Month: October 2014

Dismissive-Avoidants: Gay and Lesbian Cases

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner

Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner

I published a few examples of anonymized correspondence I had received in Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner. I want to point out two examples that illustrate that gay and lesbian relationships have the same underlying attachment dynamics.

Example 1: “Tess” and “Natasha.”

Sometimes it’s better when an avoidant lets you know before you get into a years-long relationship that you really aren’t that important to them. Painful as that might be, it’s less painful than having built a life or family with them, only to discover they are just tolerating you.

In this example, “Tess” is just out of a bad romance with an avoidant (“Natasha”), and she’s still trying to understand what happened:


I am very recently out of a relationship where I think now that my former dating partner may be an avoidant, but I am not totally sure which type. I know from therapy that I’m anxious-preoccupied and I’m working on that, but this relationship activated my attachment issues. I did better this time than I have in the past, but it is still really hard.

I met this woman through work, and we hit it off and became friends. Over the course of our friendship, I developed an attraction to her, and I thought she did to me as well. Before we started she had doubts about me as I had never been with a woman before, and I had doubts as to whether or not she was over her ex.

I should have paid closer attention to her mentioning that she was planning to move 5 hours away when she was able to find a job in that area. The only area she was willing to look for a job was in the city where her ex lives. I asked her once why the only place in the whole world she wanted to move was that close to her ex, and she responded by asking me why it bothered me.

When “Natasha” (my ex) met the woman who would become her ex, she was married and had small children. They began an affair, and eventually this woman left her husband for Natasha. They were together in some capacity for 3 years until the ex-husband threatened to take the children away if they didn’t end their relationship. She ended the relationship with Natasha and moved with her ex-husband to the area where Natasha has now moved.

She also has a history of having long distance relationships that I knew about when we started dating. I really thought I wasn’t jumping into anything too fast this time because we had been friends for over a year at the time we started dating. She really pursued me at the start and was very romantic. Then it was like as soon as I was in, she started distancing herself a little. I know that I am sensitive to distance because I am preoccupied, so I tried to rely on my tools I had developed and ignored my feelings. But sometimes they were overwhelming, and I would need to ask for reassurance. She always gave it and assured me that the distance was due to stress and nothing more.

She ended up moving 5 hours away for a job, and she insisted that she wanted to try long distance. I am also job searching, and so I suggested that I search for jobs in her city. She said that I should do whatever is best for me. And I said that I feel like for our relationship to move forward, we need to be in the same city. She said she agreed, but she was fine with long distance also.

I visited her after she moved, and everything seemed fine. The next day she broke up with me over the phone when I had returned home. Basically, the only answer she had was that I wasn’t “The One.” She still hopes we can be friends.

This break up was totally devoid of emotion. Then I called her two weeks later to talk because I missed her and just wanted to talk to her. She acted fine. She was cold and callous. She had absolutely no emotion whatsoever. Which over the course of our relationship, she didn’t show a lot of emotion anyway except when she was trying to win me over it felt like.

The only time I heard a hint of emotion in her voice was when I asked about her mother. She had an edge of anger. Not much, but some.

Her father committed suicide when she was 12, and I know she doesn’t have a lot of close friends. She does have a close relationship with her mother and her sister.

I am looking for answers to help myself move on…


She sounds primarily dismissive; most of the signs (often cold, valuing an unobtainable ex over a real available person, breaking up right after a visit) fit. Talking about moving away while seeing you is another typical sign. If she were fearful, she would have run away after really being a relationship, as it started to get very close. But the fearful and dismissive share common characteristics and some people straddle the line.

You already know she’s not reliable or consistently valuing your feelings. The best thing for you is probably to move on. She sounds like she has more issues than just being avoidant, so perhaps it’s just as well you didn’t get in as deep as you could have. Talking about moving far away — which happens to be to a place near her ex! — while she was supposedly getting into a relationship with you is as red-flaggy as it gets.


Is it typical for an avoidant to act very interested in a relationship at the beginning? One of the things I am having a hard time reconciling is the fact that Natasha seemed very, very interested at the beginning, and it changed sort of suddenly. Like one day she was all about me, and then it was like she wasn’t there. We still went on dates and saw each other regularly until she moved, but she seemed emotionally distant.

I asked her how her feelings changed so quickly, and she just said that her feelings haven’t changed. She still thinks I am an amazing woman, but that I am just not “The One.” I know from previous conversations that she had felt like her ex was “The One,” but since they weren’t together anymore, she was trying to believe there could be someone else.

Was she lying in the beginning about how attracted to me she was? That is one of the mental obstacles I am facing in working through this. How does a person have strong attraction and then no attraction over the course of 4 months?


“Lying” is probably the wrong word. Most people are aware of their motives for doing things, but the avoidant’s lack of emotional connection to memories allows for an inconsistency of feeling that is hard for us to understand. A typical person would recognize something odd about wanting someone one day, then shortly thereafter rejecting the same person, but they are not conscious of a remembered “landscape of feelings” like we are.

You would not do that. But she could, and without ever lying — she could only have been lying if she wasn’t truly interested, but most likely she was. No, it does not make sense. Just realize you can’t fit her actions into your emotional reasoning.

It’s not at all unusual for an avoidant to be charming and very interested-seeming in courtship. Avoidants can enjoy the thrill of the chase, hunt, and capture; most of the “players” (charming seducers) over 30 are avoidant. They will focus attention on you—one study found that avoidants touched their dating partners during conversation more than secure and preoccupied types. But once the prey is bagged, the level of interest drops.

Generally the dismissive aren’t conscious of why they act this way; a rationalization is made up to explain their own behavior.  

Example 2: “Joshua” and “Alan”

The second example is “Joshua,” a gay man in his first year with “Alan” in New York City, who is just realizing how unsupportive his dismissive partner is:


I downloaded the Kindle version of your book Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner yesterday. I finished it today and have started my second pass. Thank you. It has profoundly changed my point of view and has helped me tremendously.

I am a gay man, 34, and have been in a committed relationship for just over a year, after a long stint of being single. We have encountered a growing number of interpersonal problems over the recent months. In the process, I have started to trend from being a caring loving man to one of extreme preoccupation and worry about the emotional status of my relationship. Needless to say, I came upon your book in a frenzied attempt to find answers about why certain things and behaviors where manifesting.


I’m glad you discovered my book. Only a handful of his friends would have any idea he has an issue, most likely, and in the old days you’d have no way of knowing it was his difficulty responding supportively that was making you insecure. The Internet and Google make it far easier to find similar people with similar problems.


I don’t need to go into too many details, but I believe I am involved with a dismissive. His past is in line with that likelihood, and his behavior and actions toward me are absolutely in line with how you’ve described a person of this temperament might behave. My gentle entreaties were once answered in kind to only soon be ignored, overlooked, dismissed or outright called stupid and unnecessary. Presently, we are in a paralyzed state where my partner is not participating, mad at me, putting up roadblocks to communication, and has recently started to not talk at all.


No, you’re not crazy, and at least initially not too demanding to have expected empathetic communication. Your partner has tired of the novelty of the relationship and may now see you as a burden to be held at bay.


I have been labeled needy, controlling, demanding and at times “insane.” Through this process I have started to feel invisible, disposable and a convenience. I should add that this all began when I noticed him pulling away emotionally, which was shortly followed by a sudden vacation with a friend I have never met on which I was not invited.


What?? Alarm bells. He’s certainly not hiding his lack of concern for your feelings.


Since then matters have spiraled into chaos. And in that chaos I have found him online talking to other men, making plans for sex dates, posting indiscreet pictures of himself on sex sites, disappearing for lengths of time and erratic changes in our plans. And when I asked to talk about it he has denied that anything is happening and called me crazy. When I supplied the proof he refused to talk about it, and still refuses. His response was that he was working through something and now it is over. And all through it my emotions have not been acknowledged or properly addressed. And now I am in a place of constant anxiety about my emotional and physical well being, and have very conflicted feelings of attachment and love for this person.


You will find that love is not enough. There are many people we will meet who we can love, but few of those who will be loyal and steady partners. Letting go of someone you may continue to love when you realize they are not good for you and never will be is hard, but much better for you than not letting go.


In the end, after reading your book and taking the test suggested in the beginning, I am surprised to learn that I am demonstrating preoccupied tendencies. This is not who I identify as, since I have a history of secure, open and well balanced relationships in my past. I am now prone to believe I am acting this way because the climate of my relationship is driving me in that direction.


I think you are right.


Hence my belief that I am involved with a dismissive person that can’t feel his attachment to me. Therefore, I have decided I need to locate a therapist that can assist me with these issues and help guide me through them. I am very confused since I love this person a great deal, but he is unable or unwilling to help me understand how to care for him. I need assistance.


If you have not already tried it, ask him if he will take the online test and talk with you about the results. Most dismissives won’t do anything to explore the possibility that they might be causing the trouble in a relationship, but it is worth trying to get him to understand that he has a problem which he could work on. It’s unlikely he will respond positively.

As for therapists, it’s very personal, so you are looking for someone who you can have a rapport with, who quickly “gets” you, and who is familiar with dismissives and attachment insecurity. A good therapist will refer you to someone more suitable if the match is not good.

More on Attachment and Personality Types:

What Attachment Type Are You?
Type: Secure
Type: Anxious-Preoccupied
Type: Dismissive-Avoidant
Type: Fearful-Avoidant (aka Anxious-Avoidant)
Avoidant: Emotions Repressed Beneath Conscious Level
Serial Monogamy: the Fearful-Avoidant Do It Faster
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
Anxious-Preoccupied: Clingy and Insecure Relationship Example
Domestic Violence: Ray and Janay Rice
Malignant Narcissists
Teaching Narcissists to Activate Empathy
Histrionic Personality: Seductive, Dramatic, Theatrical
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
On Addiction and the Urge to Rescue
“Bad Boyfriends” for Kindle, $2.99
Controlling Your Inner Critic
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Porn Addiction and NoFAP
Introverts in Management
Dismissive-Avoidants as Parents

Cheating on Your Spouse: E-Spying and Snooping

cheating spouse phone spy

cheating spouse phone spy

I’ve counselled a number of couples through the years who read each other’s emails and phone messages looking for evidence of lies and affairs — and found it.

None of those people are together today, and for a very good reason: snooping into what your partner reasonably thinks is private is an awful thing to do, and can only cause more trouble. The only conceivable reason to do so is when you are sure they have been lying for some time and you are driven to find proof, or clear your mind of your suspicions. And if things are that bad, your relationship is unlikely to survive no matter what you find, unless you bury what you did deeply and never think of it again.

Just don’t, in other words.

I may not be keeping up with the times. In The Atlantic, Michelle Cottle has a long and interesting piece on cheating, snooping to detect cheating, and new technology to hide your cheating electronic activity from your spouse. It’s all quite ugly, with the tiny hope near the end that couples who have already lied to each other and were caught having affairs can possibly use technology to restore trust (by constantly checking up on each other!)

Jay’s wife, Ann, was supposed to be out of town on business. It was a Tuesday evening in August 2013, and Jay, a 36-year-old IT manager, was at home in Indiana with their 5-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son when he made a jarring discovery. Their daughter had misplaced her iPad, so Jay used the app Find My iPhone to search for it. The app found the missing tablet right away, but it also located all the other devices on the family’s plan. What was Ann’s phone doing at a hotel five miles from their home?

His suspicions raised, Jay, who knew Ann’s passwords, read through her e-mails and Facebook messages. (Like others in this story, Jay asked that his and Ann’s names be changed.) He didn’t find anything incriminating, but neither could he imagine a good reason for Ann to be at that hotel. So Jay started using Find My iPhone for an altogether different purpose: to monitor his wife’s whereabouts.

Two nights later, when Ann said she was working late, Jay tracked her phone to the same spot. This time, he drove to the hotel, called her down to the parking lot, and demanded to know what was going on. Ann told him she was there posing for boudoir photos, with which she planned to surprise him for his upcoming birthday. She said the photographer was up in the room waiting for her.

Jay wanted to believe Ann. They’d been married for 12 years, and she had never given him cause to distrust her. So instead of demanding to meet the photographer or storming up to the room, Jay got in his car and drove home.

Still, something gnawed at him. According to Ann’s e-mails, the boudoir photo shoot had indeed taken place — but on the previous day, Wednesday. So her being at the hotel on Tuesday and again on Thursday didn’t make sense. Unless …

…Jay spent a few days researching surveillance tools before buying a program called Dr. Fone, which enabled him to remotely recover text messages from Ann’s phone. Late one night, he downloaded her texts onto his work laptop. He spent the next day reading through them at the office. Turns out, his wife had become involved with a co-worker. There were thousands of text messages between them, many X‑rated — an excruciatingly detailed record of Ann’s betrayal laid out on Jay’s computer screen. “I could literally watch her affair progress,” Jay told me, “and that in itself was painful.”

In Jay’s case, he wasn’t looking to find evidence of an affair — he stumbled onto it, and didn’t actually read his wife’s private texts until he was already sure. While this doesn’t exactly get a seal of ethical approval, it is a lot better than snooping because you are a suspicious and controlling sort of person.

And then there are the countermeasures to hide your illicit activity from your partner:

One might assume that the proliferation of such spyware would have a chilling effect on extramarital activities. Aspiring cheaters, however, need not despair: software developers are also rolling out ever stealthier technology to help people conceal their affairs. Married folk who enjoy a little side action can choose from such specialized tools as Vaulty Stocks, which hides photos and videos inside a virtual vault within one’s phone that’s disguised to look like a stock-market app, and Nosy Trap, which displays a fake iPhone home screen and takes a picture of anyone who tries to snoop on the phone. CATE (the Call and Text Eraser) hides texts and calls from certain contacts and boasts tricky features such as the ability to “quick clean” incriminating evidence by shaking your smartphone. CoverMe does much of the above, plus offers “military-grade encrypted phone calls.” And in the event of an emergency, there’s the nuclear option: apps that let users remotely wipe a phone completely clean, removing all traces of infidelity….

Every tech trend has its early adopters. Justin, a 30-year-old computer programmer from Ohio, is at the vanguard of this one.

Justin first discovered CATE on the September 21, 2012, episode of Shark Tank, ABC’s venture-capital reality show. The Call and Text Eraser, pitched specifically as a “cheating app,” won $70,000 in seed money on the program. Justin knew he had to have it.

His girlfriend at the time — we’ll call her Scarlett — was “the jealous type,” forever poking through his smartphone and computer. Not that he could blame her, given that she’d already busted him once for having sex with another woman. “It took a lot of talking and a lot of promising that it wouldn’t happen again,” he told me over e-mail. (I found Justin through a user review of CATE.) “So her wanting to check up on me was understandable,” he allowed. “But at the same time, it was my business and if I wanted to share I would have.”

Even a not-so-jealous girlfriend might have taken exception to many of the messages on Justin’s phone: “casual texting” (that is, flirting) with other women, “hard core” (explicitly sexual) texting, texts arranging “hookups.” In the past, he’d been busted repeatedly for such communiqués. (Scarlett is not the only girlfriend with whom Justin has found monogamy to be a challenge.) With CATE, all Justin had to do was create a list of contacts he didn’t want Scarlett to know about, and any incriminating texts and phone calls with those contacts got channeled directly into a pass-code-protected vault.

CATE is just one of many tools Justin uses to, as he puts it, “stay one step ahead.” His go-to method for exchanging explicit photos is Snapchat, the popular app that causes pics and videos to self-destruct seconds after they are received. (Of course, as savvy users know, expired “snaps” aren’t really deleted, but merely hidden in the bowels of the recipient’s phone, so Justin periodically goes in and permanently scrubs them.) And for visuals so appealing that he cannot bear to see them vanish into the ether, he has Gallery Lock, which secretes pics and videos inside a private “gallery” within his phone.

Justin wound up cheating on Scarlett “several more times” before they finally broke up—a pattern he’s repeated with other girlfriends. Oh, sure, he enjoys the social and domestic comforts of a relationship (“It’s always nice to have someone to call your girl”). He understands the suffering that infidelity can cause (“I have been cheated on so I know how much it hurts”). He even feels guilty about playing around. But for him, the adrenaline kick is irresistible. “Not to mention,” he adds, “no woman is the same [and] there is always going to be someone out there who can do something sexually that you have never tried.” Then, of course, there’s “the thrill of never knowing if you are going to get caught.”

Justin is a typical dismissive-avoidant “player” who doesn’t really see any emotional reason to reduce his tomcatting. Not surprisingly, his relationships are full of drama and don’t last too long.

…Therapists say they’re seeing more spouses casually tracking each other, and lawyers are starting to recommend digital-privacy clauses for prenup and postnup agreements.

Justin has tried it all: keystroke loggers, phone trackers, software enabling him to “see text messages, pictures, and all the juicy stuff … even the folder to where your deleted stuff would go.” He figures he’s tried nearly every spy and cheater app on the market, and estimates that since 2007, he has “kept tabs,” serially, on at least half a dozen girlfriends. “The monitoring is really just for my peace of mind,” he says. Plus, if he catches a girlfriend straying, “it kind of balances it out and makes it fair.” That way, he explains, if she ever busts him, “I have proof she was cheating so therefore she would have no reason to be mad.”

Not that Justin is immune to the occasional flash of jealousy. More than once, he has gone out to confront a girlfriend whose phone revealed her to be somewhere other than where she’d claimed to be. One relationship ended with particularly dramatic flair: “The phone went to the location off of a country road in the middle of nowhere and there she was having sex in the backseat of the car with another man.” A fistfight ensued (with the guy, not the girlfriend), followed later by “breakup sex” (vice versa). One year on, Justin says, “I still don’t believe that she has figured out how I found out.”

Justin knows that many folks may find his playing both sides of the cheating-apps divide “twisted.” But, he reasons, “I am doing it for my safety to make sure I don’t get hurt. So doesn’t that make it right??”

Oh, really… rationalization makes everything better! Justin sounds like he’d fit right into the storyline of “Nashville” or some other night-time soap full of betrayal, jealousy, and oversexed pretend-monogamous narcissists.

…Tech developers by and large didn’t set out looking to get involved. As is so often the case with infidelity, it just sort of happened. Take Find My iPhone. Apple did not create the app with suspicious lovers in mind, but users pretty quickly realized its potential. Dr. Fone is marketed primarily as a way to recover lost data. Likewise, messaging apps such as Snapchat have many more uses than concealing naughty talk or naked photos, but the apps are a hit with cheaters.

The multipurpose nature and off-label use of many tools make it difficult to gauge the size of this vast and varied market. The company mSpy offers one of the top-rated programs for monitoring smartphones and computers; 2 million subscribers pay between $20 and $70 a month for the ability to do everything from review browsing history to listen in on phone calls to track a device’s whereabouts. Some 40 percent of customers are parents looking to monitor their kids, according to Andrew Lobanoff, the head of sales at mSpy, who says the company does basic consumer research to see who its customers are and what features they want added. Another 10 to 15 percent are small businesses monitoring employees’ use of company devices (another growing trend). The remaining 45 to 50 percent? They could be up to anything.

Apps marketed specifically as tools for cheaters and jealous spouses for the most part aren’t seeing the download numbers of a heavy hitter like, say, Grindr, the hookup app for gay men (10 million downloads and more than 5 million monthly users). But plenty have piqued consumer interest: The private-texting-and-calling app CoverMe has more than 2 million users. TigerText, which (among other features) causes messages to self-destruct after a set amount of time, has been downloaded 3.5 million times since its introduction in February 2010. (It hit the market a couple of months after the Tiger Woods sexting scandal, though the company maintains that the app is not named for Woods.)

Once the marketplace identifies a revenue stream, of course, the water has been chummed and everyone rushes in for a taste. By now, new offerings are constantly popping up from purveyors large and small. Ashley Madison, the online-dating giant for married people (company slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair.”), has a mobile app that provides some 30 million members “on the go” access to its services. Last year, the company introduced an add-on app called BlackBook, which allows users to purchase disposable phone numbers with which to conduct their illicit business. Calls and texts are placed through the app much as they are through Skype, explains the company’s chief operating officer, Rizwan Jiwan. “One of the leading ways people get caught in affairs is by their cellphone bill,” he observes. But with the disposable numbers, all calls are routed through a user’s Ashley Madison account, which appears on his or her credit-card statements under a series of business aliases. “The phone number isn’t tied to you in any way.”

But iPhone users may be a little safer from snooping and spying tools; and their recent announcement that all user data on the iPhone will be encrypted so that even Apple can’t read it may have prospective cheaters preferring it.

….Lobanoff admits that iPhones are tougher to monitor than phones from other brands, because Apple is strict about what runs on its operating system (although many Apple users “jailbreak” their devices, removing such limits). Which raises the question: Is an iPhone a good investment for cheaters worried about being monitored—or would it too tightly restrict their access to cheating apps? Such are the complexities of modern infidelity.

Of course, no app can remove all risk of getting caught. Technology can, in fact, generate a false sense of security that leads people to push limits or get sloppy. Justin has had several close calls, using CATE to conceal indiscreet texts and voicemails but forgetting to hide explicit photos. When a girlfriend found a naked picture of him that he’d failed to delete after sexting another woman, Justin had to think fast. “The way I talk my way out of it is that I say I was going to send it to her.” Then, of course, there is the peril of creeping obsolescence: after several months, regular upgrades to the operating system on Justin’s phone outpaced CATE’s, and more and more private messages began to slip through the cracks. (A scan of user reviews suggests this is a common problem.)

Suppose you have already discovered your spouse (and maybe you, too!) have lied and cheated through numerous affairs, but now you’re in counselling. How about using snooping tools to rebuild trust? (I am skeptical….):

…Such apps clearly have the potential to blow up relationships, but the question now may be whether they can be used to salvage them as well. Many of the betrayed partners I spoke with believe they can.

A couple of years ago, Ginger discovered that her husband, Tim, was having an affair with a woman he’d met through a nonprofit on whose board he sat. (As Ginger tells it, this was a classic case of a middle-aged man having his head turned by a much younger woman.) The affair lasted less than a year, but it took another eight months before Tim’s lover stopped sending him gifts and showing up in awkward places (even church!).

Ginger and Tim decided to tough it out — they’ve been married for 35 years and have two adult children — but that took some doing. For the first year and a half, certain things Tim did or said would trigger Ginger’s anxiety. He would announce that he was going to the store; Ginger would fire up her tracking software to ensure he did just that. Business travel called for even more elaborate reassurances. “When he was away, I would be like, ‘I want you to FaceTime the whole room—the bathroom, the closet; open the hallway door.’ ”

Ginger’s anxiety has dimmed, but not vanished. She still occasionally uses Find My iPhone to make sure Tim is, in fact, staying late at the office. “And we use FaceTime all the time. He knows that if I try to FaceTime him, he’d better answer right then or have a very, very good reason why he didn’t.”

…In fact, post-affair surveillance seems to be an increasingly popular counseling prescription. Even as marriage and family therapists take a dim view of unprovoked snooping, once the scent of infidelity is in the air, many become enthusiastically pro-snooping — initially to help uncover the truth about a partner’s behavior but then to help couples reconcile by reestablishing accountability and trust. The psychotherapist and syndicated columnist Barton Goldsmith says he often advocates virtual monitoring in the aftermath of an affair. Even if a spouse never exercises the option of checking up, having it makes him or her feel more secure. “It’s like a digital leash.”

Once the scent of infidelity is in the air, many therapists encourage snooping—to help uncover the truth, but also to reestablish accountability and trust in couples looking to reconcile.

And that can be a powerful deterrent, says Frank, whose wife of 37 years learned of his fondness for hookers last February, after he forgot to close an e‑mail exchange with an escort. “He had set up a Gmail account I had no idea he had,” Carol, his wife, told me. Frank tried to convince her that the e-mails were just spam, even after she pointed out that the exchange included his cell number and photos of him.

Frank agreed to marriage counseling and enrolled in a 12-step program for sexual addiction. Carol now tracks his phone and regularly checks messages on both his phone and his computer. Still, she told me sadly, “I don’t think that I’m ever going to get the whole story. I believe he thinks that if I know everything, the marriage will come to an end.”

For his part, Frank—who comes across as a gruff, traditional sort of guy, uneasy sharing his feelings even with his wife—calls Carol’s discovery of his betrayal “excruciating,” but he mostly seems angry at the oversexed culture that he feels landed him in this mess. He grumbles about how “the ease and the accessibility and the anonymity of the Internet” made it “entirely too easy” for him to feed his addiction.

Frank has clearly absorbed some of the language and lessons of therapy. “As well as it is a learned behavior to act out, it is a learned behavior not to,” he told me. He doesn’t much like his wife’s having total access to his phone, but he claims that his sole concern is for the privacy of others in his 12-step group, who text one another for support. Frank himself clearly feels the tug of his digital leash. “Now that she checks my phone and computer, I have a deterrent.”

Even as he calls virtual surveillance “a powerful tool,” though, Frank also declares it a limited one. No matter how clever the technology becomes, there will always be work-arounds. For someone looking to stray, “absolutely nothing is going to stop it,” says Frank, emphatically. “Nothing.”

That Frank is also a winner – the Internet made him do it! Honesty with yourself is hard, but honesty with your partner is the bedrock of trust. Even after admitting his problem, he can’t be honest — the people who continue to try to tell small lies even after the big one is discovered are far away from enlightenment.

More on Online Dating and Mate-Seeking:

Funny test with eye candy. Not as accurate!
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
A Millennial Reviews “Bad Boyfriends”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking pseudoscience
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Sale! Sale! Sale! – “Bad Boyfriends” for Kindle, $2.99
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
OK Cupid Experimented on Users
Limerence vs. Love
Tinder for Golddiggers

Changing Your Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style or Type

Secure Base for the Anxious-Preoccupied

Secure Base for the Anxious-Preoccupied

I just published a book on the Avoidants (both Dismissive and Fearful)–Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner.

I haven’t thought about a similar effort for the opposite extreme, the insecure Anxious-Preoccupied, partly because there’s a decent book out on the topic: Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy, and Worried and What You Can Do About It.

But of course I do have some thoughts. At the simplest level, one might view the anxious as opposites of the avoidant: avoidants appear to care too little about attachment, while the anxious care too much. But it’s not that simple — avoidants clearly do care a lot about their attachments, subconsciously–it is masked by defensive repression of attachment-related emotions, both positive and negative. Meanwhile, the anxious-preoccupied have an unfulfilled security need they strive to fill with someone, anyone, as quickly as possible — they almost lose sight of their romantic partner’s actual needs and feelings in an effort to get closer to reduce their own anxieties:

In particular, avoidance is thought to predispose a person to, or to accompany, overt narcissism or grandiosity, which includes both self-praise and denial of weaknesses (Gabbard, 1998; Wink, 1991). Attachment anxiety, in contrast, seems to predispose a person to, or to accompany, covert narcissism, which is characterized by self-focused attention, hypersensitivity to other people’s attention to or evaluation of oneself, and appraisal of oneself in terms of inherently unrealistic expectations and a sense of entitlement…. –Shaver and Mikulincer, Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change, loc. 4272.

Looking back to the infant studies which first demonstrated the attachment styles:

The C, or anxious, infant is marked by high vigilance concerning the mother’s presence and her availability or unavailability , frequent verbal or physical contact with her, noticeable wariness with respect to the stranger, intense distress when the mother leaves the room and, in many cases, anger and resistance when she returns. This seeming inconsistency between wanting mother close, then showing anger and resistance following separation from her, is the reason for the terms “ambivalent” and “resistant” in some of the labels for this attachment pattern. We think it is preferable to consider this reaction a sign of protest and retributive anger rather than ambivalence. –Shaver and Mikulincer, Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change, loc. 2287.

This points at a significant factor that shows up in many of the relationships Anxious-Preoccupieds have: anger. This helpless anger is often directed toward both parents and partners:

Adult attachment research also provides consistent evidence that self-reports of attachment anxiety are associated with one of Main and colleagues’ (1985) defining characteristics of the preoccupied state of mind: experience and expression of dysfunctional anger toward attachment figures (e.g., Mikulincer, 1998b; Rholes, Simpson, & Orina, 1999; Woike, Osier, & Candela; 1996…). –Shaver and Mikulincer, Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change, loc. 3045.

This anger is expressed toward romantic partners in a variety of protest behaviors (“pay attention to me or else!”) and sometimes turned inward — against the anxious-preoccupied’s own self-image:

Anxiously attached individuals’ intensification of negative emotions and rumination on threats and slights may fuel intense and prolonged bouts of anger. However, their fear of separation and desperate desire for others’ love may hold their resentment and anger in check, and redirect it toward themselves. As a result, anxious people’s anger can include a complex mixture of resentment, hostility, self-criticism, fear, sadness, and depression. Mikulincer (1998b) provided evidence for this characterization of anxiously attached people’s anger. Their recollections of anger-provoking experiences included an uncontrollable flood of angry feelings, persistent rumination on these feelings, and sadness and despair following conflicts. Mikulincer also found that anxious people held more negative expectations about others’ responses during anger episodes and tended to make more undifferentiated, negatively biased appraisals of relationship partners’ intentions. They attributed hostility to their partner and reacted in kind, even when there were only ambiguous cues concerning hostile intent. There is also evidence, cited earlier, that attachment anxiety is associated with anger, aggression, and hostility. –Shaver and Mikulincer, Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change, loc. 5466.

The lack of a secure sense of self-worth that can be drawn on when alone or when encountering negative signals from others creates a variety of problems for the anxious-preoccupied, including tolerating a less supportive partner by accepting a lowered sense of their own value and competence, which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as the anxious turn to others instead of learning to accomplish tasks for themselves:

It is common for an attachment-anxious person, who hopes to gain a partner’s love, esteem, and protection, to take some of the blame for a partner’s unreliable care (“ Something is wrong with me; I don’t have what it takes to gain my partner’s reliable attention and regard”). It is also common for such a person to ruminate about why he or she is so worthless that others do not want to provide the love and approval that is so strongly desired. These thought processes heighten and reinforce the cognitive accessibility of negative self-representations and doubts about one’s social value. Moreover, anxious overdependence on attachment figures interferes with the development of self-efficacy. Anxiously attached people generally prefer to rely on their partner rather than engage in challenging activities alone, thereby preventing them from exploring and learning new information and skills. In addition, deliberate but awkward or desperate attempts to gain proximity to an attachment figure reinforce a negative self-image, because anxious people often present themselves in degrading, incompetent, childish, or excessively needy ways in an effort to elicit compassion and support. –Shaver and Mikulincer, Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change, loc. 4104.

This lack of a secure, self-sufficient base for the anxious-preoccupied is the cause of a lot of desperate effort to attract a partner who will provide it, then anger when that partner turns out not to be the perfectly supportive figure they imagined. The Preoccupied settle too soon on someone they don’t know well and try to force them to be a good partner who will make them feel constantly secure; naturally many partners thrust into this role don’t appreciate it or desire to be someone else’s fantasy partner. The Preoccupied will use sex (and accept sex that might not be safe or good for them) to attract a partner they want to love them, rather than seeing sex as a natural outgrowth of feelings.

So what can be done to move the anxious-preoccupied to a more secure style in relationships?

Security allows a person to be less self-centered, and it’s probably good therapy for the anxious-preoccupied to think and act in a less self-concerned way to increase the strength of their compassion and empathy muscles. Instead of ruminating on your lack of supportive relationships and how inadequate you must be to have either bad or nonexistent partners, try thinking of the good things about yourself and your life, and spend some time listening to others with problems and trying to help them see that their problems can be overcome. Your subconscious is listening to everything you say, so remind yourself and others that you did in fact grow up to be a good and competent person and have a lot to be grateful for.

Try to identify supportive figures from your past who nurtured and cared for you in a way that made you feel safer and stronger — if neither parent fit that role, consider uncles and aunts, grandparents, and good friends. Imagine that person standing by your side and telling you that you can accomplish what you need to, and that you are a worthy person to be loved. Let that feeling of security wash through you, and cultivate the habit of thinking of those reassuring figures as being with you in the present when things seem to be going badly.

Focus on the good relationships you have had, spend less time thinking about the bad. Think enough of yourself to avoid getting caught up in every new relationship as if it might be The One. The time you spend obsessing over someone you barely know (projecting onto them qualities they probably don’t have) could be better spent getting to know lots of other people, one of whom might be much better suited to you.

And for those with religious faith, use it for reassurance — that’s one of the positive roles of faith:

The Golden Rule, for example, which enjoins people to treat others as they would like to be treated, is easier to follow if one knows what it is like to be treated well, accurately empathizes with other people, and provides what others need, without feeling cheated or entitled to effusive praise. Interestingly, religious “models” (Oman & Thoresen, 2003) are generally portrayed in scriptures and religious stories as security-providing attachment figures for their followers, who in turn are enjoined to treat others as the model treats them. Jesus, for example, is described by John (13: 35) as saying, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Luke (6 :30–36) describes Jesus as giving the following specific instructions: “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them. … Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return.” In Buddhism , a common form of compassion meditation involves remembering vividly how one feels when someone provides unconditional love (one’s mother is often suggested, but someone else can be substituted if she was not a supportive attachment figure), then turn that process, in one’s mind (and eventually in one’s behavior as well), toward other targets. Chödrön (2003) describes this process as follows: To begin, we start just where we are. We connect with the place where we currently feel loving-kindness, compassion, joy, or equanimity, however limited they may be. … We aspire that we and our loved ones can enjoy the quality we are practicing. Then we gradually extend that aspiration to a widening circle of relationships. … “May I be free from suffering and the root of suffering. May you be free from suffering and the root of suffering. May all beings be free of suffering and the root of suffering.” (pp. 66– 67) –Shaver and Mikulincer, Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change, loc. 12024.

Other posts of interest:

Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
Limerence vs. Love
Anxious-Preoccupied: Clingy and Insecure Relationship Example
“Bad Boyfriends” – Useful for Improving Current Relationships
Controlling Your Inner Critic
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Do the Anxious-Preoccupied Dream (More) of Love?
Attachment Type Combinations in Relationships

“Yes Means Yes”– California Leads the State Back Into Your Bedroom

Yes Means Yes: Ryan Gosling

Yes Means Yes: Ryan Gosling

California’s legislature is fond of passing bills to micromanage daily life for the irresponsible citizens, at least those who haven’t left for freer states. They don’t trust people to dispose of plastic shopping bags properly, so they’re outlawed; the process used in French cuisine to make fois grois via overfeeding ducks can’t be rapidly changed to a more humane method, so they outlawed foie gras–or at least you now have to import it from somewhere less enlightened. The state’s enormous debt and unfunded pension and medical obligations will soon be squeezing all services, but that’s not important–vote for me!

Since there’s an election coming up, the Legislature didn’t want to be seen as not addressing an important largely hyped problem, so they’ve passed a law requiring consent–preferably verbal–at every stage of campus sexual relations, to make sure that no student will ever end up doing something they might later regret. Overkill for a problem better addressed by education and closer supervision of alcohol consumption? Probably…

Reason’s Shikha Dalmia takes on the story:

Feminists are super excited about California’s newly minted “yes means yes” law that they claim will not only make sex safer on American campuses, but also better. But that’s as credible as telling little boys that masturbation will make them blind. To the extent that the law works, it will actually ruin both good men and good sex.

California, the first state to implement this law, will require colleges that want to keep their state funding intact to deploy the “affirmative consent” standard when adjudicating sexual assault cases. This means that campus authorities will have to establish whether the partners obtained “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary” agreement. Although non-verbal consent is allowed, verbal is better. And it has to be obtained at every stage–touching, kissing, and foreplay–not just initially.

The obvious problem with the law–which many other states are considering as well–is that it assumes that sexual assault, already a crime under multiple laws, is the result of miscommunication. The assumption is that somehow one partner (and let’s be honest, it is overwhelmingly the one with a Y chromosome) didn’t ask or realize that the other wasn’t into it. But the fact is: Most assaulters know exactly what they are doing. The vast majority of campus rapes are committed by a small minority of repeat offenders who give not a damn about what the woman wants. And if they can threaten violence, they can also lie about obtaining consent. So how will the law change anything?

Feminists argue that the new standard means that campus authorities will now have to grill the accused about whether and how he obtained consent — rather than the victim to prove that she refused–mitigating the trauma of investigations and encouraging more women to come forward. This is true. But by effectively changing the assumption from “presumed innocent” to “presumed guilty,” this new standard will inevitably snag some guys who earnestly meant no harm. Over time, of course, an industry will emerge to coach the accused on how to game the law and get away….

The reality is that much of sex is not consensual–but it is also not non-consensual. It resides in a gray area in between, where sexual experimentation and discovery happen. Sex is inherently dangerous. Sometimes, there will be misadventures when these experiments go wrong. Looking back, it can be hard to assign blame by ascertaining whether both partners genuinely consented. But trying to shoehorn sex into a strict, yes-and-no consent framework in an attempt to make it risk free can’t help but destroy it.

The sexual revolution liberated women from the shackles of modesty, allowing them to explore their sexuality. It won’t help their sexual actualization now to enchain their partners in ill-advised lines that limit their moves.

The return of the view of women as fragile flowers in need of special protection, now being pushed by feminist activists, opens the way for arguments of traditionalists that schools should segregate the sexes, preferably miles away from each other–or at the very least return to the restrictive policies of the pre-60s. The entire effort to tilt the scales of justice against young men to get at the few real rapists among them is wrongheaded–and shouldn’t be tolerated. There are ways to reduce the damage they do but this isn’t one of them.

As for how serious a problem campus rape actually is, The Economist story on the law lays out the lack of a case for seeing it as a crisis:

Sexual violence in America has declined sharply since the mid-1990s. According to the National Crime Victimisation Survey, the gold standard for measuring crimes that are often not reported, the proportion of women subjected to rape or sexual assault fell 64% between 1995 and 2005, and declined slightly further by 2010, to 1.1 per 1,000 women per year (see chart). Colleges do not appear to be more dangerous than other places where young people congregate: according to Bureau of Justice statistics, 18-24-year-olds who do and don’t attend college are about equally likely to be raped or sexually assaulted.

Rape Graph - BoJS, NCVS

Rape Graph – BoJS, NCVS

Nonetheless, colleges are under unprecedented pressure to make campuses safer. Activists talk of an alcohol-fuelled “rape culture”. A student at Columbia has vowed to carry her mattress around all day until the man she says raped her is expelled. Images of what she describes as a piece of performance art, “Carry That Weight”, have landed her on the cover of New York magazine.

On September 19th Barack Obama launched a campaign to prevent sexual assaults in college. This is not the first time his administration has weighed in. In 2011 the Department of Education sent colleges a letter suggesting that if they did not take steps to curb sexual violence, they could fall foul of a federal anti-discrimination law called Title IX. The letter cited an estimate that about one in five women are victims of a completed or attempted sexual assault while in college—a much higher figure than other studies find. Sceptics protest that the study in question relies on a narrow sample of students and a broad definition of sexual assault, including “any unwanted sexual contact” while the victim is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs.

The entire “crisis” is fueled by an alliance between feminist activists and a Democratic administration to continue their successful campaign to persuade single women to vote for them because they are against rape, portraying anyone who has doubts as misogynists and probably rapists themselves. Civil libertarians are appalled, but who cares? Votes!

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


More on the Campus Rape Panic and Feminist Overreach:

Camille Paglia: The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil
Social Justice Warriors: #GamerGate Explained
Emma Watson’s Message: Intelligence Trumps Sex
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Life Is Unfair! The Militant Red Pill Movement
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
Madmen, Red Pill, and Social Justice Wars
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Ross Douthat on Unstable Families and Culture
Ev Psych: Parental Preferences in Partners
Purge: the Feminist Grievance Bubble
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Modern Feminism: Victim-Based Special Pleading
Stereotype Inaccuracy: False Dichotomies
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
Red Pill Women — Female MRAs
Why Did Black Crime Syndicates Fail to Go Legit?
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
Feminism’s Heritage: Freedom vs. Special Protections
Evolve or Die: Survival Value of the Feminine Imperative
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)
Gaming and Science Fiction: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Culture Wars: Peace Through Limited Government