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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 2:56 pm 
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Some of us have been talking about needing affirmation through others and coincidentally today the magazine in the newspaper I buy (Sunday Times) had an "agony aunt" problem about this. The problem was about a woman whose husband doesn't lover her the way she wants him too She wants to feel loved and wanted and is thinking of having an affair. She wants to feel "in love" again and says she likes herself but can't find the courage to change. Her husband is not a sex addict so some of it doesn't apply, but I found it useful. Here is an excerpt from it that I thought might be useful to share:

"It seems you have a huge need for affirmation through others, so perhaps that's the area you need to examine ... What you really crave is intimacy but you have spent your life trying to find it through sex. The trouble is, sex has very little to do with intimacy. Being wanted might be a powerful medicine, but it's a palliative, not a cure".

"You can blame your husband for the way you feel (although even a short course in counselling must have taught you that nobody can make us feel something we do not already feel ourselves), or you could try running away to start your life anew, but the brutal truth is that wherever we go, we are there. Happiness is an inside job. You could, of course, take another lover and dump your husband, but I'd bet good money you'll still be miserable. Perhaps it might be better to take yourself to thereapy and discover ways to nurture and love yourself rather than depending on others to do it for you. You never know, when you value yourself, you might come to value your husband who, in his grumpy way, obviously loves you very much. After all, after 25 pretty bumpy years, he is still there".


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 1:02 am 
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Dear TNM

Thanks for this interesting and relevant topic.

Is there a difference between seeking affirmation from others and a reasonable expectation of having our healthy needs met in a relationship based on real intimacy?

For me there is; I am in some ways fiercely independent - Coach Jon has said it, so it must be true :) - so I am not a big affirmation seeker, but I have recently learned that having no expectation of my needs being met because of what happened in my childhood has resulted in a fundamental disconnection from my emotions. This does not give the ideal conditions for the development of intimacy!

There is also something in the partners workshop about understanding addiction, which suggests that not expecting needs to be met because of early experiences is a common precursor to compulsive sexual behaviour.

Of course we should value ourselves and we can bring so much more to all relationships, whether social or intimate, when we do.

If we do value ourselves, I think we are more able to give a relationship our best shot by being vulnerable and asking for our healthy needs to be met, but also to know if the time has come to cut our losses and move on with our heads held high.


ps: Just to confuse my own argument: I think that setting and implementing clear boundaries can be an early step towards acting without the need for external affirmation in a relationship, which is why it can be so empowering and freeing. Have I just shot my previous points down in flames?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 1:35 am 
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Hi TNM,
Being involved with RN and the wider recovery process I realise I was receiving affirmation through my sexual relationship with my husband - probably from the day it started. I wasn't of any worth as a young child or teenager - at least that's the way I felt as I grew up. I could see how my friends were treated by their parents and my life was quite different. My mother, father, one grandmother, an Aunt and cousins abused me emotionally, physically, sexually or verbally. I wasn't good enough for my father's family because I was my mother's daughter, and apparently I was very stuck up in the eyes of my mother's family because I was my father's daughter. My childhood was anxious and traumatic - my father was a sex addict, as were his father and two brothers.

I was a virgin when I met my husband and sex most definitely became love. Sex was so great, this guy must really love me. Intimacy was never part of our relationship - until now. Because I wasn't valued in my formative years I allowed that pattern to continue until fairly recently, I gave others permission to treat me badly - particularly my husband. Thanks to long periods of sexual abstinence we've learned the difference between true intimacy and sex. As a result we're developing a closer relationship than we've ever had in our 41 years together.

Looking back I can see I was as unhealthy and dysfunctional as my husband and I would've had problems in any relationship as a result of my deep need for external affirmation. This recovery process is teaching me to value myself, I am a good person in so many ways - and lovable - it's still very nice to receive affirmation from others, but my life doesn't depend on it any more.

Lizzie.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:01 am 
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That's what I like about this forum - you get thoughtful and meaningful responses such as the two above.

What's the difference between affirmation and a reasonable expectation of our needs being met? I guess the understanding that other people can't meet our needs or expectations if we are not meeting them either.

For me, I think affirmation is wanting other people to make up for one's own feelings of inadequacy and, when they don't, feeling disappointed or upset that they have failed to do something for us that we are not able to do for ourselves - that's unreasonable. A reasonable expectation of our needs being met is just that - reasonable and done out of a feeling of self-worth and self-value, not inadequacy.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:55 am 
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Dear TNM

Just to continue the debate -

I think what really muddies the waters is that many partners of people using compulsive behaviour to manage their emotions (PUCB for short) seem to have started in the relationship as comparatively healthy people. I think that the feelings of inadequacy and lack of self worth can develop during the relationship.


Not only do they reasonably expect their healthy emotional needs to be met, but healthy emotional needs also include being able to give love and have that love appreciated and validated. Unfortunately the PUCB are having their needs met elsewhere, so not only are they often unable to give love, the may also be unable to receive it. This leaves the partner feeling inadequate on so many levels that they desperately seek external affirmation, either from the PUCB or elsewhere.

Of oourse, to further muddy the waters, are even apparently healthy people driven by their own unconscious patterns to seek out PUCB because of their own deep seated problems? I would count myself in this category as I was independent, self-motivated and generally viewed by others as emotionally healthy. I would guess that it is sometimes, but not always, the case and I don't think we have the evidence base to know.

Anyway, thank you to RN for giving us the tools to regain our self worth, however it was lost in the first place!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 9:18 am 
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I think we are all prone to self-doubt and feelings of inadeqacy and that is totally normal. For example, there is no way that I could ever become a painter or a musician - I don't have the talent so feeling inadequate in that situation is (to me) OK as it does not attack my sense of self-worth - it has never been my burning desire in life to be either.

However, if all I had ever wanted to be a painter or musician (say, for example, because I came from a family of painters and musicians and desperately needed their affirmation) and wanted everyone else to recognise me as such but I lacked the ability/talent or whatever it is, that would hit at my feeling of inadequacy AND self-worth and would ultimately be destructive for me. In both cases I feel inadequate but in only one of them does it do me harm.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:53 pm 
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This is a thought provoking thread,

I think I spent the last 9 years seeking affirmation from my partner - what he did or did not do made me either happy or unhappy, gave me my self worth, or made me inadequate. They were not his issues, they were mine. I put him on a pedestal, and was crushed when it all went wrong with the PA.

The lessons here have helped me so much with my own self worth, I no longer need validation from him - or anyone - to feel a worthwhile person, but I found the balance between that and being part of a couple difficult to marry.

Good things within the relationship ADD to my happiness about the relationship. But I have found I can be happy as an individual within the realtionship as well, without the bad things detracting from my self esteem in the way they once did.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:01 am 
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Jacob's pestering posts deleted

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Remember recovery is more than abstinence
Every transition begins with an ending
Do not confuse happiness with seeking pleasure
stay healthy keep safe
Coach Kenzo


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