Therapy, man, therapy.
May 20, 2023
David and I broke up last night.
Am I devastated? No. I’m sad.
Why is it different this time? Why am I not laid out flat in despair? So many reasons.
It’s easier to accept this time. I can truly embrace the belief that things happen for good.
Here’s what I’ve learned about failed relationships. This is clear evidence of how far I’ve come, how much I’ve healed.
I’ve learned when not to compromise
Compromise is a good thing, something I’m always willing to do, if it contributes to the development of healthy intimacy in relationship. Compromise is not good when I spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to talk myself into it. If it’s not clear the compromise is going to make me more and make the relationship more, I can’t do it. I won’t. I might spend a bit of time trying to make the compromise fit with who I am, but eventually, I’ll succumb to the facts. I will not be less than who I am. I’ve worked too hard and come too far to go back to behaviors that are not self-honoring.
I want a partner who is able to express love verbally and physically. I tried to forego that with David, I tried to make allowances for his personality. And he was trying, I could see it. But we were stuck. Things weren’t progressing. I’ve had relationships where my needs for loving words and affection have been met, so I know how fulfilling it is to have a partner want me — all of me. I’ve come to understand it’s not a want, it’s not a preference, it’s a need.
I’ve learned love does not conquer all
There’s a pervasive message in our culture that if you love someone, nothing is insurmountable. And that is just so much bullshit. Love is a wonderful thing that can lay the groundwork for many good things, but love is not enough to ensure the health, success, and longevity of a relationship. There are so many other requirements which are critically important — like common values, compatible relationship goals, and complimentary personality types.
I’ve learned I don’t have to take responsibility for the failure of a relationship
When things don’t work out, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with me or I did something wrong. You can’t fuck something up that’s destined for failure.
I believe we make the best decisions based on the information we have and our mindset at any point in time. In retrospect, when I have more information or my beliefs have changed, I may recognize I could have made a different choice, a healthier choice. I learn from that and make changes going forward. I try hard not to hold onto regret, that’s a waste of time and energy. I can’t go back.
If I was authentic, loving, kind, and gracious, and things still didn’t work out, I resist the temptation to revisit every conversation and every action to pinpoint the place where things went south. I recognize, now, things don’t work out because they don’t work out. Assigning fault or blaming someone, including myself, is counterproductive. It doesn’t help them, and it doesn’t help me. I let it go. It might take a while, but I let it go. I can’t change anyone.
Change comes from within. I can only change me. I carefully consider if what I did is even something I want to change. If I acted in alignment with what I think, feel, and believe, there may be nothing which warrants altering my behavior moving forward.
I’ve learned family of origin context is critical to relationship success
David is 62 years old. He attributes his difficulty expressing love and affection to the way he was raised. His parents were not demonstrative, rarely holding him, rarely telling him he was loved. That’s a tragedy. He told me his difficulty in showing love has been an ongoing problem for him in past relationships. On the other hand, he’s had more than four decades to address that bullshit had he chosen to address it. The fact he chose not to frustrated me to no end.
“Hey. WAKE UP, DAVID! Is that good enough for you? Is that how you want to spend the rest of your life — never experiencing deep connection with a woman because you can’t reach out and take her hand?”
I’d deliver these condemnations loudly and sternly. That was not helpful. Having a woman tell you she wants you to show her more love when she’s acting in a non-loving way is not effective. It was not only counterproductive, it was damaging — to David, to me, and to the relationship. It made him feel less and it made me be less. I acted against my beliefs. I acted against the wisdom I can’t project my process on another — we are all on our own path.
Do I regret having been harsh with David? Absolutely. But I’m letting it go. I did the best I could in those moments given who I am. Although I recognize I may have done my best in those moments, I also recognize sometimes my best just isn’t very good.
I knew early early on this was an area of deep division, but I wanted it so much, I kept trying to fix it, or fix myself by trying to make it not matter. It didn’t work. It doesn’t work. I knew that from the get. The wisest choice is to walk away from a man who isn’t meeting my need for love and affection. Only last night was I finally able to make the choice to act on my truth.
I’ve learned to always trust my gut
I have no idea why my gut is persistently and consistently right on this stuff — but I always know when something isn’t quite right. I mean… ALWAYS. Seldom am I taken by surprise. This time was no different.
The only unexpected revelation is that David doesn't care for me romantically, that the love he has for me is friendship love. It all made sense, then. The biggest cause for his difficulty expressing love was because it was disingenuous. Dishonesty is a trait both of us abhor. He wanted to make me happy, so he kept trying to meet my needs. But the dissonance roiling within him could not be masked.
“Why didn’t you tell me this a long time ago?” I asked.
“I don’t think I knew it until just right now,” he responded.
I believe him. My gut says it is just so.
I’ve learned my happiness is dependent upon my continued pursuit for quality of life
How can I get better? How can I be better? How can I avoid the same pitfalls next time?
Therapy, man, therapy.