How do our early relationships affect how we react to future breakups? Read More
Hi Robert, I really like this blog. A few years ago I was at a loss as to how to respond to someone who became extremely disrespectful and irrational towards me after a break up. I remember a few days after I broke up with him, being polite and telling him I was very sorry, he confronted me. He basically listed a bunch of garbage faults I didn't have, said that he felt "shunned and ignored," and said that I should be grateful because he had almost invited me out to lunch. I remember I just said, "I broke up with you. I can't deal with this," and then avoided him. To this day, I still feel badly about myself for not standing up to him and calling him on his extensive bs. What do you think, did I do the right thing? Every time I bump into him I want to ask if he would like to ALMOST go out to lunch. (Ironically he also shuns and ignores me when I bump into him and say hello. Which I suppose is common after a breakup.) So what do you think? Does breaking up securely mean not reacting to this sort of garbage? Or should I have called him on it instead of being avoidant?
It's not a wonder codependents have such difficulty ending relationships given early abandonment and attachment issues. Compounding problems are shame, low-self-esteem, and denial. We deny the problems in the relationship or deny that our partner isn't available (or has already emotionally left), because we fear the pain of it and being alone. Then we deny our feelings or make them wrong. We often blame the break-up on ourselves - that somehow we weren't enough. The bad feelings can trigger a shame spiral into despair and hopelessness, rather than realizing the break-up allows us to find someone better suited to our personality and needs. Healing codependency and shame can make an immense difference on the health of our relationships and how we deal with breakups.
Darlene Lancer, LMFT
Author of Codependency for Dummies
"Like the bonds we form with primary caregivers during early childhood, the connections we form in romantic relationships are derived from patterns of attachment."
Would you not say that those "patterns of attachment" are actually derived from the bonds we form with our primary caregivers? Your sentence seems to suggest that the "patterns of attachment" precede those earliest bonds.
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Robert T. Muller, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at York University, and author of the therapy book, "Trauma and the Avoidant Client."
When and how should we open up to loved ones?