You know those situations where you want to die of mortification or at the very least, freeze everyone and wipe the last few moments from their memory? Yeah, I had one of those a few weeks back. I accidentally told someone that their boyfriend is, in fact, married not divorced.
Picture this: I’ve joined her and mutual friends for dinner. From the outset, her demeanour vibrates pissed-off-ness. Within minutes it becomes clear that the source of it is that all-too-common one: man trouble. From suspecting that he’s lying, to her near-constant unease, to him silencing her questions and doubts by claiming she’s crazy or him becoming jealous and possessive of her, she was exhausted. She couldn’t pin him down, but he wanted to know her movements and why she hadn’t answered his call at high speed.
I couldn’t understand why she was so twitchy until she explained that we knew him.
A quick scan through my mental Roladex and I came up blank. We don’t have any shady friends, I thought to myself. Turns out, though, we do have acquaitances that get up to shadiness! Based on her description, I then assumed it was another guy that we’d met at the same time, but she said no and described her guy.
Side note: On reflection, the confusion and unease I felt was a sign I needed to stay quiet instead of playing Columbo. Anyway….
“I think we have it mixed up because the guy I’m thinking of has four kids, lives in X and his wife is a Y. What did you say his name was?” And then I felt myself get very uncomfortable as it dawned on me that this dipstick had lied to her about his ‘situation’. We were talking about the same guy. Suddenly, I wanted to snatch back my words and run for the hills. The boyf returned from the bathroom. I tried to send him the pleading eyes smoke signal. Of course, she asked him to confirm what I’d said, and he backed me up while shaking his head at me with his What have you got us into?! expression.
Do you know what was so outrageous? When she expressed her doubts to this guy, he had the brass balls to tell her that she could call up the boyf and he’d vouch for him! Of course, she wasn’t going to call because the bluffer knows this. It’s a ruse. It’s also gaslighting. And if she had called, the boyf would have spared her two months of lies!
Anyway, aside from being Scarlet O’Hara with embarrassment at the whole situation, she thanked me for finally telling her the truth and explaiend what had been going on.
There were a number of code amber and red alerts, including:
- Him being freakishly routine
- Disappearing for chunks of time
- Him requesting that they walk down the back roads instead of the main roads (I kid you not)
- Not being able to go to his home
- Him hanging up when she heard a woman’s voice in the background and his phone being dead for a few days after then brushing off any attempt to get an explanation
- Him wanting to know her every movement but being reluctant to be accountable for himself
- The fast-forwarding where he was trying to speed the relationship along
- The sulking and withdrawal if she didn’t jump to his beat followed by her chasing him around, and the list goes on.
Even just a couple of these things are red flags!
Here’s the thing: If you sit down and press rewind on your fast forwarded relationship or in fact any relationship and then watch it back, what do you see?
When you walk your way through your relationship like a keen observer and gather evidence, what do you discover?
Imagine yourself like a CSI walking through the ‘relationship crime scene’: How does this person look? How do you look? What do you suddenly see clearly now that you didn’t register back then? If you can visualise the setting and remember the conversation, does what they said suddenly sound different now because you’re hearing it properly without the rose-tinted glasses and the fur coat of denial?
- How did you really feel in the relationship? Were you as happy as you claim or were you anxious, sad, miserable, agitated, etc?
- Were there things you were uncomfortable with? Which boundaries do you now acknowledge were overstepped?
- What was there approach really like? Now that you can be more objective or are at least trying to be, what were the first few dates really like?
- Were you as interested in them or were you railroaded?
- Were there unexplained things that make sense now?
- Do explanations for things suddenly have more holes in them than a pair of fishnets?
- Is the person as great as you originally thought they were?
- Those ‘plans’ they waxed lyrical about – list them as you recall them. Exactly how many of them materialised?
- If there were qualities, characteristics, or values that you assumed or they told you that they possessed, or they demonstrated in the ‘early stages’, are they still existent? What else do you now know about them?
- Imagine that you were witnessing a friend in this relationship – what would you think?
- Now that you have the benefit of seeing the relationship in hindsight, what would you do differently, not because it would help you hold onto them, but because it would give you healthier love habits? Use these as starting points for where to learn and move on from your previous relationships.
Step back and imagine that you have the opportunity to observe your relationship. What do you see and what do you discover? Don’t hide away from it.
When we’re mystified by our relationship or even feel that something came out of leftfield and end up looking to the other person for answers, it’s important to remember that we possess most, if not all, of the information we need within ourselves. That’s if we are prepared to watch, listen, acknowledge, and process. This will save you looking for closure from someone when you can do it yourself.
If you missed things first time around, go back to ‘base’. Walk your way through your relationship and watch and listen now. When I play back my relationships, what’s very funny in retrospect is that the things that proved to be very annoying further on in the relationship, were evident very early on. I just wasn’t paying attention. You want to forgive yourself, learn to trust your own judgement, know what to look out for? Listen to yourself.
Your thoughts? What do you discover when you walk through your relationship?