If you approach others with an open heart, you may not be familiar with the concept of withholding. It’s a pretty diabolical relationship dynamic and a big red flag for the future.
People who withhold simply do not want to give another anything: not a compliment, not a kind word or deed–not anything.
So we work harder…
We might be generous with our own compliments, our positive reinforcements and our good deeds. But what comes back to us is…nothing. We are with someone who withholds.
At first the imbalance might not be noticeable. But over time, it’s easy to find ourselves dancing as fast as we can to keep the relationship going by doing more, or something different. Trying and trying, with no result. Nothing.
Those efforts keep us anxious and off-center. We know something is wrong — but we think we can draw more participation from the other if only we did one more thing.
Working harder makes it even worse
In the effort to find balance or to get even one crumb in return, we make the dynamic even more imbalanced, until finally, we can no longer escape the fact that it’s never going to be different.
Why do people withhold? It’s not us, at least not until we become complicit in the dynamic. Giving is not a bad thing.
It’s them. Something is broken on their end. Maybe they secretly resent us and this is their passive-aggressive way of showing it. Maybe they, themselves, are unable to have a real relationship. Or maybe this is just not the relationship for them.
The reason doesn’t matter. The behavior is what matters. Why is that? It’s because reasons can easily become excuses. Excuses become reasons to stay. It’s a vicious circle. But: We don’t control the other person. Or the dynamic. Only our end of it.
By the way, this applies to any relationship, not just a romantic one.
Sometimes the only thing to do is go
When a relationship is broken we can (at first) think we can make it better. We women, especially, are apt to work harder and harder to make things work. But it takes two people to have a successful relationship and two to repair it.
If you’re dancing as fast as you can to make a relationship work and you’re dancing alone, it’s time to go.