There are habits in life which can bring you instant comfort. However, they screw you over in the long run. Amongst these habits are the following:
I have observed the above-mentioned habits destroy careers, relationships, friendships, finances, and drastically bring down the overall quality of an individual's life.
I have devoted a new series of blogposts to the above-mentioned habits in an effort to shine a little light up on them. All of the habits in small doses are relatively harmless...with the exception of Hateration. Sometimes, it takes a dash of Delusion to get through a large family gathering. You may need a pinch of Entitlement to muster up the courage to ask your boss for a raise. It is natural to feel a little Insecurity when you are thrown into a new situation. A bit of Neediness can be expected when your world is falling apart. Now, Hateration in any dosage is straight up poison. You will want to avoid this habit at all costs!
I am kicking off this blogpost series with a few words about Delusion.
You and Delusion go way back to your Sandbox days when you wished for the day that your parents would one day be more loving to each other. At the time, Delusion seemed to be your biggest ally. You remember craving the happy traditional family which a majority of your classmates seemed to have. Delusion wrapped you up in a warm embrace and allowed you to misread cues between your parents. It also encouraged you to manufacture drama in the hopes of bringing your family closer together.
After your dad left the family, Delusion decided to make an exit as well. You begged Delusion to stay with you a little while longer. However, she invented some lame excuse about needing to move onto a less challenging situation.
That was over 20 years ago and you have since reunited with Delusion. She came into your life again after you entered the dating world. Delusion enjoys being a key player in romantic relationships. She loves swathing lovers in a protective tent constructed of cluelessness and perpetual denial.
Delusion played an especially pivotal role in your last relationship. She convinced you that your Ex was head over heels in love with you. Despite the fact, that he refused to introduce you to his friends and family and constantly rolled his eyes at your daily protestations of love.
Delusion did not bat an eye when he dumped you for someone else. She advised you that he was not really serious about his break up with you. She encouraged you to keep contacting him and demand that he return to the relationship.
Delusion has also caused a huge rift between you and your circle of friends. They told you to let your Ex go and move on with your life. Delusion stated that your friends were just a bunch of jealous shrews. As a result, you are no longer on speaking terms with any of them.
Now, you can focus your total energy on reconciling with your Ex. A month passes and your Ex files a restraining order against you. Now, once again Delusion is preparing to exit your life as well.
"I need to tend to my other clients." She states breezily.
"But, I did everything that you said. Now, I have no friends and my Ex has filed a restraining order against me." You reply between sobs.
Delusion shrugs casually.
"Let me explain something to you. In order for me to thrive. I need you to find some Co-signors to support you in creating an alternate reality. It is not my fault that you decided to pick honest people to be your friends. I am also not going to take responsibility for the fact that your Ex gave you no reason whatsoever to believe that you were ever in a serious relationship. My job as Delusion is to turn scraps of something into a whole meal. Having to create a fairy-tale out of nothing is super difficult, even for someone of my considerable powers!"
After Delusion has finished packing up her luggage, she strides confidently out the door without a backwards glance.
You now have the choice to either cast out Delusion from your life forever... or to cobble together some scraps so that she can perform her "magic". It is tough decision for you. A majority of your life has been spent being BFFs with Delusion. If you let her go forever, then you will have to operate from a place of reality.
Reality can be scary, but it is still a much safer haven than living with Delusion.
I am fortunate to have many male friends. They are in essence my brothers. I turn to them for a male perspective with regard to career aspirations, car repair, and of course, my love life. Yet, I still strive to keep the platonic boundary firmly in place between us.
You cannot expect a male friend to always pick up the check during outings, call you everyday, or drop everything all the time to rush to your aid.
Because, he is a male friend... and not your man!
I have seen many a male-female friendship ruined because the boundary line is constantly being crossed by one or both parties.
Sometimes, the male counterpart in the friendship has deep romantic feelings for the female. The female counterpart of the friendship may sense his feelings and uses them to her advantage. She has no intention of ever dating him, but she keeps around as an ego boost and because he cheerfully pays for all of their outings.
A little later down the line, he sees that she is playing him and gives up on dating her altogether. Soon after, he enters into a serious relationship with someone else. The female counterpart gets very angry and jealous. She starts doing what she can to sabotage his new relationship. Things get ugly fast and now the male counterpart is forced to cut all ties with the female counterpart.
Another scenario is the male counterpart whom uses his female friend as a personal assistant. He expects her to constantly be at his beck and call. He has realized early on that she has romantic feelings for him and exploits the situation to his advantage. She has convinced herself that one day he will want to be in a romantic relationship with her. He does not want her in that way. Yet, he does nothing to quell her romantic fantasies about him. This dynamic lasts for a couple of more years until she finally gets fed up and stops talking to him altogether.
During my Dark Night of the Soul, I was very fortunate to be surrounded by a wall of loving male friends. They kept my spirits up and gave me huge doses of tough love when I needed it. I was treated to home-cooked meals, impromptu game nights, and hours of conversation.
Their loving care, enabled me to walk through my pain and into a new perspective on life. I am convinced that platonic love helped me heal that much faster. However, things could have turned out disastrously if I had been seeking romantic validation from my platonic male friends.
Platonic love is a powerful force which is often taken for granted. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to use it as a substitute for romantic love. As a result, we ruin good friendships because of our failure to respect the high value which platonic love has to offer in its own right.
This is the fourth and final installment in my blog series about dealing with past relationships/Exes. Rebound relationships can either be a casual fling or something deeper. They can teach us a lot about ourselves, unfortunately they also have the tendency to crash and burn.
Generally, a Rebound relationship consists of three key players:
The Rebounder aka person whom jumps into a new relationship too soon after a breakup
The Reboundee aka the new significant other of the Rebounder
The Ex aka The Ghost of Relationship Past
The relationship is over. Farewell to the old psychodrama and dysfunction.
Soon after, you arrive upon a more stable relationship which seems to be the answer to your heart's prayers. Unfortunately, you are still not completely over your prior relationship. The stability of your new situation enables you to finally begin processing the prior relationship.
At first, you deduce that your Ex had many failings which contributed to the dissolution of your relationship together. More time passes, and you begin to let go of your anger towards your Ex. This is a step in the right direction, but now you have to face the part in which you played in the demise of your prior relationship.
The Reboundee has both their emotional and financial house in order. This makes you all the more aware of the things in your life which are out of sorts. As your new relationship evolves, you begin to feel very inadequate. You realize that you need more time to get your life together.
Although, you love the Reboundee, you cannot continue being in a relationship with them because you know that you are not a good bet for them at this time.
As the Rebounder, you need to be both gentle and respectful with the Reboundee's heart. Do not play the Reboundee against your Ex, make unfair comparisons between them, or pressure them to wait for you to get it together. Instead, let the Reboundee go. Give them a chance to find love with someone whom is emotionally available to love them.
You are in love with someone whom is not over the past relationship. No matter what you do or say they are still comparing you to their Ex. It is disconcerting to listen to the Rebounder's constant grumbling about their past relationship. You are unable to walk into the proverbial sunset together, because the Rebounder's unresolved feelings about the demise of the relationship has them chained to their Ex.
As the Reboundee in this relationship, you have to be cognizant that the Rebounder may not be fully over their past. Also, be prepared to step aside and let them heal...without you by their side.
In essence, your relationship cannot go forward in a healthy manner until the Rebounder gets their emotional act together.
Although, the may seem like the enemy of the Reboundee. In actuality, the Ex is really a non-entity in this situation. The true nemesis of the Rebound relationship is the unprocessed feelings of the Rebounder. There are Exes whom love stirring the pot and causing drama. However, said Exes are only successfully in doing so when the Rebounder is not completely over their prior relationship.
There is a difference between not being over a person and not being over the failure of a relationship. Whenever you are not over a person, nothing can distract you from the fact that you are no longer with this person. You are focused solely on the individual and want to be with them come what may.
Whenever you are not over the failure of a relationship it has more to do with your unprocessed feelings than your Ex. This is why reuniting with an Ex does not always work. You return to the person only to find that you do not want to be with them. You were simply chasing the old relationship dynamic which no longer exists and ain't ever coming back.
There are no hard and fast rules about when to begin dating again after the loss of a relationship. I have been guilty of getting back into the dating game a week after a break up. The euphoria of newly minted singlehood launched me into more than a few ill-advised Rebound relationships.
However, after the newness of the Rebound relationship wore off... my unprocessed feelings emerge.
All at once, I felt trapped and resentful of my new relationship. I realized too late, that I needed more time to completely heal before I began dating again. My biggest piece of advice regarding Rebound relationships is to make sure that you are truly over your prior relationship before starting a new one.
In my old storyline, I was the misunderstood and beleaguered black girl from a middle-class home. I did not fit in with the ghetto black kids bussed into my neighborhood and the super bougie blacks wanted nothing to do with me.
I was socially l active and surrounded by friends but, there was an emotional emptiness which eternally plagued me. I always seemed to be on the fringe of a group. I never completely fit in anywhere. This was the storyline which I insisted on staying in for years.
I brought this storyline to every job, relationship, and friendship. In my old storyline, I play the role of the misunderstood outcast. My character is threatening to other women and intriguing yet, intimidating to men.
I wore my eccentricity as a coat of armor. I challenged people to get close to me and then pushed them away. It was the ultimate dance of dysfunction. I acted my way through played out action sequences, love scenes, exposition, and the final redemptive elements of the story.
In my old storyline, I worked harder than everyone else, dealt with off the chain "haters", and moved onto greener pastures. I heard the all too familiar chants from ex-boyfriends about how I was too much for any man to handle. I watched them dump me for drug addicts, highly manipulative women, and outright psychos.
I experienced their remorseful apologies for their horrible treatment of me and requests for second chances.
My old storyline told me that the abuse which I experienced in the past, the people I hurt, and my relationship failures deemed me too "damaged" to receive love.
About nine months ago, I was forced to leave my old storyline. I remember sitting in my living room dipping taters into cake frosting (which is de rigeur for pregnant women during their first trimester) and trying to figure out how I was going to get through an unexpected pregnancy. I had so many angry thoughts running through my head. I wasted 30 minutes going around and around with crazy shoulda, woulda, and coulda thoughts racing throughout my brain.
Then, I remembered that I had a little bean growing inside of me. This little miracle deserved the best from me, which meant a new storyline. No more past BS and insecurities rooted in past situations which no longer applied to my life. I wanted my story to contain a lifetime of joy and new experiences.
Although, my storyline was outdated, my cast mates on the whole are great people. My cast mates were there for me whilst I mourned the loss of my pregnancy and they continue to be steadfast in their support for me.
My old storyline sits locked away on the proverbial shelf of my memory, yet, I will always cherish the time spent there.
"And finally the headstrong Queen forgave herself for an imperfect past."
You keep your group of "fans" close by just like any good cult leader wanna-be would! They focus all of their energy on making sure that all of your needs are met. You do not respect or even appreciate their efforts. Yet, you refuse to walk away from them. You are not strong enough to survive without their superficial admiration.
You long to be challenged by someone, but at the same time you suspect that years of being unconditionally adored have not prepared you to move up to the next level. You are so frustrated by the emptiness of the relationships in your life. To sum it all up, you are tired of being an emotional coward.
But, you gotta admit there are some pretty righteous perks which go along with being an emotional coward.
For example, you never really have to stick around for the bad times. Proverbial storm clouds showing up is your cue to exit Stage Left. You literally receive all of the benefits of the good times without any of the bad ones. Pretty sweet gig. Emotional cowardice means living in a perpetual world of rainbows and lollipops.
If you just smile broadly and laugh loudly then no one will ever suspect your high quotient for emotional wussitude.
So, why not just keep rockin' it?
Do you really wanna even change? Cuz, if you do not want to change, then stay the same!
Seriously, it is alright to reside on 555 Emotional Wussitude Lane...if that is truly where you want to live.
If not, then prepare yourself for a tough transition as you pack up and relocate to 222 Emotional Maturity Lane.
Below are some items which you are prohibited from bringing to the new neighborhood.
Emotional baggage from the past
Why drag old worn out emotional furniture into your new house? There is no room for the old damaged stuff in your new place of residence. Take that old broke down crap to the dump where it belongs.
Scapegoating/Perpetually blaming other people for your problems
You gotta leave the flunky/sycophantic people back in the old neighborhood. It is too tempting for you to cling to their "incompetence" and eagerness to please you. Besides, having them around will only drive property values down.
Psychodrama/Triangulation/Other Manipulative Games
Are you missing the psychodrama from the old neighborhood? Has your life gone downhill since you stopped triangulating people and situations? Does your life feel empty without the manipulative games? If so, then perhaps you may want to move back to 555 Emotional Wussitude Lane.
Once you relocate from 555 Emotional Wussitude Lane, then it is difficult to go back even for a brief visit. If you attempt to return there, you will notice how cramped and dingy the rooms are. The once fawning residents of the old neighborhood will seem needy and a bit pathetic to you. You will find yourself hiding from them because their admiration will now strike you as insincere and draining.
Your new house located on 222 Emotional Maturity Avenue is a much better fit for your life going forward. The structure of this new house is larger and not so cramped. The walls are not marred up by the past and the residents in this neighborhood treat you with sincere respect.
You will yearn to return to your new neighborhood. You will miss the sturdy structure that your house on Emotional Maturity Avenue possesses.
So you have decided to take the big step of reuniting with your ex. You have weighed both the pros and cons, carefully examined your motives, and now you are ready to get this reunion tour on the road!
However, before your pull the metaphorical tour bus out of the parking lot, you may want review the following commandments for making this new journey with your ex as drama free as possible.
Thou shalt treat this reconciliation as a new relationship
Dredging up past transgressions from the first incarnation of your relationship is a fantastic way to doom it right out of the gate. Presumably, the old issues which killed your first pairing together have been taken care of or are no longer of any consequence this time around. Step into the light and the leave the old BS where it belongs...in the past.
Thou shalt realize that friends and family do not want to hear you vent about how annoying your refurbished relationship is.
You are inviting all kinds of trouble when you complain about the refurbished relationship with your ex. Your friends and family were there for the first unsuccessful incarnation. They care about you and want to stand by you. Yet, they probably do not want to continually hear you complain about someone with whom you chose to reunite. If the relationship is not working out, then leave or shut up about it.
Thou shaltcome to terms with thefact that your refurbished relationship may have hiatus baggage
Hiatus baggage can include the following: children born/conceived,during the time you were apart from one another, ex-wives, baby mamas, and incurred debt just to name a few. You have to accept that these people and things are a part of your new life together. In addition, setting some boundaries with the hiatus people and things will also go a long way in aiding the new relationship with your ex.
Thou shalt make new friends and visit new places
Your newly refurbished relationship with your ex will benefit greatly from a fresh start with different people and new hangouts. Too much nostalgia can kill a refurbished relationship.
Thou shalt respect and cherish the emotional growth which your time apart has garnered
People change and grow. Sometimes, it easy to forget that whilst dealing with a refurbished relationship. You keep expecting the old BS to come back or that they still are rockin' all of the same habits like they did back in the day. If you go into a refurbished relationship expecting familiarity you may be surprised and not in a good way.
Thou shalt walk into a refurbished relationship with both eyes open
Listen up, if the first incarnation of your relationship included infidelity, financial drama, chemical dependency, etc., then you need to keep both eyes wide open. Personally, I would be very hesitant to refurbish a relationship which had any of the above-mentioned issues. However, people have been known grow and learn from their mistakes.
Thou shalt not reunite with an ex in which physical, emotional, verbal abuse played a part in the relationship
I consider abuse a deal-breaker in any type of relationship. Especially, when you have been down that road before with someone.
Reuniting with an ex is not a decision to be made lightly, especially when their are children involved. However, sometimes having another go at the relationship can help both parties move on with their lives either as a couple or apart from one another.
I have reunited with exes and it has always failed. Yet, I do not regret reuniting with them. These reunions enabled me to move with my life and not dwell on a failed relationship.
You are no good at relationships. You have a string of broken relationships and crazy exes to prove it. You are afraid that your lack of relationship prowess is an indicator of your unlovability. You warn potential significant others that you are not a good bet for a long-term relationship.
You have formed an identity around your relationship failures and you do not plan on giving it up anytime soon.
But, have you ever stopped to ask yourself just why all of your relationships fail? It probably does have a lot to do with you, but not in the way in which you might think. Failing at relationships has more to do with the choices you make than your inherent worth as a person.
Below are a 6 basic steps which can move you towards healthier relationships.
The first step is to look at love as something separate from a relationship. Love knows no boundaries. Yet, a healthy relationship needs boundaries in order to function well. You can be in love with someone, but for whatever reason not be able to sustain a relationship with that person. Being in love means going into a dream world with your significant other. Dealing with a significant other in a relationship pulls you back into the real world.
Love does make the world go round, but it cannot always maintain a relationship in and of itself.
The second step is to figure out why you keep picking the same person over and over. Are you a Captain-Save-A-Chick type whom keeps picking helpless and perpetually needy women? Are you a frustrated Angel of Mercy type whom thrives off of helping broken and damaged men? Are you choosing significant others based solely on superficial qualities such as physical attractiveness, wealth, and/or material possessions? Take a deep breath and step back momentarily into your own past. Many times, your past holds the key to present behavior. Especially, as it applies to romantic relationships. View your past as a movie playing on a screen, instead of as a live interactive experience. Find the root of your past poor choices in significant others and become accountable for them. In other words, fight the temptation to scapegoat even your craziest ex. After all, you picked them.
The third step is figure out what you have to offer someone in a relationship. Be honest about what you have going for yourself. Do not be too modest in your assessment or personal strengths. At the same time, do not overestimate what you have to offer a potential significant other.
The fourth step is to ascertain what you are looking for in a significant other. Are you looking for someone whom loves to go out all of the time? Perhaps, you are looking for more a homebody type? Maybe you want a combination social butterfly/homebody? This is an important step, because the type of person you look for sets the tone for the relationship.
The fifth step is to decide which type of relationship you are seeking. Are you looking for a casual dating situation or something more serious? Be clear in your own mind, before reeling someone into your life. It will save you a lot of drama and heartache if you possess clarity on what you are seeking out of a relationship.
The sixth step is to let go of all prior relationships before entering into a new one. A lot of us bring old baggage into a new situation. The shabbiness of old baggage takes away the freshness of any new romantic structure. Get rid of the taint. In other words, have your financial issues, child custody matters, and attitude properly adjusted before venturing out into a new relationship.
These steps are very basic, yet still helpful in getting you onto a path of healthier relationships.
In a previous post entitled:Step Away From Your Ex:An Overview, I briefly discussed the whole staying stuck on your ex phenomenon. I received both positive and negative feedback on the blogpost. The feedback encouraged me to do some more in-depth field research on the topic. I started asking random people about why they would ever consider reuniting with their exes. Admittedly, this was not a scientific survey by any stretch of the imagination. No doubt, there are more than nine different reasons why people wish to reunite with an ex. However, these are the ones which my unscientifically created control group listed as their reasons.
Below are the 9 reasons why people try to reunite with exes:
Fear of moving on from the past
The need to triangulate
Trying to rectify the mistake of an initial relationship
Family and friends adore your ex
For the sake of the children
Chasing the bliss of the first few months
Your ex has moved onto another relationship
Default safety net
1. Unfinished Business
Sometimes, relationships end so abruptly that one or both of the parties involved do not have the opportunity to fully process its demise. You end up with all of these questions and unresolved feelings towards how and why the relationship ended. Years go by and you are still holding onto the anger and hurt from this past relationship. You believe that reuniting with your ex will help you to move on with your life. However, perhaps a day spent discussing the relationship will help you move on with your life. This situation seems to be more about closure than it is about reconciling with your ex.
2. Fear of moving on from the past
Fear of moving on from the past is not the healthiest type of glue to hold any relationship together. This requires both parties to remain emotionally stagnated in order to keep the reconciled relationship afloat. It may work for awhile, until one or both parties realize that their shared history cannot take the place of love and mutual respect. How many couples do you know whom have been together for a long time and they literally cannot stand to be around one another? They breakup every other week and then get back together. The cycle continues for years and after each reconciliation, the resentment between them grows. There is an eternal air of misery around this type of couple. Yet, their reluctance to move on from the past is what keeps them rooted in unnecessary misery.
Perhaps, being in a relationship with your ex launched you into a higher social and financial strata. Since the breakup, you have been unable to attain the same level of status. You do not necessarily want your ex back, just the lifestyle which accompanied with the relationship. Why not work on creating that lifestyle for yourself by finishing your degree or changing your own career path?
Maybe, you are unable to get over feelings of guilt especially if your ex ended up in worse position after the relationship dissolved. You believe that reuniting with your ex will help get them back on their feet. This will only end up causing heartache for both of you in the long run. Your actions while on the surface admirable, will create a codependent bond between the both you which causes more pain down the road.
Revenge can be another powerful motivator in reconciling with an ex. I once had an ex whom was verbally abusive towards me. He constantly harped on my weight and physical appearance. After we broke up, I got back into shape and became a much happier person. Of course, then he wanted to reconcile with me. I was almost tempted to do so out of a need to avenge the pride which he wounded during his verbal tirades. Thankfully, I put the brakes on and realized that reuniting with him would be a huge mistake. Instead, I decided to charge him to the game and move on with my life.
3.The need to triangulate
This is an immature reason for reuniting with an ex and it is also unfair to them. You are essentially playing family and friends against your ex. In addition, you are using your ex as a scapegoat. You make a huge show of running back to your ex because your family and friends do not appreciate you. Your family and friend dislike your ex immensely.
You set up a bidding war between your family/friends and your ex. Then, after six months you decide to leave your ex and return to the family fold. In another six months, you will start the process of winning your ex back only to dump them off again.
4. Family and Friends Adore Your Ex
One the flip side of the coin, everyone has an ex whom is universally adored by both family and friends. This ex is the one that got away and your family never ceases to stop reminding you of that fact. Since the breakup from this ex, your life has taken a turn for the worse. You recall that during your relationship with this particular ex, your life vastly improved in ways you never imagined. Alas, the timing was not right and you realized that you were not ready for a huge commitment. In the end, you dumped them.
Your family was devastated by the news of the breakup. They are not as friendly to subsequent significant others as they were to your ex. You miss their approval and you think that reconciling with your ex will bring you closer to your family. This is a shaky reason to reconcile with someone. You are trading in your happiness for a few morsels of approval from your family. Time to emotionally grow up and leave home.
5. For the sake of the children
Reuniting for the sake of the children can create a whole lotta resentment and tension between a couple. There has to be love and respect, between you as a couple, otherwise this reconciliation will do far more harm than good.
6. Trying to rectify the mistake of an initial relationship
Everyone one makes mistakes in their lives. The difficult part is learning from your mistakes and moving on. Especially, when family and friends warned us not to get involved with our ex the first time around. Though it ended badly, you still feel as though you have to rectify that mistake. So, you will either keep the breakup/make up cycle with an ex going for way too long. Or you will look for people similar to your ex and try to fix them. These coping mechanisms never really work in the long-term. Instead, you are just perpetuating the same recycled BS into your life. Better to just admit that you made a mistake in the first place and keep it movin'.
7. Chasing the bliss of the first few months
Your thoughts keep returning to the first few blissful months of the relationship. You recall all of the romantic dinners, leisurely strolls, and late night chat sessions. However, your mind has conveniently blocked out the tortuous hell that the relationship evolved into. Your heart is still clinging to the initial blush of the relationship. You are thinking that reuniting with your ex will result into once again capturing the elusive bliss which vanished from the relationship after the first few months. Eventually, you will have to accept that idyllic time which you shared with your ex is gone. Reuniting your ex will probably not bring the initial bliss back. Why not just make a fresh start with someone else?
8. Your ex has moved onto another relationship
You may have heard that your ex is in a new relationship or is getting married. You do not want them back, but the thought of them moving on from you is hard on your ego. Besides, you still call them whenever your family is getting on your nerves or still use them as a scapegoat for both your past and current mistakes. They are a dysfunctional crutch/raggedy a** security blanket for you. Cut the cord and let them find happiness with someone else.
9. Default Safety Net
You left them for someone else...but the grass was not greener. Now, you want another chance with your ex. But, do you really want to go back? Perhaps, you are just lonely and missing the familiar. Once firmly ensconced back into a relationship with your ex, boredom will rear its ugly head again. Next thing you know, you are back trolling for another "upgrade". When yet another pairing with an "upgrade" fails, you will inevitably try to reconcile with your ex yet again. Your ex becomes your "default" shelter from the storm. Creating a "default" cycle with your ex can seem like a win-win situation. You have the opportunity to explore other romantic options and yet you have the security of someone waiting in the wings if the other relationships do not work out. Ironically, having a "default" in the wings sets you up to not give your best effort in any other relationship. Why try when you have a tried and true "default" in your life? The best scenario in this situation is to let your "default" go on with their life...without you in it.
Writing this blogpost made me closely examine my own thoughts about this topic. In fact, I had so many thoughts about this topic that I had to break it up into four separate blogposts!
Nostalgia appears to be a common theme running throughout each of these reasons. A little nostalgia can be a pleasant thing. Thinking back on happy memories can make you automatically smile. However, attempting to go back and live in said happy memories especially as it applies to reuniting with an ex...sets you up for disillusionment.
You are looking for your "dream mate". You are tired of dealing with drama in your dating life. Yet, you know that raising your dating standards means that you will actually have to pull your own emotional weight. You do not know if you are ready to do so. Reluctantly, you acknowledge that there have been advantages to dating toxic people.
For example, dating perpetually toxic folks makes you appear to be somewhat of a noble person. You are the long-suffering protagonist trying to give the toxic person a better life. Alas, they are too toxic to remain in a relationship with and so with a heavy heart you will have to walk away from them.
Dating toxic people takes away a lot of your energy and it gives you the perfect excuse to remain emotionally stunted. You can also use them as a scapegoat as to why you have not advanced very far in your career.
Are you sure that you want to give up the status quo of being completely blameless in every situation? Turning your back on dating toxic people may also cause you to do a lot of self-reflection.
Self-reflection can cause you ruminate on why you turned to the darkside of dating toxic people in the first place. Are you sure that you wanna go there?
You will be forced to confront your inner outcast. You may have to assure your inner outcast that there are stable people out there whom will love you without strings attached. The trick is convincing your inner outcast that playing mind games, triangulation, and other dysfunctional behavior will never bring them contentment on a long-term basis.
After you get your inner outcast under control, then you will have to go about changing your romantic bait to attract a stable person. The BS which works so effectively on the toxic contingency will not work with a stable person. Are you sure that you want to continue on? It is not too late to turn around and Return to the Land of The Toxic People.
Just checking, because dating in the Land of the Stable People will require you to conduct yourself in a more mature and respectful manner. You will also notice that being in the company of someone stable will make it much easier to accomplish your goals. You will not be constantly barraged with phone calls, texts, and endless requests for personal validation.
I know firsthand just how alluring psychodramatic relationships can be. The days are filled with dramatic fights, icy silences, passionate resolutions, and empty promises galore. Who could resist this cornucopia of shifting emotions and romantic frustration on a daily basis?
However, once I reached my 30's, I noticed that these relationships left me way too emotionally drained. Since then, I have made a solemn vow to head for the hills at the first sign of psychodrama in a relationship.
Dating stable people means that you are not always walking an emotional tightrope with them. You can trust that they do not have a hidden agenda. You get all of the benefits of a romantic partnership sans the psychodrama.
Love does not always end after a relationship is over. It can linger in the air and crackle between both parties long after they have exchanged goodbyes. Still, there are generally compelling reasons why a relationship does not work out. In my observation, immaturity of one or both parties,bad timing, 3rd parties, and other outside stressors can all contribute the dissolution of a relationship.
The familiarity of an ex can cause you to remain stuck in an era of your life which you need to move on from. It is easy to get sucked back into going back to an ex. You know them so well. You are familiar with all of their good points and perhaps their crazier ones. The familiarity can cause you to gloss over the unhealthier aspects of the relationship. You conveniently forget about the numerous drunken fights, infidelity, manipulation, and even physical abuse which occurred during your time with them.
Instead, you choose to focus on the happier times no matter how few and far between they happened to be.
Armed with your rose-colored glasses and short term memory loss; you enter back into the land of broken promises and dysfunction. Or perhaps you pine away for the ex whilst involved a relationship with another person. Either way you are using both good and bad memories from your past as an excuse to not move on with your life.
"No one will ever love me as much as my ex." or
"My ex screwed me over so badly that now I will never be able to trust anyone else again!"
Both of these common declarations keep you stuck in the past and they also place unnecessary limits on your future happiness. Sometimes, it may seem as though completely stepping away from an ex will negate the life which you lead up until now. This is especially true if the relationship started during your late teens and early 20's.
All of those experiences and memories of "firsts" bonded you together in some way forever. Remember, for whatever reason that bond was not enough to sustain the relationship in the long haul. You do not have to completely amputate your memories, but you cannot permanently reside in them.
If the relationship produced children, then it becomes even more difficult to step away from an ex. The association between both of you becomes exclusively about what is in the best interests of the children. Some would argue that people should hold onto a dead relationship/marriage for the children. I disagree, because children learn and model behaviors from their parents. Children witnessing their parents constantly engaged in mind games, disrespectful behavior towards one another, and misery will most likely bring those same aspects to their future relationships.
On the flip side, observing a toxic relationship between parents could cause their children to avoid any intimacy whatsoever.
Sometimes, long time divorced parents use their children as an excuse to try to maintain control over their ex-spouse. They tell themselves that their bitterness and crazy behavior towards their will ultimately benefit their children because it will somehow hamper their ex-spouse's chances of finding someone else or coerce them into an ill-advised reconciliation. This behavior creates a lot of unnecessary psychodrama and keeps children caught in the middle.
Not surprisingly, there are plenty of books and websites written about the topic of reconciling with an ex.
However, I have learned through personal experience and observation that reconciling with an ex rarely works for the long-term. It is essence like going backwards and it can inhibit individual growth.
Whenever, I have returned to an ex it had nothing to do with feelings of unfulfilled love. I went back to work out issues from my past and admittedly to hide from the world. However, in every instance the ex which I returned to had radically changed and the security I sought no longer existed with them.
Basically, I could either try to recreate the atmosphere that brought us together so long ago i.e. strife with family, workaholism, and other negative behaviors to keep the relationship alive or just completely walk away. Alas, I always chose to walk away because I was not willing to emotionally go backwards to sustain a relationship which was not that healthy for me in the first place.
Of course, I have also observed exes getting together after several years of being apart making it work. However, both parties had matured into different people than who they were during their previous time together.
Still, I am inclined to go along with the wise adage "they are an ex for a reason".
I have this situation at home with my husband...
Look, I know that you do not like getting involved in marriage drama, but-
Yeah. Cuz, spouses always band together against the third party! I have enough problems without having to field calls from an angry husband.
I do not have anyone else to talk to and my children's well-being is at stake.
(Sighes reluctantly) Let's hear it.
So, my husband has stopped coming home for the most part.
What do you mean stopped coming home? Did he move out?
In a matter of speaking. He told me that he did not want to be married to me anymore.
Dang. I am so sorry. How long ago did he tell you this?
(Starts sobbing) About six months ago. He also refuses to get counseling.
Do you need help moving?
Moving? I am not moving out. I have no place to go and the kids really like this neighborhood. They have lots of friends here and there is a great park nearby. I refuse to spoil their happiness. I would just rather wait and see what happens. It is not so bad.
Not so bad? Right. It is also not so good. Now, I am not tryin' to get all up in your business. I am just concerned that you are putting your children through unnecessary heartache and strife, because of your own fears. It is almost as though you envision yourself as the matriarch holding your family together. However, in reality, your unwillingness to accept the reality which is swirling around you is tearing your family apart. You could have already moved out and reclaimed some of your dignity. Yet, you steadfastly refuse to do so. Instead, you insist upon holding on to a charred illusion which barely existed in the first place.
When he's home, he is very attentive to the children. They love their father. I could not bear to move them away from him. They need him in their lives.
Just because you divorce their father does not mean that he will not be in their lives. In fact, it gives them a chance to have a healthier connection with them. He does not want to be married to you anymore. He is not coming home on a regular basis. You are starting to lose your mind and a lot of credibility with your kids.
You are putting your children through an excruciating amount of pain, because you refuse to acknowlege what is right in front of you. Pretty soon, they will begin to blame themselves for your misery.
I know but, I feel like the children need to see us together as a united front.
Children look to their parents for examples of how a relationship should function. Look, if you want them growing up thinking that there is nothing unusual about hanging onto a loveless marriage then by all means keep on rockin' this situation! However, if you want better for your children, then you will do what you need to do to get out with your dignity. As for being a united front, you guys can still co-parent that way.
I just do not know how things got so bad between us. I am scared to give up on the marriage, because what if he goes out and finds someone else right away.
That does not matter at this point. He does not want to be with you. Whether or not he starts over with someone else is irrelevant. You have to focus on starting a new life with your children and making the transition as smooth as possible. If I were in this situation, I would be researching divorce attorneys, figuring out how to divide up assets, and most importantly signing up for some counseling.
Thank you. You have given me a lot to think about. This is so hard.
I know and I am sorry that you are going through this.
She has issues. Lots of issues. The aforesaid issues stem from events which occurred long before you came onto the scene. She seemed so fragile at first. You offered her friendship and then it turned into something more.You turned a blind eye to her neediness and emotional dependence.
You told yourself that it was because she did not feel secure in the relationship. Then, you did everything that you could to make sure that she felt loved by you.
You gave up your friends, family, and time to yourself in order to make her feel more secure. You endured her constant phone calls, long-winded texts, and snooping through your email.
You downplayed her manipulative behavior.
You made excuses for her lack of ambition and downright laziness.
"She's not evil. She just has issues." You declared.
In other words, you voluntarily signed up for the "Save-a-Chick" program.
Alas, years go by and her issues adversely affected your household finances.
Each time you suggested that she finish her degree or get a job she became really weepy.
"But, I have issues from the past which I am still trying to work out." She sobbed.
Then she cooked you a fabulous dinner and you forgot all about that crazytalk of her getting a job or finishing her degree. All was well for a little while, until you began actively socializing with other couples. She is unable to compete with the other women in your social set. Some of the women have overcome great personal odds and yes, even issues to become successful in their fields.
You thought that she would be inspired by these women. Instead, she was jealous of them. She picked fights with them, so that they would no longer come around.
You struggled to pay all of the bills on your own. You did not even bother asking her to find a job. You just continued slaving away and kicking yourself for becoming involved with her in the first place. At first, her fragility may have made you feel like all powerful and wise. However, by the end of the relationship you felt emotionally wrung out from constantly dealing with her issues.
I have met plenty of "girls with issues". I have witnessed these "girls with issues" hook their unsuspecting prey with a sad life story and lots of tears. These "girls with issues" have no respect for the boundaries of others. They are all about getting their needs met. If they happen to need to destroy their sister's reputation, flirt with their best friend's husband, create a whirlwind of psychodrama, or run up their father's credit cards, then so be it. It is not their fault after all...they have issues.
Listen up menfolk, you cannot "save" a girl with issues. It is tempting to think that if you just love her enough, buy her whatever she wants, or never stand up to her that she will get better. This is not the case at all! Your benevolence only adds fuel to her dysfunctional fire. Her issues are her bargaining chip, without them she would have to be more accountable for her actions towards others.
It is difficult to achieve your goals and dreams when you are chained to a "girl with issues".
A few months ago, I stepped out of the metaphorical darkness and into the light of a new life. One of the best parts of this new life are the people whom have assisted me during this difficult, yet very necessary transition. During this experience, I witnessed first hand the importance of having the following 5 types of people on my transitional team:
Mentors have been where you are and they know first-hand what it takes to get back on the right track. They have a lot of wisdom to share. So, you best listen up and take notes! A majority of my mentors kept in touch with me through Facebook, phone calls, and texts. However, I was also very fortunate to be "adopted" by two New England Aunties. These ladies gave me lots of love, great advice, and helped me take my game to another level.
These folks have access to a whole network of people and organizations. They will keep your calendar booked up. I joined a couple of social groups and I have to say that this is one of the things that kept sane during my Dark Night of the Soul. At one point, I had five weekends booked up in a row. In other words, I literally had no time to sit around feeling sorry for myself.
Training wheels serve to get you back into the dating arena. Generally, there are two types of Training Wheels. Training Wheel type #1 is strictly a platonic situation. For example, during these past few months I have spent many enjoyable weekend mornings having breakfast with a great guy whom I met a few months back through a social group. Training wheel type #2 is more of a casual dating situation. You get to shake the taint off from your former relationship and have fun at the same time! There is no pressure on either party to walk down the proverbial aisle. It is based on laughter and having fun. In a training wheel situation, you are not worried abut trying to run a household or dealing with future in-laws, ex-spouses, or anything like that. Instead, it is board games, nerdy conversations, silly television shows, and no intrusions from outside stressors.
They are there with a kind word and a healthy dose of tough love whenever you need it. Be careful not to take these folks for granted. They are truly a treasure to behold. During my Dark Night of the Soul, my supporters sent me helpful online articles, links to songs on YouTube, and encouraged me to seek spiritual growth from this experience.
These folks are down for an impromptu walk around the park, wine-tasting, and/or a spontaneous road trip. Although, you may not talk to them everyday, they are still an important part of your personal growth. Roll Dawgs make great companions, because they are there for you, but at the same time not anchoring you down.
What? I thought that she was "the One".
She is. But, I got scared that I was gonna mess it up. I always mess up my relationships. So, I just decided to cut her loose before I hurt her too badly.
What was different about Maria versus your previous girlfriends?
(Wistfully) Maria did not take my crap. I mean, she was loving and kind, but she would not let me get away with my typical game-playing BS. She encouraged me to go for my dreams and supported me during the tough times. Yet, she still had a life of her own. My previous girlfriends spent a majority of their time chasing me around. I was their whole world. During my younger days, I liked clingy women. Their neediness made me feel loved. However, as I got older, I realized that their clinginess was holding me back in a lot of ways. I started feeling smothered by their constant attention.
Let me get this straight. You dumped the woman of your dreams because you were afraid that she was going to eventually leave you?
Yeah. I know it sounds stupid, but I was afraid that I could not make her happy in the long run.
When did this happen?
Three months ago. I want her back. I miss her so much. I am having a hard time sleeping and I am so miserable without her. I am thinking about asking her to take me back.
Hmm. Why should she take you back? I mean, how can she trust that you will not dump her again over IM? It sounds like she is a good woman and could probably have her pick of men.
She is an amazing woman.
She sounds like an excellent catch. But, what do you have to offer someone like Maria? You do not have it together. I mean, I can understand why you want her back. However, I think that you may want to hold off on contacting her again until you are sure that you can handle being with her. You are going to have to step up the level of your life to keep her. If you are willing and able do it then great. But, I am not so sure that you are at this point.
Damn. I guess that I did not think of it that way. I am basically asking Maria to take yet another gamble on me and to be honest I am not sure that I am such a good bet right now. (Pauses) I just don't want to lose her. She stood by me during some really tough times. I felt invincible whenever we were together. I do not think that I am going to find someone else like her.
Understood. But, you will only bring pain to yourself and Maria if you try to pursue a relationship which you are not emotionally ready for. If it is meant to be then, you will find your way back to one another.
But, for now I have to let her go?
I think so. I know that it is not what you wanted to hear--
No. I wanted you to tell me to fight for her.
I am telling you to fight for yourself, because it all begins with you.
True. But, it is so hard not having her with me right now. I keep going back to that night when I dumped her. I want to take it all back.
Why did you dump over IM? Why didn't you do it face to face? This is the love of your life, but the way in which you left told her a different story.
I ask myself that same question over and over. She deserved an explanation from me. But, you know I couldn't bear to face her. She had put so much trust and faith in me. I did not want to disappoint her with the truth of my situation. I just took the wuss way out and did it over IM. I expected her to fight me on it. I mean she did ask a lot of questions and offered to give me a cooling off period to reconsider. But, she didn't go crazy on me or anything.
So, did you deduce from her calmness during the breakup that she did not love you that much?
Yeah. I did at first. I was so angry that she wasn't going crazy on me. But, then I would think back to way she is so gentle about everything. Her first instinct in a crisis is to think about someone else. She was putting my needs first. I was telling that I needed space from everything and she was respecting that. Yet, I was so immature that I thought it meant that she did not love me that much. It is so hard to move on from Maria. She brought out the best in me. I have tried going back to dating clingy chicks. I just don't feel the same rush being with them that I did before I was with Maria. Now, I just feel pity towards them.
Hang in there, Dan. Concentrate on getting both your mind and your life together. Once you do that then, it will become much easier to attract and keep a quality woman.