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Education Emotionally Unavailable love psychology Relationships Toxic Love Uncategorized

The Reason You Date Emotionally Unavailable Men.

Do you continue dating unavailable men? If I asked, “What are the warning signs of an emotionally unavailable partner,” you’d recite them swifter than a recovering alcoholic recounting the big book.

After dating several self-absorbed men, you’d assume spotting one a mile away would be easy, as if their clothes are draped in red hazard lights, sporting a sign that reads, “Caution, you are entering a hazard zone. Turn around or die.”

You were certain this guy was different, and yet, he turned out to be the same. What gives?

Well, the common denominator in all your relationships is you. The process unfolds in a subtle manner, so it’s easy to conclude you’re the available one and he’s not. You’re also emotionally unavailable, and the reason this truth is deceptive, is because it began in infancy.

John Bowlby’s, Theory of Attachment is widely recognized in the field of psychology, and offers insight into how emotional bonds formed in early childhood affects ability to secure relationships later on in life. In order for a child to develop normal social and emotional development, a healthy attachment must be formed with at least one caregiver.

It’s the first relationship a child experiences and it sets the tone for future bonds as it teaches what it means to be loved and nurtured. Receiving adequate nurture and affection throughout early childhood develops an adult with secure attachment– securing fulfilling and healthy relationships with likeminded people.  

Out of the four, the avoidant and anxious-insecure are the two adult attachment styles that compel to one another, forming a toxic, dysfunctional relationship. Avoidant dismissive attachment develops when a primary caregiver fails to comfort their infant, forming an inclination to suppress their emotions.

The avoidant-dismissive adult has learned, in early development, to bury emotions due to the formed belief that depending on others isn’t sufficient in meeting their needs, hence their value for independence and desire to remain detached- avoiding vulnerability.

Anxious-insecure adults receive inconsistent nurture from caregivers; fluctuating between responsiveness and affection, while other times, unresponsive, and emotionally unavailable. Having needs met is a gamble. This unpredictable behavior is confusing, causing a child to cling as an act of desperation- like hey! I’m here you asshole, pay attention to me!

 When successful, the child feels rewarded and validated, encouraging the clingy behavior, and when it’s not, feelings of insecurity and distrust arise. Anxious adults internalize beliefs that love is a confusing and inconsistent ordeal, influencing future relationships to reenact that relational dynamic.

Opposites do attract. An avoidant adult is familiar to the anxious adult since they offer unpredictable displays of affection, resembling their first attachment. As he pulls away, you seek validation by moving closer, and if successful, needs are met. This dynamic allows space for both partners to dance around their opposing vulnerabilities.

 He retreats with little consequence, since you’re always waiting for his return. With control to set the limitations, this persistent cycle mainly benefits him. Within this dynamic, a committed relationship will not form, allowing both partner to remain unavailable, acting in a way that’s familiar.

If you haven’t considered the relationships formed during early development, I would recommend doing so. A significant portion of human behavior is learned from childhood. We tend to behave, abiding by what we believe is “normal.” As a child, belief systems aren’t challenged, and unfortunately, are so engrained, that as adults, we hardly recognize their influence.

It’s important to stay vigilant, discover your blind spots, and challenge them!

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse Psychology Relationships Toxic Love Uncategorized

Does distance truly make the heart grow fonder?

We all know the saying and we’ll use it from time to time to make ourselves feel better when facing a shit circumstance… but is it true?

Here’s the thing. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Love releases chemicals within the brain that are similar to the effects of cocaine. When removed, just like cocaine, distance creates symptoms of withdrawal within the body.

The brain became accustomed to the euphoric release of chemicals and without them, functioning becomes impaired for a short period of time. Like drug addiction, the body’s dependent on their drug, so when devoid, intense cravings occur, along with uncomfortable physical symptoms.

Most individuals crave and miss their partner during distance. Their presence was comforting, familiar, and felt good, however, not everyone will experience this phenomenon.

An emotionally unavailable partner is likely to reach out during distance when bored or lonely, but not because their heart grew founder. Why?

Any symptoms of withdrawal such as cravings or missing their partner, is considered a negative emotion, so when experienced it’s habitually suppressed.

Boredom and loneliness, although negative emotions, are also suppressed, however, they’re present enough for action to take place, but it’s not authentic. It’s like a watered down juice; you taste the flavor, but not nearly as strong.

When feelings are wholeheartedly expressed, withdrawal produces impairment and takes time to recover because the body’s essentially detoxing. If you loved and cared deeply for someone, it’s natural to feel deeply saddened by the loss.

It’s also important to consider that an emotionally unavailable partner or a narcissist, have sought out a replacement, filling that void. Since incapable of creating lasting, meaningful relationships, it’s likely they’ll reach out when that replacement ends, like it inevitably does.

If you find this dilemma is applicable to your current situation, just remember that you’re not an option, especially when they’re bored or lonely. Not to sound crude but…. fuck that.

Be with someone who treats you like the main course.. not a platter of desserts to pick and choose which one to indulge in.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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healing love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse Relationships Toxic Love Toxic Relationships

The Dizzying Cycle of Narcissism

A narcissist is a complex, manipulative individual, so naturally being in a relationship with one is mentally exhausting.

It feels as though you’ve been running in circles, accomplishing nothing, except an occasional bathroom trip to vomit from incessant, dizzying bullshit. It could be sunny outside, but a cloud of confusion rests above your head, and depending what phase you’re at in his dizzying cycle, it may be a thunderstorm.

A narcissist uses a three phase tactic, referred to as “the dizzying cycle,” to keep their partner engaged. Using the term “partner,” in such a context feels morally irresponsible, so instead I’ll use the word “target.”

Throughout the relationship, a narcissists target will experience three phases: idealization, devaluation, and discard.

The lovely idealization phase occurs at the beginning of the relationship. A narcissist identifies a new target they’re keen on procuring. When they look at you they see profit, and of course, they want it.

To be trappable, a narcissist understands he must put his best face forward, making sure interactions are flawless. To do this, he wears a mask, careful it doesn’t slip and reveal his true colors.

In the idealization phase, he love bombs the shit out of you, saying what he thinks you want to hear, throwing compliments, giving gifts, and showering you with attention, intent on making you feel special. Before revealing his true identity, it’s imperative you fall for him, otherwise, he has no legs to stand on.

When successful, he initiates the devaluation phase. Depending on the narcissist, this may occur overnight. Suddenly, they’re behaving like a different person. Naturally, issues arise due to this character change and any conversation is unproductive, leaving you confused and overwhelmed.

He offers no explanation for his behavior, and if he does, he’ll flip the blame on you. After a period of behaving callously and cold, he sometimes follows up with a sob story, plucking at your heart strings.

Eventually, after a period of benefiting from your supply, he decides you’re not worth the headache- too many emotions to deal with. You were poking holes, not only through his logic, but his mask as well, so he discards you.

It’s like being tossed in the trash, displaying no emotion or care while doing so. You won’t get an explanation, and because he lacks empathy and truly doesn’t care, he smiles while doing it.

Whatever action is taken afterwards, in attempt to establish closure, is denied via silent treatment. You reaching out, calling, and sending texts, expressing your emotions, only serves at feeding his insatiable ego. It makes him feel important and special.

The alarming thing about this cycle, is how parasitic a narcissist can be. Just because he discarded you, doesn’t mean it remains that way. A narcissist will come back, repeating the three cycles for as long as you allow it.

Each cycle becomes worse. The idealization phase will have a shorter duration and his method of discard will become increasingly cruel. The process is selfish and undeniably heartbreaking.

A target could spend years trying to maintain the idealization phase, riding the highs and lows in hope that one day he’ll remain the person they fell in love with.

Hopefully, after enough abuse, a dawning realization transpires: he was never the man you fell in love with.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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healing Letting go love Narcissistic Abuse psychology Relationships Toxic Love Toxic Relationships

Narcissism Isn’t A Choice – It’s A Mental Disorder

When healing from narcissistic abuse, the aftermath of confusion and pain are often the focus of conversation.

Of course, it’s healthy to discuss and understand your relationship with a narcissist, but I’ve noticed an important aspect missing in that conversation.

Narcissism is a mental illness. In the DSM-5: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, (also my version of google) refers to this illness as Narcissist Personality Disorder.

For an individual to meet criteria for diagnosis, five of the following nine symptoms must be present:

  • 1. Grandiose sense of self- importance
  • 2. Preoccupation with fantasies of success, brilliance, power, ideal love, and beauty.
  • 3. A belief that he or she is special or unique and can only be understood by likeminded individuals.
  • 4. A need for excessive admiration
  • 5. A sense of entitlement
  • 6. Exploitative behaviors
  • 7. A lack of empathy ***
  • 8. Envy of others or belief others are envious of them
  • 9. Arrogant or haughty attitude and behaviors

A disclaimer is paramount: behavior ranges on a spectrum. Not all individuals who display a few of these symptoms meet criteria for diagnosis. The average person will experience moments of self-importance, arrogance, entitlement, or a need for admiration, etc.

During an evaluation, presence of symptoms is not enough- duration and frequency are essential components when considering diagnosis. A person who exhibits such symptoms for a short period of time, on a less frequent basis, will not qualify for narcissistic personality disorder.

An individual must present with five out of nine symptoms, beginning in early childhood and also occurring in multiple situations. A desire for admiration, sense of entitlement, arrogance, in romantic relations alone- isn’t enough.

An individual fitting criteria for diagnosis would frequently meet five symptoms with an early onset, causing impairment in several domains of life- social, vocational, educational, and relationships.

Being aware of this is important for healing to take place. You were dealing with a mentally ill individual that operates under a skewed and irrational perception of reality. If he doesn’t acknowledge or seek intensive therapy, he’ll continue to suffer from NPD.

Nothing was your fault. Take it with a grain of salt and never take his actions personally. There’s nothing you could have done differently to change him. It’s a decision he must make. If forced upon him, it would only lead to resentment and under such circumstance, improvement is rarely effective.

All that confusion, frustration, and mental exhaustion wears you down, to the degree of questioning your own sanity. You were in love with an individual who currently lacks capability to think and behave rationally, using manipulation and exploitation as means of communication.

You’re not crazy, dramatic, or asked for too much. You were a vicim responding to a confusing and abusive situation.

This weight is not yours to carry.

It’s time to put it down.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC