I have a really bad habit of convincing myself that my partner is always on the verge of breaking up with me. (Yes, this has led to many a tear-streaked performance of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” for an audience of none.)
I’ve lived a very privileged life. I’m white. I have incredibly loving and supportive parents. And I’ve honestly never experienced real tragedy.
I think all of this (and countless other examples of my luck/privilege) is why I’ve spent many of my post-collegiate years waiting for the other shoe to drop.
That, and experiencing three relationships in college that just kind of…ended? Fizzled? Ran their course? Completely blew up in my face and made me deeply question my judgement skills? You get the picture.
The thing is: when looking back, I have no idea why they ended. They ended mutually, and I was never left heartbroken. But I find it so frustrating, not being able to pinpoint the exact cause of demise.
I believe this is where my fear of being unexplainably dumped was born-even though I never really got ‘dumped’. I have a bad habit of trying to hold on at the end, because I’ve never been a quitter. I often convince myself that the relationship isn’t really over, when I know that it is. And then I feel duped when it mutually ends.
What I perceived as past failure has led to a fear of failure. Imagine that!
At one point or another in all of my adult relationships thus far, I feel in my heart of hearts that he will absolutely wake up one morning to say he doesn’t love me anymore.
Have I ever actually heard these exact words? No.
But it’s a defense mechanism. If I convince myself (whether for good reason or not) that my man-friend is no longer interested, it won’t hurt so much when they call me to say ‘it’s over’. Right?
…except when it’s totally not over. And they’re not feeling that way at all. And now I’ve projected my own insecurities onto him and us, which creates a whole new problem that was never even there to begin with.
Fun stuff, isn’t it?!
How do we avoid letting our insecurities dictate the course of our next relationship?
Each new relationship is a blank slate. But we still come to it as the same person, with the same past, and the same SHIT. It’s never a good idea to suppress our feelings, and trying to hide our insecurities won’t likely lay the foundation for a healthy relationship.
So where’s the line between sharing the fullest version of ourselves, and not projecting past insecurities onto a new relationship?
I stumped myself with this one. And so, I give you the words of a far far better writer/composer than 99.999999% of the population could ever dream to be, and someone whose music and words I turn to almost daily…Stephen Sondheim #NerdAlert #OurGod #LinManuelMiWho
“Look at what you want, not at where you are”.
My insecurities come from my past. And the past can be haunting. But like many pieces of our lives, acceptance can be the first key. For me, that’s accepting that I don’t have a clear answer as to why some past relationships have ended. They just did. And that’s ok. It’s in the past!
“I chose and my world was shaken-so what? The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not”.
My fear of being dumped is also my defense mechanism-it’s a survival instinct. When you’ve been hurt, it’s natural to build up a barrier to avoid that feeling again. We can acknowledge our fear, and acknowledge where in our past it came from. Ignoring our insecurities most certainly won’t make them disappear. We can talk about them. With friends, family, a therapist. We can take the time to WORK ON OURSELVES. And then, we can take one step closer to closure.
“Look at what you’ve done, then at what you want, not at where you are, what you’ll be”.
And when we’re ready to move forward, we can keep in mind that fear is going to block any ability to feel happy again. Theodore Roosevelt once said “comparison is the thief of joy”. That sentiment has helped me more than I can ever say.
We’re constantly encouraged to live in the present, and that’s relevant here as well. It’s easier said than done, I know. But regularly living with our fears from a past relationship isn’t fair to our current partner, and it isn’t fair to ourselves. We’ve previously touched on the importance of growth in relationships, and re-playing our past only stunts that integral growth.
The older I get, the more I realize that forward motion is one of our greatest keys to thriving success. Acknowledging that doesn’t make our insecurities disappear, but feeling that internal drive to keep moving gives us a sense of purpose, a sense of change, and helps us move forward.
(That little image has helped me. A LOT.)
I always try and convince myself that my partner is going to dump me, to eliminate the potential hurt I could feel if it happens, because I remember how badly it’s hurt in the past. But eventually, could trying to avoid feeling hurt diminish my ability to feel at all?
Well…probably not. Because, generally speaking, I tend to feel all the feelings. But being afraid you’ll get hurt is a really lousy reason to shut yourself off. Vulnerability is powerful and healthy.
And here’s the thing: even if my worst fear came true? And someone broke abruptly broke it off with me?
I’D STILL BE OKAY. BECAUSE I’M A FUCKING CATCH.
And so are you. No, seriously. And if you don’t know that yet, I’d recommend going back a few steps here.
So, what’s the key to not letting our insecurities dictate our next relationship?
Acceptance. And moving forward. Both of these take time, and work. Be patient with yourself.
“Stop worrying where you’re going-move on. If you can know where you’re going-you’ve gone. Just keep moving on”.
9/20/2016 08:49:43 pm
“Things happen, people change,' is what Amanda said. For her that covered it. You wanted an explanation, and ending that would assign blame and dish up justice. You considered violence and you considered reconciliation. But what you are left with is a premonition of the way your life will fade behind you, like a book you have read too quickly, leaving a dwindling trail of images and emotions, until all you can remember is a name.” -Bright Lights Big City
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