Many BR readers are perplexed by why someonone would get tangled in a fantasy relationship or persist in being in unavailable relationships. When I wrote You Can Be In Love On Your Own…But a Mutual Relationship Takes Two, the comments and my inbox filled up. So many of you feel like you have put so much of your energy, heart and soul into painful relationships. It’s hard to reconcile your actions with the fact that there’s an element (or even a lot) of fantasy involved.
If you’ve ever been in an unavailable relationship, including fantasy, you have a long-shot mentality. It’s likely you’d struggle to admit it, but your choices are dictated by desire to remain in your uncomfortable comfort zone and a fear of failing at relationships. You have a fear of risking yourself so much that it would hurt. You also have a fear of being absolute and committing.
So instead, you cater to your beliefs and the self-fulfilling prophecy. You opt into situations that really only have an outside chance of working out. You’ll know immediately if you have a long-shot mentality if you 1) bet on potential or 2) have essentially required people to make you the exception to their rule of non-commital or shady behaviour.
The long-shot mentality in relationships is the equivalent of getting love against the odds.
In a fantasy relationship, it can’t ‘fail fail’ because it’s not real. In turn, it means you’re not responsible or accountable. It lets you off the hook from having to put yourself out there and invest into a full-fledged relationship.
With an affair, it also can’t ‘fail fail’. Even though you’re very invested and likely hoping or even wheedling and begging them to leave, you can’t fail at a relationship that hasn’t started. It hasn’t. You’re directing your focus at the fantasy of them leaving. You imagine what life would be like if you were both together. This doesn’t become real though. Ultimately, you don’t have the responsibility and accountability that comes with a full-time, committed relationship.
If your type is basically packaged as emotionally unavailable and you know they are doing things that detract from you or at the very least are not conducive to a healthy, mutual relationship, you’re also let off the hook. You don’t truly have to risk and commit. On some level, you already know it’s not going to work out.
You can’t commit to someone that’s not committing. For you to commit to someone, they’ve got to commit to you, otherwise, you’re uncommitted.
Many readers tell me about their involvement with someone that was either a clinically-diagnosed narcissist or certainly narcissistically inclined. Yet they wonder how someone who can’t love and is incredibly self-involved can’t spontaneously combust into a healthy relationship partner. It’s essentially wondering Why couldn’t they make me the exception, even though they can’t. Many of these people will go back and try again.
You learn from these situations that, at the time, you weren’t looking for love within a committed, healthy relationship, even if you said otherwise. You were talking but you weren’t putting the matching actions there. In fact, any actions you were contradictory.
By persisting in these situations, you’ve already accepted on another level, and possibly consciously, that this relationship is going to fail. This makes your professed desires faux goals.
Yes, you will still get upset, frustrated, angry, hurt, or try to be the exception. Yes, you will wonder if their actions are all about you. You might try to change them, try to change yourself, end things, go back, and do No Contact. The fact, though, that on some level you know it’s not going to work out is actually liberating you from the responsibility that comes with putting both feet in and being emotionally available with someone else who is doing the same.
It’s a faux goal. And, actually, when it feels like you’ve created an incredible amount of pain for yourself, it’s an own goal as well.
The long-shot mentality has this fantasy reward. If it does come through, then you imagine basking in the glow of being made the exception to the rule. It will be like having your three-legged horse run and win like a four-legged thoroughbred. But it’s a fantasy. And you’ll notice in fantasies that you imagine all the glory without the problems or the responsibility.
Healthy relationships are possible and obtainable.
Relationships are challenging (although not in the back-breaking type of work that people in unhealthy relationships engage in).
Investing in relationships that have little chance of working and/or very obvious code amber and red issues is setting faux goals. You’re ultimately appearing to have a goal of a relationship while privately sabotaging. You either talk but do very little action, or the relationships can’t move towards your [faux] goal.
If you want a healthy relationship, the steps you take towards that, for instance, don’t an attached/married person. Equally, you don’t claim to want a healthy relationship but treat yourself in an unhealthy manner. Or you don’t try to get someone that doesn’t want to commit to commit or persist with unavailable people and then wonder why they don’t come with available behaviours.
And maybe that is the best way of judging how much you’re bullshitting yourself. You can tell a lot about how much your talk and walk match by what’s reflected in the results of your life.
If your present deviates greatly from where you claim you want to end up, why keep doing them? In fact, if certain things you’re doing have no part in your plan, why not stop? To continue is like trying to make that pig’s ear into a silk purse, which is the long-shot mentality. You’re going against instead of towards yourself. Ultimately, you’re not a long shot, so don’t treat yourself like it could only be in exceptional circumstances where you can be happy.
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.