Cycling behavior is unfortunately something I have a lot of first hand experience with and it is not pleasant. The result is instability in a relationship and it has caused my girlfriends to feel like they were on an emotional roller coaster.
The root cause of my behavior is the combination of being a commitment phobic and a highly analytical introvert. What I have learned though is that the behavior I exhibit is fairly common. Women that are involved with someone that cycles generally express frustration that their partner exhibits extreme changes in behavior for what looks like no reason. However there are very real reasons but they exist below the surface and may take some digging to uncover. I will describe what has caused cycling in my case. I am not going to suggest that it would be the same cause in other men but perhaps it will provide some insight into this type of behavior.
First there has to be a fuel source. For me it is a conversation where some goal for the relationship is mentioned. For example if a woman says to me that she needs to know that I have a goal of getting married or living together that sets me on my way.
Up to the point of “the conversation” the relationship can be very enjoyable. We are living in the moment and enjoying each day as it comes. My mind in that case is free from clutter. After “the conversation” it all changes because now everything is seen through the lens of whether I can be with that person the rest of my life. I become a mess.
What happens is that any perceived flaws in the relationship become magnified. For example one of my most important needs in a relationship is space. Sitting alone and letting my mind go where it wants is how I get my energy back. I have found that most women I have been with don’t understand that. If a woman needs and expects a lot of attention from me the result is a constant feeling of pressure. This now becomes my secondary fuel source and any other flaws in the relationship just continue to stoke the fire.
So what happens is that we externally might be doing the same things we always did but internally my mind is racing and the pressure is building. I have found myself looking for all appearances very calm as we discuss some mundane event of the day while inwardly I just want to get up and run away as fast as I can. It was usually more of a function of how much I was physically present with my girlfriend more than anything in particular we might have done. Some of the articles I have read suggest that commitment phobia and claustrophobia are closely related and I can definitely see how that applies in my case.
Eventually the pressure gets too great and I have to get away. Once a separation occurs the initial feeling is one of immense relief. Because this can be a confusing time for a woman often my girlfriends want to talk. This is certainly understandable but it is generally the last thing I feel like doing. Those conversations usually didn’t go well and would often result in an escalation and a possible break up even if the break up was temporary.
After some time apart my thoughts usually return naturally to the good parts about the relationship and a reconciliation will occur with the determination to make things work this time. With the reconciliation will come a feeling of relief but eventually this will be replaced with pressure again as the changes I tried to make don’t work and the cycle will repeat itself.
I am not sure how to avoid this type of behavior in the future. One of the things I like to say is that I can actually see myself being married someday but I can’t be in a relationship that has that as a goal. Perhaps that statement only makes sense to me. If I ever get a chance to check it out I will let you know.