If you have fallen in love with someone who has been honest enough to explain that they aren’t open to developing a committed relationship with you – are you, a) listening and accepting… or, b) ignoring and resisting what you don’t want to hear?
If you have actual, behavioural evidence (as opposed to mere words that lead nowhere) that the person you want to be with is making no moves to turn that into a reality – are you, a) paying attention and responding accordingly… or, b) ignoring and resisting what you don’t want to accept?
If your ex has long gone or is hovering unsatisfyingly on the outskirts of your life, and you know for sure that the issues that led you to become exes in the first place haven’t been resolved – are you, a) accepting the facts, or, b) editing them in favour of a story that has no basis in reality?
If you have answered a) to any of these, I have one more question for you: what the hell are you doing?
Ted had dated Anna a couple of times but she didn’t want to take it any further and explained why. After a gap they briefly dated again, but once more she stepped back, saying that she couldn’t offer him what he wanted, and anyway, life was too demanding and complicated for her to be able to commit to a serious relationship. Ted didn’t want to accept it… and even more so after she contacted him shortly after telling him to forget about her, wanting to talk through her problems with him. It gave him hope… but he wasn’t paying attention to the whole story – only the bits he liked the sound of.
If he genuinely cared about Anna, Ted would recognise and acknowledge the woman behind his need to have her in his life, and pay attention to what she was really telling him: “I care about you, but not in the way you want me to. I am struggling to figure myself out, and I have a lot on my plate right now. However, you are someone I can safely talk to, and so, even though I have told you to move on and find someone who will commit to you, I don’t quite want to let you go… because I know that you will be there for me whenever I need you – but that doesn’t change anything. I still can’t give you what you want and I will back off again if I suspect that you want more from me.”
Yes, Anna’s behaviour toward Ted could be viewed as selfish – but he is allowing – no, encouraging – it. He believes that if she comes to need him enough, and if he can continue to fulfil her needs, she will recognise that he is, after all, ‘the one’ for her and commit to him. I have seen this scenario played out again and again, but I have never seen it end in the way that Ted wants to believe it will. He is not really seeing the true Anna, and he can’t get his head around what is motivating her behaviour, because all he really wants is for her to feel the same way that he does. He wants to change her, to change her mind… to persuade her to want what he wants for her. So, he is left with three choices: he can continue to handle things in exactly the same way and accept the eventual consequences; he can walk away from her for good; he can choose to accept and honour the situation, without an agenda or underlying expectation, because he genuinely cares about her and what it is that she wants for herself. He gets to choose, not her.
Love me… damn you!
Ellie’s 10 month relationship with James had ended 18 months earlier, and for a while they’d remained friends. At least, that is what James wanted; unfortunately, Ellie wanted more, and she struggled with her feelings to such a degree that he cut off all contact with her. She was devastated – but still convinced that they could have a future together… if only she could persuade him to communicate with her and recognise just how much she loved him. The harder she pushed, the further away he got… and the more desperate she became. She swore that she loved him whilst putting so much pressure on him he became miserable and withdrawn – not to mention preventing herself from attracting a man who would actually want to commit to her. We can’t hold onto the past with both hands and grasp the future at one and the same time. Life, and love, doesn’t work that way.
I don’t want to hear it!
What tends to happen when we are hanging onto the idea of a romance with both hands, feet, and teeth, is that we become hypersensitive and defensive, reacting crossly toward anyone who talks common sense to us. We also often experience emotional highs and lows that lead us to feel bad about ourselves, and for two reasons: 1) we are suffering the effects of rejection because our love interest is clearly not as invested as we are, 2) we are aware that we are behaving in a personally disempowering way, and that we aren’t doing enough to rescue our dignity and sense of self-worth by properly putting an end to it.
Oh, the shame…
Desperation is a sad word that no-one wants to be labelled with. In fact, suggest to the lovelorn that their behaviour might just be teetering on the edge of the crazy-cliff and they will tear you a new one. It is one of those things that sometimes needs to be addressed without actually speaking about it, or even hinting at it. A bit like when my daughters were younger and I needed to buy items of underwear for them – without mentioning them, looking at them on the rails, touching them… or carrying them through the store to the counter. Oh, the shame and embarrassment.
We all know when we are beginning to lose the plot – oh yes, we do… deep down inside, where reality lives. For some reason, though, we sometimes choose to erect a thick dividing wall between what we actually recognise as the truth and what we would ideally prefer to be the truth. Like when that guy gets in touch only when he feels like it, takes days to respond to our text messages, and is clearly bulls******g us… but we pretend not to be able to understand it because he started off by calling us 10 times a day and telling us how great we are – surely that means something, and if we just hang on things will return to the way they were? He’s just got a lot on at the moment…
Time is ticking away…
There are only so many hours in an incarnation, even if we live to be 100. Why are we wasting time demeaning ourselves by hanging onto to someone who doesn’t want us, or who only wants us on their terms? Why are we allowing that situation and that person to steal away our thinking time, our mental and emotional energy, and even our money (when we have one reading after another after another on the same subject, hoping to hear that it will all end in domestic bliss)? Because, the high of originally being wanted and desired has now been destroyed, replaced by the pain of rejection, which is driving us crazy. One moment we are involved in something warm and exciting and we feel great about ourselves – after all, there is something incredibly seductive about being viewed as desirable by someone we find desirable. But then, all of a sudden, we are out in the cold again. They have gone off us, or lost interest and moved on to the next conquest, or were only passing time and having fun. Or, they realised that they aren’t ready to get into a relationship after all. Or, we ourselves read far more into the situation than existed (that’s a real stinger). It hurts like hell but it won’t kill us (if it did, I’d have died years ago), and we certainly don’t need to add insult to injury by hanging on and making ourselves appear needy and desperate – which, let’s face it, is never a good look. Going through this once is perfectly acceptable; we are all supposed to live and learn. Going through it twice is understandable. However, allowing ourselves to make a habit of it is just plain crazy… and if you know for sure that you are guilty as charged – and I say this with love – f *****g pack it in, you idiot!