Nice people should be taken advantage of

Firedooring: Why some people keep being exploited

In relationships or flirting, do you always want a little more than the other? Do you have friendships in which you are usually the one who gets in touch or helps? Relationship expert Eric Hegmann knows why "Firedooring" hits the same people over and over again.

Firedoor means emergency exit. The special thing about these exits: They can only be opened from one side. In the case of particularly one-sided relationships, experts therefore speak of "firedooring". Yes, we also think: The experts have once again outdone themselves with the naming! The phenomenon (sorry, we just have to rewrite the word because it's so stupid) "Firedooring" occurs in love relationships, in flirtations, but also in friendships. What such a tendentially one-sided relationship then looks like varies. But it always follows a certain pattern. The one gives. The other takes. If he's there right now.

Firedooring in friendship

Most have probably already experienced it in friendships. There are these friends who very seldom think of you. If they do do it, it is mainly because you are of use to them at that moment. And of course, you are happy to help. If XY gets in touch with you, you don't want to disappoint him / her again right away. But woe to those who try the whole thing the other way around. Because if XY ever answers the phone, it's only to say that he or she doesn't like giving you a hand at the moment. Otherwise, of course, always happy. It is clear.

Firedooring while flirting

Even when flirting, the same thing over and over again: One is totally on fire and, like Bolle, is looking forward to the next date, the other is extremely indecisive, unreachable or unreliable. "Oh, did we have an appointment today? Unfortunately I have to postpone that ..." And the hunting instinct of the rejected person is awakened again. The feeling of running after the other is absolutely correct. You do that too. Sometimes with success. Often without.

Firedooring in love

Whether it was like this at the beginning or has only just developed, even if both decide to have a relationship, one often wants more. "What happens then is the classic demand-withdrawal dynamic," explains couple therapist Eric Hegmann. One drum on the "Firedoor", the other does not open. "If this happens again and again in relationships, you are probably an anxious attachment type. And for fearful attachment types, the avoidant attachment type fits perfectly into the prey scheme." It's a shame that it often makes people quite unhappy. At least when the tendency to bond is very extreme.

The fearful and the avoidant attachment type

"About 25% of all people are fearful attachment types. They usually have a rather low self-esteem. The assumption that one must earn love is firmly anchored in them. People of the fearful attachment type know fear of loss, jealousy and often make their value in recognition of firmly on the outside, "says Eric Hegmann. With this number he refers to the research of the American psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine, who applied John Bowlby's theory of attachment to the dynamics of adults in couple relationships. (Levine, Heller, 2010, Attached)

People of the avoidant attachment type are fundamentally different and yet carved from the same cloth. Such people always keep a certain distance in relationships so as not to get hurt. This attachment behavior is also based on a lack of self-esteem. How fitting that about 25% of humanity belongs to this type, because - surprise - fearful types think avoidant types are great. With their dismissive nature, they perfectly confirm the inner beliefs of the fearful. And even the avoidant type has something of the liaison with an anxious guy. They would be very lonely if no one ran after them.

What can I do?

"Anyone who repeatedly finds themselves in the role of the rejected should first consider whether it is all worth it," advises Eric Hegmann. "Often the supposed strength that one feels so attracted to is not that real." Real strength is not that easy to see at first glance. "About half of the people have a secure attachment behavior. Right off the bat, however, they are not that exciting because they offer little drama and excitement"

So do you have to find someone with secure attachment behavior in order to be happy? "You don't have to," reassures Eric Hegmann. "The game between the fearful attachment type and the avoidant attachment type can work very well if the dynamic doesn't get too extreme." But what is important to him: "Nobody should suffer in a relationship or friendship. If that's the case, you should get help," says the therapist. "There are always ways to be happy together. At least if both of you really want to."