We live in a world of instant attention. Never before has the feedback mechanism of emotion to response been quicker; you just need to post on facebook that you're having a bad day, and watch the 'likes' of empathy wash down on your post.
You may have noticed that women love attention, so for us females this change toward technological instantaneous reaction has been equally gratifying and destructive. I know this is a mass generalization, and it isn't to say that men don't love attention too. However if you withdraw attention from a man, his reactions are not often the same as those of a woman. A man doesn't 'take it personally' as his first reaction, where women can see lack of attention as being a withdrawal of love.
This perceived lack of attention can be something as simple as not replying to a text message, not calling or breaking the routine of regular communication. These feelings of love withdrawal can lead a woman into feelings of abandonment which can leave them with a sense of anxiety.
This is doubly so in the early stages of a relationship when oxytocin known as the 'love drug' is still racing round the women's system. Oxytocin starts to drop in production as the sexual relationship goes on. Its first use is to build a woman's sexual desire for a new mate. It then drops off as Mother Nature expects a pregnancy to take place and if it doesn't then the sexual desire drops. That's usually the "What on earth did I see in him?" moment, which has us rushing off to seek the dizzy rush of desire with another mate. However, if attention toward us is withdrawn before the oxytocin levels drop, then there can be an almost addictive craving for the return of the attention.
The withdrawal of attention can be used as a form of relationship control by women as well as men. Being distant can be used as a way of testing emotional interest, but also as a way to manipulate controlling power and become the dominate partner.
By learning how to control your own anxiety when attention is withdrawn, we don't become a victim of a manipulation, and also means you can free yourself from the trap of falling into a co-dependant relationship that involves a lot of attention seeking and game playing.
These are the top tips I give to my clients when they are in a place of fear due to lack of communication or contact from a person they have feelings for:
1. Know how amazing you are and have a bit of faith. If your partner is withdrawing because they don't have enough feelings for you, let them go. After all, you're amazing and if they can't see that they must be an idiot and you don't date idiots!
2. Give them space, they might have stuff going on in their life; it's not all about you! The right person will contact you, and if they don't they weren't the right person.
3. Breathe! When you feel that panic rising up from your belly - breathe.
4. Find something else to do and focus on. Especially find something you can do to feel wonderful about yourself.
5. Keep it simple; don't make it about all the things you give that you're not getting back. It's your choice to give what you give. So keep it about the here and now rather than dragging any other story into the situation. If you are finding yourself with less and less happy times you might want to think about walking away rather than trying to manipulate someone into giving the amount of attention you need. Need less attention, or find a partner that wants to give you the amount you need. Tell your partner what you need, but if they can't give it, walk rather than become a nag!
6. Not all emotionally manipulative people are confident. It's also worth remembering that this lack of contact could also be coming from feelings of unworthiness of the other person.
This level of fear and anxiety over communication is a common situation for many of my clients, a good 10% of my phone clients are women freaking out because of emotional withdrawal of men. So if you're feeling this you're not alone.
Most importantly, in moments like these... Stay Away from the Send Button. Reacting to anything in a moment of anxiety is always the wrong move.
I have to leave you with a joke I heard on radio 2:
My girlfriend says I have become emotionally distant. It's not that I am distant; it's that my emotions are so small they look very far away!