Submitted by Delaine
It’s been three and a half years since my ex-husband and I split up. And since then, despite the many dates and mini-relationships I’ve had, I’m still single. But I don’t think of this as being a ‘bad’ thing ; I think I’ve needed this time – to heal, to grow, to like myself more…and to get a much stronger sense of what a healthy relationship looks/feels like.
That being said, I want to bring up a conversation I shared with a divorced girlfriend the other day; it was a bit of an ‘aha‘ for me and I’m filing it away for reference for when I meet a potential Mr. Right:
My friend suggested that one flashing, yet oftentimes overlooked warning of an unhealthy relationship is when a woman constantly talks about her man’s potential instead of how he is – like right now, day-in day-out. This woman talks a lot in the ‘future tense’, ie, he will be happy/more loving/more successful/a better father/ spouse when he gets a new job/believes himself more/is less stressed out/ finds his spiritual center etc. Until he gets ‘there’ – wherever ‘there’ may be, she tolerates his poor treatment of her, buries her unhappiness and hurt (maybe even blames herself for it?), and may even makes excuses for his behavior.
Now please, let me clarify: I’m NOT saying you should high-tail it out a relationship as soon as a rough patch arises in your partner’s life; we all go through those. I’m talking about something much more insidious – it’s like a self-defeating, ongoing ‘dynamic’ that women may unconsciously get trapped in. And I think some of us need reminding to clearly see someone for who he is and how he makes us feel…instead of who we hope and dream him to be.
Of course my hand is waving in the air here – cause my tendency in past relationships has been to allow my romantic notions of who someone is to blind me. Actually, it’s more than just my romanticism – it’s that I want to see the good in someone and focus on that. I’d always thought that was a good thing…
But the problem is that there’s a fine yet dangerous line between believing in someone’s soul potential and seeing things that aren’t there and possibly never will be in this lifetime. If he’s grumpy and mean and disrespectful to me now, chances are he’ll continue being this same way even when factor A, B or C is accomplished. There’s a good chance that who he is NOW, how he treats me and the kids right now, is exactly who he’ll always be. And unless he decides he wants to rise into a bigger, better man, unless he decides he wants to treat me with the love and care I deserve, I’ll forever be living in an excuse-filled fantasy world that damages my soul.
Like I said, I’m filing this tidbit away for future reference with a potential Mr. Right. Cause next time round, I want to do it right – and this will involve my focusing more on how I feel NOW versus ‘some day’. I’ll also be paying closer attention to how I talk ‘out loud’ to my girlfriends about a man – cause really, that’s me thinking/feeling out loud, possibly even giving voice to incongruities. And the bottom line is that if what I’m saying sounds like a skunk and smells of a skunk, then goshdarnit, he IS a skunk. And I’m done with weasels.