Quite often I find myself the “unofficial therapist” to friends and loved ones. I don’t mind it at all; in fact I have at times thought maybe that is my true calling in life. At any rate, these conversations we have always get me thinking (as if I need any help with that). Lately, there have been a lot of relationship conversations…when to say when type of things. When should you give up? How do you turn away from someone you love? Yadda, yadda, and so on. I have this one friend in particular who I am very close with; let’s call her Abigail, Abby for short. Abby and I have been together for many years, and we have been through it all…divorce, heartache, abuse, love, children…you name it, we have seen it. Lately though she’s been struggling with her current relationship and I really don’t know what to tell her. So I come to you all.
Abby is with a man who is quite wonderful, and he has made her happier than I have ever seen, but he has a hesitation about him and is at times very withdrawn. Abby contributes this to his life stresses, and tries to be supportive, considerate, and understanding. She is very open and giving of herself, which typically sets her up for heartache, but I am hoping this time will not be the case. Rex (sounds like a good name) is very polite, he has a wonderful heart, and he clearly cares for Abby very much, but there does seem to be some sort of wall he tries to keep in place. Almost as if he is afraid to allow himself to feel too much.
Another part of the issue plaguing her is that she is fearful he is still in love with his ex-wife, leaving him unable to freely love her. This woman has clearly moved on and is very happy, so I know she has nothing to worry about. Personally, I feel if there is any “love” left for the ex it is purely a love of distorted memory. Let’s face it; we have all had those times where we have built a relationship up in our minds to something so grand and amazing, while in reality it was nowhere near a fraction of that fantasy. I think we sometimes do this to maybe justify why we held on so long, or maybe it’s to punish ourselves for wrongs we committed. Either way it is deceitful and dangerous to us. We need to look at past relationships for what they were. They fell apart for a reason, regardless of who the initial wrong doer was, if there even was one, events and behaviors occurred that led to the relationship’s demise. So why do we hang on and prevent ourselves from having a beautiful life? Why is Abby hanging on when Rex seems unable to give her what she needs? This is what I want to sort out.
Abby, like me, believes in accepting a person for who they are. Not who you would like them to become, or who you think you can mold them into. No, we accept people in our lives flaws and all, and sometimes we love them more for those flaws. But in accepting those flaws are we giving the other person a free pass to never make an effort? Are we telling them we’re okay with accepting less than we know we deserve? How do you say you accept someone, but then want to place demands on them? But is it really “demanding” to say that you need love and affection? Is it too much to want courtesy and respect, especially if you’re giving that to them? I suppose this also leads into the old song and dance of how men and women think differently. We know it’s true. I have researched it endlessly, and still do, it’s a reality. We’re wired differently, and that’s ok. I suppose if I wanted to be with someone who thinks like a woman and treats me as I treat someone I’d be a lesbian…hmmm, maybe a topic for another discussion one day.
So why do we love men when they are so infuriating at times? Why are we putting up with their inability to express themselves? Probably the same reason they love us when we can be royal pains in the ass too (admit it, you know it’s true ladies). There is a balance that comes with it, at least for me there is. I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy learning that maybe my way isn’t the only way. I have learned a lot about myself and life, especially in my current relationship, and I have become a better and stronger person because of it. But that’s me, and I’m rambling. Back to Abby and Rex.
The struggle she is having is that she loves him with all of her heart, and wants nothing more than to be with him, but she is feeling depleted from giving so much. So does she say something to him? Does she tell him she needs more from him because she feels she is giving too much? In all fairness, he has not asked her for one thing, this is just the way she is, she gives her whole heart to those she loves. Sadly, and this is in all her relationships, no one gives her back the same, and that’s with friends and family too. But in her past experiences with these people, when she starts to pull back for her own well-being they are less than understanding, and often get angry with her. So this is her fear with Rex. If she asks for more, which I suspect he doesn’t even realize she needs, will he get mad and leave? I suppose if he were to leave over her expressing her needs and desires then maybe he isn’t the great guy we think he is, but after all this time they have spent together he should be able to listen. But does she bring up her concerns about his feelings for the ex? Again, I feel they should be able to talk about this, but I don’t think he is the best listener.
So what does she do? Does she take the chance that he may shut completely down and she may lose him? I am torn because I see how they are together, and it really is a wonderful thing, so I want it to work out. At the same time, I want her to be fully satisfied and receive the love she deserves. Should she just wait it out and see what happens? Maybe he’ll realize he’s been neglecting her, and even unfair a bit with certain things. I think this can all be worked through, but communication has to be there. They both need to express their hearts freely and listen to one another.
I guess I found my answer. If she truly loves this man, and wants him in her life, but wants to receive the same kind of adoration as she gives then she is going to have to speak up. If he is the stand-up man we all think he is then he will listen and be willing to give her what she needs, but she needs to listen to him as well. If he doesn’t want to lose her he will make the effort to keep their relationship strong, just as she is trying to do, but she has to speak up.
Men aren’t mind readers ladies, and neither are we. Perhaps this is why so many relationships falter…no one speaks up. You really can only blame the other party if you let your true desire’s be known and they still look away. So speak up! Lay your heart on the line. You took a chance when you began the relationship, and if it went well then imagine what you would have missed had you not tried. So take a chance to make your relationship stronger…you might be pleasantly surprised.
©Gloria Tassen and Life According To G, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gloria Tassen and Life According To G with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.