.

Kind regards!

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Vira

Hi,

My partner broke up with me just over a week ago. Seems like it just came out of the blue. She has been going through childhood issues with a counsellor recently and I just found out (in her words) that she’s scared of feeling trapped. Her counsellor told her exactly what you have explained here. She went on saying that she loves and cares for me but feels like there is something missing in the relationship. She couldn’t tell me exactly what it was as she didn’t know. She just had a feeling deep down.

Is there anything I can do to try and get her back or do I just accept the fact that she’s gone? Thanks

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Karol McCredie

I am in a 6-7 year relationship (last 4 living together) He has been talking to what he calls a friend (91 phone calls in 9 weeks) says he loves me doesn’t want to loose me, but continues to talk to her. I always trusted him until I caught him giving her a quick kiss through the car window and said this is not right. started asking questions- he has lied several times. We have gone to counseling 2 times, he still is calling here, and won’t call her to tell her it is over in front of me, just ells me he has told her, but continues to call her.!! As I am writing this I realize how crazy this is!!! HELP

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Grace

Is it possible to be affected by both? In my case, I think that I have a fear of abandonment on one hand (due to a distant father), and a fear of entrapment on the other (due to a smothering mother). Agh!!!

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