Thanks Teal, this is such perfect timing to remind me. Just had the conversation with my husband last night. We've been together 20 years and have been telling ourselves we're soulmates, met under the most unlikely of circumstances, he helped me LEAVE an abusive relationship. But unfortunately I am emotionally starved in the relationship. There has never been true intimacy, partly due to my own trauma. I have been sharing my boundaries every now and again, asked for little signs of affection and attunement, he feels overwhelmed and cannot deliver. Sometimes I get really upset and decide (without saying it) that it's over, and the moment I do, bam, the intermittent reinforcement starts and he gets lovey dovey. It infuriates me because it proves that he CAN in fact attune when HE CHOOSES. He knows EXACTLY when I am pulling away emotionally, in an instant, and gives me just enough to make me stay, then withdraws. Now I have a do or die health situation and realised that the reason I am here is because, while EXPRESSING what I want, there have never been any consequences for him. Last night I said that from now I wanted 3 signs of affection and attunement each day, him to have some agency and make some minor decisions like what's for dinner, or when to go out (he's usually passive), he has heard all this before, I said I wouldn't repeat it, or keep count, it was up to him to hold himself accountable and he might wanna make notes. In a month's time, based off of how I feel things have been I reserve the right to meet these needs in other ways and through other people. The passive aggressive meltdown was there, not explicit but energetically, OMG. It scares the crap out of me having to act on my "threat", I am stuck in "only through you", but I have to if I want to live. Thanks for reminding me that what he is doing is in fact intermittent reinforcement and that it doesn't make you a bad person. I am guilty myself. We both have intimacy issues and are making each other MISERABLE as hell. It is so sad because we love each other and are highly compatible, except these patterns that have gotten more and more entrenched. A lot of work is needed before we can be close to each other or anyone. I am having feeling signatures or despair and fear for life from pre birth come up, when my Mum revealed to my Dad she was pregnant and he was not happy, there was the looming threat of being aborted for the third time. I have been conditioned via the amniotic fluid to keep a low profile and be undemanding for the sake of survival. It's a hard pattern to break through. Ironically my Mum herself didn't really want me. I was narcissistic wish fulfilment. She wanted to BE a Mum and recreate the intimacy she had with her Mum before little brother was born, but my needs were never part of that equation. Especially since she went back to full time work 6 weeks after birth.