My life is decorated with a lot of precious young adults, both male and female. Many times when I think about each of them, I offer a quiet prayer. I ask God to settle them with life partners deserving of them; people who will appreciate the value and the quality that they bring to their lives.
This is why Doris* had hardly started describing her relationship with her Sweetheart Dotun* before she got my full attention. She was overly excited. “He is gorgeous Ma and all my friends agree. His heart is just as beautiful, very kind and such good fun too. He can crack a joke about everything. You can’t stay a second with him without laughing; I love being with him.”
I could recognize all the signs and I am not surprised when she says to me with a demure look, “I think I have fallen in love with him.”
I know Doris very well and I consider her very honest and open – almost naïve- though she left University many years ago. Her younger sister Debbie* has been married for 2 years and Doris makes it plain that she is very keen on meeting her own ‘knight in shining armour’ too. Because of this, I feel she places her relationships on the fast-track, usually accelerating them and trying too hard to force intimacy. As we continue our chat, I discover that she met Dotun just 6 weeks earlier. I felt it was too early for them to have ‘fallen’ so deeply in love. This prompts me to ask her how Dotun feels about her. My question seemed to curb her enthusiasm a bit but in her usual truthful manner she answers:
“He says he loves me too but I am not really sure any more. He doesn’t call me as often as he used to and even the BBMs have reduced. I don’t know what it is but I sense that he is sort of withdrawing. I can tell that he is finding it difficult to make a commitment. I don’t understand what is happening but I am convinced we are so right for each other …”
I pointed out to Doris that when people force intimacy like she is doing, they are likely to threaten their intended partner’s personal boundaries and it is only natural for them to feel frightened and to respond by withdrawing from the relationship or by even totally rejecting them. I explained to her that trying to force intimacy is always a mistake that will never produce the intimacy she wants but instead will push Dotun further and further away. True intimacy develops over time and it is the lifeblood of love. It provides a shelter in which one can be vulnerable, safe and truly themselves.
I gave her some very practical tips to help her stop forcing intimacy:
- If you call repeatedly even when he doesn’t return your call; try not to call again until he calls you and then wait before returning his call
- If you give him gifts and he fails to acknowledge or reciprocate; try not sending anymore
- If you feel compelled to see and talk to him every day; try getting busy with other things and people.
- If you talk about him to people he knows all the time; try appearing disinterested in him and what his friends say about him
- If you always accuse him of ignoring you when he is not constantly available; try having less time for him than he has for you
- If you feel that whenever you are together, you are the last thing on his mind; try to spend only quality time with him and leaving when he is not focused on you
- If you keep making excuses for his bad behaviour towards you; try pointing out some of these unacceptable behavioural patterns to him
I know Doris is worried that she may lose Dotun if she follows these tips. But I believe that if their relationship can’t withstand this, then perhaps it is not meant to be. I am hoping to flip the coin and look at it from the guy’s perspective in the New Year. Until then, may your New Year truly be blessed.
*No real names or identifying details
Photo credit: verastic.com
Chiadi Ndu was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987. She has a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology and a Diploma in Stress management. She works as a Pre- Divorce Concilliator, hosts a radio programme - Behind the Heart on Inspiration FM and also writes a relationship Counselling column - Bridges on Sunday in Sunday Thisday newspaper.