Relationship Limbo


Cracked clay landscape in the Atacama desert.

One of the main premises of my blog is, although each relationship is unique there are often common problems and issues affecting many of us.

So by looking at those “common problems”, in theory there will be many people out there who will be able to relate to what I’m trying to say.  Some of what I write is from experience while some is from things I have read or even just from personal observation.  But in my writing I try to look at things in terms of ideas, or beliefs.  I try not to write about me or my experiences directly.

 

In that regard, today’s post is a bit different.

Like many, my marriage was challenged; and that became the flashpoint event that caused me to turn to writing.

When I found out my wife was unhappy in our marriage; I wanted to understand, and to make things better.  I knew there was a lot of good, and I believed that if we could go back and find that good our life could be great again and we could have the “forever” we once promised each other.

So I fought for us.

I tried to grow to be a better person, and in that regard I would like to think I’ve succeeded.  But even though I grew personally, I still failed and our marriage failed.

Today I hope to share lessons I learned, painfully.

Every situation is different and what is right for me isn’t necessarily what is right for others, so everyone needs to judge for themselves what is right in their own situation.

But for me, these are “truths” I wish I had learned earlier.

 

My story

A number of years ago my wife told me she was no longer happy in our marriage.  She didn’t feel she loved me anymore, questioned if she ever “truly” loved me, and wasn’t sure if she wanted to be married anymore.  I’ll guess she felt that way for a while, but it was over 4 years ago when she finally told me those things.

“Why” doesn’t really matter, and honestly I don’t actually know if she or I will ever really understand it.

I was caught off guard, as I hadn’t seen it coming.  To me, marriage was forever.  We had been together a long time and had a young family; so I didn’t want her to do anything rash.

I wanted to understand what was wrong, thinking if we could identify the problems we could improve them.  After all, isn’t that what you do?  Try to be there for each other and try to be better?

She told me she didn’t want “us” anymore, and further she didn’t even want to try because “what was the point”.  She had never communicated this to me before, but apparently for her she had been feeling this way for a while.

I was able to convince her to stay, but it was only ever in body.

She never seemed to buy in to the notion we could still be happy, and she never seemed to *want it* the way I did.

It felt like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  She wasn’t sure she wanted to be married anymore, so her effort was sporadic, and never sustained.  And not putting in consistent effort undermined our ability to ever improve.

She wasn’t sure if she wanted to be married anymore, and after that day we really never were.

I continued to love her, but she didn’t seem to love me back.  Instead, we were in this limbo state where we were a bit more than roommates who co-parent, but not really a couple.  Any passion she once had for me or for us had long been gone.

In that situation, it was a struggle to remain positive and stay strong, holding on to hope things would get better.  But I tried.

Occasionally things would improve for a day or two; sometimes even weeks at a time.  During these moments I would feel connected again, and get a glimpse of what our life once was and what I felt it could be again.

But these moments were always fleeting, then her body language would change and the walls would come back up.  Emotional walls, where I could feel her holding back.  She either didn’t love me, was unable to express it, or didn’t believe she should have to.  But in the end it amounted to the same – my perception had been one of a number of years in a relationship where my love was not returned.

 

John Gottman (Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work) said a successful marriage needs 5 positive interactions for every negative interaction.  I disagree.  Tension and negative interactions may be bad; but apathy is worse. Living in limbo, without expressions of love and affection was a slow death, and in some ways I think a major issue or incident would have been better.

 

Limbo

Limbo is defined as:

“an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition”.

And that’s what my life had become.

A life where I was married, but not.  I was with someone who wouldn’t commit to me, but was also unable to let me go.

In those early months and years, I thought I was doing the right thing.  I stayed with her, and accepted the lack of reciprocation of my love.

I told myself she just needed time.  I knew what we had, and I knew how great our life could be.  So all I had to do was stay positive and I would be able to get her to come back to me.  I could be the light that would bring her out of whatever dark place she was in.

So I waited.

I had visions of those romantic stories where people are separated by circumstance, and eventually they are reunited in their love.

I told myself that would be us.

One day she would see me again with fresh eyes, and she would love me again.  I even imagined us one day renewing our vows together.

I was an idiot.

 

What I failed to see was, this was different.  We weren’t separated by circumstance, this was choice.  This was someone who knew me, and knew everything about me.  She had every opportunity to be there and to choose me.  But she wouldn’t, or couldn’t.

She was a priority to me, but for her I wasn’t a priority anymore.  For whatever reason, I was just an option.  She wanted time to “figure stuff out”, to figure out what she wanted out of life.

And while she figured stuff out I was supposed to sit there and wait; and be there IF and when she decided she wanted us again, no matter how long that took.

option

 

In staying with her I thought I was doing “the right thing” for us and our family.  I thought I was respecting my vows, and being there for her in good times and in bad.  After all, marriage was supposed to be for life.

But the reality is, I wasn’t doing the right thing.

I wasn’t respecting myself.

By allowing us to stay in this limbo state where I wanted things but she didn’t, I was enabling this.  I was saying “this is alright, it’s okay for you to feel this way.  It’s okay for you to treat me this way”.

It wasn’t.

 

I needed her to make a decision.

I needed her to recommit to us.  To work on improving whatever was wrong, and to choose me, each and every day.

And if she couldn’t, I needed her to let me go.

 

limbo2

 

Establishing Boundaries

What does a relationship mean to you?  What do you need from your partner?  What behaviors from them are acceptable, and what aren’t?

I don’t think most of us know that.  I don’t think we understand what those things mean to us.

I know I didn’t.

I believed I loved someone, and she loved me, and that should be enough.  With that, everything else would just fall into place.

But I was wrong.

 

Living in limbo was difficult, but the one positive is it allowed me to try and understand those things.  I didn’t just mope at how sad my home life had become.  I took the time to understand who I really am, and what I need out of life and love.

There are things we want, and there are things we need.  Learning what these are is part of understanding ourselves, and establishing our own boundaries.  And once we’ve established them, we need to enforce them.

But nothing is either/or.  Everything exists on a spectrum.

Love, affection, kindness.

All of these things exist on a sliding scale.  Some days you will have more, other days less.

You can always have more, but at what point do you have enough?

 

My broken marriage was an awful experience, but it allowed me to learned what enough looks like for me.  I’ve learned what things I need, and what things I can’t and won’t do without ever again.

 

Finite Resources

In the investment world, people talk about how property is one of the safest investments you can make because there’s a finite amount of it.

And that’s true.

 

But there’s another thing there’s a finite amount of.

Time.

We have a finite amount of time on this earth, and each day should be precious.  Things aren’t always easy, they aren’t always fun, and that’s alright.  Getting through the hard times with someone you love is part of what makes a couple stronger.

But you have to believe in what you are doing.  You have to WANT it – even when it’s hard.  And if you DON’T want it?  That’s when you fail.

 

When things start to fall apart, it doesn’t mean you need to bail right away (if people did, I doubt ANY marriage would last).  When you have history together, it’s always good to give things a bit of time to turn around.

So the question becomes, when things aren’t working how long do you hold on?

I think that’s a question there’s no right answer for.  Initially I told myself I was going to give things 6 months.  That became a year, and then two.  Eventually we hit four years in this limbo state, where we were more roommates that co-parented then we were a couple.

And other than a handful of little moments, there was no real sign we would ever be able to find middle ground which would allow us to both be happy.

If we were actively working on things together, that time would have been an investment in a better future.  That’s not what happened though.  She just wanted more and more time to “figure things out”.  Her way.  At her pace.

Me, and my needs ceased to matter.  And I never got the sense that she actually wanted US.  She would “say” she wanted us, but her actions never reflected her words.

And as time passed, nothing changed.

 

Maybe it would have come had I waited another year.  Another 6 months?  Another week?  Who knows.

That’s the thing, you never know.  You can only ask yourself if you’ve done “enough”.  To that I can definitely look my children in the eye and tell them yes.  Their daddy did everything he could to keep his family together and hold on to his dream of forever.

But my best wasn’t enough.

I’ve learned you can’t make someone else love you.  And you can’t make someone else want something they no longer want.

But you CAN make it clear that certain things aren’t acceptable, and that you matter too.  You CAN stand up for yourself, and what you need out of life.

 

To the woman who was once my wife, and anyone out there in the same situation I say:

No one is entitled to a relationship.  If someone isn’t sure about what they want, they need to make a choice.

Commit, or get out.  Don’t hold people lives hostage because of your own uncertainty.

Because time wasted is time you will never get back.

 

Time-decides-your-life.jpg

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40 thoughts on “Relationship Limbo

  1. Since I am a woman the stories I know are from women. Five marriages failed because they should never have happened in the first place. The women were miserable and made their husbands and children miserable. Every one of them married too young. They married for a variety of reasons but none were the right ones. Parental pressure, a long engagement, the man was head over heels, the wedding was in two weeks. Every one of them had doubts but were encouraged to just call it “cold feet”. You shouldn’t have doubts before marriage but they did. They all cheated. These nice middle class women from nice families cheated because divorce never crossed their minds until the affairs. Their husbands were, and are, nice men. After the divorces they married their affair partners and have reasonably happy lives. Their husbands remarried and have reasonably happy ones. The moral of this, if there is one, is to stop believing fairly tales, watching bridal/wedding dress shows, reading books and magazines that focus on the wedding and not marriage. None of these women are horrible people but they hurt a lot of people because they gave into someone else’s expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I would guess there are a lot of people out there who don’t marry for the right reasons – and instead marry because of someone else’s expectation (real or perceived).

      In that case, a marriage is probably in trouble from the start.

      I’ve never been one to do things I don’t believe in, so I struggle to understand that thinking. But I know it’s there.

      I do think that when someone is checked out, they need to let go. It’s garbage when people hold on for some external reason (money, the life, the kids, whatever) when they don’t actually want to be there.

      What I think is worse is, I’ve seen a number of people talk about how they are checked out and are planning on leaving, but they want to get their stuff together first. Maybe get a better education, better job, whatever.

      Ummm, you are PLANNING on leaving and waiting for a time that is more convenient to you? Wow.

      There are two people involved in a relationship. If someone knows they are out, get out. There IS no good time. Don’t waste someone else’s life while trying to get yours together.

      To me that is very wrong, as time is the one thing you can never get back.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Drew,

    I am so sorry you have been going through this. As someone who has been in your position — except I felt like the housekeeper/single mother more often than housemate/co-parent — I know how disheartening it feels when you are the one doing all the work to keep a relationship alive. Each time my husband ‘came back’ as it were, however briefly, hope would flare up in my heart that it would last. Except it didn’t. And when he announced he was ending our marriage it was for him, not me. Almost four years out I have finally accepted it was for the best for me and (sometimes) wish he had possessed the guts to do it earlier, rather than leaving me hoping.

    I wish you all the best.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the kind words. I’m actually fine with things now. I had many years to grieve, and make my peace, and heal. Sadly, I was doing that while I was still “married”. So by the time the marriage ended, it still stung, but I had accepted and I was ready to move on with my life.

      I can’t/don’t blame my ex for falling out of love with me. Stuff happens. I think I provide a pretty good overall package, and I did my best, but you can’t control how other people will feel. So it is what it is. We had many good years, and have two children together, and I wish her the best moving forward.

      What I can’t accept however is her refusal to either work on us or let me go during those years.

      She just wanted “time” to figure things out. As my life wasted away with someone who didn’t want me.

      You mention wishing your husband had the guts to leave earlier, and I can appreciate that. I think the idea of “staying”, while remaining checked out is cowardly. I understand that some decisions are hard, and have far reaching implications. But a decision clearly needed to be made – recommit, or get out. And indecision resulted in much time wasted.

      Part of that is on me though, as I enabled it. I could have forced things at any point. Unfortunately you can’t make people want something, so the only power I had was to walk away. A choice I never wanted to make, but ultimately the right choice. And one I should have made years before.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Same here. The first time he told me he was thinking about checking out, I begged him to go to counseling, and — for a while — it seemed to help. Then we fell back into our old patterns, him having time for everything but me and what I wanted, and me managing the rest of our lives. I’m actually kind of mad at myself that I put up with it as long as I did. Now I am seeing someone who cares what I think and I want, and the difference is night and day, and I hope you can find that.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. wordsaremylife, I will never again try to convince someone to stay with me. If they can’t see why they should and they don’t want it on their own, then it’s time to leave.

    Marriage meant a lot to me, as did commitment and my family. But life is too short to spend with someone who is unable or unwilling to ACTIVELY choose you – each and every day.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Well, it’s nothing I ever wanted – that’s for sure. My parents recently celebrated their 50th, and I always expected to be one of the people who would be able to do the same.

      But the only thing I have control over is me, my emotions/feelings, and the actions I take.

      So when my wife decided she didn’t want us anymore, there was really nothing I could do.

      Don’t get me wrong, I tried. For a long time actually. But in the end, nothing I did or said was going to change how she felt about me and how she approached our marriage. Any change there had to come from her, and she didn’t want it.

      Like

      • Well, I think it is hard all the time. Truly, a broken marriage and family is a terrible thing. Some people talk about having divorce parties when there divorce is finalized, and I don’t get that at all. Even if the relationship went bad, there was once something good there or people wouldn’t have been together in the first place.

        Sometimes it’s better to move on for all parties, but that doesn’t mean it’s something to celebrate (just my opinion).

        That said, kids and families can and will adapt. The important thing to me is to try and learn from the experience, and be a better person moving forward.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through, Drew. I guess I must have realized and had been waiting for this post. Still words cannot express my empathy. How can anyone ever prepare for such a thing or know anything worthwhile to say? You’ll be in my prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words/thoughts. But truly, although I’m disappointed with how things went, and greatly saddened at breaking up my family, for my own mental health it’s for the best.

      The last 4+ years weren’t very good, and being with someone who won’t/can’t express any affection takes a heck of a toll.

      Things have to get worse before they can get better, and it’s definitely time for life to start moving forward instead of remaining stuck in limbo.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know what you mean. I would never have ended a marriage, but it was so hard living with all the pain of our marriage that now that I’m getting used to knowing this is who he really is, who he chooses to be, now with this much time to process it all and help some I know I’m better off away from him. One regret from having ever trusted him in the first place is now not really believing that their can be in safety in any marriage given the preponderance of people who think fidelity and love and commitment are optional even after you make the commitment.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I totally understand your experiences making you guarded moving forward. But keep in mind that there will be many women AND men who share your values and have been through similar experiences.

        To me, you can’t have true connection without allowing yourself to be vulnerable again. So I will continue to trust. I will just be more conscious of my own boundaries, be more willing to speak out for what I need/want in a relationship, and also be more willing to walk away if it looks like it’s not working.

        Time is the one thing we can’t get back. And I won’t ever waste it again.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I can understand about holding on to someone, I mean by being physically together, if you still love the person. What I don’t understand is why still be around when you’re no longer in love, as in the case of your wife. Unless she needed you for other reasons.

    I’m glad you realize that time is finite and also recognize that holding on to someone who doesn’t love you back is not respecting yourself. The four years you’ve “wasted” could’ve been the time used to find someone who would love you back, and unconditionally.

    Wishing you the best, always!

    Like

    • “What I don’t understand is why still be around when you’re no longer in love, as in the case of your wife. Unless she needed you for other reasons”

      Yes, I can’t understand it either. To me it’s SOOO easy. Commit (fully), or get out. If you don’t *want* to be there, leave and find something you do want.

      As for other reasons, I’ll never know. All I can say is, when she was willing to stay and have the safety and security of home and family, but not be willing to put any effort in into improving things – it left me feeling VERY used. Like she felt she was able to pick and choose the parts of a relationship that worked for her, and the parts she wanted to deal with. And anything else? Too bad.

      I don’t actually know where her head was at, so maybe there was something else going on. But from my end, the way things went leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth for a life that should have been so much more.

      Thanks again Boots!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I cannot even begin to tell you how great this post is.
    I especially like the overall point of getting to a point where you cannot continue to make others a priority when you clearly are not
    theirs.

    I hate, hate, hate that my teenaged daughter lives her life this way. She goes in and out of being in love with certain boys her age, hangs on their every word, and looks for the teeniest bit of reciprocation in every conversation she has with them. I want to shake her and scream at her for not seeing how beautiful and special she is, and for not realizing that SHE is worth so much more than being an afterthought.
    Then I realize I’m 37 years old, and am just now starting to realize these things myself.

    I really appreciate seeing this topic. It made me so sad to read it but it serves as an extremely important reminder to anyone navigating the world of relationships.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “I want to shake her and scream at her for not seeing how beautiful and special she is, and for not realizing that SHE is worth so much more than being an afterthought.”

      I think a lot of my family and friend felt that way about me over the past few years.

      In my defense, we were married and had a family. And I’ve never been one to give up and bail when times get tough. By staying, I thought I was doing the right thing, and respecting my commitment and my vows.

      Early on I went to a counselor, and told her it was confusing because my wife would “say” she wanted us to work out and she wanted things to get better, but she would never actually do anything or put in any effort. I would suggest all these different things we could do, just to try and see if anything would help, just to feel like we were doing *something*. And she never would. She didn’t want to, because that wasn’t “her thing”. So I would ask, alright, if you don’t want to try any of the things I am suggesting what do YOU suggest we do? The response was always “I don’t know”.

      THAT was the killer. Not having issues – everyone has issues. But the complete and total apathy, the unwillingness to ever do ANYTHING to make things better. For years.

      It wasn’t great, but I’ve learned a lot. About my own boundaries, and my own value. It’s not like I ever had poor self esteem or anything, I’ve always believed strongly in myself. Maybe that was part of the problem, I believed so strongly in both myself and in the relationship we *could* have that I was convinced I would be able to show her that it was worth putting in the effort.

      Eventually though, even the most patient people realize when something isn’t going to change, and isn’t going to turn around.

      Moving forward I will never be in that position. I want someone who WANTS to be there, always. And if/when they find they don’t? There’s the door. I’m not interested in waiting around anymore while someone else tries to figure out what they want out of life.

      It should be pretty f*#king clear. And if it isn’t, then they don’t want it enough for it to ever work.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s MUCH easier to say that on the outside of the situation, that I know for sure.

        You’re right though. It won’t always be easy. I think even the best of marriages go through periods where things don’t click. I don’t necessarily believe that’s time to bail. I do think there’s a huge difference between that and someone waiting around when clearly the other person has absolutely no intention of making things work. Heres the real truth bomb that could apply to you and the few other blogs I read. In the mind of the woman, it’s doubtful that it was initiated by self growth and realization. It’s usually instigated by something, usually another person. I’ve seen people go through this countless times. They try to mask it as growing apart when what they’re really saying is they found someone else.
        Again, that may be way off base. My point in saying that is I read these blogs and I love what so many people have to say, men and women, regarding this topic of failed marriages. However, you are the one writing this and reflecting. You’re the one trying to express and help others. Just from my very humble point of view(and this is generally how I feel about what’s written in MBTTR as well), sometimes the failed relationship just has nothing to do with you. A woman or a man can dissect what they did wrong in every way possible. They can tell their story and make assumptions about the small and large things that have impacted their marriage, how long they tried to make it work, what they could’ve done differently. Sometimes though, it just doesn’t work and what they did didn’t matter.
        Even so, this dialogue is important. It’s important to see this through many eyes. It helps guide people going through it. It helps to strengthen people that are trying to fix their marriage. I think the most relevant thing is it helps to make other people feel less alone.

        When I read these types of posts it serves as a wonderful reminder to me that life is way too short to spend it unhappy.
        I wish you the best Drew!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Natasha,

        Regarding your truth bomb, I think you are correct. People saying “we grew apart” is often just a way to try and cushion the blow of reality. And yes, commonly that reality is actually a “someone else”. In my scenario, it took me a while, but I definitely realized that nothing I did or didn’t do was going to change things. From my perspective, “why” she checked out doesn’t really matter at the end of the day – just that she had. She was checked out, and had NO interest in even trying. She didn’t WANT things to turn around, and that was clear from her behaviour and her actions and inactions.

        So you are right when you say it’s important for people to understand that sometimes (probably quite often), the failure of a relationship has NOTHING to do with them. It’s all about the other person. Reminds me of a saying I love – “how others treat you is often a reflection on them, not you”.

        Now, that’s not to say it’s not a valuable exercise to reflect and try to understand what if anything you could have done differently. Because one of the worst things anyone can ever do is blame and refuse to take responsibility for their own part in things.

        But for me this post was mainly about remembering our own value. And about setting boundaries, and being willing to walk away when the person you are with disrespects you and your boundaries.

        One of my main themes in this blog is that a relationship is about TWO people. Both people have to matter. Both need to feel valued and appreciated.

        Sure, it would be great at times to have a relationship where someone caters to my every want and need. But that’s not real. There’s always give and take, and in a HEALTHY relationship there has to be some sort of balance between that give and take. I need to be willing to sacrifice at times for the other person, but I should never sacrifice my own personal boundaries.

        Moving forward in life, I want a true partnership. I want to dream and vision and build *with* someone. I don’t want someone catering to me, and I don’t want to cater to someone else.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Hey Drew! This weekend was crazy so I didn’t get to actually write a response to this. I think its awesome that you wrote about it as something that is happening to YOU.

    You said “I believed so strongly in both myself and in the relationship we *could* have that I was convinced I would be able to show her that it was worth putting in the effort.”…I call that being a hopeful romantic. (instead of hopeless).

    It’s an F’ing shame that she couldn’t see the worth and value in that, and in you. But that’s her issue. I hope you don’t stop being a hopeful romantic because of this.

    I totally get boundaries, and being clear that it should be a two way street. One person shouldn’t give and give and give.

    I would rather doubt myself than believe something negative about someone else sometimes. I would rather be short changed just so someone else can have an opportunity. I am willing to deny my own self, just for the off chance that it could make a way for someone else to reach me. But that doesn’t make alot of sense. Especially the last one…I will deny who I am so that someone else can have the chance to know me?…If I have to deny myself that much, is it even me they will know?
    NO!

    Of course, I am still working on this because we all walk around with emotions, and desires and imaginations.

    We want that thing we have hoped for, and we are willing to sacrifice to make it a reality.

    I dont think that is a bad thing in and of itself. We just have to figure out if what we are giving up is a call to be a better version of ourselves and towards our hopes, or if we are just giving up who we are.

    Here is the thing I am telling myself to do: Dont be afraid to give. Give whats honest and true that you want to give. Accept sometimes that it wont be returned. But give enough to know where it will be returned (*most of the time.)

    Love yourself by being kind and compassionate to yourself, and by being around those who give back to you, who love you.

    Letting go has to be the hardest part. Because we have to let go of our hopes for this or that thing.
    BUT! One thing that is slowly breaking into my reality is that you have to let go of the imagined hope in order go forward and grasp what is present and real, and the fruition of all your hopes.

    I may not get what I think I want, but if I love myself, and trust myself, if I am true to myself, then I will have the things that are right for me.

    That is true for you, too.

    It’s an unplanned adventure my friend, but there is so much good to be found.

    My hope and prayer for you is that you can see that good, know that good, be filled with that good and be an overflowing source of that good to others around you.

    ~With love!
    Linds

    Like

    • Yeah, I suspect one day she will look back and have a lot of regrets. Then again, maybe not. Maybe what she wanted out of life was just fundamentally different from what I want. In the end though, it doesn’t really matter.

      All I have control over is me, and how I react and how I move forward. One good thing is, I learned a lot about what I want and need out of life/love, and what I will and won’t accept moving forward. And I will NEVER again stay in a situation that has stopped being healthy for me.

      As for how I approach things in the future, I hope this experience doesn’t change me too much. I still believe in trusting people, and I believe vulnerability and letting people in is the key to a healthy relationship. So I won’t be afraid to give – I think that’s just part of who I am. Honesty and authenticity are core parts of who I am, and I think they are even more important now.

      Life is a journey, and you never know where it will take you. So you can’t get too caught up in focussing on the destination. You need to be able to appreciate the paths you take today, and make the most of them.

      Thanks for the warm thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lindsey, that part about how you’d rather “doubt yourself”, that’s so true!

      I have a tendency to place more blame on myself than others, always. It’s a tough one to get over. Baby steps…

      Liked by 2 people

      • I dont think that is unusual for women. And really, that is what we would rather be true. We would rather be wrong than have someone we care about intentionally hurt or betray us.
        There is a fine line, though…
        I want to be able to give the benefit of the doubt because that ALSO is important in relationships, and it saves us all the stress of ruminating and second guessing, etc. etc.
        That is why honesty and vulnerability and being real from the get go is so important- in ALL relationships.
        This is the bottom line truth that I have rooted myself in.
        Humans need love and intimacy, we need belonging.
        We tend to seek that from one person who holds certain qualities that excite us. This is our cultural “norm.”
        That excitement tends to wane over time, and likely our expectations aren’t exactly met. And in the push and pull of trying to get our needs met we tend to hurt each other pretty badly.
        I have decided to love.
        I want to love for the sake of loving.
        I trust that there will be others who will love me back.
        But, my love still isnt saved exclusively for them (although, of course I want to love them the best I can.) – I want to love others who need to know what love is.
        I feel like when I am doing that. When I am loving others around me unconditionally, and engaging in relationships (friends, family, co-workers) and have those that are based in love and mutual give and take, etc. The urgent, great need for that individual/romantic love isnt such an intense driver of my motivations. (Because love is one of the main drivers of most behaviors, in one way or another.)
        Being in loving relationships helps me to not put my energies into finding or securing *the love* that we want.
        Instead being in loving relationships helps us to create the love we all need.
        I hope that makes sense…I feel like I am circling around the idea and not striking it on the head…but I think you’ll get what I am saying.

        Like

      • …those relationships arent to the exclusion of romantic love. Meaning- “I am going to love everybody, so I dont need a romantic love”- I dont mean that at all.
        But, when we are loving and around love, we do less to sacrifice ourselves, and we understand what love really is. ..And it becomes less urgent, less “me and mine” focused.
        I think that just sets us up for better relationships overall.
        ..It sounds like I should be wearing tie dye and a daisy chain, doesnt it? Lol 🙂

        Like

      • Hey, hey. Don’t know the tie dye. I mean, I don’t own any but I could see it being a good idea
        I know what you mean though. I often wish I was one of those people who didn’t care about love and passion, but I do very much.

        For now, I’ll read blogs, read some books, take good care of my children and go out with some friends in an attempt to create a different kind of happy:)

        Liked by 2 people

      • I dont mean to sound dismissive of passion- Im not. But I do think trust and vulnerability (the birthplace of creativity, mind you ; ) )…can lead to some sustained sexual satisfaction.

        There is totally room for a rip-their-clothes-off-quicky in there, but that’s just one part.
        I dont want that at the beginning of the relationship and then its lost to all the tangled bullshit in between.

        I dont think it has to be one or the other.

        But, I will give you that I would rather be single my entire life than be in a marriage that I hurt in daily. …I can get creative on my own.. ( 😮 )…Lol! )

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m a big believer in passion and love, but I think maybe I understand it differently than many others. And really, I think a misunderstanding of what passion is and can be is a big part of why relationships fall into ruts and start to seem disappointing.

        This ties back into the concept of hedonic adaptation that I’ve talked about in the past. But when you look at movie/romance novel passion, it’s all about sexual passion. Accelerated heart rates, rip your clothes off kind of “I need you now” sex.

        To me, that kind of passion is part of the new stage of a relationship. And it’s more excitement and lust than love. When things are new it’s pretty freaking easy for it to be exciting. You’re learning each other, and the time you have together is probably limited so each moment is precious. Plus you are likely at a point where the relationship is kind of an escape from real life. There probably aren’t a lot of discussion about bills, groceries and domestic chores.

        That kind of passion WILL burn out, because nothing can be new forever. No matter how exciting something is, if you do it enough it becomes routine.

        Long term relationships are may not be as “exciting” all the time, because life kind of takes over. But that doesn’t mean passion has to die. In fact, it shouldn’t. but people need to understand that passion in a long term relationship looks a feels a bit different from passion in a new relationship. I would argue that passion in a new relationship may be more “exciting”, but passion in a long term committed relationship can actually be better.

        In new relationships people are often putting forth the image of what they think the other person wants, or they are focussed on what THEY want. In long term relationships there should be trust and vulnerability. Each person has let down their defences and truly allowed the other person in. And when someone sees you for who you actually are – flaws and all – and still desires and chooses you anyway? Well, in my little pipe-dream that’s a much richer and deeper connection. That’s a passion that can last.

        It may not be as “sexy”, but it’s definitely beautiful.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t necessarily mean sexy, although I’m definitely one of those people that thinks things can get more interesting when you really know and trust someone.
        As much as I’ve seen failed relationships and misery I have also seen the opposite. The wife that talks about how amazing her husband, the couple that has been married for twenty years and still walks hand and hand at the park, the husband that comes home from
        work early and tells his sick wife to go to bed…. THAT is the good stuff to me. Maybe not passion in it’s raw state but the stuff that we all hope is there when that raw passion subsides. Ultimately knowing someone just has your back. THAT is what it’s all about.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I agree 100%. I want passion that shows with that idea of walking hand in hand. Actually, if you look at my “about” page I think I list that as something I want out of life. The type of love where you still look forward to getting home and seeing the other person. Where you enjoy simple things, like just being in their presence even if you aren’t really doing anything. Knowing that you will be there for each other always, and to help each other grow into the best version of yourselves. That’s what it’s about to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed. I didn’t look at the “about me” section but that is a recurring theme in what I want. I commonly walk at this park where the trail surrounds a lake. When I’m there I commonly see couples. They walk hand in hand and I think to myself, “I want that!”. I’ll be honest too, getting someone to go with me would be a huge step! Holding hands would be icing on the cake. That’s good stuff right there.
        Oh and Lindsey, the sex is extremely important. One can have much fun in a fully trusting situation.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Drew, you said: “It may not be as “sexy”, but it’s definitely beautiful”

        ..Awww!

        Yes! – and that statement is beautiful!

        One of the things I was going to write, but didn’t is that you can create passion- or at least spontaneity in a relationship. (In the physical relationship as well as the day to day relationship.)

        One of the first rules of improv is you cant say “no” to your partner. You HAVE to say yes. And you just follow where the leads takes you. Both of the participants are going at it a little blind- it isnt planned out, and that is whole point.

        It’s alot easier to say yes when there is trust, and compassion and an openess towards each other.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Trust, empathy, compassion, authenticity. Those things are THE keys to me.

        Actually I have three simple rules for a relationship:

        1) actively love each other (actively is really important here)
        2) don’t be selfish.
        3) communicate.

        If you can do those three, everything else gets a whole lot easier.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m glad you get what I was saying there. It sounds harsh especially coming from someone completely removed from the situation but sometimes when outside a situation you’ve seen or been through, it’s easier to tell.

    You’re right on the money with the purpose of reflecting and also the general purpose of a post like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am really glad to have found your website. With my heart broken, I was doing a keyword search on “anhedonia” which I read from Anne Sheffield’s book on depression fallout. Your posts on anxiety and relationship really enlightened me on the madness I have been involved in the last few years.
     
    From the keywords of your website, I noticed the word “Narcissism”. I then further searched the word and finally realized why he has been behaving like that and why he accused and blamed me of things in such an irrational way, while he is the one who betrayed my trust. For almost all the traits of a Narcissist or how a Narcissist usually reacts to a situation, he gets a tick to various degree. I started to make sense out of the ridiculous situation I am in and realize why he has been like that. This can help me heal.
     
    He and I met due to something we both like to do. We started as friends and then things changed gradually. I have been with him in the past few years, giving him all sorts of support because I knew he has been suffering from depression and anxiety. He told me what he had gone through in his adolescent and early adulthood. After reading all those books on depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. to give support to a loved one, I strived to give all the support I can. As long as it’s something I can afford, I did it without hesitation, hoping that he can recover from his illness soon and be a happy man again. Then we can realize our dreams together. Because of his illness, I ignored my boundaries again and again.
     
    Things started sweet to some degree, but he has been moody from time to time. I endured his silent treatment, cold-shoulder, walk on eggshell, strange ideas on morality, etc. This kind of emotional abuse (didn’t know this phrase at that time) had made me cried many times. I started to question if he is really the one I have been looking for. But I said to myself, hang on, he is ill and he’ll get better with therapy. I promised him not to leave him alone in face of his illness. I persuaded him successfully to go for therapy to treat his depression and anxiety. I gave him any sorts of support one can think of all through. He claimed he has been feeling much better with those therapy sessions. And we don’t have as many hiccups when we get together.
     
    What I didn’t realize is, he has been having another woman behind my back! It was after two years that I found this out from a third person. And I was told he is going to marry her! I was devastated, as for me, this woman just comes out of the blue – not a sign on his social media or whatsoever. He always comes to me when he needs emotional support – too depressed and want to die, too stressed with his job and want to quit, has been ill or hurt, feel too lost and want to give up, people harasses him and gets him upset, etc. He sometimes rush to share with me his achievements or excitement about certain things like a child.

    If he recognizes the other woman as his “official” girlfriend, why didn’t he go to her for all these emotional connection and support? For me, emotional connections like these should be reserved for the closest one. Why can’t he just tell me about that woman and let me go? Why did I have to suffer all the pains and heartaches worrying about him and put down everything to comfort him? Why can someone be so selfish? It hurts so much to find out that I have been sacrificing my own interests that much to get him well enough to find another woman!
     
    When I confronted him about this, he gave all sorts of ridiculous arguments and excuses, so irrational and inconsistent that I just can’t comprehend. He made things up that were not true and accused me of doing or saying things wrong which we had resolved long time ago (I don’t understand why saying how I feel was wrong indeed). He said that’s why he didn’t proceed with a relationship with me (and I really wasn’t told about this!). He even accused me for making him upset by bringing up this issue of the other woman. It is he who is the two-timer! I have been giving all that I can in the relationship without asking for anything in return apart from his love. Who should be the one who is upset?!
     
    I have been too naïve. I thought mood disorder can be cured with love, patience and support. But I was wrong. His illness is much more serious and deep-rooted than I had imagined. Almost all psychologists / counselors / past victims from the websites on Narcissism advised that such personality disorder is impossible to cure. And victims should stick to the “NO Contact” rule to keep oneself sane.
     
    While I feel fooled, exploited, betrayed, used and devastated, I no longer want him back after getting myself educated about personality disorder. He is never going to change. He had wasted enough of my life. I had done much more than enough for him, trying to “save” him from the sufferings of his early years. All I get from him is sh*t and a broken heart. The man I had loved so much no longer / had never existed.

    Keep up with your good work! Your website helps people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rabbit,

      Sadly your story is all too familiar, and disturbingly common. I hadn’t realized how common until I started writing, and hearing the stories from other people.

      If you read the Sheffield book on depression fallout (great book from what I recall, though it’s been a few years), it doesn’t really paint a very positive picture for the partner of someone with depression issues. I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment. Depression is quite prevalent, and although it definitely adds stresses to a relationship, I believe many relationships are able to navigate that and succeed.

      From your description though, there are a number of other things going on, and a lot of red flags. If you are dealing with narcissism, then you are right. Getting out, and sticking to a no contact rule is usually best. Love, patience and support seems to only set you up to be manipulated and used further. Frustrating as hell, I know.

      My next post (assuming I stick to my current plan) is all about understanding and enforcing your own boundaries. That was one of the hardest lessons I learned. In the early days of a relationship, especially when you are younger, you (or it least I) just think that as long as you love each other and treat each other well, things will work out. I grew up believing that giving is more important than receiving, and that giving in a relationship is it’s own reward. And I still believe that, largely. Thing is, giving without worrying about yourself positions you to be taken advantage of. Relationships need to be reciprocal, and we need to learn to recognize when they aren’t. And when that happens, I think respecting ourselves involves figuring out who we are and what WE need out of the relationship, and being willing to walk away when that isn’t being respected.

      In any case, I’m glad you found my site and thanks for commenting.

      You ask about why he went somewhere else for support and why he was so selfish. I doubt you will ever know, but I do have a few posts on affairs that I think give a bit of insight into the why’s. In a nutshell, I think that for many who cheat, regular life gets too hard, and they struggle to cope. But instead of improving coping skills, they look for escapes. Unhealthy ways to “deal” with their own personal issues. For some, those escapes become drugs and/or alcohol. For others, it’s the escapism of an affair.

      All the best

      Like

      • Thank you. I look forward to reading your next post. Setting boundary for my own good is my weakest point, I think. I also grew up believing that giving is more important than receiving in a relationship.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll argue that’s a good thing (believing in giving), and in the “right” relationship will provide you with success and enduring joy. But the key will be remembering you matter too, figuring out what your boundaries are, and being able to stand up for them.

        It’s a process, for sure. And one I’m still learning. But I think it’s probably one of the keys to a healthy and balanced relationship.

        Like

  10. Pingback: Establishing Boundaries | thezombieshuffle

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