I’ve never been particularly good at relationships. It’s not for want of trying and it has certainly been a developmental area of mine. There’s a truism that says knowing what you don’t want helps you work out what you DO want. In other words, it is our not so great experiences that help focus us towards better ones. The same is true of our experience in relationships, they provide us with clarity and pushes us in the direction of what we want. There is always a moment when you decide enough is enough and something has got to give. Up until that moment, we continue to ‘settle for’ where we ‘re at or maybe we tell ourselves we can’t do any better or this is as good as it gets. If things are really not great we end-up in survival mode and that’s not pleasant for anybody.
I had been in a GI (geographically impossible) relationship for the better part of 5 years. She lived in the Middle East for work and I lived initially in Europe and then returned home to Australia. Long-distance relationships aren’t everybody’s cup of tea which is why they call them geographically impossible. I would often have people ask me how I did it, let alone if it worked for me, which I was convinced it did.
My standard response was that it was fantastic, which it was for a long time. We would see each other 3 to 4 times a year and it was like the old Colgate add that ran in Australia in the ’70s… “How’s your love life?” was the question and the response Rome, Paris, London was the answer except ours was better and included places like Lisbon, Istanbul and Colombo. We hardly ever fought but then, that isn’t surprising either as we always had seen each other at our best and in stunning and exotic locations.
I also told myself that I preferred a GI relationship because it allowed me to live my life unimpeded by a partner but more importantly, the relationship I had previous to that had left me emotionally scarred. My second standard response, therefore, was “if they don’t live with me, they can’t screw up my life”. I had heard myself say that line so often that I had come to believe it. It wasn’t until one day an astute friend of mine who had heard me tout that line one too many times said to me “you say that way too much for it to be what’s really going on”.
In other words, “if they don’t live with me, they can’t screw up my life”, was a pretence and a pretence always masks something underneath.
The real concern
The only question to ask then is, what is it hiding? When I dared to look what was revealed was I had put myself in a situation where I had zero risk of my real concern which was getting my heart shredded, again. So, screwing up my life wasn’t the real concern, putting myself in a situation where I could be hurt again was. Once that truth emerged, I began a conversation for us to live in the same city and have what others had been telling was a real relationship, rather than a perpetual holiday romance. I had a son so my moving was harder, so naturally, I wanted her to move to come make a life with me.
On my 48th birthday, I found myself with my ‘on again off again’ flame having forgotten my birthday but that wasn’t what upset me. Anyone can forget a birthday and I can easily let that go. I had already had a challenging day and my son had tried it on at dinner and that had put a dampener on my birthday and rather than not hear from her I decided to call and made no mention of my birthday. What really had me troubled was the insinuation that someday we might be closer, as in living on the same continent. That didn’t even come close to what I now wanted which was on again, off again and seeing my ‘partner’ a few weeks out of the year. I decided I wanted more and the only one that was going to give that to me and make that a possibility was me.
Something’s got to give
In that moment I decided enough was enough and it was time to stop perpetuating the limbo that I had put myself in and look forward and create a life with a partner here. That decision set me on the path I am on now. I still don’t relationships down pat and, I’m happy to say I have never been happier than I am now.