What on earth do you do if he doesn't call?!?!
Dr. Wendy Walsh: Say you met a guy. Had a wonderful date. Are expecting to hear from him within a day or two because, well, because your company is so fun and you could tell he was really enjoying himself. And then, all of a sudden, nothing. You know if you call him, you'd break biology's rule number one -- sperm chases egg, not the other way around -- so all you can do is wait.
Oh, the waiting. The waiting. I think the act of waiting for someone we like to call us back is probably one of the most excruciating pains a woman can feel. Especially one with an anxious attachment style. When a loved one (or an object of our infatuation) fails to call us back promptly, the feelings it triggers can be as visceral as when a newborn child awaits Mommy's arms and breast. It is the most basic and primal fear of a human being, the loss of another whom we think is part of ourselves. And it is understandable. For in his presence, we are transformed into the perfect woman. We feel beautiful. We feel smart. We feel funny. We feel sexy. We are the perfect date ... until the date ends and the days of waiting for his call start.
Then who do we become? A sad date? A lonely date? An unworthy date? The reigning question in our minds is, "Why doesn't he feel as happy in our presence as we do in his?" But that is only the first stage of separation anxiety. It gets worse.
Next we beat ourselves up by reliving the date in our heads and finding fault with our own behavior. Well, if I hadn't said this ... if I hadn't been clumsy about that ... if I had worn something different ... then maybe he would call.
Then we hit the angry stage of separation anxiety. We take all those unfair criticisms of ourselves and transfer them to him and become angry. I can't tell you how often my anxiety-ridden head has screamed, "He's messing with me! He knows how much this hurts, and he's doing this deliberately to put me at a disadvantage!" Separation anxiety has become anger. Sometimes this anger can become so extreme that women blanket it across the entire male species. When one guy doesn't call, we hate 'em all. The final stage of separation anxiety has two paths. The first one is easy, though not growth-enhancing. The second is painful, though truly helpful.
The first path is one of protection, and one I don't recommend. We vow to never become too intimate with a date ever again. We learn to hide our feelings. We shut down just a little. Instead of feeling the pain of separation, we focus on self-consoling acts like shopping, gossiping, working out, eating (or not eating), working, or, my personal favorite, pursuing other men. We replace the feelings of abandonment with artificial feelings of beauty, health, and prosperity. Do this enough times with enough rejecting men and you will become a non-feeling android. I promise.
By the way, should your date call back during this stage, you will be too protective and less emotionally available -- and ultimately less attractive to him. Separation anxiety can be so self-sabotaging.
The second path involves connecting with a surrogate figure who you really trust -- a close girlfriend, a therapist, or your children. If you've been able to allow yourself deep feelings of connection within these kinds of strong relationships, then you will be reminded of your value simply by being in their presence. Now, I'm not suggesting that you tell your child about your broken heart -- children are too young to handle that emotional burden. But spending some quality time with one who regards you as omnipotent is a great path to healing. Waiting out the waiting with someone who loves you is the best way to feel whole during separation anxiety.
Finally, after the passing of time, along with maybe some deep meditation and/or some fortifying therapy, you will start to feel good about yourself again -- without him. What a great feeling that is -- complete self-esteem without the approval or adoration of another. It is a state of self-love. You're back. Whew!
Then he finally calls. And after some time feeling satiated and another date, the whole cycle can start all over again. We can again become an object of his love, not ours. So how do we keep from losing a part of ourselves every time a man doesn't call back? How do we not let our dates walk away with the best part of us while we wait, with an amputated heart, by the telephone? The only way is to create deep intimacy in the other relationships in our lives -- our girlfriends, our siblings, an older, wiser friend, our children, and our therapists. Know that you are loved and lovable, and in times of vulnerability, these loving relationships will remind you of that. Then, break biology's rule. Pick up the phone or send him an e-mail -- ONLY ONCE -- telling him how much you enjoyed him.
|Dr. Wendy Walsh holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and her area of interest is Attachment Theory, a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory that provides a descriptive and explanatory framework for understanding interpersonal relationships between human beings. As a psychological assistant registered with the California Board of Psychology, Dr. Walsh has treated individuals, couples and families for a variety of mental health concerns including personality disorders, anger management, eating and substance disorders, and depression. Connect with Dr. Walsh on Facebook.|