How to Get Attention Without Attention-seeking – Free Ebook

One of the most obvious but in practice very
hardest things to ask a partner, even one

we name in our will and whose life is entirely
entwined with ours, is: ‘Do you still love

me?’ There would be so many reasons why they might not do so anymore: we might have

driven them to the limit with our admittedly at points really rather challenging behavior.

We’re not getting any younger. There are
a lot of other people – especially at work

and in the invisible parts of their life – who
would have great things to offer them. It’s

hard to trust anyone, given what can happen.
Furthermore, the signs aren’t necessarily

very good at the moment. They spend a lot
of time on their phones. They’re a bit distracted.

Their thoughts seem elsewhere. We powerfully long for reassurance and at the same time

what we would need to get this reassurance
presents terrors of all its own. It would

mean revealing the extent of our vulnerability
and of the scale of their power to hurt us.

It would mean having to admit how much of
our life is in their hands and how deeply

we depend on their good opinion of us for
our psychological survival. Sometimes the

cost can feel just too high – especially
if we grew up in families where we got little

reassurance that another person would understand
our needs. It seems better not to ask too

directly. At the same time, their disengaged
manner is unbearable as well. In the circumstances,

we may find ourselves carrying out one of
the strangest manoeuvres witnessed in relationships.

We may seek to get their attention accompanied
by their anger as opposed to their attention

accompanied by their love. We choose to pay
the lower price of seeking signs that they

remember we exist as an alternative to the
far more arduous, rejection-risky task of

securing proof that they still love us.
©Flickr/Ashley Webb

So we wait until they are tired and fed up
and launch a volley of accusations: you never

do much around the house, your job doesn’t
pay enough, you’ve become very dull. Or,

at dinner with friends, we loudly tell a story
about something that happened during their

parent’s messy divorce. What we are really
trying to say is: I love you so much. I rely

on you to give sense to my life. But instead
we have managed to work them up into a rage

and ensured they will say brutal things to
us. Of course, their mind is fully trained

on us. But – with a horrible irony – it’s
far from the kind of attention we were seeking.

We who crave their kindness, their enthusiasm,
their warmth, their compassion, their tenderness

and their constructive intelligence to engage
with our needs are on the receiving end of

their (very understandable) frustration, disappointment,
wounded pride and self-protective anger. We

should have the courage of our longings. We
should build relationships where it is natural,

and therefore not too frightening, to seek
and receive on a regular basis basic reassurance

that we are wanted. We should make friends
with our own extreme dependence and not see

it as a sign of either shame or evil. Furthermore,
when we next find ourselves on the receiving

end of some utterly unfair accusations or
aggression from our partner, we should bear

in mind that they have probably not turned
monstrous: they are simply trying to secure

a reminder that we care for them in the only
way they know how, by driving us mad.

Our Relationships Reboot Cards inspire conversations that can help to rekindle

love between you and your partner.