Posted by fxckfeelings on October 2, 2014Share This Post
Breaking up with someone is a lot like breaking a bone; if it doesn’t set properly, the bone won’t really heal, so you’ll end up with a nagging pain unless you break it and set it again. With relationships, the way to set the break is to learn from it, but sometimes the pain of lost love prevents people from learning lessons, or worse, teaches them the wrong ones. So don’t let negative feelings frame the lessons you learn, or fail to learn, from breakups. Instead of looking at how your relationship failed, look at the relationship between the character of your ex-partner and the way things turned out. Then, as long as you’re ready to take your time and live lonely as long as necessary, you won’t have to deal with the same pain again.
I’m in my mid-thirties and on my third serious relationship living with a man. I’m good at being single, but like anyone, I get lonely sometimes and enjoy the positive things about being in a relationship. The trouble is, I re-energize when I’m alone in a relaxed environment (like at home), and if I don’t get that occasional time to myself it almost acts as a depressant and I start to feel cagey, stressed and grumpy, as if I’m losing myself. The men I get involved with seem to start out very independent with lots of interests, but after a while, once we move in with each other, they become very reliant on the relationship/my company. They don’t really end up having anything else going on, i.e., few friends and outside interests and a non-demanding/or no job. In my current relationship it’s got to the stage where I can’t even get an evening to myself a week. The ideal scenario would be for me to always have my own place and for my partner to have his, but that’s not financially realistic or a fair thing to expect. Am I unusual/weird in this need to be alone? I need to figure out how to not lose myself when the initial exciting, independent phase of a relationship evolves into something more routine and constant.
Loneliness is a good reason to get many things—a gym membership, a dog, a regrettable haircut—but a terrible reason to get a partner. That may not seem logical, but there is no room for logic in courtship, because all the space is taken up by irony.
What you’ve discovered about yourself, after three serious live-in relationships, is that you require someone who is stimulating and independent; otherwise, you wind up feeling smothered by your partner’s passivity and neediness. Unfortunately, when you’re looking for someone to settle down with, the needy often cut to the front of the line.
Don’t blame yourself, because it’s much easier to be attracted to needier people than to independent people. They get closer faster and, as long as you’re busy, you have a natural defense against their neediness. What you know now, however, is that you tend to hook up with the same kind of guy again and again, despite knowing where it ends. So change your habits, because the kind of guy you commit to is also the kind of guy whose intense clinginess might get you committed.
True, it will be harder to find the kind of guy you should look for because they’re far fewer and will need much more work and somewhat more luck to find and screen. Since you don’t have a choice, however, it’s best to crank up your search procedures, stiffen your protective shields, and get going.
First, create a clear character and job description for your would-be partner, based on what you’ve learned, i.e., he has to be active, engaged, and independent, but organized enough to manage a relationship while also being very busy with other things. Unlike many guys who are absorbed in their work, he has to have a genuine interest in relationships and a good track record for investing in them and sticking with them. If he’s never had one, he’s probably not going to, which means he’s crossed the line from independent to incompatible with other mammals. .
You need someone who’s had a relationship but didn’t leave because he got restless or overinvolved in his many activities; if he left, it was only after she died or went crazy. Then start looking and don’t waste time on anyone, no matter how attractive, attentive, caring, etc., who doesn’t meet your criteria. You can find whom you’re looking for with a little extra luck, lots of extra work, and a determination to overcome old habits.
Your failed relationships have taught you not just about yourself, but about the kind of guys you tend to get serious with, and that you need to get serious about finding the kind of guys who can both love you and leave you alone.
“I feel like I’m the one who should learn to be more comfortable with guys who want nothing much more out of life than to be with me, but that isn’t going to happen. I will look for a different kind of guy, even though it will take time, and meanwhile, I’ll get a dog.”
The last couple times I fell in love with a woman I thought she really loved me and then, a couple months later, she decided I was boring and dumped me. I don’t have any bad habits, and I’m pretty much the kind of guy who is what you see. When I tell a girl I like her, I really mean it, so I don’t understand why some women don’t mean it and what they get out of screwing me and then dumping me. They’ve been hard to get over and I still call my last girlfriend every now and then and ask her what went wrong. My goal is to find an attractive woman who will make me feel loved and really mean it.
Just because your intentions are honest and straightforward doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a straightforward response from possible friends and partners. Life isn’t fair, love is downright fixed, and there are lots of people who are fun to meet and bad to know. Whether you’re good at it or not, you have to learn how to screen out trouble.
One thing you can’t rely on is feelings of mutual attraction, at least not beyond the first date, because they tell you nothing about the other person’s character or habits, or your chance of getting dumped. On the contrary, they usually tell you to close your eyes and enjoy it, when you should be opening your eyes and asking questions.
Remember, you’re in charge of your heart’s security. If you don’t want to get it broken again, check people out to make sure they are who they seem and are likely to treat you right.
It’s not hard, but you have to review their past behavior and reputation and think about whether they’re a good bet and a likely match. If you’re not good at it, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help.
Confirm that the girl you’re starting to date is not a lover-and-leaver. Take your time and let her get to know your darker side, and you hers, before deciding she’s the love of your life. Stop calling your ex for the answer, because you’re only making her glad she left. You can learn the answer by asking yourself about your own mistakes so you can avoid them next time.
“I feel that all I’ve learned is not to trust people, but what I’ve really learned is that it’s my job to be more careful if I want to find a partner I can trust.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname