This post was written by my dear blogger friend SD, from Four is a family.
It got me thinking about Mr Nice -why, yes, I know, what a surprise-, and the idea of what was, or wasn’t meant to be. I have been regularly torturing myself with the notion that if I’d done this, or not said that, perhaps, we would have stood a better chance. Of course, the idea that it wasn’t meant to be is so much more comfortable than the feeling I have somehow failed.
Relationships are tricky things for most of us.
It would be lovely if the early ‘honeymoon’ period of a relationship could last forever. None of the warning signs would lead to actual problems. Our past wouldn’t catch up with us. Real-world problems wouldn’t intrude on the bliss. Storm clouds would stay on the distant horizon. Our kids wouldn’t distract from being together as much as possible.
What actually happens is that, somewhere along the way, the relationship changes. There’s some disillusionment over something unexpected. The couple is moving emotionally at a different pace and that causes friction. One of the partners reveals he/she was just in it for the sex/companionship/something and is done. That annoying thing you do or he/she does gets more irritating over time. There’s so many ways that a relationship can stall and fail. Objectively, we might wonder why we bother. Because we like to love and be loved, that’s why.
Sure we all like sex — if you don’t, you need help from a professional so you can one day enjoy the free fun — but that’s only a part of what maintains a relationship. Affection. Intimacy. Shared experiences. These play their role in drawing us in and knitting our lives together.
As we bond, we share new things. We open up and risk a little more of ourselves. We stake more of our hearts in the union bit by bit. We worry about the progression more or less, depending on our personalities and past happy/bitter experiences.
For this post though, the focus is on what happens when we get out of kilter.
Most of the time, it’s one-sided. Occasionally a couple realizes that they really don’t have something to sustain. More often, one person gets dumped by the other.
It can start with something small. A phone call that wasn’t placed. A quicker departure than expected after a pleasant time together. A shift in language that moves away from discussions about a shared future. The small things may go unnoticed for a while. They may only generate a subconscious stirring of concern.
Soon, the signs become clearer, but the pattern does not. Is he/she having a bad day, a bad week? Has his/her little Jack/Mary got a problem that isn’t ready for discussion yet? Is this just a blip, some turbulence, on the path to something long-term.
It bifurcates from here.
Sometimes the sledgehammer that ends the relationship comes almost out of nowhere. Just as the pattern is emerging, the shocking news that it’s over is delivered. Or not…completely vanishing is something that both men and women may do to avoid a difficult “it’s over” conversation.
Sometimes the pattern becomes so clear, there’s time to steel your heart against the inevitable. And the news itself becomes almost a relief.
Picking up the pieces isn’t easy if you’re on the receiving end. It’s rare for information to be complete. There’s usually room for some concern, some wondering, some doubts. Did I force this to happen? Could I have avoided it? Should I have said yes to him/her last week about that thing we discussed? Was it something else — my kids perhaps? Was there ever a chance for us, or was I fooling myself? The insecurities mount and feed on themselves.
The reality is simpler but harsher.
If it’s not meant to be — that is, if you’re fundamentally not compatible — it’s going to end and it may get ugly, but it’s for the best in the long run.
If you are compatible, it takes work from both of you and something as simple as a run of shitty luck may ruin many relationships. I worked in one place where every time I stopped to make a personal phone call or look out of the office window, the same senior manager would stroll by and see me doing nothing. I worked hard and did a good job, but I’m sure this particular manager remains convinced I’m worthless. C’est la vie. Other people have praised me for things I didn’t do, so it balances out over time.
We don’t need to change as much about ourselves as we think we do to find someone special. It’s about finding a match, not finding someone perfect, and vice versa. We do need to accept that some of our relationships will fail because we jumped in too quickly or chose poorly. Some relationships never have a realistic chance.
We do need to keep trying to reach that goal of long-term happiness. We do need to take risks. When things are out of kilter, and it may or may not be the end of the relationship, that’s when we can draw on the support of those that help keep us stable: our friends.
I tell you what though, my next pretender will have to really want to be my man. Won’t hurt if he moves like Willy Moon either…
Willy Moon – I wanna be your man: