Posted by fxckfeelings on July 13, 2017Share This Post
Yearning is the bastard child of love and frustrated need; both emotions promise happiness if only you can spend more time with whomever or whatever it is you yearn for, but their emotional spawn is less a miracle than something that’s usually shameful, illegitimate, and not discussed in mixed company. That’s because most people you yearn for are out of reach for good reason; if a love is forbidden, then getting what you yearn for is rarely good for you, better than what you’ve got, or likely to make you a better person. So persistent yearning isn’t a sign of true love; it’s a sign that you’ve got the beginnings of an addiction and should use all your experience, wisdom, and proven techniques to evaluate whether it’s worth trying to satisfy or avoid in order to escape shame, social or otherwise.
I have a good life, especially from the outside. I have the most beautiful children and a husband, who, despite his incredibly high levels of anxiety and his sometimes ridiculous temper, loves me and cares for us. The problem is that after almost 20 years of marriage I met a man whom I fell into a meaningful relationship with (although nothing physical ever happened because I knew that was a slippery slope and I made sure not to go there). It’s now been a few years since I told this man that I wasn’t leaving my husband, and while we have occasional contact because of work requirements, we’ve remained professional. The issue is that I cannot truly get over it— I believe he is my soulmate and that this is all just a cruel joke that the world is playing on me. I was fine with never knowing what that kind of love felt like because it was better that way. My goal is to get over this man and to stop feeling sad and sorry for myself.
It’s hard to meet a soulmate and then not get to spend much time with him. Then again, if the reason you’re kept apart is because you’ve already got a lifemate that you’re happy with, that should help ease the pain.
Sure, there’s a special pleasure in the warmth and closeness of a relationship with good chemistry that leaves you missing one another when you’re apart, but that doesn’t mean that soulmateship is the most important thing in your world. Judging from your actions, you already figured this out, but it seems like it’s worth remembering your findings when the longing kicks in.
No matter what you were looking for when you first started searching for a partner, you found someone with whom you didn’t just feel close, but who you could count on to work hard, take care of his responsibilities, and share in raising and protecting your kids and giving them a set of values you both believe in. You built a strong partnership and a family you’re proud of, acknowledging that you’ve had to accept some obnoxious habits and character traits that can’t be changed (but don’t interfere with the work of partnership) in order to do so.
If having a soulmate was your number one priority, you might well have paid less attention to what you needed to raise a family; soulmate parents take so much pleasure in one another’s company that they don’t have that much energy or attention left over for the kids. For you, this is a road not taken, or really, as I’ve learned through my practice, the bullet dodged.
Even if your feelings of unmet need for this other man won’t go away or stop reminding you of missed happiness, that doesn’t mean they’re signs of failure. Think instead of your other reasons for getting married and the ways your partnership worked when times were tough e.g., when the kids were in trouble or someone was sick. Remember the intimacy that comes from working well with your partner and surviving hard times together, even if you may not feel as close to one another as you do with someone else.
And appreciate the fact that the kind of closeness you and your partner do share is what’s kept your marriage and family together through everything, even if it’s not the kind of closeness that gives you butterflies.
Assuming you made your marital decision for good reasons, don’t let a sense of persistent longing make you second guess yourself, your marriage, or the state of your soul. Take pride in your partnerships decisions, particularly the ones that cause you pain, because it often doesn’t feel right to do the right thing.
“I miss the easy closeness I feel with a guy I never get to see, but I’m glad I found a partner I can trust and rely on and I’m proud of what we’ve built together, which includes a loving relationship. I’m old enough to know how tough life can be and how you must take life as it comes, not as you’d like it to be. Now I just need to remind myself of that whenever the longing strikes.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname