Posted by fxckfeelings on April 5, 2012Share This Post
When you’re close to someone, it’s hard not to take their actions personally, and the relationship becomes even harder if you do. If they draw back, you ask yourself what you did to make them stop caring and whether or not you deserve their punishment. In reality, however, their actions usually have less to do with you and everything to do with their personalities, for better or worse. It’s your job to protect yourself from undeserved rejections and let-downs, not pile on the punishment. There will still be suffering, but it’s not personally inflicted, and if you learn something from the whole deal, it’s not in vain.
I can’t believe my girlfriend dumped me after 5 years without even saying good-bye. I loved her deeply and we lived together for one of those years and we were dating right up to the end. It’s true, I got high and really belligerent at a party just before she stopped talking to me. I threw up all over her, but that happened just twice in our relationship, and I put up with worse from her, including the fact that she hated to work, never had any money, and dumped any of our friends who happened to irritate her. When I recovered from that last party, she wouldn’t answer my calls. My goal is to figure out how people can say they love you and then suddenly blow you off without caring enough to write a note.
The language of love, which you’re speaking, isn’t just sweet coos—it’s also bitter whines about broken promises and sudden reversals of feeling.
Switch back to your native tongue then, because speaking love-ese will teach you nothing but how to justify your victimhood and prolong your misery.
Of course you have a right to feel hurt; you have an even bigger right, however, to reasonable protection from the person who runs your life, i.e., you. Your job is to keep your needs in check until you’re reasonably sure that the person you’d like to love has a decent, solid character as reflected by past deeds.
Given your girlfriend’s track record, it’s time to stop wondering how your ex could leave you this way and just be glad that she’s gone. After all, you knew she wasn’t strong, disciplined, or devoted. She had a history of dumping others with ease, and you certainly would not recommend her to a friend. What you did, however, was turn off the reasonable side of your brain because you loved her and didn’t want to lose her. In the process, you exposed yourself to greater pain while closing yourself off to better opportunities.
It’s good to know you can love someone and many of us learn the hard way that character is more important than chemistry. You’re paying your love tax, so take pride in your hard-earned knowledge and don’t waste your money (and sanity and mental health) paying the same price again.
In the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to work on making yourself a more attractive partner to the kind of women who are worth your time—that means trying to party less and ceasing to puke on people altogether.
Your pain will eventually ease, and the scars will remind you to be more careful in the future and stick to speaking fluent common sense.
“I feel abandoned by the only person who matters, but I know I really abandoned myself and will never do it again. My heartache will remind me about the dangers of indiscriminate closeness while also assuring me that I can love and enjoy love. I will search harder and endure loneliness rather than let myself fall into bad company.”
I can’t count on my wife for anything. If she’s supposed to pick me up, she’s late and then I’m late. If we’re supposed to go out, she gets distracted and we don’t get out of the house until an hour later. If she promises we’ll do something on Saturday and she then gets a last-minute call from a sick friend, it’s always the sick friend who gets her time. I can’t stop being mad at her, which makes her act like she’s doing me a favor by tolerating me. My goal is to get her to stop making me crazy, and late.
Married people are supposed to be a team, but you never lose responsibility for yourself. When the game is on and you’ve got your team-brain in gear, it’s reasonable to blame the guy who fails to keep an eye on the ball. Once the final whistle blows, however, ask yourself why you’re playing with someone who can’t do her job.
Maybe you’ve got a good reason, e.g., she’s a good friend and a good partner in other ways. What’s no good is to play the same game in the same way and always feel like her victim.
So forget your imagined rules of marriage. Yes, if this was a fair world, she’d keep her promises about time, just like the girl in the case above would return love for love, but it’s not, and you’re whining. You need to instead acknowledge that your wife’s time-brain is damaged and take full responsibility for your own promises.
Dissolve the time team and keep your own clock. Play other games with her if you will and stay friends if you can, but don’t ever put your time-promises in her hands. When it comes to making and keeping appointments and traveling to and fro, pretend you’re single. If she’s ready on time, go together. If not, don’t huff, blame or complain, just go.
Yes, your game-brain may tell you that you should never abandon a teammate or trust a one who abandons you. Your husband-brain should tell you to shut up, keep your appointments, and not blame your wife for an ability she just doesn’t have. There’s more to your marriage than her lateness, and in those other areas, you both win.
“I can’t help feeling personally betrayed by my wife’s broken time-promises, but I understand that it’s not our love that’s broken, but just her way of prioritizing and managing time. I will, once again, manage and prioritize time in my own way, as I always have. I will not let anger and disappointment prevent me from sharing with her whatever we share well.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname