Why are we so resistant to anything we don’t want to hear, where our love life is concerned? Why do we choose to be blind to obvious warning signs when it comes to matters of the heart, in a way that we wouldn’t be with other areas of our life? These are questions I have pondered for years – largely because I spend most of my working life delving through other people’s tangled love lives! Having said that, I too have been incredibly blinkered where romantic situations are concerned – in complete denial, in fact – (though thankfully not for many years!), so I do recognise that it is a human tendency. I think that there are probably a couple of reasons behind our unwillingness to see certain situations as they really are, the first being disappointment, and the second embarrassment/shame.
And, to back that up, here is a perfect example from my own life. The situation in question occurred in the mid 1980’s, when I was newly single, having recently left my first husband. I was working in a hotel bar when I was hotly pursued by a visiting contractor, a guy who wasn’t my ‘type’. Let’s call him J. Eventually, I gave in one night and agreed to go to a restaurant with him after my shift had finished. To cut a long story short, I ended up falling head over heels for him and all of his wonderful talk. He had told his family about me and they were keen to meet me – so he claimed. He explained away the names tattooed on his arm as being those of his parents (and that he was named after his father); he showed me pictures of his niece, a toddler who looked exactly like him, and gave me money to buy gifts for her; he asked me to move back with him to his home city when the contract was completed. In fact, he talked a lot about the future, and although I wasn’t packing my bags ready to go, I believed him. And then I began to notice discrepancies; more than once he gave me a detailed story about a major situation that had apparently occurred that day – except that when I brought the subject up with his colleagues they had no idea what I was talking about… and looked at me as if I was crazy.
And then a friend who manned the reception desk at the hotel told me that a woman regularly rang and asked for his room number. She thought that something fishy was going on and wanted to warn me. Despite the fact that I didn’t want to hear it and wouldn’t accept it, some part of me was becoming suspicious – and one day I sneaked an upside-down peek at the call-list on the counter, memorising what I thought was the relevant phone number. Later that night, at home, with shaking hand and beating heart, I dialled the number – and a female answered. I asked for the name that was tattooed on his arm (let’s call her C) and was relieved to be told that no, she didn’t live there. However, the relief was short-lived because, as I went to replace the receiver, I heard an urgent “Wait! Please don’t hang up – I know who you are!” And the story unfolded. The number I had memorised was the wrong one and actually belonged to the girlfriend of J’s boss. Who also happened to be C’s best friend. Apparently, she’d been visiting one night and had spotted myself and J canoodling in the corner of a restaurant- and hadn’t said a word. She went on to tell me everything. C was his wife, the niece was his daughter, and his family had no idea I even existed. And most of the other stuff he’d told me was also complete hogwash. She promised to give me time to confront him but her fears obviously got the better of her and she immediately phoned her boyfriend to accuse him of cheating on her (after all, if J was doing it then the chances were that so was he – except that he wasn’t). And then the brown stuff really hit the fan and J was bustled off to work in another city. It emerged that all of J’s colleagues believed that I knew that he was married (something he’d obviously told them) and I looked like a complete bitch and an idiot. Funny thing is, I actually saw him again, quite a while later, in a pub, when I moved to take a job in his home city… and I couldn’t believe that I’d broken my heart (not to mention losing loads of weight) over that. I couldn’t believe that I’d shed an ocean of tears over someone I now wouldn’t even look twice at if I was to pass him on the street. A very sorry tale indeed, but the warning signs were all there – if not immediately, then within weeks of becoming involved with him. And, looking back, I realise that he had started to cool off a bit before it all blew up, causing me to feel unsettled and insecure. Which led me to hang on even tighter. He obviously knew that the contract was coming to an end and that the fantasy was over, so was trying to distance himself from the mess that he’d created. I don’t know if his wife ever found out. I certainly didn’t contact her, and a big part of me hopes that she never did. Maybe ignorance is bliss, sometimes.
The big question is, why did I choose to ignore the red flags and the warning signs? Well, firstly, because I just didn’t want them to be real… I didn’t want them to be true. I wanted them to be nothing more than silly misunderstandings that could easily be explained away. I didn’t want to see my hopes and dreams going up in flames. And the ensuing disappointment was like a huge wave that engulfed me, knocking me off my feet. I thought I was loved and wanted – when in reality I was nothing more than a distraction. The embarrassment and the shame of being so easily fooled and used was crushing. And all I was left with was a horrible sense of worthlessness and rejection. Actually, thinking about it, there are three major reasons behind our unwillingness to see or hear the truth, where our idealistic romantic hopes and dreams are concerned: not just disappointment and embarrassment, but also the desire to avoid the awful sense of worthlessness that comes from the humiliation of rejection.
The problem is, J didn’t exist. At least, not my fantasy version of him. I didn’t love him – I was infatuated by him. And let me state, with absolute conviction, that love and infatuation are not the same thing, no matter how many starry-eyed, love-struck individuals insist that they are. Infatuation is nature’s way of getting human beings together to do what comes naturally – and although it can develop into love, many times it doesn’t. Of course, love needs to be a two-way process; there is no joy to be gained from ‘loving’ someone who doesn’t behave as if they feel the same way, no matter how much we kid ourselves. And something else that has often struck me is how deeply we can convince ourselves that the object of our desire is the only one for us, that we have never experienced such an intense connection, and that we can’t live without them – only to get over them and move on with our life after they break our heart – even if it does take a little while. I have, in the past, yearned for and cried over guys I wouldn’t have an ounce of interest in today. How could that have possibly been ‘love’? It wasn’t. However, at the time I might well have insisted that it was. Why? Because I was young (though certainly not a teenager), idealistic, and a bit of an idiot.
The truth is, it is reasonably common for twenty and thirty somethings to become obsessed with a romantic interest and then resist anything they don’t want to hear on the subject. I have seen it happen with older folk too, but mostly it is the domain of the young. It is emotional and biological, I understand. However, as a long-term intuitive consultant who finds that the majority of her customers’ questions centre around their love lives (or lack of), I can’t help sighing when an argumentative response thuds into my inbox. If I didn’t have a long and proven track record, I might seriously doubt myself. I am not saying that I am infallible and am all-seeing-and-all-knowing… but I have learned to have some degree of faith in my intuitive interpretation and assessment. It works well enough to still be in business twenty six years down the line. However, to 22/25/30 year old Sophie/Rosie/Becky etc, who has pinned all of her romantic hopes on a sweet-talking love interest (or even a long-gone ex), I am sometimes viewed as wrong when I do what I’m asked to do and ‘read’ his energy field… and find that I have to explain that I cannot see them together in the future – and, more importantly, why. Even the reassurance of better future prospects doesn’t always cut any ice – because he is all they can currently think about. In my defence, I do usually say that I’d be happy to be wrong, even though I’m not convinced that I am; after all, I would love to be able to truthfully and honestly deliver everything that the customer wants to hear. And it isn’t about man-bashing; it is about the dynamic between two individuals who have their own ways, attitudes, ideas, hopes, and intentions. It is also about whether or not the attraction is genuinely mutual or equally balanced. It isn’t always. Having said that, not all of my customers react angrily or tearfully when I can’t truthfully predict a happy-ever-after ending; an encouraging number admit that, even though they feel deflated, I’m not actually telling them anything they didn’t already know… deep down inside.
The bottom line is, it isn’t just love that makes the world go round: the idea of it does, too! In fact, the fantasy is often more interesting and attractive than the reality. Remember the Tracey Ullman song, They Don’t Know? I love the end part of the video, in particular – and I reckon that’s how most of us end up! In a good way, I think. At least it represents ‘real’ life (if you haven’t seen it or can’t remember it, click on this link… if nothing else, it will make you smile!).
I suppose I should conclude by saying that the heart is always going to have a lot more say than the head, especially where dating and romance is concerned. And that the world would be a sadder place without the agonising ecstasy and intensity that often accompanies powerful, emotional, and biological yearnings and urges! Of course, we all think that it’s different for us. We really are destined to be together – and that rotten old ‘fortune teller’ doesn’t know a thing!