The “pound-dog” syndrome in dating

pound dogHave you noticed that dogs and cats adopted from shelters into good, loving homes are often very affectionate with their new owners? Many animals adopted from the pound have been neglected or abused. If they haven’t been abused beyond repair, when they get around kind, loving folks they respond similarly.

I’ve seen this in humans as well. Often people become single after years of abuse or neglect from their exes. I’ve heard stories of people living in celibacy while married — sometimes for many years. Men have shared that their ex didn’t touch, hug or kiss them for a long time.

So when they are treated nicely and thoughtfully, if they haven’t been psychologically damaged beyond repair, they often respond with great affection. I’ve had men say to me, “You’re so nice” when I was just being myself.

I’ve also had men misinterpret eye contact and smiling because they haven’t received that from a woman in so long. And some can read an innocent hug or touch as if it means much more than intended.

Early on a man told me that I was so responsive to touch it was like a cat arching her back for more. I wasn’t physically abused or neglected in my marriage. But I was neglected in a sense in that he said he didn’t think about me if I wasn’t in the room. So when a man shows he thinks about me when I’m not with him, I am drawn to him.

Have you been emotionally, psychologically or physically neglected in past relationships? If so, how does that show up now? Are you standoffish and aloof, or very responsive to kindness and affection? Have you dated someone who had been neglected? If so, how did you show your fondness without him interpreting more into your actions than you intended?

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3 responses to “The “pound-dog” syndrome in dating”

  1. Elena Avatar

    Does anyone remember the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine fall in deep lust with Jerry’s moving man? She broke things off, despite the intense mutual attraction, when she found out that he was pro-life. With Elaine being pro-choice and Mr. Moving Man being pro-life, they both knew that sooner or later their differing views on abortion would become a wedge between them and so they broke up.

    You are right when you say that couples with polar opposite world views may have agreed to disagree or have decided not to discuss those topics. I would add another factor…perhaps they don´t believe that staunchly in whatever their publicly-visible world view is and identify/connect more deeply with their partner on some other point. I think when you see happy couples who on the surface appear to have differing world views, like Democrat James Carville and Republican Mary Matlin, I think that under the surface their world views are more in sync than a casual observer would think. For example, maybe what is most important to Carville and Matlin is being politically connected and plugged in to the American political establishment and their political party affiliation is just a means to an end. (If anyone saw/heard how sour grapes and obnoxious Carville sounded after the recent mid-terms elections, you’ll know what I mean. His party won big time and yet he was griping about what a lousy job Howard Dean had done. Sounds like a man more concerned with being seen as a power player than with being a democrat.)

    But I digress. I think having similar or compatible world views builds a foundation for a more emotionally rewarding and long-lasting partnership. Potential deal breakers for me are usually based on socio-political and religious points and/or hypocrisy. For example, anyone who tells me how to be spiritual or tries to proselytize is not boyfriend material for me. Also, anyone who supports the war in Iraq or tells me that I’m unpatriotic or anti-American because I don’t support the war is also off my list. Sorry, can’t arround that. Another deal breaker are guys who live in the past and frame their present and future around what they were/had/achieved in the past.

  2. Gatti Avatar

    Interesting deal breakers, Elena. Gives me some food for future dating thought.

  3. David Yoho Avatar

    From our friend Mary Pusateri: Don’t ever date a man with a cat unless you also have cats and then, reconsider anyway.