Monday, January 31, 2011

A few words on disappointment...

At one time or another, we all find ourselves disappointed.  Didn't ace the test, didn't get the job, didn't win that race, didn't get the girl.  They've done studies on perceived happiness and it turns out that getting what we want doesn't really make us happy in the long run.  One year out, a lottery winner and a paraplegic are equally happy with their lives. The problem is, what do we do in the meantime?  Or perhaps more importantly, how can we avoid disappointment in the first place?

There are a million resources out there on improving oneself, how to get the guy/girl, and how to make the relationship work once you're in it.  They'll tell you to be open and honest, they'll tell you to be vulnerable and sincere.  There are tips, tricks, rules, and guidelines but the truth is, even if you manage to put your best foot forward, it can still get stepped on.  How can two people appear so great on paper and end up so wrong for each other in real life?  I've seen it again and again...  A couple of my friends, so happy, planning their future together, for some reason everything just came together at the perfect time, then boom!  One leaves unexpectedly, reducing the other to a cynical, heartbroken mess.  Clearly something was missing, but what?  Or even from my own past...  He had the education, the ambition, the job, the looks, and even all of the right words, and yet something still wasn't right.  

When you look back on a failed relationship, hindsight is always 20/20.  You see every wrong turn, every bad decision.  How do we get that perfect vision ahead of time instead of in the rear view mirror when it's already too late??  How do you know when to give someone a chance and when to cut them loose?  There is no expertise in what I'm about to share, only my own experiences and opinions, so do with it what you will...

Thinking back on all of the "Mr. Wrong"s, or more importantly the "Mr. Almost Right"s (a more dangerous breed methinks) and then comparing that to the few blissful couples I know, I've noticed one pattern.  IF IT'S RIGHT, IT'S EASY, at least initially.  No relationship is perfect or without work, of course, but if you're already working or wondering or wavering at week 3 or date 5, listen to those alarm bells!  Maybe he's secretive, maybe he's unaffectionate (in public or otherwise), maybe it's just a feeling in your gut, but either way, something isn't right.  Sometimes you find that you're "talking yourself into" the relationship/person, or trying to explain/reason away why things aren't going smoothly.  What does this all mean?

There are some who believe that our GI region is a "second brain" of sorts, due to the huge number of synapses and dense neural network that exist there.  These people will tell you that this is why we get that "feeling in the pit of my stomach" or that "gut reaction".  Whether they are right or wrong there is something to be said for listening to and trusting yourself.  Is this what people mean when they say "you'll just know"?  Or when they talk about "soulmates" or "the one"?

I suppose in the end all we have are our own experiences and opinions, not any real proof, but I've come to realize that for me personally, the deadliest pattern that I keep repeating is not really listening to myself.  "It's ok that he flirts with other girls, nothing is going to come of it."  "His temper isn't THAT bad, I have a temper too."  "Maybe he's just nervous?"  "He's just really busy right now."  "He just needs more time to open up."  BULLSHIT.  Is it really as simple as "he's just not that into you"?  Looks like it, and it looks like we can feel it coming, even if we don't see it until it's behind us.

Let's make a deal right now.  Let's start listening to ourselves, really listening, so we can save ourselves some of that painful disappointment in the aftermath of "Mr. Almost Right".  Let's quit making excuses to stick around because we're sick of the dating game and just don't want to be alone anymore.  Let's realize and remember that we deserve to be loved and to be in love with no forcing, bargaining, or qualifying required.  Let's practice giving the same compassion to ourselves that we freely and easily give to our friends every day.  Let's call a spade a spade, and stop wasting time on "potential" or "what could be" and look at what IS.

A few honest questions I can keep in mind in the process:
1. How do I feel when I'm with him?
2. Does the best version of me surface when he's around?
3. Am I a priority?
4. Do I bring out the best in him?
5. Can I be myself?
6. DOES IT (us/the relationship/etc.) FEEL EFFORTLESS?

Thanks for reading my ramblings...  Please please please comment away!

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