Some of us enter intimate bonds with an acute awareness of our need to connect, to be close, not to be alone, not to be abandoned. Others approach relationships with a heightened need for personal space – our sense of self-preservation inspires vigilance against being devoured. Erotic, emotional connection generates closeness that can become overwhelming, evoking claustrophobia. It can feel instrusive. What was initially a secure enclosure becomes confining. While our need for closeness is almost as basic as our need for food, it carries with it anxieties and threats that can inhibit desire. We want closeness, but not so much that we feel trapped by it.
– Esther Perel. Mating in Captivity.
Imagine his surprise to discover that the happiest, most confident woman he’d ever met was actually – when you got her alone – a murky hole of bottomless grief. Once again, I could not stop crying. This is when he started to retreat, and that’s when I saw the other side of my passionate romantic hero – the David who was solitary as a castaway, cool to the touch, in need of more personal space than a herd of American bison.
David’s sudden emotional back-stepping probably would’ve been a catastrophe for me even under the best of circumstances, given that I am the planet’s most affectionate life-form (something like a cross between a golden retriever and a barnacle), but this was my very worst of circumstances. I was despondent and dependent, needing more care than an armful of premature infant triplets. His withdrawal only made me more needy, and my neediness only advanced his withdrawals, until soon he was retreating under fire of my weeping pleas of, “Where are you going? What happened to us?”
(Dating tip: Men LOVE this.)
– Elizabeth Gilbert. Eat Pray Love.