When the woman he'd been casually seeing for several weeks suddenly, out of nowhere, proposed getting together somewhere outside of his house, Brett Crowley of Nashville, Tennessee, immediately recognized the suggestion for what it was: an invitation to become emotionally enmeshed - which he firmly declined.
"'No, thank you' is what I said, but internally I was bolting for the hills," said Crowley of the codependency that his casual friend, Callie, had evidently been plotting to thrust upon him. "I've done too much work on myself to lose myself to a clingy, love-addicted girlfriend. Again, no, thank you."
Crowley explained that, in recent years, through a great deal of therapy and self-help YouTube videos, he's successfully differentiated himself from his dysfunctional family system. And he's all too aware of the traps that less-differentiated individuals, like Callie, often lay to lure more evolved personalities into backsliding into enmeshment.
"She''s kind of a sweetheart, and I admit, I was tempted for a quick minute there to go all in and say screw my independence, let's go on a f***ing real date," said Crowley. "But only for a minute. I've come to value myself too much to fall for that line of sick thinking again."
According to Crowley, Callie seemed to take the news in stride, and has already begun seeing someone else - and Crowley himself hasn't looked back.
"They can have fun smothering each other," he said. "Me, I've got a life to live."