This pause I’m in, this moment is one of my opportunities to reset, reevaluate my past issues, and take aim at what my side of the bed looks like. And it’s important to do this BEFORE entering a new relationship and here’s why.
What You Can Change vs. What You Can’t Change
In the pause between relationships, you’ve got important work to do. You’ve got to pull apart some of the past misses and look at what went wrong, what you could do better, and what (on your side of the equation) needs additional work. Here are a few of the gems of mine that still need mining.
- Insecure attachement issues
- Enlarged need for attention
- Energy and mood self-management
- Why do I pick unavailable women?
Let’s take them one at a time.
Insecure attachement issues have been a part of my DNA for as long as I’ve been aware of them. Some of the topics for self-exploration include: worry about my partner leaving me; worry about infidelity when they’re too close to former lovers and friends; pure jealousy. I’ve got my monsters in my own closet, and those are the three I’m comfortable sharing at the moment. Needless to say, I’ve got some work to do on my own issues, regardless of what my partner might be struggling with or actively working on.
An enlarged need for attention may or may not be a big problem, but it’s something I want to explore more fully about myself. Am I seeking fame or wisdom? If nobody read this blog would I keep digging up the words, and publishing the stories? I think the answer is yes. I have several projects that are not public, and they don’t seem to lack for momentum. I do appreciate the attention. And I’m a bit amazed when a lover or partner doesn’t lean into my writing in a “let’s see what he thought about that in his last relationship.” It’s probably just a search away. I’ve been as transparent as possible.
Energy and mood self-management might be my biggest challenge. Here’s how that looks. I’m in a down mood, let’s say, during a pandemic. I’m doing everything I can to sustain my positive outlook and helpful approach to my partner and family. And sometimes I’m good at it. Other times, I wade into the hopelessness of depression, and while I do my best to STFU, it is obvious when I get quiet. Right here on this blog is the evidence, over and over. I should map them out and look for the cycle. Hmm. Of course, the flip side is too much up energy. This also is part of my DNA. I can tell coworkers, “I had too much coffee this morning,” and that will work for a short burst. But overall, my up modes are almost as challenging as my down modes. My challenge is to stay closer to the middle, the normal arousal and well-managed depression.
Why do I pick unavailable women? Let me see. This one is less clear. My last three relationships were with women who on the surface seemed strong, independent, and available. Each of them, in some fundamental way, showed their availability to be conditional. And often those conditions were completely out of my control. Are they unavailable or just unprepared for me? I know I’m demanding. I know I’m a handful. At least, I think I’m giving you all the information I have about myself and my unique mood escalator. That’s what I hope to do, anyway.
For me, next is the pause and reset. I’m in no hurry to reconnect with another person at the deepest levels of my heart. I’m a bit tender. And while I’m playing on Tinder and Bumble, I’m not actively looking. SEE? I’m one of those “just browsing” people on dating sites that I talk about all the time. It’s not that I’m happier alone, but I am becoming increasingly aware of my natural set point of happiness. I’m pretty happy alone. It’s not my chosen configuration. BUT, this moment, this aloneness is the prime time to get my own shit in order.
If you’re in-between, it might be a good idea to stay there. As much as I like my bed warm and shared, I am not ready to open up again. And I’m certainly not ready to claim success in my self-discovery project. We need time alone. We need to understand how we live, love, and play alone. That information can frame our next healthy relationship.
As we become clearer in our boundaries, in what is good for us and what is not good for us, we can make choices more easily. When something doesn’t feel good, we’re able to say, “NO. This will not work for me.” And if that issue is inflexible, or unfixable, we will know without a doubt that it’s time to go.
Ultimately, I believe a primary relationship and aligning with another person completely is a spiritual experience. I’m willing to wait and NOT SETTLE. You have to ask for what you want, what you need, and what you need to change. You cannot compromise. Either we go in 100% or we don’t go. That’s my current understanding of my relationship truth. Onward!
That’s where I am, where are you? The comments are always open.
As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find lives after divorce. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your dating/relationship challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.
- The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
- Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce – John McElhenney
More articles from The Whole Parent:
- Dad’s Divorce Journey: 9-years Later I Still Feel the Loss of Kid-time
- Heal Your Heart from the Fear and Loss by Opening with Vulnerability
- Self-Care and Appreciation: Can I Love All of Myself Right Now?
- 3 Required Traits for Building a Lasting Relationship
- The Big Three Marriage Issues and the Hope of Counseling
- 8 Lessons from My First 2 Divorces