Anatomy Of A Failed RelationshipThis is a summary of a very long conversation I had over dinner last night with someone who is about to break a young woman’s heart not with malice, but because of a lack of self-awareness and a desire to be further along the path to healing than has been achieved so far. It also describes the process in my former sexless relationship so well and it describes other relationships I have experienced. I wrote this to chronicle the conversation but it reminded me so much of my SM that I wanted to share it.
It starts out so fresh, so hopeful and so promising. Both you and I are interested and available. We do the dances, have a few drinks and share a few experiences. We develop trust and intimacy, a rapport that only we share between us. Fondness grows. We laugh. We play. We enjoy each other intellectually, emotionally and physically. We bond and experience “us”. Love is uncovered. Respect is grown. Things feel good to us both. We share experiences and goals and we look forward to more. We both feel hopeful, safe and secure.
As we grow closer you appreciate a great deal about that which makes me “me” and I appreciate so much about you as a man. I am impressed, inspired and so at ease with you. We sort out a lot of that relationship stuff that makes things either work or not. Life goals, hobbies, passion for life, sexual compatibility, conflict management and communication all work. A few things don’t but they are the little things and no deal breakers.
Life goes on. It moves forward. Things happen but nothing that knocks the relationship completely off course. One day I look up and look over at you. And you are no longer the you I remembered. Sometime during this experience of life together, you changed. I miss the man you were. I don’t know how to get him back. I don’t know how to help you get back to who you once were. After trying in vain different attempts at getting you/us back and finding you and us different than I remembered I begin to wonder if you ever were the man I thought you once were.
Maybe you weren’t ever that man at all and I saw what I wanted to see. Maybe it is as you say and something happened to turn you hard, cold and distant from someone who was once full of desire for me, warmth and softness… or maybe I was wrong in my young and naïve assessment of you. Or maybe you were wrong in your demonstration of yourself to me. Maybe you put on an event of showing me not the man you are/were but the man you most wished to be. It’s always good to put your best foot forward but putting someone else’s foot forward and calling it your own isn’t fair. In a relationship it’s best to represent yourself as you truly are instead of as you hoped to be.
Intimacy has dried up and you are no longer interested even in the smallest ex
I wait patiently for the man I thought I had to return or to find an older, wiser version of him in his place. One day I wake up in the morning with the sinking feeling that he never will return or perhaps never existed at all. Then I am left with a choice. Do I accept this relationship I currently have with a person I cannot know and cannot trust and build from there, hoping it will work itself out and that love will conquer all? Do I leave in sadness and mend my hurt and start fresh in a new relationship, only to risk that the new man is only putting someone else’s best foot forward as well?
Maybe you just wanted to be a good guy, but you weren't yet.
Maybe where I thought we fit together so well, you wanted so badly to fit that you tried to stretch to meet me there even though you weren't yet.
Maybe the intimacy I felt that came so easily was in fact something you worked at giving me and you simply couldn't maintain it in the long term. Maybe you had too much damage leftover and healing left to do.
Even some very good, kind, loving people don’t know themselves well enough to be a healthy, whole and loving partner. The work to become a healthy, whole, complete and loving person independent of a relationship must be done before a relationship can commence. You must know who you actually are, not who you hope to be someday or who you think you should be in order to bring a full partnership to a relationship honestly and authentically. You can try to get there in a hurry once you’ve found a person with whom you’d like to have a relationship but ultimately you will not be doing it right, you’ll just be doing it quick. You’ll be putting someone else’s best foot forward and inadvertently bait-and-switching with another person’s heart and life when who you really are comes to the surface.
I get stuck on the subtle nuances of how to weed out those who know themselves well enough, those who are close to it but still in progress and those who want to be and are really good at pretending to be someone else and put that person’s best foot forward. The ones who are simply emotionally clueless about themselves and don’t have any desire for true intimacy and vulnerability are easy for me to spot. I also simply don’t develop a deep attraction to them on the mind-heart-soul level. It’s the group of those who want to be further along than they are on the path that plague me. The ones who have potential and want to realize it and are even willing to try to be that person, but haven’t fully embraced or become comfortable with it yet.
I won’t ever end up so far gone as I was before to accept the things I accepted in my SM. But I can’t say I won’t end up with some dysfunction or giving too many chances to make things right or to fix things once I am with someone. That is dangerous for me. I am not convinced I know how to spot a relationship that is good versus one that could be good. Could be good can also go bad if the person is putting someone else’s best foot forward instead of their own.