“Natalie, I am sooooo ready to be in a relationship and settle down. I can’t [whatever they’re currently doing and suffering through] anymore.”
I hear variations of this statement sooooo much, sometimes from the same people multiple times over several months or even years, and it’s often after sharing their dissatisfaction, frustration and even despair over what is currently happening in their lives.
It’s not just that they’re not in the relationship they want; there is invariably something else in the mix that’s a major pull on their time, energy, efforts and emotions.
They’re obsessing over an ex who, based on how the relationship was, along with any medium to long-term incompatibilities, it’s the right thing that the relationship ended. They’re often also stuck on The Replacement Mentality, so believing that they’ve been replaced by someone ‘inferior’ or similar, or believing that this person is living ‘happily ever after’ with The Replacement, even though this is made up or exaggerated, especially when this same ex is messaging/sexting them and/or complaining about The Replacement [to them]. If they’re not obsessing over being replaced, it’s often about experiencing activation and so not recognising how it has triggered feelings and wounds from the past and as such, this notion of being abandoned, passed over and rejected in totality – receiving no, the relationship ending, not getting what they want etc., is seen as being a rejection of them in their entirety, full stop.
Some have been what I call ‘single on the surface’, so yes, they’re technically single but at the same time, they’re either in some form of purgatory over something from the past and so, in effect, in a relationship with pain, fear, guilt and whoever the person or people are that are connected to the events, or, they are unaware of a set of habits that are part of their safety mechanism to defend against intimacy. Whatever they’re doing, it can amount to going through the motions while subconsciously (and in some cases, very consciously) sabotaging their own efforts. One of the easiest ways to do this is to be drawn to the same type of people, whether it’s on or offline, and to go through a similar habit loop each time which eventually leads to disappointment, and then lather, rinse, repeat.
They’ve been in a vague, ambiguous, ambivalent, indecisive setup with somebody for months or even years, and actually in a few cases, decades. For some, they repeatedly accept vague, ambiguous etc setups because they want to play it cool / not appear ‘too needy’ / not appear to create drama like they think that ‘others’ do. Some play the Really Good Friend role as a back door route to a relationship, only to be told that the other party doesn’t see them in ‘that way’, or only wants to ‘go with the [casual] flow’, or that they’re interested in someone else.
Some have been breaking up and getting back together with somebody for an extended period of time and there’s often enough drama and betrayal to fill an entire series of the now defunct Jerry Springer Show.
All of these situations are understandably frustrating, disheartening, and enough to sap so much life force out of you, that even if a loving relationship appeared before your eyes, you would barely be able to move let alone step into it, but–and there is a big but—it’s at times like this when we say we really want something but it’s not happening, that we have to be willing to own and know our own bullshit.
We have to be willing to acknowledge our blind spots.
We have to be willing to let go of a story, a version of events that might have been keeping us company, albeit uncomfortably, for what may be all or the majority of our life.
Incidentally, this is some scary but necessary and liberating work on our part.