we have so much in common

It’s not the biggest leap in the universe to think that because you’ve met somebody who shares similar interests to you that you also share similar values, but in practice, it’s an enormous leap that ignores the fact that a person could have a fundamentally different character and set of desires to you while still working in the same field, or enjoying the same shows, or enjoying the same hobbies and interests.

The leap in thinking comes from an underlying belief that you having these particular interests is linked to your values but let’s think about this for a moment:

Let’s imagine that your interests are being a wine buff and travelling to as many vineyards as possible to fine-tune your palette, as well as growing your own food, 90s hip-hop, skiing in the winter, windsurfing in the summer, salsa at night, and reading about globalisation, and then you meet somebody who enjoys all or most of these things. Eureka!, you think, especially because on some level, in these situations we tend to imagine that the combination of things that interest us is obscure enough that if we were to meet someone who ticks all or most of those boxes, they must surely be our soulmate? They must surely be similar to us, shouldn’t they?

Going deeper now, you might be loyal, conscientious, caring, honest, loving, hardworking, ambitious and more. You at some point want to settle down and enjoy a long-term committed relationship. You’ve tried casual but you value monogamy and are ready for more intimate relationships. Here’s the thing though: The fact that you have the above interests bears no correlation to your values and aspirations. You’re not, for instance, a wine buff who loves 90s hip-hop because you’re loyal, conscientious etc; you’re a wine buff who loves 90s hip-hop and is loyal, conscientious etc.


Those interests don’t speak for your character; they tell you what your interests are. Don’t conflate common interests with character or shared core values.

The way some of us cling to our interests and even personality traits and quirks, you’d swear that they were badges of honour, social proof and personal validation. We think that it means something about us that we’re interested in something. It’s as if we think that ‘certain types of people’ have ‘certain types of interest’ (or personality trait) covered.

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Having a connection and so much in common doesn't cut it.

“We have an amazing connection”, said so many people who are struggling to understand why they’re not experiencing deep, committed, loving, progressing, balanced, consistent relationships with the very people that they’re referring to.

“But, we have so much in common!”, said many a confused person who doesn’t share the common ground of the same perception and commitment to the relationship. All the mutual pain, admiration, shared experiences, attraction, hobbies, interests, orgasms etc., in the world, will not make a difference if when it all boils down to it, you don’t share core common values and are not copiloting a mutual relationship together.

Having a “connection” and “so much in common” doesn’t cut it. These are not the same as truly knowing a person or being truly vulnerable and yourself within a relationship that has grown and fostered deep emotional intimacy.

If you are not being authentic, so showing up as you and being emotionally honest in your own inner relationship never mind with your partner, you will have a lot of the hallmarks of an intimate relationship without the intimacy. That means that you could love and care for a person, enjoy sex and other aspects of a relationship but fundamentally be afraid of the consequences of closeness – that fear that if you’re you, vulnerable and essentially emotionally available (willing to feel all of your feelings and be rooted in reality instead of ducking behind a wall and struggling with boundaries and commitment), that you will allow somebody to get close enough to you that it might hurt if they leave, disappoint, criticise, argue/fight with you, or reject you.

It’s that that you being you is going to be “wrong” and that you won’t be able to cope with their response that you’ve predicted or with your own feelings and thoughts. You don’t want to be under scrutiny, to be judged, to put you out there or reopen an old wound.

You may not know what intimacy is, possibly due to not having relationships that you could truly observe and learn from, and you may have assumed that once you felt like you loved and cared for someone and were in a relationship, that you’d either be able to automatically know what each of you wants or that a void you had would be filled up and you’d feel confident and in possession of the skills to forge closeness.

I know I’m not alone in having believed that being in a relationship, talking even if it’s not truly communicating, and being in great turmoil due to the rollercoaster of drama, is intimacy. I’m also not alone in having felt a ‘connection’ to people because of what they ‘activated’ in me that reminded me of one or both of my parents or that tapped into old issues. Hell, I thought that if a person cried on me, told me about how their pet budgie died when they were seven or how much they disliked one or both of their parents, or even wanted to get into my pants faster than the speed of light, that these were ‘intimacy’

Intimacy takes time, experience, and vulnerability.

We can have intimate moments with people, we can share intimate pieces of information, but that doesn’t mean that we’re experiencing the intimacy that many of us actually desire in our relationships. This misunderstanding of intimacy is why many people wake up in relationships where they feel quite attached to somebody and feel as if they have “so much in common” but they’re hungry and either not going in the same direction or feeling an ever-growing void emerging. It’s confusing, disconcerting, and frustrating.

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Sometimes we can find ourselves in the position of knowing about what someone has done and not having the energy to get into some big ‘ole thing about it. It’s not because we’re letting it slide or that we’re too afraid to deal with it; it’s more that due to what we now know, we realise that if we go down the path of trying to ‘make’ this person see our position, to express remorse, to acknowledge what they’ve done and what was so wrong about it, we’re probably going to go blue in the face from trying to make sense out of nonsense and getting caught up in he said she said mind effery. It might even get switched around so that the real issue is forgotten and in the end, who has time, energy, and emotions for this BS?

Exactly how much do we really need to explain to somebody who already knows what they’ve done, about what it is that we know about.

It’s like, “Um, you know what you said/did – you just don’t know that I know and you’re afraid to say, ’So you know about [the thing] huh?’ because that might not be the thing that you think that I might know about. You’re gonna keep texting me with BS like, ‘What’s wrong? I don’t understand why we haven’t been hanging out as much – did I do something?’, so that I end up doing your dirty work for you and bringing your deeds out into the open and you only have to own up to whatever I bring up. Hell, you may even have enough time to figure out the perfect excuse / story / alibi or maybe you’ll just switch it around on me and make up some BS story about me or attack the fact that I have ‘accused’ you of something.”

And here’s the thing: When you’re in a situation where you realise that you cannot trust somebody and it might even be one in a long line of things, you’re not not saying anything because you’re trying to ‘make’ them fess up – you’re just done. You know where the land lies, there will be no big showdown or fallout, there will be no big long-ass discussion or justifying or whatever because you decide that you just don’t want to be caught up in their drama.

Compare scenarios:

Scenario A: You know them for a year and during that time, they have done various things (with you and others) to demonstrate that they cannot be trusted nor are they loyal.

Scenario B: Also known them for a year and both in their relationship with you as well as with others, they’ve been consistent, truthful, and loyal but you find out something or they do something that hurts you. It seems so out of character.

You would likely say something in Scenario B and it will cost you more to pursue them about it than you will gain in Scenario A.

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I forgive you, not because I'm ok with what you did or cosigning to your version of events but because I have to step away and get back to me

As I continue making peace with my past and recognising younger parts of me that still hurt and remember, not only am I committed to being self-compassionate and learning from when I’m not, but I’m also committed to not letting my past and those in it get away with robbing me of my present and my peace. I’m in command of me now and I can’t give away my chance at life and my journey because it didn’t start out as I would have liked and because of pain I’ve experienced. In the end, much as I could hold certain things front and centre in my heart and mind and even try to make, for instance, my parents ‘make up’ for everything, it’s me who will feel my commitment to the past and the pain the most.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re saying that the other person is “right” or that what they did is/was “OK”; it’s about choosing and re-choosing to let go so that you don’t get stuck living in the past. You forgive, not to anoint the other party with something but to release you to move on and evolve beyond it. Big blocks around forgiveness are fear of condoning, fear that we’re giving them or the universe the blueprints to screw us over, fear of looking weak and fear of being vulnerable by putting ourselves out there again and putting ourselves back together. It’s like, What if I forgive and then I try again at life and get screwed over?  What if they think that they’ve gotten away with it? 

As I continue making peace with my past and recognising younger parts of me that still hurt and remember, not only am I committed to being self-compassionate and learning from when I’m not, but I’m also committed to not letting my past and those in it get away with robbing me of my present and my peace. I’m in command of me now and I can’t give away my chance at life and my journey because it didn’t start out as I would have liked and because of pain I’ve experienced. In the end, much as I could hold certain things front and centre in my heart and mind and even try to make, for instance, my parents ‘make up’ for everything, it’s me who will feel my commitment to the past and the pain the most.

It’s about getting into the present because when you’re actively or passively holding on, you’re not letting go. You might be trying to right the wrongs of the past in some way or ‘dining’ what may be every single day off the anger and other emotions. You may keep rubbing your face in where you feel that you’ve erred and/or rubbing your face in the other person’s behaviour while at the same time attributing it to you.

You forgiving doesn’t mean, I’m right – they’re wrong. Or, I’m wrong – they’re right.

It’s about deciding to be done.

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Everyone bounces back at different rates. Don't apologise for not being Teflon-cated or for quite simply having feelings and a memory that can't be switched off or silenced

It can feel very bewildering and even pressured when we are wounded by something that has happened but somebody is questioning why we haven’t moved on from it yet or they’re struggling to fathom our response to whatever happened. It might be that they’re comparing what they think would be their own reaction with ours, or or it might be that they are technically the cause of the issue and feel that they’ve said or done what is needed for us to move on. It might be one of those situations where they’ve for instance, apologised but what they really want is for us to hurry the hell up and move on so that they can delete the issue from their memory bank. In situations like this, especially if you’re inclined to be a pleaser or certainly inclined to invalidate your own feelings and perspective, you may put you under pressure to move on and forget. You may feel that you’re being too slow.

In reality, we don’t all ‘bounce back’ from conflict, criticism, rejection, loss and disappointment, at the same rate. Hell, some of us don’t ‘bounce’ at all and it can be a painful process to navigate the myriad of emotions and thoughts that we may be contending with in the aftermath of something happening.

Each person’s pace is their own. We are all unique and no matter what we believe that we may share in common with a person, there are very specific individual and personal reasons that influence our recovery.
Ten people could all be in a room when they all experience something traumatic but they will all respond – so they will think, feel, act and ultimately recover – differently.

Our ‘bounceback rate’ as such is influenced by factors including:

Whether we tend to bury, run from, hoard or deal with our feelings. Are we living in the past, on the run, bashing ourselves with the feelings and reliving the pain over and over again, or allowing ourselves to feel and move on from a feeling without judging or censoring it?

The depth of how much we feel. The more we suppress and repress is actually the more we manifest the pain in other ways. It leaks out and shows up somewhere in our day to day experiences. Yes we’ll feel it intensely when we allow ourselves to feel all of our feelings but that helps in the grieving process. It’s important to note though that people who avoid their feelings or who anaesthetise them with people, things or even substances, can appear to ‘bounce back’ but are delaying and in effect stockpiling their pain. That’s why we shouldn’t feel so envious when a person for example, flits from relationship to relationship with their feet barely touching the ground as they exit one bed to another.

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My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!
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