Archive for March 2011

Needs and Barriers, part 1

March 6, 2011

One of my biggest stressors is interacting with women.  Typically withdrawal has been my coping mechanism.  Recently, I realized that I can also avoid the stress by finding reasons why it could never work between us.  This is another barrier or defense mechanism.

But it’s really not women I’m afraid of.  They wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for my own emotional neediness.  My internal emptiness.  It’s actually my own needs that I’m afraid of getting sucked into.

Needs or barriers.  There seems to be no middle ground.  Either I’m barriered and inhibited, or getting sucked into emotional neediness and fantasy.

Now, we might imagine guys as being more often the barriered type: stoic, macho, playing it cool, etc.  And perhaps women are more often the needy type: the hopeless romantic, vulnerable, tragic, etc.  But needs and barriers are in every single one of us, and are actually two sides of the exact same coin.

We start with the emotional need for acceptance and fulfillment.  This creates the fear of rejection and denial, causing us to erect barriers to protect ourselves.  But these barriers are negative and self-suppressing, thus leading to even greater emotional neediness, and so on.

Our identity is so wrapped up in the approval of others that we become more comfortable rejecting ourselves than risking the rejection of others.

For some, it becomes quite an elaborate game.  We learn how to behave in order to get the attention we seek.  But, notice the feeling that arises when you don’t get the desired response, and you’ll know the extent of neediness involved.

In fact, this game of performing for approval is itself just a highly refined barrier.  We think we’re blocking ourselves from rejection, but instead we’re blocking ourselves from our real self, while becoming more and more dependent on the emotions of others.

Is there a way out of this unreal game?  Even when one can see it, it’s hard to know what to do.  For example, imagine a situation where you get a brief chance to interact with someone you are very attracted to.

As a person with needs, you can either sit there in your needs feeling pathetic, vulnerable, and needy, or you can hide behind the safety of barriers that ruin the chance for having a genuine and meaningful interaction.

It is very painful and frustrating to be stuck between two unsatisfying responses to a situation with such high emotional stakes.

So what can we do?