I sat down to write this blog with intentions of spouting 10 reasons why my ex was a total jerk. Then it would probably end with 10 reasons why I’m a total jerk. No need. People get together and break up all the time. I have admiration for the 25 plus years folks and for the serial daters. Relationships are hard work and none of us have a clue what we are doing. Some have dispositions that lend to the interpersonal world but we really all want to be loved. I’ve started some clinical work and one thing I have noticed is that the session can be full of hard icky stuff but the client always resolves. I will always resolve my sadness and on the other end I acknowledge my accomplishments within the sadness once I’ve got the ol’ positive lens back. So, I thought I’d offer a few things I’ve learned. I’m speaking from the majority experience of a straight white female but hope I may be able to hone in on what we all can take away from the glorious and painful experience of trust, broken trust, and the hybrid trust that emerges after.
- Always, always, always trust your intuition. INFJ’s especially. You are not crazy. It wasn’t because you met him on Tinder. It was because he was not ready. YOU. KNEW. THAT.
- Don’t rush it. Take 5 dates. Hold off. You can have sex with most people fairly easily. It’s much harder to make a long-lasting friend who will honor what you can do with your body.
- Keep a close eye on the company he keeps. Be mindful of the way he speaks of his friends. When you notice a pattern of instability amongst the friendship group—pause. There is no reason to develop an alcohol problem to handle folks who will never get you. They will drink what you don’t.
- Make sure he knows himself. Did he used to love something and completely let it go, does he contradict himself in regards to his tastes and distastes? Does he defend hobbies and sports that don’t seem to mesh with his outlook? Notice the disparities, let go and let him grow into a solid identity.
- Don’t put up with lies. We are in our 30’s now. If he must hide sleeping around or is still sleeping around without making that a clear expectation or guideline—he will do it again. Female attention has trumped human connection. Honesty is what creates growth and space and lies stifle the human spirit.
- Vocalize what you need, and if its not accepted, LEAVE. Let him know you need time in the morning for spiritual work. Tell him you have no obligation to comfort him and sleeping next to him isn’t always what you want or need. Let him know you want him to make dinner. Tell him you won’t clean his house. Stand up for you, stand up for what you need, stand up for what you believe.
- Don’t respond. If you are reading this my best guess is your last relationship conked out as well. Instead of responding in pain, stop and look at the facts. So you were called a (insert name here) and you know very well you are not a (insert name here). FACTS.
- Be reflective. Be calm. Chances are, you were at fault as well. Take time in the bath or a safe space where you can look at some of your own ugly shit. Then you decide if you want to change it, or if that is something you will accept. And only YOU have to accept it. Your wounds are your wounds and fuck whoever thinks they are ugly. Sometimes, they simply just are. There is no inherent badness in a scar.
- Watch others in their relationships. Do you find yourself feeling akin to another tumultuous relationship and normalize that process? DON’T! Make an effort to surround yourself with people are working hard in their relationships. Make an effort to surround yourself with people who prioritize self-growth.
- Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Relish the good shit. He made you feel beautiful and that infatuation was some strong stuff. Let that feeling of freedom translate into something that is long-lasting and controlled. Remember the impulses to love and the strong feelings you felt and temper them into a nice tea of self-love you can drink daily.
While I sometimes feel I am the last authority on how to make relationships work I would venture a guess that I’m just as good as any other authority on how to love authentically, genuinely, and with my whole heart. I know that I am not for everyone but I am just right for me. The biggest takeaway from the last relationship is how very whole and complete I am by myself. My mind is a vast space where I can crawl, climb, swim, boat, ski, run, stretch, sing, dance, fuck, breathe, bike, and love LOVE in just the way I need to. Just the way I know how.
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
― Lao Tzu