Well, I did, but not really. Not until I was much older and married.
I understood that in a loving relationship there are two people, each committing themselves to one another for better and for worse, but I didn’t understand any of the breakdown process. You know? What happens when relationships fail. And they do now. Lots.
Long gone are the days when people would marry for wealth and social standing, well, some still do now, but it’s generally frowned upon. It’s all about love and whether two people will be compatible in a life together; which is how should be. Two people test each other out until they are happy enough to tie the knot and live happily ever after.
But sometimes it doesn’t work out like that. Relationships fail, they break down, there isn’t enough investment from either party, one side is abusive, or any number of a minefield of other pitfalls. It’s getting harder and harder to commit to one another with all the barriers that we have to seeking successful relationships today.
As a younger lad I was no stranger to relationship fails. In fact, most of my intimate relationships up until my wife were very short lived. I can count the number of women I’ve been sexually intimate with on one hand. And I used to take that SO badly. That nothing ever worked out for me, that I was destined for a life of failure and living with my right hand.
Then something happened during the early dating months with my wife that helped me realize that perhaps dating and having a relationship wasn’t a throwaway experience as I had initially thought. My partner and I had a blistering and uncontrollable series of arguments which could well have led to the end of our time together.
But she tried to work it out.
And that was a beautiful difference for me. You see, she thought I was good enough to be in a loving relationship with to save and fight for what we had. It hadn’t happened to me before. And I actually began to do a lot of introspection pointing to my previous relationships and what I had been through. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience. This was when I started to finally let things go.
I had previously kept everything close to my heart. I had a deep-seated hatred for myself fuelled by several failed relationships. I had blamed myself for every one of them, and I was no stranger to taking the bad news on the chin. It came to the point where the news didn’t shock me after a while; it just happened.
I was an attractive young man, it wasn’t that I was short of offers from women. It was keeping them that was the problem. And through that I thought that there must have been something inherently wrong with me. Obviously, I was broken. Defunct. A no-man.
But through my wife’s bitter fight to the death to keep me, I realised what I had been missing all of my life. Objectivity. When it comes to my relationships of course. I had been viewing my previous fails with incredible bias and judgementalism. I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture.
I began to realize that a breakdown is two people not willing to participate anymore. They were telling me, “I’m fed up” and I was saying, “OK” and rolling over like the lapdog that I was. Perhaps if I had fought the good fight it might have been a different story? Or perhaps if they had been willing to accept compromise, then again, it might have been a different story.
I dated a married woman once that ended up cheating on me with two men behind my back. For years I blamed her for what she had done, but maybe if I had accepted that it was rather risky dating a ‘married’ woman at the time, then my life would have been more straight-forward.
Then there was the older lady that didn’t want to be in a relationship with me after nearly a year because my mental health problems were ‘too far gone’ for her—yet perhaps if I had realised at the time that this was her problem, and not mine, I wouldn’t have blamed myself for at least six years afterwards.
Or the woman that told me everything I wanted to hear but delivered nothing when it came to the crunch. The woman that became jealous every time I hit on other women but insisted we were just friends. Maybe if I realised that this is how she fulfils her need to be desired, to be wanted, because she doesn’t get it from anywhere else, perhaps I wouldn’t have thought of myself as a slimy creep for a long time afterwards.
Every relationship, whether friendship, intimate, or work-related takes two or more people for that relationship to exist. It’s never only one person. The minute you start blaming and hating on another person or yourself then you do yourself a disservice.
Because let’s be real here, everything we do in life is about ourselves. If we hate on others we hate ourselves, if we love all others then we love ourselves. Think about that for a while.
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