Some of you remember my theory about old flames being one of many things that comes into your life in threes. Most of you probably also know firsthand that you appear most attractive to others when basking in the glow and confidence of blossoming love or a budding romance. At some point or another, old loves wanting to reunite are bound to cross your path just when you are perky with excitement about the potential of a new romantic interest. Is it a simple and easy decision to keep moving forward with someone new? Or with a conflicted heart, can you date multiple people at once?
I know I’m not really fooling anyone. At my core, behind certain walls erected to better protect me, underneath the heartbreaks and bruises, I am an incurable romantic. I believe in the trans-formative power of love; both to the receiver and the giver. And yes, I suppose there is a part of me that still believes that true love is worth fighting and waiting for, that it reigns supreme in the end. Yet I recently was put in the position to question myself: Given a second chance at love, when is it worth the risk?
Read more about how I fouled up the first time, what I think about do-overs in life, and whether I think second chances are really worth the risk over at Singles Warehouse: http://www.singleswarehouse.co.uk/2013/03/given-a-second-chance-at-love-when-is-it-worth-the-riski/
Once the anger and frustration after the break-up dimmed, I was starting to actually feel good again. I was getting my groove back, dating again. One guy I had been on several dates with was starting to spark with potential. I was feeling happy and regaining confidence. So when the ex began showing signs of mildly reaching out in friendship again, I was up for it. In this one case, I thought I knew the answer to that age-old question: What if your ex was your best friend, can you still be friendly?
Find out what I have to say about the topic on Singles Warehouse:
To say I was completely unprepared for my recent breakup is an understatement. After 10 months together, just a couple months before we were planning to move into a new place, I was blindsided by something I felt, and still think, is a preposterous reason to end a relationship with someone who is your soulmate, someone you claim to love with all your being.
Impervious to my pleas to talk about resolving the issues, ignoring my apologies about something for which I wasn’t entirely sure what I was to blame, my sobs and shock turned to frustration and yes, a bit of anger. One of his own very good friends said he was foolish for letting something so trivial end something so powerful that he seemed to have been searching for all his life. If our relationship—something he had always described as so strong, special and sacred—wasn’t worth fighting for, then clearly it didn’t carry as much weight, or have as strong legs, as I thought it did.
After I spent time mourning, I decided that fighting the inevitable was pointless. I still knew who I was. I still knew what was important to me and what I wanted, both in a mate and from a relationship. If anything, the breakup emphasized how important certain things about communication and relating to your partner were to me that had been a little off-center with us.
So, to the surprise of family and friends who thought I was moving too quickly, I decided to re-activate my OkCupid account. To be completely honest, I first signed on to see if there was still hope—I was another year older, life had struck another blow, and I wasn’t even sure I would see anyone on there who would interest me enough to get to know.
I was surprised to realize I still attracted not only older men but significantly younger men too, divorced men with kids and men my age who have never been married, corporate businessmen and world-traveling teachers. I also realized that there were still so many interesting men out there to learn about and potentially meet, though I wasn’t in a rush to do the latter.
With the knowledge that there still were formalities of the break up to deal with—things to return to each other, letters of closure finally received and occasional pangs of “did this really actually happen?”—I knew I had to make some promises to myself. I wasn’t going to go just out with an ex who still has hope that we’ll eventually get back together seven years and a kid (his) later. Nor have a fling with a former FWB. And I wasn’t going to jump into a relationship with the first guy who I felt a great connection with, no matter how strong.
That’s where the 7×3 formula came along. They are relatively arbitrary numbers, 3 and 7, but I’ve called them my lucky numbers all my life. So here’s the deal: I have to go on dates with at least seven different guys before I make a final choice to pursue a relationship with any single one. Any contenders must be dated at least three times. No hanky-panky is allowed; kissing is welcome to assess chemistry.
So this week I agreed to a date with one of the fellows who has been writing me. He’s intelligent, socially conscious, thinks ahead, seems kind and has strong and influential women in his family. He’s a father of two young children, has lived all over the U.S., and he’s experienced some pretty cool things over his lifetime. I always looked forward to his emails, and while his looks didn’t make me swoon, I decided the personality attracted me enough to meet him.
In the meantime, another guy dramatically came on the scene. We rapidly exchanged long emails about our travels, teaching and our similar mindset about life and relationships at this point in time. He very quickly asked for my number, expressing desire to meet each other sooner than later. The day before date #1 with the other guy, Mr. Wanderlust asked if I wanted to go to a coffee house for a snack at the last minute. Going with the whim of the moment, I agreed.
Despite his admitted nerves, the date was non-stop conversation. We looked at travel photos and talked about whatever came to mind while we had dessert and tea, followed by a light dinner of wraps. He also really made me laugh—not from the absurdity or ridiculousness of what he said, but because he was sincerely funny. It was exciting to be around his energy and his enthusiasm for life—it didn’t hurt that he was very open about his interest in me, enough to ask for another date before this one ended.
Next day was the date with Mr. Left Wing (he’s the son of a radical feminist and is a proponent of radical social change). The night started off oddly as he attempted to psychoanalyze me, and I took his extreme mellow demeanor as a blasé attitude toward life in general. But soon our masks were off, and we were engaged in deep conversation about life-changing experiences. He revealed quite a bit more than I did, whereas with Mr. Wanderlust, I felt there was a much more even exchange. Yet I enjoyed our time together and was surprised by a goodnight kiss.
I’ve decided the new formula is perfect in instances where you meet several interesting people who you want more time to get to know, while also having several comparison points to keep things in perspective. I have a feeling eventually I might not want to go through all those first dates, but I think it will be healthy for me. And if I decide I’m just overwhelmed all-around and need more time to try to make some kind of sense of my last relationship, I always have the choice to just stop everything and go back into my dark bedroom and mull over things—or better yet forget about men entirely for a while, and just enjoy my friends, my family and my career. I’ll keep you updated.
I’ve always felt that through every significant life experience, even—especially—through my mistakes and failures, there are countless lessons to be learned and shared. Love, dating and relationship experiences are no different. For what is life about if not for building awe-inspiring connections, for finding endless opportunities to learn more about yourself and develop an appreciation and love for the people who cross your path in life—yourself included?
Yet I’m finding it hard to share my most important love experience and lesson with you all, and that is: How Do You Move Forward When Your Soulmate Walks Away?
No matter what obstacles we may have had between us, we always had our strength in communication. We could clear up misunderstandings by tracing where miscommunication had deteriorated the true message, eventually getting to the root of clear intent. A stop in the flow was only a temporary pause, until we could once again get the opportunity to openly express our feelings back and forth directly.
This silence is killing me. You claim it is to digest things, but I don’t know what there is to digest. You behaved in a way I felt was thoughtless. I voiced my discontent. You saw why I was upset and apologized. We also eventually voiced how we stood at different stages regarding the next chapter in our relationship. I had moved onto the next topic of discussion but you were still sending jabs at me as payback from the other topic. I didn’t recognize you then.
There were flickers of recognition when you backtracked and apologized. Yet when I attempted to further make peace, the stranger returned, metaphorically spitting back in my face, still unable to let go. Then I met stony silence.
You know I don’t do well with being shut out. That’s what started this all in the first place. I get that you are independent. I get that sometimes you need your space. Yet you also have to understand that when I am waiting for you, the respectful thing to do is let me now what’s going on and where you are. The loving thing to do is not to ignore me when you return. If you really want to be part of a couple, you don’t digest what’s going on by ignoring me for several days and expect that’s working through a problem.
You say you’re not angry, so this isn’t a cooling down period. What more do you have to digest? That I can get justifiably upset, and you don’t like that? You don’t think that’s what couples sometimes do? For 10 months of a relationship, having this occur once like this is really not so life ending. Yet you think that that’s reason to just throw your hands up and shut the door in my face?
After behaving like you’ve been so passionately in love with me up until just days ago, I don’t know how you so can quickly shut off the light. It makes me feel like none of this was real. It was all just fantasy. You wanted to want to be in a relationship. You wanted be in love. You wanted to be loved. Yet when it came down it, if it got hard, you were ready to disengage. It was doomed to fail anyway, isn’t that how your mind works?
We were “supposed” to be moving in together in a couple of months, and now I’ll be alone on my Valentine’s Day. Not that the actual day means anything, but your silence speaks volumes. I guess our relationship doesn’t mean enough to you to fight for and work through when the going gets a little hairy. As much as it hurts me, as much as I thought we stood the chance better than anyone, I guess I was wrong. I know I deserve better than that.
Posted in avoiding confrontation, Breakups, communication, relationships | Tagged break-ups, communication breakdown, heartbreak, miscommunication in relationships, the end of a relationship, the silent treatment, Valentine's Day | 6 Comments »