A little while ago I met a guy and we instantly hit it off. Total chemistry… and I’m not the type to get excited about a potential relationship often, so this was big for me.
We went out for a while and there were ups and downs, but overall I felt like things were going well when all of a sudden I received the dreaded “text message break-up“.
Now I’m killing myself reviewing every last detail of the time we spent together and what I did wrong. I saw him this weekend and he averted eye contact and acted like he didn’t even know me!
As I write about all this he seems like an impatient, selfish, vain, immature, stubborn person. But I miss him and I just can’t stand how easy it seems for him to just have broken things off with me.
Here’s a few things I want you to consider.
First, break ups are painful. You go into a relationship, however big or small, filled with hope and that amazing feeling of bliss. Like you’re walking on air. Like you have stars in your eyes.
Sure, most of us carry in some healthy skepticism as well, but it’s hard not to get drunk off of those amazing feelings of desire, imagining possibilities, connectedness, etc.
You mentioned a word that stuck out in my mind. Chemistry. People talk about chemistry a lot in relationships. Especially those amazing relationships where you just feel this indescribable connection and “rightness” with the other person.
Psychologists Jeffrey Young and Janet Klosko talk about chemistry in their book, Reinventing Your Life. The book describes how many of our childhood, social and family surroundings shape our sense of what feels “right” in the world to us.
Humans have an amazing drive for consistency and very often we end up seeking out friends and partners who perpetuate that feeling of “rightness”, even when it’s incredibly painful to us.
Some examples would be a child with an alcoholic, absent mother grows up to marry an alcohol, selfish and/or absent woman. An abused daughter seeks out people who take advantage of her or are far from trustworthy. A boy who was heavily criticized or bullied marries a woman who is verbally abusive and critical by nature.
I should also mention that things can also swing the other way – the abused becomes the abuser. The son of the absent alcoholic becomes the absent alcoholic himself. And on and on it goes…
But here’s the amazing thing: Do you know what these people feel when they meet this individual that will eventually perpetuate their painful past? Chemistry.
Astoundingly people are able to pick up on subtle cues and traits in potential friends and mates that remind them of their surroundings during their formative year. Something about that person feels full. It feels like home. It feels real. It feels familiar.
I mean, let’s look at this. You said it yourself: He’s an impatient, selfish, vain, immature, stubborn person. Or at least, that’s the side he showed to you.
But that’s who he was when you met him! He had the seeds of that person in him all along and as he became more comfortable with you, those seeds blossomed into his way of being.
Now, just to be fair (and to cover my ass), I believe everyone has a magnificent ability to change and mature. I know that I used to do some really jerky stuff back in the day.
If I could go back and change it, I would. It doesn’t work like that though and you don’t get a chance to make the wrongs of the past right. The best all of us can do is forgive ourselves and make sure we don’t walk down that path again.
With that said, I want to make this point very clear: The way he acted was about him, not about you. Breaking up is hard enough. It’s a feeling of having something torn away from us. It’s awful.
The type of thinking that is the absolute hardest to deal with is thinking that what happened means something about us.
When we take things personally, it takes pain and drives it up to an unbearable level. It takes the painful thoughts and glues them to our very body and soul. And we can’t escape ourselves, which gives it a quality of inescapable hopelessness.
But I’m going to give you some classic cut-and-dry guy perspective.
If you date a guy who has jerky qualities, you can’t be surprised when he eventually does something extremely jerky to you. Moreover, you definitely can’t take his behavior as any kind of reflection on you… AT ALL.
Again, from personal experience, I’ve done and said some pretty regretful things in some of my relationships years ago. And I know the girl I was with at the time took it very personally.
When you get down to it, I have the insight into myself to see that everything I did and said… every hurtful action and statement… came from a place within me and my own issues. I had my own crap and I ended up leaking it into the relationship. It wasn’t because I was a rotten person or because I was evil. It was just the fact that I had some sore spots inside me that I hadn’t worked out.
And you know what? So did the girls I was dating from time to time. When we’re at our best, we’re full of love and generosity.
But when we are working through our own stuff, sometimes some very hurtful behaviors come up. You need to be prepared for this and taking it personally is a crippling approach.
Also, a general rule of thumb: If you ever see some acting in a crappy way or showing a crappy attitude towards others, you can be certain that you will eventually be the target of it at some point under the right circumstances. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s a wise thing to consider in the dating world.
Hope that helps,