When something that's meant to last a lifetime begins, there's no rush. No one is in a hurry. You can laugh and enjoy the moments without worrying about what comes next. Because, when you take your time to get to know each other, all you have is time. Fear is what drives the urgency felt in young love relationships. Sometimes, in old love relationships, too. So, we put our hopes and dreams into a single person to make it all come true. But what ends up happening instead is a big bag of resentment. You may both want the same things, but because of invisible social clocks ticking toward a variety of social expectations from an even bigger variety of social groups, you burn out trying to run a race that isn't even yours to run. When this happens, take heart...it just means you're with the wrong person. Because, the right person will be there for you through thick and thin--your friend, your sister, your brother, your mother, your father, your lover--whatever you need in any given moment, that's what true love becomes. There's no competition or judgment. Just love.
Real love is pure and simple. Like a chocolate chip cookie. But without the calories or fat.
When we get burned by love, we tend to become that which burned us. We become a reflection of the fear and loss we have suffered. This makes it difficult to find real love again. We now have heightened expectations and heightened responses, or rather, reactions. Trauma does that--makes us more reactive instead of proactive. When you play the long-game instead of looking for short-term rewards, you win. At love. At life. In business. In finances. And, any other goals you might set for yourself. But ego and pride can interfere with your long-game if you're short-sighted. There is no discard when you're in it to win it. No anger. No hatred. And, no fear. You're there, no matter what. That's the very definition of being proactive. But being proactive isn't enough if you're with the wrong person.
Separation and divorce happen for lots of reasons. Too many to get into in this short-essay. But the bottom line is, if you want long-term gains in life and love, you have to be prepared to commit to the long-game. I'm not suggesting you stay with an abuser, user or taker--you can't. And, shouldn't. What I am suggesting is that when you want love and finally find the real deal, don't be so quick to give it up when things aren't happening in the way you expected, or, with a person you didn't expect it to happen with. You may be in a dead or dying relationship when real love strikes--it's usually the last thing you're looking for when it walks through the door, smiles at you and shakes your hand.
Life isn't like a Hollywood movie or even a fairy tale. People are just people. We all make mistakes, miscalculations, have miscommunications, misunderstandings...if there's something to miss, humans will miss it. But, when you find a human who looks at you with compassion, respect, kindness, and love--a person who thinks of you for no apparent reason and does considerate things that help (not hinder) your life--give that person the same compassion, the same respect, the same kindness, and the same love that you see in their eyes. It's called friendship. Trust. However, even when earned, some of us may be quick to throw that friendship away in anticipation of heartache and heartbreak, also known as rejection. We make assumptions, presumptions. And then, we lose. The moment you look for problems instead of solutions is the moment you have lost whatever love you once had. Whatever friendship you once had is over, too.
Even if you are in it to win it and playing the long-game, you cannot invest your time in people who treat you like shit and actually expect things to work out. That's just self-sabotage. Whoever it is you're hoping to play the long-game with, if that individual asks you to isolate yourself from family in order to maintain the relationship, and/or asks you to compromise your health, safety and financial well-being, and/or requires you to make sacrifices to further their goals, their family, and their happiness at the expense of your own, that individual is your enemy. Even if you sleep with them every night.
Change is hard. For everyone. That's why you must, must, must be more discerning when choosing who you love. Because, it is a choice. Once sex is involved, it complicates matters. For you. And, that's totally okay when you're with the right person. Love will give you wings and you'll feel immortal, unstoppable and lucky-as-fuck. All of that is great. But not if you have invested in the wrong person. Then, all you're doing is sabotaging yourself. Sure, you'll still feel amazing...until the asshole you hitched your cart to makes some unilateral decision that irreparably changes your life, despite your best efforts. You probably saw it coming, too, but a relationship band-aid kept you distracted. Relationship band-aids aren't sold in a local drug store--they're far more expensive and usually come in the form of a new house, new car, new baby, new dog, fun vacations, expensive gifts--even engagement rings! But, a band-aid only covers up the wound; it doesn't heal it.
A little self-awareness goes a long way when you want to win the long-game....
Despite the love or care you may have for an individual, it's likely things won't last if that person shows any signs of narcissism or Machiavellianism--which basically means, sabotaging you and your life for their own benefit. If they do things like disinclude you in events you should be a part of or would enjoy attending, consistently choose their family and friends over you, fail to stand up for you, and/or, make you feel like you have to defend yourself on a regular basis, you're with the wrong person. And, over the years--if you don't end it--that relationship will become more like serving a jail sentence. Except, you'll be serving time instead of time serving you.
In your current relationship, when/if you get a rare moment to yourself, look at how you feel. Pay attention to who you start thinking about, too. Because, whatever you feel when not under the influence of your influencer, that's real. If you find yourself thinking and feeling for someone else when alone, you may want to explore why. Whoever consistently comes to mind could well be the "right" person. Your heart and mind (and likely, your body, too) are telling you what you can't seem to admit to yourself: You were not in love, but now, you've actually found someone who you can have "the dream" with.
So, what are you going to do about it???
More than 50% of relationships end because people settle for "good enough" instead of fighting for real love. Why? Real love is real scary. But scary or not, if you settle for "good enough" instead of waiting for the real deal, you will be absolutely beside yourself with grief, exhaustion, and more emotional scars than you bargained for. And, no, it's not worth it. You, however, are worth real love. You're worth any time, energy and effort it might take to find what you both need and want. Not for a few weeks or months...but for a lifetime. The right person will get what makes you tick without you having to say a word. Which means, you can let your freak flag fly 24/7. No more shame or guilt or embarrassment. You can be you and be loved for it every second or every minute of every hour of every day that you're on the planet.
Sign me up! Or, beam me up...I don't really care. As long as something is pointing up, we're good.
People always say things like, "We'll see what happens." Except, we already know what will happen--we just can't admit it to ourselves. We can't admit that we are the ones with the problem when we choose people who are problems. Even in friendships, job situations, I've been attracted to narcissists. Absolutely mesmerized by the train wrecks among us. And yes, Eeyore was my favorite character in Winnie-the-Pooh. Repeating familial patterns in my adult life has cost me no less than millions. No joke. That's why, today, I gingerly attempt to avoid those who show any signs from psychology's Dark Triad. Not at all easy! But so far, I like it. It's empowering. I'm proud of myself for learning to differentiate between a truly "good" person and a wolf in sheep's clothing; it's allowed me to meet people who have things happening in their own world, so aren't possessive, insecure or prone to codependency. Like me, these individuals constantly work to improve themselves. That means maintaining healthy relationships is important to them. As important to them as it is to me.
Even still, there are plenty of moments where I'm dumbstruck by a social misstep. Usually, it's when I see greed overtake an otherwise completely rational person. The keyword in that sentence being "person." People tend to be selfish, self-centered. But in those moments, because I know that stable, consistent people can still make mistakes, I try to use compassion over judgement. Talk it out. Learn what fear was behind the unexpected outburst or event or action that took place. And, be kind about it. Make it easy for the other person. When someone gives me joy and love and friendship, I want that person to be able to look me in the eye for many years to come. That means accepting their humanity. And, mine.
Accepting a person's humanity is not the same as accepting responsibility for their inhumane behavior. If you can make that distinction, you're well on your way to a life full of success instead of a life full of drama and pit falls and pit stops that distract and detract from your own evolution. Ultimately, we need to surround ourselves with people who do not ask more of us than they are willing to give of themselves. We do not need sycophants either--or those who agree with everything we say because they need and/or want something from us. We do not need users or takers or abusers of any kind. We need people who help us move our lives forward. Who are supportive and encouraging of our ideas without burdening us with their own commitments.
Being self-responsible is the key to increased self-awareness which increases our choices, thereby increasing our success. Making excuses or justifications for stalling our own lives is the opposite of self-responsibility. We've all been there, too. So, let's not go there again!
Take an assessment of who you are. Be honest! Make note of all the positives you bring to the table. Then, look for those same positives in others. Don't be an apologist. Don't excuse the negatives you see in another person because you think you have to. That's not being compassionate. It's being stupid. We often look for people who we believe "need" us in some way to insure we'll never be alone. Guess what? No matter how amazing you are, if you are settling (or, lying to yourself...), the person you've settled for will eventually leave you anyway. It's inevitable. After all, disconnects are felt in the same way as instant connections--by both parties. You think you can hide those moments where you're clearly not in love, but you can't. The other person always knows when something is wrong. And, so do you.
Anyone who suffers from insecurity is not going to be an asset to your life. Instead, look for people who are confident, caring and effective. That's how you'll win the long-game. By partnering with bosses, businesses, friends, and a loyal, committed lover who are all confident in their abilities. People who take care of themselves tend to care for others.That's what being effective means--doing what you say you'll do. Backing up your words with clear, concise actions. Find a person who is secure enough to pursue their talents and actually do something about it. Multiple college degrees are signs of confident, caring, intelligent, and effective people. Having a long career full of varied interests is another sign of a motivated, confident, caring, engaged, and effective person. Friendships with folks other than family and local pals is another sign of a person who does not live an insular life--which means, that person is truly open to including you, your family and your friends in theirs. Home ownership, professional pursuits of creative hobbies, positive relationships with children, animals and strangers, and consistent efforts/commitment to charitable causes are all signs of confident, effective, engaged, intelligent, motivated, compassionate, and caring people. That's who you need in your life to live your best life.
How could you not love the kind of person I describe??? As you can see from my picture, we all have scars, but that doesn't take away from the beauty of our spirit, or, our bodies. I'm real. Straightforward. Honest. That makes me lovable. And, yeah, I have a great rack, too. Lots of people may want to be with me for a night or three, but I'm worth SO MUCH more than that. I'm not a side piece...I'm the fucking center piece. And, I deserve to be with a person who wants to shout my name from the rooftops. You do, too.
No more fear. No more excuses. If you want to have a better life, you are the only one who can choose better people and better situations. You are here to do more than just survive--you're here to thrive.
If I could give you all my wings so you could fly from whatever negatives you are dealing with, I would. All I can do is simply remind you that you don't need my wings...because, you have your own.
*photo copyright Rebecca A. Housel 2018