Ep 20 - Are You Feeling Starved In Your Relationship?
Today I'm talking about what it is to feel starved in a new relationship, an existing relationship or in a very early relationship.
Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and more.
Broadcast: June 25, 2021
Here’s a snippet of my recording…
What do I mean by ‘starved’?
So, the feeling of being starved feels like some - or all - of these points resonating with you:
- It might seem that the other takes forever to reply to a text message.
- They rarely call just for the sake of it.
- You might feel like you're always doing the lion's share of the work, maintaining contact in this relationship.
- You might feel that you're predominantly initiating any physical intimacy.
- They might disappear for a day or two with no check-in or explanation leaving you wondering where they are or what they're up to and what they're thinking.
- You generally don't feel safe in the relationship and there's a sense for you of it always being on the edge of demise.
This can feel really ghastly, can’t it?
It feels to me like the other is leaning away. So, while you are leaning in towards them, it's like they're backing away at the same rate. Now, when someone's leaning away and when we're feeling particularly keen ourselves, when we believe that this person is worth chasing - for want of a better word - we have a tendency to keep leaning in towards them. And this creates a real sense of uncertainty and often anxiety within ourselves. And to the other, it can likely feel that we're being needy. And actually, as we lean in, that's often how we're left feeling ourselves.
We're left feeling needy and unsafe.
Now, I’ve absolutely been here. I recall Christmas Day about 10 years ago waiting for the guy who I was seeing to call me to wish me a Merry Christmas. Of course I could have called him, but in a show of trying to prove to myself that he was actually worth hanging around for, I decided to leave the ball in his court and see if he would lean into me on Christmas Day, of all days of the year. So of course it’s my expectation that a couple would reach out to each other on Christmas Day - that is MY expectation. So, we all know what happens next. He didn't call. He ruined my day. Well, that's not fair. He didn't ruin my day because I was the one with the misplaced expectations of the guy who was yet to prove he would actually show up for me. So that was my doing. And finally though, my dad put me out of my misery and suggested that perhaps he and I weren't quite on the same page and surely that was enough for me to then realize that I needed to let go.
Another red flag moment...
Then I remember another guy. From the outset this guy went all in hard and fast. I remember he came for dinner one night, for the first time, with a huge bunch of flowers, not just a little bunch, it was a huge bunch. And through his language across the first couple of dates he was seemingly terribly excited about the prospect of something ongoing and wonderful with us. He got my hopes up like you wouldn't believe. But for a guy who spent most of the day on his phone for work, he'd regularly take one to two days to reply about a catch up. If he was going to organize anything with me, he'd do it at the very last minute, at a point when I was already booked and doing something else. But from the outset I was very excited and I was very keen. So what was happening was I started leaning in believing he too was keen and as I leaned in I was getting more and more anxious about the situation while at the same time despising the way I was feeling as a result. I never wanted to be the needy chick. But finally, I figured out what was going on. I asked myself did I want to feel like this? I started questioning why I was feeling like that. And did I want to continue to feel this way? It was a shit feeling! So I decided to stop contacting him and low and behold he started leaning back, like it was like some ridiculous game. I recall him inviting me out to lunch and he said to me, during this lunch ‘Look, you know, I'm sorry, I've been really hopeless, but I'm actually ready now.’ But by this stage, his game had left me way out of respect for him and I had moved on. I told him ‘No, it's too late’. To be clear, there were red flags. There was something inside of me that was telling me, ‘Amy, no, he's going to keep mucking you around’. And I trusted that feeling. That's not to say that we can’t forgive some people, and there can be good explanation as to why they're leaning away, but when you feel the red flag, trust it.
He’s just not that into me.
So, with many years of dating experience behind me, and a whole lot of self-development including a whopping amount of work on my self-worth and self-esteem, I now recognize this feeling of being starved for what it likely is. It could be that this guy's heart is with someone else. It could be that he's terrified of commitment, but it could also be that he just doesn't have the courage to use his voice and tell me how he's feeling (which these days doesn't cut the mustard for me at all personally). Or it could be that he's just not that into me, which mostly - because I'm not a mind reader - I chose to believe. Because rather than trying to figure somebody out, I usually decided as I was dating that if someone wasn't busting to see me, if they were taking forever to contact me, if they didn't seem like they were really that interested in physical intimacy, I just decided he really wasn't that into me. And there's very little I can do about that. I would far rather be on my own than with someone that left me feeling lesser than.
What happens when you both lean in?
Now, when I met Andrew, which was at the beginning of 2021, it was a perfect example of two people leaning in at exactly the same angle. There was not one day where I questioned, where I didn't feel safe, where I worried what he was thinking. Both of us were leaning in at the same time. And the point of that is for those of you who are feeling frustration around this feeling of starvation and like you're always leaning in and somebody else away, I share that just to demonstrate that it IS possible to find that equality.
For those who feel that they're more often than not feeling starved in a relationship, the first thing that I would do is check in with your self-worth. And actually, while you do that, make sure you listen to last week's podcast with Isiah McKimmie on why you might be attracting emotionally available men. That would be a really good place to start. But when we don't feel good enough, our self-worth usually reflects this, and it can be demonstrated by the types of behaviours we keep saying yes to. So when our self-worth is low, we keep chasing The Unavailable Guy. We put up with that feeling of being starved. We hate ourselves for feeling needy, but we keep on saying yes.
There’s no space for anxiety or overthinking.
The second thing I'd actually remind yourself is that when your self-worth is in check, when you believe that you are worth a beautiful, fulfilling relationship, you won't stand for the feeling of someone leaning away, over and over and over. You recognize that this doesn't feel good for you and you either have a conversation about it with the other person or you walk away. Because as I've already said, when two people come together and when they're both equally into the other, when their connection is just there, there's this wonderful feeling of you both leaning in at the same time and angle. And that, as I've already said, doesn't leave space for anxiety for overthinking. Because the other leans in at the same angle and you feel safe, which is really the pertinent word. You feel seen and heard, and like you truly matter to the other person.
Check in on your self-worth.
If you're navigating the world of dating at the moment, and if this pattern keeps coming up for you again and again, start by going inward... Assess your self-worth and your self-belief and remind yourself that awareness is the very first step to change. Awareness is the way to navigate out of these patterns.