How do you get back on the horse after a huge relationship setback?
The Prayerful Pause
At the end of a relationship, you have a unique opportunity to check in with yourself around the pros and cons of your last attempt at an LTR. So, what went right? What things were off from the early days? How did you convince yourself that you could change this person to be the lover you were looking for?
If we’re trying to change, or waiting for the person to change, in order for us to be safe, comfortable, trusting, and committed, we might be in the wrong relationship. I do think it’s a good idea to lean in as soon as you feel that this person is a potential lifetime partner. I always preach, “Go slow.” I never go slow. So what’s the harm in going fast? (I will address that a bit later.)
Let’s say you work your way into a relationship with a partner who is so strapped for time and energy, that you continuously find yourself on the tail end of “I’m exhausted,” rather than “Good evening honey, what would you like to do together?” We want our partners to be healthy and rested. Without energy and joy it is hard to generate the good vibes and times to become deeply intimate. In one of my past relationships, I was never able to convince my partner to make our time and our energy a priority in her life. There was always someone else, something else, or some kid-related focus that eclipsed our relationship.
I have the time and energy to give in my relationship quest. I am looking for a partner who has availability and energy just for us. Without time and intention, building a relationship becomes a one-sided affair. I was always the one holding the WE accountable. In the years that we dated, we had exactly 3 nights tucked away without her kid(s). There was nothing I was going to do to convince her that I was “worth” the time and effort. She was going to have to arrive at that decision on her own. I continuously asked for what I wanted. I also continuously made excuses for why she was still “the one.” She was not the one. She never made “we” a priority in her life.
Often, we would discussions about attention and energy, and I would identify the folks who had extreme access to her time and attention before me or us. I was about 5th on the list. I never needed or asked to be 1st, that was her children. But I couldn’t even find my path to 3rd or 4th place. There was no time or attention for our relationship in her life. We ended our partnership quest because we both agreed we were not getting our needs met. I’m not sure what her needs were, but obviously, they were not building a lifetime partnership. In the end, I didn’t make her daily or weekly “list” to get done. I simply wasn’t on her list.
The mistake was mine. I saw the red flags in the first few weeks of our dating. There were parts of our connection that kept being crushed by her inability to put me into the planning consideration phase of her life. The line she would use, “We’re going to do this. You are welcome to come if you want to. It’s okay if you want to do something else.” That is not inclusion. That is “you are optional.” The message was clear. I was a “nice to have,” but not an essential part of her life.
Okay, so what do I need to do differently? How can I get a better handle on a potential partner’s availability? How do I test for emotional intelligence?
I’ve been learning, time is the key. Just give it time. I don’t have to solve for everything in the first few weeks of a relationship. I can put a few items in the “to be watched” zone. The harder part, for me, is to determine when my frustrations and requests are becoming repetitive and fruitless. I could never move the needle of inclusion with this woman. I’m assuming she had never been in a relationship that demanded to be part of the WE between her and her kids. “Put me in the loop. Just consider me as essential and not optional.”
Spending Time Together and Alone
Some of the most revealing times in my partnerships are when I’m alone. What do I miss about this person? What are the wonderful parts of the relationship? What parts are areas of concern? And how well does this person deal with the setbacks and stresses of daily life? Time is the only measure. As you spend time together you can measure all the critical connection points. When you are apart from your partner, are you longing for them? Are you more relaxed when they are not around? Each of these signals is telling you something.
While I am longing for my partner, this morning:
What are the parts I adore?
Are there any areas of concern?
- A few, but nothing major.
- Time will tell.
Give Your Lover Space, Give Them Closeness
I need my time alone to recharge and reset my solo batteries. As a writer and musician, I need a lot of time alone to work on my craft. Time writing, reading, or playing music, are (for the most part) not shared time. I have to make my own time and my own creative process a priority. In the past, I’ve moved too quickly to establish “residency” together. But it was not necessary. Today, I have a better idea of how I want to move forward with patience and consistency.
I have time, and I am giving the majority of my available time to YOU. You are “the one.” We can’t know, in such a short time, if either of us is THE ONE. We’re just in the “You are awesome” phase. It’s a great place to be. But it is not the time to decide to move in together. It is the time to establish yourself in the relationship, and maintain your boundaries (time, friends, outside interests, sports, kids). We cannot have a healthy relationship if we both leap into codependency.
We will move forward as long as our visions align. “I want this for me. I want this for us. I want this for you. Let’s keep moving along together and see how we continue to align.” At some point, you may understand that your vision and your partner’s vision do not sync very well. At that point, you both have a choice.
- Am I going to move towards this person and compromise my vision?
- Is it time to move on and seek a different co-creator?
Wait and see how things develop. Wait. What’s the hurry? Let’s just spend available time together. Let’s make ourselves available for this exclusive relationship. And let’s see if we keep investing the time and energy to align and synchronize our lives as a couple. OR, if we continue to drift along as two separate trains sharing temporary proximity and then turning in different directions.
What I Want
I want a partner who turns to me. I want a partner who can invest the time and energy to be their best self while spending time with me. I want a partner I can pour my love and time into, and who appreciates my inclusive efforts. And, this partner will reciprocate in time, energy, and effort. That’s all we’ve got.
Are you able to move towards your partner, your relationship, your co-creation of a shared vision? As long as the answer is “YES” from both of you the journey of discovery can continue. When one partner turns their train towards the snowy mountains and away from their partnership with you, that’s when you will know it’s time to go. In my life, I’m trying to shorten the time when my optimism overrides the red flags I am seeing in the relationship.
- Interrupting Our Own Storytelling: a 4-Step Path to Mindfulness
- Our Daily Grind: How Do You Trend Up or Down During the Day?
- Sexual Fulfillment: I Don’t Know The Answer, Let’s Find Out Together
- Do You Know What You Want? Dating Strategies After Divorce
- Defining, Redefining, and Negotiating Trust in Relationships
- In All Cases Be Kind, Unless You Can’t Then Be Assertive
Here are a few of my books on Amazon:
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce: Advice and Strategies on Learning How to be Loved Again
- Fall of the House of Dad: My journey through divorce, from loss to joy, again and again
- A Good Dad’s Guide to Divorce: One father’s quest to stay connected with his children
- The Sex Index: Getting Our Love Languages Right in the Bedroom
- Here Comes the Darkness: Surviving and Thriving After a Mental Illness Diagnosis
- The Third Glass: When Drinking Becomes an Issue
- The Storm Before the Divorce: When One Parent Wants Out, That’s the End
- Dating 2.0: Aiming for the Love of Your Life
Now Available from Amazon