Back in November ’08, I wrote He’s With Someone Else! Why her and not me?, a question that’s reverberating around a lot of women’s minds as I type this, and then last week I read this great post Why did he marry her and not me? (You’re not the one) over at Naked With Socks On (blog no longer available). The author states,“Well, I’m here to tell you the truth. The answer is extremely simple: you were not the one for him. Point blank.”
He also admits that a guy does know when you’re not the one for him and that “The problem is we don’t always realize it.” There’s a lot of thinking in the ‘now’ and not wanting to “rock the boat” by thinking about the future, but there’s also the very real admission that sometimes a woman is a “stopgap” and that love takes different forms, just not not always a permanent one.
I know women and men who are with someone for a really long time, the relationship doesn’t pan out, and then in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, their ex is professing undoing love or doing the ultimate slap in the face of getting married or even quickly having children. They think, ‘I wanted to get married! I wanted to have children! What the hell is so different with him/her?’.
I have a very close friend who was with someone for a very long time that kept stalling the hands of change. “If he knows he can’t come up with the goods, why has he eaten up my good years when I could’ve been with someone else who wanted what I want?”
I always ask: If you’re with someone who you know cannot give you want you want and is wasting your time, why stay?
Because it seems easier to stay and try and make him (or her) change – the quest for return on investment.
On the flipside, even if the relationship isn’t a very long relationship, what I also come across a lot is this situation:
Woman meets guy and he seems to be everything she wants either because she has illusions, or because he hypes himself up, his actions don’t match his words, and talks about things that he may very well believe at the time but he quickly forgets or he overestimates the level of his interest .
After a while, it becomes evident that all is not what it seems, and so the blowing hot and cold, the tension, the flip-flapping, the lengthy conversations, discussions, arguments, ultimatums and ‘defining the relationship’ talks ensue, as well as making up to break up, placing too much value on the sex etc.
She wonders where she’s gone wrong. She wonders if there is something flawed about her. She tries to show him how much she loves him and stems any rejection she feels by pursuing him for validation and attention.
She thinks it’s just a matter of time. The relationship’s mostly fleeting highs and a lot of lows. Eventually, despite all her efforts, it comes to its inevitable end.
She says to herself that he’s an assclown (he may well be but not neccessarily), that he doesn’t want commitment, and he’s no good for any woman, but drives herself batty obsessing about why things didn’t work out.
Then in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, she hears that he’s shagging the woman in the office or that after just three months of dating some woman, he’s moved in, when he could barely bring himself to leave a toothbrush in her place.
Naturally, particularly when you have expended a lot of energy, emotional or otherwise, you’ll feel pretty damn outraged if you’re in this situation.
What’s so different now? Why her and not me? Is he different with her? What’s wrong with me?
There are all sorts of reasons why relationships don’t work out although they pretty much fall into two camps: potentially right for each but behaving in ways that are counterproductive to the success of the relationship making you eventually incompatible, or you’re wrong for each other and fundamentally incompatible.
The thing is, most guys know if you’re not the one for them.
There are some men who are so distanced from themselves and reality that they don’t know their bums from their elbows, but generally speaking, a guy knows when he no longer considers you to be the one for him, he just won’t necessarily share that information with you.
They fear conflict if they do tell you plus sometimes they do say they’re not as into it and it stimulates your interest further as you try to prove yourself to him. Some just don’t want to endanger the possibility of a shag, an ego stroke, and a shoulder to lean on, and they like having you there to ‘fall back’ on.
At some point he felt enough to pursue you/express interest.
He then felt enough to have sex, enough to let it build into a relationship, enough to say he loved you (or maybe he didn’t say it…), enough to say he saw a future, but in the end, not enough to actually make it a reality.
While your mind’s racing ahead looking for signs of commitment and indications that you have a shared future, some guys just want to be in the now.
They don’t want to think ahead, and when they do, their chests tighten, or they get panicky, and start acting like jackasses by picking fights or just plain ole disappearing so that you’re not getting any ideas about a future.
Relationships require a leap of faith and quite frankly, when a guy doesn’t see a future with you, or isn’t prepared to try, he’s not willing to take a leap of faith and put in the effort, the emotion and the commitment.
However…plenty of men will coast, put in just enough effort (or may even get away with throwing in crumbs) and still enjoy the fringe benefits of a relationship with someone who believes that they’re going somewhere.
He’s either waiting until he’s got somewhere else to go, or afraid to commit to an outcome which will involve him removing you as an option. Some men don’t like being alone either.
And, I want to say at this point out of fairness to men, women do it too.
Women coast in relationships all the time because they don’t want to be alone, they’d rather be with someone than no one, and they think that things could change in time.
The guy that stays even though he is inclined to believe you’re not the one and he doesn’t see a future, sometimes has an element of hoping that something will change. In some respects, men and women aren’t all that different.
As I wrote about earlier this year, relationships serve to teach us about ourselves and when we find ourselves in the same relationship, it’s because it’s like you’ll keep getting the same lesson thrown at you until you learn it.
You also get the relationship that’s ‘right’ for you at the time and where you are emotionally and mentally, for instance with your beliefs.
It’s a pain and can cause you pain, but we get involved with people who reflect what we believe about love, relationships and ourselves.
There is also the harsher side of the coin where the reality is that sometimes things change. That means someone can believe that they love you in September and not feel it by December. It’s cruel.
It also means that when someone moves on, if they’ve ended up experiencing their own epiphany about themselves or what they want, they may step into a different mindset which may suddenly find them ready to take a leap.
But…a lot of why someone who you thought you loved and wanted, resisted whatever was on offer and didn’t come through, is because you were that ‘stopgap’ or as I also refer to it, an ‘option’ aka The Fallback Girl.
They were always looking over your shoulder to a future without you or keeping their options open for something better that might come along. In some instances, you’re a rebound to a previous relationship and you inadvertently help them grieve that loss…and then when they’re ‘better’ they see you as someone who nursed them through the pain but they don’t ‘see’ you in ‘that way’.
They may even think that if you’d had a greater self-respect, you wouldn’t be with them.
This is why I consistently say to readers that you must get real with yourself, have an honest conversation, and work on you and adapt your love habits so that you choose better partners.
If you involve yourself with assclowns and Mr Unavailables, expending energy on separated or divorced men that want the fringe benefits of a relationship without the commitment while flip-flapping around in indecision, or the married guys that are never going to leave but keep you in limbo, or the men that live with their mothers and have no desire to cut the apron strings, men that sleep around, men that pursue their ex, men who are allergic to the truth and commitment, and men who don’t know what they want, think, or feel from one end of the day to the next and are consistent at not matching their words with actions, you will be treated like an option. Period.
The more you accept, the greater the bad message they receive, the more time you waste being someone’s ‘option’, ‘stopgap’, Fallback or whatever you want to call it.
You have to believe in you more than you believe in the power of the illusions and know when to fold on a bad investment. You also need to be honest with yourself and recognise that some of these men aren’t trying to be caught and that when you’re with these guys, you’re not that happy anyway.
Is he different with her? Who knows. Just like when you change how you are, you change the relationship you’re in, you can’t really legislate for what is going on in someone else’s relationship.
Asking why someone who didn’t treat you with love, care, trust, and respect, is now with someone else, is like wondering why they didn’t stick around to kick you some more.
One thing I do know, is that much like when I’ve talked about the ‘reset button’ in relationships, for the habitually dubious men of this world, each new relationship is like a fresh start, with a fresh boatload of optimism and an all new persona, but if they run true to form, they soon slip into old habits.
If they’re not dubious and it’s a case of love don’t live here anymore, it’s painful and difficult and you have to grieve the relationship because from the moment that someone no longer wants a relationship and moves on, it’s a major red flag that something is very wrong and they don’t value the relationship that you’ve had any longer.
Grieving the relationship and accepting that it’s over will let you move on because they have moved on. Not everyone moves on at the same pace and to continue to expend energy analysing what they’re doing now, will only cause you to waste your time.
The fact that you want a relationship with someone doesn’t mean that they have to continue wanting it too.
Sometimes you’re just not right for each other. You may have been right ‘once’ but you’re not anymore. Let them go so you can open your heart to someone else.
Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to “please” or protect yourself from others? My new book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (HarperCollins/Harper Horizon), is out now.