It was my freshman year in college, and I was going to get drunk for the first time! My girlfriend wanted to come visit from her college, but I told her I wanted to spend the evening with my soccer team mates.
We partied hard, and as the night went on, she called again and again. Eventually I silenced my phone, and didn’t check it until the next morning.
I woke up to 47 missed phone calls, and 22 text messages.
My first thought? This Bitch Be Cray.
I’m not going to criticize this behavior. I’m guilty of constant calling and texting, the snooping, the lying to make my significant other jealous. I’m guilty of playing mind games just to get a reaction from the person I was dating, even though it made me feel disgusted with myself.
This behavior not only violated the person I was dating, but my own value system as well.
We all know this is batshit crazy behavior. So why do we act this way?
Let me get scientific. Our biological needs have programmed us to become dependent on a significant other, which is logical. You’d more likely end up as prey if you relied solely on yourself. As a result, people who are favored by genetic selection become attached. It provides a survival advantage.
This genetic selection has formed biological mechanisms that are specifically created for making and regulating relationships. Our behaviors and emotions, which are based on our attachment style, are a product of processes. They ensure our safety by staying close to our loved ones.
Think about that kid in the mall who wandered too far from his mother. He was crying, and screaming bloody murder. He was scared, and that motivated him to seek out his mother, through five hundred other women in the mall.
Once he does find his mother, he will begin to calm down. The question is, why is his mother the only person that can calm him?
Our ancestors survived by being close to one another. It was a matter of life or death. As a result, our attachment systems develop to treat proximity to our loved ones as a basic human need.
These batshit behaviors are present well past our childhood. In psychology, it’s called protest behavior.
Imagine that you haven’t heard from your fiancé recently, and you’ve just overheard on the radio that there was a major car wreck in your area. A Tanker truck blew up on the road she takes home, causing numerous fatalities. Your gut feels like a mechanic is wrenching it so tight that you’re going to throw up.
So you call. You text. You call the office.
Nineteen calls later, she picks up the phone. She begans to yell at you for freaking out. She goes on to explain that she got pulled in to a work meeting that went way longer than expected, and left her phone in her desk.
You feel a sense of relief, but also shamed and insecure about the amount of calls you made. You literally feel crazy. The truth is, your calls are a result of your attachment mechanisms that are below your consciousness.
Our behavior is a product of our emotional mechanisms handed down from homo sapiens who lived their lives in a very different time. They were faced with very different dangers, and their emotional responses were designed to address specific environmental factors.
“Our feelings and behaviors in relationship today are not very different from those of our early ancestors.” 1
The Attachment Theory has changed the way we perceive batshit crazy behavior. We often attribute such bizarre behavior to an individual’s personality trait or psychological issues, but these behaviors do not come out of a vacuum. Batshit crazy behavior is only present in individuals that have avoidant or anxious attachment types, because individuals with secure attachment styles know how to communicate their expectations and needs properly.
For the rest of us, understanding our crazy behavior and attachment styles can help us get our needs and expectations met without acting out or feeling crazy.
Types of batshit crazy behavior:
- Excessive attempts to reconnect: Such as calling, texting, emailing, desperately waiting for a phone call, loitering by your partner’s workplace or typical hangout spots in hopes of running into them. People do this out of desperation to feel secure.
- Trying to make a significant other jealous: This may include talking about someone hitting on you (this is really annoying, by the way), going out to a singles bar or event, or making plans with the sole intention of making the person you are dating jealous. This method tends to work, but it also destroys the relationship and can pin both partners in a “who can make the other more jealous” battle. It’s toxic.
- Withdrawing: This ranges from talking with other people on the phone while your significant other is in the room, to pretending to be engrossed in something while they’re trying to talk to you.
- Keeping score: People who keep score count the number of minutes it takes for someone to return a text or call back, and then waiting just as long to return their call. Not only is this childish, but it doesn’t work with a secure person; the sort of person you should be dating. Secure people respond when they see a missed text or call. Otherwise, it’s like playing basketball with your significant other while they are taking a bath. They’re not even on the court in the first place. This also includes not leaving voice messages, or acting distant and waiting for your partner to make the first “make-up” move. This is the opposite of vulnerability and expressing yourself.
- Acting Hostile: Indicators include rolling eyes when they speak, looking away for long periods of time, or getting up and leaving the room while the other person is talking. Studies show that such behavior can even lead to violence in a relationship.
- Threatening to leave: I’ve had a few relationships like this. One person I was dating threatened to leave me a few times. This tactic is used to create a fear in the other person so they hold on to you, but if they actually want to breakup, they may just end it then. In this situation, that may be a good thing. Threats may include “I’ll be better off without you,” or “I can’t do this anymore,” all the while the person saying this is hoping their partner will stop them from leaving.
- Manipulations: Such behaviors include saying you have plans when you don’t, acting busy or unapproachable even though you want to be approached, or ignoring phone calls.
In modern society, not being dependent on another person and not being need is celebrated in story and song. But, speaking in an evolutionary sense, fighting the biological anxiety when someone isn’t responding to you is insane.
As a result, people deploy a variety of psychological behaviors to reestablish contact with their partner in order to get the attention they need. The problem is that these batshit crazy behaviors can cause you to act in ways that are toxic to the relationship.
Unlike vulnerable communication, batshit crazy behavior never gives you the opportunity to address your real concerns. Your partner is responding negatively to your out-of-place behavior instead. The way to overcome these toxic relationships is to consciously recognize your own behaviors.
This way you can begin to use vulnerable communication to get your needs met in your relationships in a more healthy manner. Another aspect is building up your self-esteem and slowly changing yourself to a secure attachment type.
It takes a lot of living to grow fully into your wrongness. To accept your flaws and batshit crazy behavior. To rub shoulders with your deepest demons. But once you do, once you begin to work on learning how to healthily express yourself by forming boundaries, you uncover who you truly are in the process.
You’ll begin to feel worthy of love. Your mind and body will begin to let go of the need to perform batshit crazy behavior. At that point, we’re ready to find a lifelong partner. And that’s what makes all this work worth it.
- Book: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller (2010) ↩