Posted by fxckfeelings on May 1, 2014Share This Post
Unlike most pay-cable drama series, old relationships can often be best judged by how they end; bad relationships tend to leave you with lingering attachment and confusion, and good relationships can leave you feeling so free, you might even wonder whether you cared enough in the first place. Of course, what matters most is not whether a relationship leaves you feeling fettered or free, but what you did with it and how you carry it forward into the future. You might never get over how your relationship/Dexter ended, but if you look at your relationships in terms of effort, value, and achievement, instead of feelings alone, you will have no trouble finding positive meaning in what happens next.
I’m scared about trusting again. I met my now ex through a friend last year and the attraction was instant. When we met he was up front that he would be going traveling six months later for an indefinite period, but this was fine with me as I understand the need to travel. It was the easiest relationship either of us had been in, it just worked. At first, he changed his trip to come back every couple of months for some weddings, so we thought we would try long distance to see if it could work. Then, unexpectedly, he breaks up with me because he said he doesn’t love me and feels he should be madly in love with me by now. He also says he’s never been in love before (the butterflies in the stomach kind which I tried to explain wasn’t love but initial lust) even after being in long term relationships. I went through his phone and turns out he met someone while volunteering. the fact that he has left me for someone else and could replace me so quickly has crushed me. I feel betrayed but mostly feel so insignificant. My thoughts have become obsessive over it. My goal is to stop how feeling so horrible about myself.
When the one thing you and your beloved have in common is a belief in the power of close chemistry, you know you’re in trouble; that’s like having a relationship based on the fact that you’re currently sharing an elevator or a common cold. Don’t start planning your jubilee anniversary just yet.
Unfortunately, getting along quickly, easily, and intimately with a lover is never a good guarantee of anything other than that he’s someone with real sales potential.
The fact he intended to travel for a long, unlimited period of time and isn’t in his early 20s (I assume) also tells you that he values excitement over commitment, and the most exciting things in most long-term relationships is figuring out what to have for dinner.
Ask yourself how thoroughly you completed a due diligence character review before deciding he was a wonderful partner. You should have checked out his prior relationships and how they ended, as well as what he wanted to do with himself when he came home and whether he wanted a partner to do it with. It would be interesting to know how big a nest-egg he was using and how he planned to replenish it. These questions may not build romance or make good love songs, but they sure predict how things will turn out.
You were right to suspect that the value he places on good company might allow him to replace you pretty quickly, and probably before you knew you were history. Since friendship is all about having a good time together, there wouldn’t be much point in his continuing the relationship since you, clearly, were no longer having a good time or likely to be good company.
You’re absolutely right, you deserve someone who believes that you, and a relationship with you, is important. What you must screen out are people who feel that you’re important as long as you’re pretty, charming, and/or fun, and not for deeper reasons. You didn’t get dumped because you’re insignificant but because you didn’t make this distinction and protect yourself properly.
Let your pain teach you a good lesson, namely that it’s important to put a higher value on your definition of a serious relationship, and not to give your heart to someone who doesn’t take relationships as seriously as you do.
Hopefully, they’ll also be fun, at least some of the time, and enjoy traveling, but whether they are or not, you may someday find yourself thanking your ex, the wandering schmuck, for helping you learn what’s important to look for and hopefully for finding the real, not-temporary thing.
“I feel like I’m disposable to someone who seemed to think I was wonderful, but I know I did nothing wrong to lose his love. I may feel like shit, but I’ll accept my lesson in how to make better choices.”
I grew up with my wife, so we knew each other for most of our lives. We got married right after high school and were especially close when she died last year, so it seems very strange when a day goes by and I actually find myself having a good time. The kids give me a funny look when they see me smile, as if they can’t understand why I’m happy. Of course I miss her and often talk to her, but she was dying for two years and, now that it’s over, I can feel life getting easier and simpler. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m avoiding grief, or if I cared as much as I thought I did. My goal is to respect and value the most important relationship I had.
One thing you understand better than your kids is that a relationship is better defined by actions than feelings. It’s not that you didn’t have loving feelings for your late wife, but you’re also proud of the way you cared for her during her illness while also raising kids together. Without that actual achievement, loving feelings wouldn’t have meant nearly as much.
So don’t measure your love by how passionately distraught you are now that she’s gone; rely on your own experience and wisdom to define what’s meaningful about your love. It sounds like you could rely on one another and that you shared a dedication to the kids and one another’s lives and concerns for years. The way she lives in your heart is more important than the depth of your sorrow. Help the kids value what they shared with her, rather than dwelling on what they missed out on. Pain causes us to think about what we could or should have done or what might have made things better, so instead, lead them to think about the difference she made in their lives and the ways they helped her get through her illness.
If you feel more vulnerable and in need of support, be careful to find the right kind. Find a positive therapist or hang out with friends who are good at reminding you that your strength did not depend on your wife, and that you can find ways to keep your family life steady and manage loneliness as a surviving, single spouse without requiring an immediate partner.
A good marriage doesn’t leave a void that has to be filled or a grief that is more unbearable. It leaves you, in this case, with a strong family and confidence in your ability to keep it running the way you and your wife believed it should be. You know the advice she’d probably give you; to not make up criticism you don’t deserve while you get on with life and see how well you can manage the family on your own.
“I feel like the world should never be the same after the loss of my wife, and it isn’t, but we worked to build a world together, so if it seems, in some way, to continue on unchanged, that’s partly our doing and what I’ll continue to do until something better comes along.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname