“It’s not you. It’s me.” I looked at Aiden with tears in my eyes. All he returned was a blank stare.
“We’ve been dating for 2 years and I just feel that I’ve, changed. We don’t want the same things in life.” I held my head in my hands, looking down , a tear sliding from my cheek to the table below.
“I’m so sorry. I love you. I do. But, you deserve someone who loves you as much as you love them.” My eyes were swollen, red and full of tears. He didn’t say a word. There was nothing more to say.
I stood up, took off the necklace that he had given me, placed it in front of him and said “Aiden, I never wanted to hurt you. I just feel this break up is for the best, for both of us.” He reached out, grasping the necklace and holding to it tightly. He got up and walked out without saying a word. Breaking up with Aiden was one of the hardest things I had ever done.
Aiden and I met 2 years earlier, at a party. The next night, we were on our first date. The night after that, we were on our second and by the end of the 1st week, we made our relationship official. Two weeks after my break-up with Aiden, I met Bucky. Two years later, Bucky and I called it quits. Four months later, I met Mr. Adventure. One year later, Mr. Adventure broke my heart. Five months later, I was dating Sociopath. Two years later, Sociopath had driven me into therapy. Four months later, I met Aces, and you know how that ended.
I’ve simply been lucky in love. Or at least, that’s what I always thought until commencing this 35/35 Project. Until now, I thought I was fortunate to meet 5 men who shared enough love to sustain long-term relationships. Each relationship was passionate. Sparks flew with all 5, immediately. The men committed right away. The relationship moving quickly was a good sign! It meant that there were no questions. That they were sure. Sure about me. Sure about “us”! Wrong.
Ben Franklin said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Whether it took 1 year, 2 years or 5, in my life, the 5 “big loves” have all ended. And, while each has its own specific reason for “the end”, the one thing they all have in common is that we committed ourselves before really knowing each other.
Date 20 and I had this exact conversation over dinner at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse. (First, let me pause to appreciate a man who already has a glass of wine ordered and waiting for you as you walk into dinner, knowing that you had a long day at work.) Over our second glass of wine, we broached the topic of “being single vs. being in a relationship”. Suddenly, I realized, I haven’t really been “single”. Almost ever. I have been in a relationship for 12 years out of the past 14! I have been single for 14% of the past 14 years!
In the article, “Setting Good Expectations: Are you looking for love but finding disappointment? You may be asking for too much too soon”, Colette Bouchez explains that low levels of serotonin are the cause of obsessive behavior, like the type of behavior found in those who suffer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The same low-level of serotonin found in OCD patients is found in couples that are newly in love. Accounting for the intense emotions that accompany the beginning stages of a relationship. Accounting for what makes a relationship move quickly. And, accounting for why, when a relationship loses that feeling (or, like me, simply ends), people are more driven to go out and “replace” that feeling…with another relationship. It’s a high. An obsession. A drug. Finding a new relationship after the end of an old one is self-medicating.
My dating coach, Jess McCann, calls it “relationship hopping.” I move between long-term relationships, instead of casually dating or “filling my funnel”. (We’ll discuss filling the funnel more later on, but for now, know that it simply means not focusing all of my efforts on only one man.) This stems from a desire for security. Security that comes from being in an exclusive relationship. The problem is, relationship hoppers grab onto the security before really learning about the person they are finding it in. And as we all know from my stories throughout this blog…2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years later, that will come back to bite you.
One of the questions that I’m getting the most frequently as I sort through the submissions for our Q&A session with the experts, is “How do you make sure the relationship is moving at a good pace?” While we will delve into this a bit deeper in the Q&A, Bouchez gives a good summary of those items you should keep in the forefront of your mind:
- Don’t rush into sex.
- Let the relationship deepen slowly over months.
- Think about what you bring to the relationship, not what you get from it.
- Understand that heady passion may not last, but love does.
- Work through problems to have a stronger relationship in the end.
I looked at Denman and heard myself saying that I am not going to repeat the mistakes I have made in the past. I am not going to look to a relationship for security, rather, I am going to create it within myself. I am going to take the time to get to know people, really know people, before deciding exactly how I’d like a relationship with them to progress. I’m going to “fill my funnel” and simply enjoy “dating” which, for me, is simply getting to know new people. I’m not going to repeat the same thing over and over and expect the same result. Instead, I’m trying something new. To which Denham smiled and said “Cheers!”