You may be well aware of the fight, flight, and freeze responses. But how well do you know fawning?
Fawning is the survival strategy where you set aside your wants, needs, and boundaries to prioritize someone else’s, to maintain the connection to that person.
It can manifest as people pleasing, perfectionism, and walking on eggshells. It differs from the other survival strategies in that it can become a habitual pattern that can continue for years. Where it can be beneficial as a survival strategy for situations, fawning for a longer time is taking a toll on our nervous system – ánd the ignoring of our internal cues may cause us to (ongoingly) cross our boundaries.
Fawning can be conscious but often happens unconsciously.
It happens in non-monogamy when you may ignore your boundaries to give your partner the freedom to explore what they desire. It may happen in monogamy when you are afraid of losing your partner when you speak up.
I only realized I was in a constant state of fawning in my longest relationship when I started noticing how I shrunk each time I went home. How I lost my voice, my knees started trembling when I didn’t agree with him but didn’t dare to speak up, whether it was about what we would have for dinner, what car we would buy, or where we would live.
It took all the courage I had to leave that place. But when I did, I felt such relief. And I learned to scream.