Even cynical romantics, with a set of unrealistic expectations for a relationship, can see the power of choosing to believe in ‘possibility’.
A close female friend of mine recently met a man on a dating site who, after a few long Skype calls and a couple of dates, told her that she was ‘the one’ that he’d been waiting to meet, declared his undying love, and talked about the likely date of the marriage that he was already planning, and the steps that they could take to move in together as soon as possible.
All this took place in the space of around a month. She was cautiously delighted; she really liked him, and all the signals indicated he was genuine and sincere. His back-story added up, he worked in the caring profession, and lived not far from her. Even after some judicious on line checking out, she could not find any apparent holes in his story, or skeletons in his closet.
She’s a grown up and intelligent woman, with a history of ‘challenging’ relationships, who had pretty much given up on the idea of ever meeting anyone it could actually work out with. She had signed up for this website with very few expectations. This particular guy was the first who had responded to her, although she’s very easy on the eyes, is a wonderfully caring, and a funny person to boot. When we met for a coffee to talk over this extraordinary turn of events, I was feeling a bit anxious for her whether this was all a bit too good to be true. She explained that she’d decided the best way forward was a kind of cautious suspension of her natural skepticism; and that no matter how good things seemed, it was wise to delay certain things for a few months. Such as, moving in together or in any way compromising her ability to return to her own place in case, for whatever reason, it all went pear shaped. That gave me some comfort.
Other than that, her plan was to let it unfold with willingness to believe in the possibility that really good things can happen in the love arena, however unlikely and unexpected. In any case, she reasoned, the worst-case scenario with her cautiously optimistic approach, if it didn’t work out, would be having had a lovely time with a great bloke. No damage done. This option seemed far better than the alternative approach, which I could all too easily imagine myself having, of refusing to accept even the possibility that it might be real, because encounters like this only happen in the movies etc.; a self-fulfilling prophecy which could only result in two things; the loss of a potentially great relationship, and in the meantime having a miserable lonely life!
Meanwhile, I was astonished by her new man’s apparent capacity for optimism and his belief in the possibility of love, under however unlikely circumstances. He felt sure that he had met a woman who was ‘right’ for him, and had bypassed any ‘reasons’ in his mind why that shouldn’t really be possible. I realized that, when it comes to relationships, I’ve been carrying around a whole bag of negative expectations which I now think have been at the heart of why, especially in recent years, relationships haven’t ‘worked out’ for me. At any indication of difficulty or conflict with a partner, the part of me that expects the worst, and can’t imagine that anyone could really love me anyway, has kicked in and I have quit before I got fired; walked (or run!) away rather than doing the work that could have resolve any of those inevitable issues which come up in relationship. Perhaps I was what could be called a ‘cynical romantic’, with a set of unrealistic expectations from a relationship, and a secret determination to be disappointed. A deadly combination in the world of love!
My friend’s new admirer has shown me the power of choosing to believe in possibility. So, the next time I meet someone that I feel really good with, I’ll try to shut up the part of my head that wants to analyze everything and paralyze my capacity to give my best to making it work. Instead, I will focus on the positives and believe we can sort out any difficulties, if and when they arise. It doesn’t mean I’m going to fall for a fantasy or have to give up being cautious to an extent that seems right for any adult. But I have a new sense that if I choose to completely believe in at least the possibility, I can have, and deserve, the best relationship for me, at least the best has a chance of happening. And the worst? I’ve no need to worry about that, because I know I can handle it. What have I got to lose, except maybe the illusory ‘safety’ of being alone?
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