New Life : Building Trust + Codependency

New Life : Building Trust + Codependency

One of the beautiful things about couple’s therapy is that you can use what you’ve learned for the rest of your life. 

I’ve been talking with Ben, who has also recently begun dating again, about how we are in the beginning of our relationships. 

It started during a dinner with him, Ashley, Ang, and myself at Bamboo Sushi in Portland. We were talking about desperate energy (DE). 

“The most important things to me are trust and loyalty,” Ben said affirmatively.

“I think what you’re really saying is that you are scared and you don’t trust people will stay with you,” I responded.

Ben is one of my best friends because we will debate topics for hours and go back and forth until we arrive at a point when he says, “I think that’s right,” and we both find ourselves nodding together. He is willing to learn and change, as am I, but it needs to make sense to his logical sensibilities. 

“I disagree. If I’m going to be with a person I need to know I can trust them. Otherwise I’ll be wasting my time with someone who isn’t worth it.” 

Ashley chimes in and says trust is something that happens over time and not up front. 

Ben says his style of building trust is to be extremely vulnerable right away. That is what I’ve always done as well.

“What if by doing that we are just becoming codependent… like, guaranteeing this person has to latch on early and stay with us?” I ask him.

“Fuck. I don’t know.”

“And what if it’s better to pull back on all the sentimental and serious stuff early on and have more simple interactions with new people?” I ask. “That way, we find out over time what their behavior is like and how well we can trust each other. Essentially, they will choose on their own to want to be in our lives.”

“That’s much scarier,” he says.

“Terrifying,” I respond. 

We will kick these ideas around in our heads over the next days and weeks and apply them when we can and see what seems to be accurate. 

I’ve caught myself several times wanting to send a meaningful text message to Maddy or Erica after hanging out. Something like, “I had a really amazing time with you and loved that it was so easy to talk. I’ll probably be thinking about you more than I should. Let’s hang out again soon.” 

That is a message I’ve sent dozens of times in the past. It shows that I’m available and willing to connect. Which usually couldn’t be further from what is real. I do it to obtain security. The part that I forget, though, is that I’m not sure at this point if I even like this person. Which makes it all feel more like a neediness than a real expression of feelings. 

The beginning is so chaotic and messy that it’s intolerable to most people who have attachment issues like I do. Having free time to wonder what a person is thinking about you, if they are thinking about you, and what their feelings were on the last encounter is not productive but it’s addictive. I want to pick up my phone and make my way through my friend list. I could them all about the new girl and the new rush and the same date story seven times in a row because it would keep my stomach close to the feeling of sickness which feels terrible and amazing at the same time. 

Luckily, after my last date, I called Ashley. I told her about the rundown and asked if she thought Maddy liked me.

“Dude, you sound like a freaking girl,” she said. 

“God, I know.”

“She definitely likes you. She wouldn’t hang out with you again if she didn’t. Now don’t text her until tomorrow and stop thinking about it.” 

I didn’t make any other calls. I sat and thought about some things I was thankful for. This new breath of life, a new city to explore, and a chance to start relationships in a healthier way.

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