Our relationships romantic and otherwise, give us a window into understanding who we are and where we need to step up for ourselves. When we find that we’re experiencing the lather, rinse, repeat of the same type of person in a different package and the Groundhog Day of yet another situation that leaves us feeling and thinking a certain way, it’s time to ask:

What am I missing here? What am I overlooking?

When we experience the pain of a person unfolding into who they truly are and it falling short of who we wanted and even expected them to be, it’s hard to think about lessons and examining where we’re in effect repeating ourselves.

There is this fear that if we acknowledge that at times we’ve gravitated to a certain type of situation that this makes it “our fault”, when in actual fact it doesn’t; it just explains how we fit into the dynamic. It explains why we were vulnerable to this person stepping into the ‘opening’ in our life. It explains why they were attractive or activated something in us, and it’s far from being a sign that we have Jedi mind tricking abilities.

These experiences provide insight into where we need to expand our awareness so that we can grow and transcend this particular type of dynamic. It’s how we stop the disappointment cycle.

Wising up means that in adapting our outlook and supporting behaviour, the next time that that type of person or situation comes a knocking, we will make a conscious choice to choose a different path. It may not even come our way because we’re no longer a ‘good fit’ for it.

In the aftermath of things not working out, it’s hard to feel thankful about not being with the person or opting out of the situation because in seeing ourselves as being inextricably linked to why that person acted as they did, or why we were disappointed, or why the situation was what it was, we can’t see the wood for the trees. We’re too busy blaming and shaming ourselves. We’re too busy feeling that we’ve been robbed. We’re feeling rejected and at the same time wanting to reject information that would actually help us feel less rejected by adding some balance to the proceedings.

The weird thing is that sometimes we don’t know that we need to address something until it’s mirrored back to us in the other party’s behaviour. It’s not neccessarily the one-off stuff but the habitual stuff.

I would love it if we were all armed with the self-awareness, self-knowledge and relationship smarts as soon as we rock up into adulthood but it’s only through experience where we discover what we do and don’t know.

I can remember with one particular ex as he launched a volley of putdowns and deflections at me that I thought, “Wow, I really must hate myself to be with him.” It was this scary lightbulb (more like punchbulb punching me in the head) moment.

It’s not that my self-hatred was an invitation for his behaviour and that if I liked me more that he would spontenously combust into boyfriend of the century but when I finally was ready to put ego aside where I had an inclination to make everything about me, ‘little’ realisations like this had been happening over a few years. I knew they were trying to tell me something and in fact, I even heard what these experiences were saying a few times along the way but it was like, What was that you said? I don’t really like myself and this guy is behaving like a tool because that’s who he is? and then my ego would come rushing in and it would be, Ah yeah but what that really means is that I don’t like myself because I’m worthless and good for nothing and that’s why he’s behaving like a tool, and the crucial info would be drowned out and I’d be back to doing the people pleasing and unavailable dance.

In truth, when we like, love, care about, trust and respect us more, we would not be attracted to or continue to be around somebody who doesn’t reflect that outlook.

We won’t be with somebody who does less than what we can already do for ourselves.

We certainly won’t continue to make us the solution to their problems and we most definitely won’t keep trying to make them change in an effort to ease our discomfort about the situation. We’ll take charge of relieving our discomfort instead of giving away our power.

You know what all of my unavailable relationship experiences did? They forced me to grow up. Due to the pain I went through and how it all spiralled out of control and crippled my health, facing me and all of these experiences forced me to finally be a grownup with my parents and extended family instead of three-year old Nat feeling wounded, abandoned, and looking for love in the wrong places. In doing so, I allowed myself to feel, to think, to have needs that I could step up and assert within my relationships and to also just be.

Talking with a friend who has a habit of going out with highly insecure guys who either start getting all ‘Chopper’ on her (cutting her down with comments and manipulative behaviour) and/or who she plays armchair psychologist with, I asked her what’s the draw because that’s what’s being overlooked. It’s not a coincidence that they’re same relationship different package and the truth is, these guys are all over her at the start with their Fast Forwarding selves and she feels on top of the world and then the same ‘ole problems set in and she feels drained.

Being adored by somebody who initially thinks that they’ve struck gold and in essence being put on a pedestal eventually comes at the price of her contentment and the possibility of mutual relationship. A part of her is insecure in the sense that a guy who isn’t veering between awed and threatened isn’t attractive. She realises that she needs to address that part of her that for some reason doesn’t feel “good enough” unless it’s with this kind of guy even though she eventually ends up feeling “not good enough” anyway due to the way that these relationships pan out. The latest guy has been the worst experience of it and she’s seen it in a much shorter period of time and enough is finally enough even though of course it hurts.

I don’t necessarily say, “I’m really thankful for [the shit experiences]” but ever since I stopped feeling and acting as if each of the hurts and disappointments were terrible plot twists that robbed me of happy endings that ‘should’ have happened and that were making me into a doomed person, I can most definitely see that some of these experiences were blessings in disguise providing me with lessons I needed to learn and some of them were just flat out horrible/painful experiences. I can be angry forever more that certain things have happened but that will be dooming me more than any of the experiences ever could.

Longstanding anger and self-recrimination create major problems especially as we use these as the basis for determining our next moves.

If we keep telling ourselves that something that represents loss of self, pain, and an unhealthy dynamic was the “right” thing for us, life will throw more opportunities for that dynamic to come along, either with us going back to a person or taking up with new version of them in a different package. We can’t expect that we will see, appreciate, and ‘get’ somebody or something that represents a different, healthier outlook while on some level insisting that the people, dynamics and things that represent the loss and pain are where we need to be at.

It’s very easy to focus on what another person is doing but use that information to point you to where you can understand and support you better. Take the focus off them and bring it back to you.

Your thoughts?

PS Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers who celebrate! As always, make sure that the only turkey you’re messing with is the one on your plate! Check out the blessings in disguise posts as well as ‘I’m not that woman’.

PPS The People Pleasing Diet is now open for registration.

 

You get to have a say in any relationship you're involved in. Steer clear of anyone who shows or tells you otherwise

Sound familiar?

These are all examples of passive and people pleasing behaviour that make you ripe for not only being involved in unavailable relationships where the other party is the emotionally unavailable driver to your passenger self, doing everything on their terms, blowing hot and cold, managing down your expectations etc., but it can also place you with controlling partners who will happily leverage your eagerness to please, your unwillingness to step up for you and your reliance on being directed.

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If you're going to remain friends with your ex, it will happen organically and when you're over them. Anything else is auditioning to get your old job back while playing the role of doormat.

Talking with a friend recently who was rather enamoured with a chap who was super ambiguous, a little probing revealed that this guy has a hell of a lot of female friends. A lot. Like when you see those shows about hoarders and then can barely move for all of the stuff piled up around them and they feel super attached to stuff that they’re never going to use or appreciate for that matter.

This guy collects exes, love interests that he’s turned down as well as becoming friends with the exes of his friends.

As soon as I heard about this, a code red alert went off for me. “You’d want to watch yourself there with all of those exes. You don’t need to be another one in the collection.” I was cautious because things were so ambiguous and not moving anywhere. At this point, she was still thinking that he was that special and putting him on a pedestal. I had to remind her that she is pretty damn great too. Undeterred, she reassured me that these friendships (erm, more like a harem) were genuine and that he has all of these female friends because, well, he’s so intelligent, funny, and quirky.

Here’s the thing: Some people love collecting exes.

I don’t mean that they go out of their way to make partners into exes by botching up relationships (although I suspect some do sabotage to resist commitment and then console themselves that they’re Really Great People ™ and A Really Good Ex ™) but more that their ego needs almost constant supply from the pool of people who have tried to forge something with them in the past.

These exes are like medals – Dear Ego & World, look at me. I’m such a good and great person that I can remain friends with all of my exes.

They’re also deterrents that tend to keep potential new partners at bay or are disruptive if it progresses. Even the most secure people in the world would feel rattled by going out with someone who spends most of their time juggling their exes including ex love interests.

People who collect exes and who in fact collect ‘supply’ are what I’ve joked are ‘haremologists’. If a person collects attention but is pretty indiscriminate about it and doesn’t have a harem per se (like people who trawl for attention on  introduction ‘dating’ sites, Facebook et al), they’re more of an attentionphile.

Some ‘haremologists’ extend this penchant for collecting exes to collecting those of their friends. “Look! Your ex girlfriend/boyfriend likes me and I’m making him/her feel better about having been with you.” A number of my early relationships started this way – the friend of an ex swooping in on his broken down donkey disguised as a white horse. In these situations, you love the attention and the diversion plus, let’s be real – you get a kick out of remaining connected to your ex but also out of knowing that it’s likely pissed them off. Note – some people like going out with their friend’s exes because they’re pre-approved.

Being friends with the exes of their friends elevates them and they may even enjoy listening to these people expressing their hurt over the breakup and then… gradually seeing that they’re now falling for them instead. Then the haremologist gets to have a brief romance and then turn it down or to claim that his/her interest has been ‘misunderstood’ and that they just want friendship. In fact, I’ve heard a lot of versions of this story where they claim that they’d assumed that they were kindred spirits who were coming from the same emotional place and leaning on each other for friendship and support. Yeah, of course.

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woman thinking: we have so much in common and can talk about anything except for what's going on between us

When two people are romantically interested in each other, they make it known and it doesn’t turn into this long, drawn out, ambiguous rigamarole of wondering whether or not they’re interested. It’s because one or both parties are being ambiguous why these ‘Whatchamacallit situations’ where people aren’t sure whether they’re “just friends” or whether whatever they’ve been doing is building towards dating or a relationships are happening in the first place. I’m still waiting for that email/comment/story that goes, “Our situation was super ambiguous and we texted / Facebook messaged for months/years and even slept in the same bed / dry humped / did everything but / did everything and still continued being ambiguous and here we are living happily ever after”.

What I do hear plenty of variations of is, They’re so interested in me that they don’t know how to show it and/or are so overwhelmed by it’. This is projecting and it leads to a whopper of an imagination hangover. Most of us struggle to predict the innermost feelings and thoughts of people that we’ve spent our entire lives around [family] and even those of us who think that we can must be careful of being complacent and assumptive. If you’ve come up with all manner of excuses for why your ‘Whatchamacallit situation’ is what it is, it’s time to ask:

How did you come to know so much about someone who is not expressing words and creating matched actions about the very thing that counts [what’s going on in this ‘relationship’]?

It’s tricky when friends and readers share tales of meeting “quirky”, “eccentric”, “super clever”, “poetic” and other such people who they ‘hang out’ with, talk about “everything”, and typically exchange a hell of a lot of texts and Facebook messages. Part of me wants to dress up as Whoopi Goldberg’s character in Ghost and say, “Molly, you in danger girl”. How can they spend so much time around or talking (or tippy tapping messages) to somebody who they say that they talk about “everything” with and yet still have no clue whether they reciprocate their interest and/or are up for a relationship?

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Expand your comfort zone so that you can expand your experiences

If you’ve ever been involved with a Mr/Miss Unavailable, you will be familiar with being managed right down into their status quo. If you imagine that on a scale of 1-10, their status quo is that they like things to be around a 5, whatever they do whether it’s blowing smoke up your bum and promising you the world or insisting that things will be different “this time” (going into 7,8 + territory), or whether it’s at the opposite end and frustrating you to the point where things become mighty tense or you give them the heave ho, if they have their way (they love doing things on their terms), they’ll eventually manage you and things back to 5.

One of the things that I’ve noticed about us humans though is that we are very loyal to our habits, even the ones that bring us pain and keep us in our uncomfortable comfort zone and this got me thinking:

When we end up in a cycle of doing and thinking variations of the same thing and expecting different results (think Relationship Insanity + the disappointment cycle), we are guilty of managing ourselves into our own status quo. We turn down the heat on ourselves as if we’re afraid we’ll overcook it.

Sound familiar?

You accomplish something really good. Maybe you get that job or promotion that you’ve been vying for. Maybe you win that client. Maybe you buy your dream property or start that business you’ve been talking about for ages. Instead of soaking up your success and giving you a pat on the back, you enjoy the good feelings for a nanosecond and then you get into a big fight with someone that on reflection, you wonder what the hell you were truly kicking off about. Or you get in touch with your ambivalent ex to share in your good tidings (Are you on feckin’ crack?) or you go on the hunt for problems and end up whipping you into a state of anxiety.

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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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