Day 7-The Setup for Reward and Punishment

Day 7

He had a habit, and I welcomed a series of compulsive connections throughout the day.  I call this “place holding.”  I think of it as a kind of emotional conditioning.  It was his way of occupying my life, while expending the LEAST amount of effort.  More importantly, by creating an expectation, he offhandedly fashioned a means of reward and punishment.   He would robotically reach out every few hours, thus giving the ILLUSION of interest and attentiveness.  At 7 am, he would text a good morning greeting or forward a romantic love song.  By 10 am, he would forward an amusing news centered email, or story of interest.  At 12 or 1 pm, he would call for a quick hello.  At 3 pm, another kind of romantic icon, a simple smile or heart was on my phone.  By 6 pm, he would call as he drove out of the office, either going out for a “late” dinner meeting, or planning to stop by my house.  By 10 pm, he would send a scripted good night text.  This began from almost the onset of our relationship.  It was a pattern HE ESTABLISHED for almost a year and half.  In town, or out of the country, he was faithful to this schedule.  When out of the country, instead of forwarded news article, he would send me pictures.  Thinly veiled, yet forever bragging of about his successful and the royal treatment associated with his work- life.  Always underscoring the “real” intention for the pictures was NOT TO BRAG.  Rather these picture were the places, and events earmarked for OUR next trip adventure. Right! Of course all this communication, required my constant interaction, and attention in return. It occupied much of my day.  A year and half or so later, I became accustomed to this arrangement.  It was when I grew comfortable with the pattern, he began to stop and start the exchanges randomly.  At first when I noticed the messages stopped, I panicked.  I naturally thought something must be wrong.  (Exactly, as he had hoped!) He would claim I was acting crazy, demanding, and needy.  When I dug deeper, and was honest with myself, I discovered his true motivation.  He was punishing me.  The same way he did with gifts (more on gifts in next post).  In his absence, I realized this “place-holding” was a huge part of our relationship, or better stated my fantasy relationship.   Keeping busy during the “place holding” time intervals is imperative.  I changed the rhythm of my daily routine.

Your assignment

Are withholding behaviors familiar to you?  Are they farther reaching than the scope of this relationship? My guess is the answer is yes. If withholding, and punitive measures to elicit a “good behavior,”  has happened to you, or if you are not suer see if this applies to your relationship.

Chart the “place holding” time intervals.  Change the pattern of your daily routine so that you are busy during those times.  

Reflect on the patterns.  Ask yourself were place-holding patterns established and used as emotional carrots/sticks.  

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