By Lindy Earl
Is it true that we want what we can’t have? Or maybe that forbidden fruit is the sweetest? I have to, sadly, admit it, yes. I have two recent experiences with exactly this.
A year and a half ago I dated a guy for just a few months. I didn’t see us as a match and allowed the relationship to come to a natural end. No big good-bye or break up scene, just a slow descent into friendship. To this day we remain friends.
My challenge came when he got a girlfriend and, being a social media guy, posted his relationship all over face book for the next 6 months. I asked myself repeatedly what I had failed to see in him. Until . . . they broke up! I was considerate and kind and patient.
After spending just a little time together, as friends, I asked myself if I wanted to date him again, and for the second time decided to not pursue the relationship. Two months later he was in a serious relationship, splashing it all over face book, and I wondered if I made a mistake.
When this gentleman, and he’s a great guy for a lot of reasons, was available to me, TWICE, I wasn’t interested. He didn’t become attractive to me until he was taken. That says a lot of really negative stuff about me! Happily I never told him how I felt so our friendship remains intact. It’s all good.
Fast forward . . . a guy I really liked and enjoyed spending time with decided that he wanted to remain single forever. He didn’t think it was fair to me to not have a more secure future so we broke up. Again, the friendship remained intact. I was shocked when he called to say that he has a girlfriend. In fact, she’s his soulmate.
I was crushed! I cried for an entire weekend.
But, hadn’t I been the one who agreed to the break up? Hadn’t I agreed that we weren’t right for one another and that I do want more? Further, and this is interesting, by the time I learned about the relationship, it had been going for a few months.
So the only difference between Thursday, when I didn’t really think about this guy at all, and Friday, when he called with the news, was knowing about it. Why did I suddenly miss him so much? I hadn’t missed him the weekend before, but now I was up all night, sick to my stomach, over something that only existed in my imagination. We hadn’t been a couple in months. Why did I suddenly miss him and want him back?
These are two very sad examples from a pretty mature and knowledgeable woman. So what’s the breakthrough? That I missed him, them, because I couldn’t have them. Now that they were in serious relationships with other women, I suddenly found them far more attractive and interesting. I know it’s horrible, but I also know I’m not alone. Others have experienced the same thing.
Here’s a question: Why? Why was I suddenly finding these guys, whom I didn’t want to date the week before, suddenly attractive? Because of the unavailability? How shallow. I think there’s more.
As I’ve shared before, I have a lot of walls. My biggest wall is that I expect every relationship to end. Even while I say I am looking for my forever, I go into every potential relationship with an exit strategy. I fail to connect at a truly emotional level. I withhold my feelings. I keep my thoughts to myself. I don’t truly delve into a relationship.
So, why do I do that, and why do I want a guy after he’s no longer available? The answer to both questions is the same: Protection. By keeping my walls up I am in less danger of being hurt. Then, when he is no longer available and I’m in no danger, emotionally speaking, I admit my feelings to myself. The stupid thing, of course, is that I still experience the pain! My protective walls tumble down just when I need them the most.
Have you heard a guy ask a girl out, and if she gently refuses, he responds with, “I was just kidding anyway.” That happened to me when I was 14 years old and it happened to me again recently, albeit the wording was slightly more mature this time. That’s what Aesop called Sour Grapes. It’s used to keep your pride from being bruised. Me? I do the opposite. Just when I should be happy for these guys, I open my heart to a world of hurt.
So what is another reason for this really absurd behavior? Insecurity. I couldn’t admit my feelings at the time, so after the fact, when there is no chance for a relationship, I tell my true feelings to a good friend or cry into my pillow instead. Yes, I’m hurt, but I’m the one who sees it. I can maintain my composure and not admit my insecurities to the world.
Neither of these are good reasons, but this was my breakthrough. My concern is for others who have similar habits . . . who want what they can’t have, and ignore the great opportunities in front of them. My last question: Will I ever fix these things? I’m working on it.
That’s Life After Divorce.
Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant. Contact her to speak at your church, organization, event, or corporation at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com. You can find her on Face Book and join her Single Support Network – Single Again: From Devastation to Dating.