November 4, 2005
Hi Dr. Irene - I am Suzie who wrote you last April about my relationship with S (Eeek! I am angry!) where I was pushing for a romantic relationship & he wanted a friendship.
I had a fender bender auto accident in July that changed
my life forever. When the officer asked me if I saw the van that hit me, my
reply was “No, I was to busy trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.”
It hit me like a bolt of lightning--that statement shows how I have lived
my entire life. I am always trying to figure out what I am doing wrong in
all of life’s various situations. From that moment on, I began controlling
my behavior instead of letting my feelings control my actions.
You began taking responsibility for your own life to a much greater extent
than you had before. You stopped putting control over yourSelf in other
peoples' hands. Put another way, you assumed your own Power.
I was finally able to be a friend to S and enjoy our time together. I quit playing “victim” & began to speak up for myself & dealt with reality rather than what I wanted the relationship to be. I finally let go.
Wow! Good for you! In Sept., S met another square dancer that he really fell for. I knew there was a potential relationship even before S realized it. I told him that “if he had met someone that he wanted to date and that made him happy, I wished him all the luck in the world, and I would still like to dance sometime.” No one was more amazed than I was when those words came out of my mouth.
I have met the young woman who is 23 years younger than I am & really like her (darn it!).
Double Hehe! S and I are still dance partners in a class on Sundays. She is in the same class and it is difficult to see S & her leave together, but I feel that I handled the situation with great dignity and am so very, very proud of myself.
Your behavior has increased your self-esteem.
Excellent! S says that he feels a connection with this woman that he has only felt once before in the 10 years he has been single. For some reason, S has always been attracted to women that had a lot of baggage. This gal seems to have the qualities he wants, but without all the extra baggage. S has a “genius” IQ and he feels this gal is smarter than he is, which is really a challenge for him. He actually feels “intimidated” by her (his words, not mine). Right now they are seeing each other 3-4 nights a week, and he is even talking about possibly marrying her in a year or so
- even though he thought he would never get married again.
She is definitely in control of the relationship between them. So what is the problem?
Yeah. What is the problem?
Now that he feels safe, he is coming over to finish the work he started on my house.
Good. In the last 5 days, we have ended up talking for about 17 hours. He suddenly seems to completely trust me and is talking to me about everything & confiding in me about a lot of very personal things. I have learned more about him personally in the last week than in the last 1 ½ years. He has admitted how much he cares for me and agreed the age difference is the biggest factor why he would not allow any romance between us. I said I completely understand that & accepted it and it felt good to finally have it out in the open. (I am 66 & he is 56—the new girlfriend is 43). I am no longer seeing the moody, slightly verbally abusive S. I am only seeing the open, happy, fun-loving S, the one I fell in love with.
My attitude has been if this girl brings out the best in him, so be it. He wants me to dance with him when she is not available & I agreed since there isn’t anyone else to square dance with. (10 men to every woman) and I do love & miss dancing with him. In the past few days, S & I have talked about everything, our relationship, their relationship, sex, relationships in general, how we feel about just about everything. In my entire life I have never been so open nor had a guy be so open in talking to me.
To say I enjoyed being with him and talking together like this would be putting it mildly.
I feel so confused. S has told me that if I wanted to keep the door open to him coming back, I am surely handling it right by supporting him in what he needs to do right now.
For the first time, you are being his friend. Without
any reference to personal gain or loss, you are being his friend. I quote from the advice you gave me before: “The key with these people is to treat them without any duress. Make it clear that despite what you may wish they would do, you are encouraging them to do as they truly want inside. At least now they won't be bucking you!
Yes. This advise is universally applicable. Conversely, it becomes your job to accept whatever their decisions may be, like it or not. This way, it's a win-win for each of you."
S & I talked about all relationships having struggles, and
that those struggles either pull people together or apart. Our struggles pulled us apart. We both withdrew and the problems never really got resolved. We also talked about how sometimes people come into each other lives for whatever period of time it takes us to learn whatever
lesson we are meant to learn from each other. He feels he has learned from me and I know I have certainly learned a lot about relationships from the time I have spent with him. Why can we talk so candidly now, but could not when we were dating?
Because you are letting him be. You are supporting
him in whatever he wants to do, whether his endeavors support your love
relationship with him or not. As it happens, you are "allowing" him to be
in love with another woman - and you are still able to support him. Good
for you! This is why he can talk with you.
I have spent my whole life trying to control the outcome of any relationship I ever had with a man until now. I do not have all the feelings handled, I still love this guy, but the way I have handled my behavior is A+.
Yes. And doesn't that make you feel just incredible! Always ask yourself how you would
need to behave to increase your self-esteem. You'll be headed in the right
direction. About the feelings, sit with them. Process them. What are you
feeling? Can you find that spot inside yourself where you just "know?"
I found when the chips were down that I want him to be happy and if this girl can make him happier than I can, so be it.
Yes. So be it. And no matter how unhappy this outcome
may cause you to feel at some level, the strength inside exists to tolerate
S asked me today how I had managed to change in such a short time. He said that in the past two months, I have acted completely like an adult rather than going into my childlike victim act.
Yes. Taking responsibility is about emotional
maturity. I told him about the experience with the car accident. This new me feels so strange and it is kind of scary.
Of course. It is OK that if feels scary. It is new.
It is scary not to try to control outcomes. Feel the fear (for a few
minutes) then let it go.
I am responsible for my own life and happiness, but that does not mean my heart still does not skip a beat when I dance with S, see his name on my cell phone, and miss the companionship we shared. I just keep telling myself that each day will get better and whatever is meant to be will be.
Yes. What will be will be.
So here is the conflict. I have accepted his new relationship, but suddenly he is sharing with me a level of communication intimacy I have only had with girlfriends. He now treats me so special when he is with me, but he wants to spend as much time with her as he can and she is the one he is dancing with. We are getting along better than we ever did when I was trying to create a romantic involvement. My girlfriend is very concerned about this new development and feels he should be spending his time talking to this new girl, not to me.
Your girlfriend is entitled to her opinion, but this
is only her opinion, and has nothing to do with nothing.
My basic impression is that he is scared of this new relationship and just needs someone to talk to and now feels comfortable talking to me.
Can you help me make some sense out of this? I do not want to close the door on this friendship or even a possible future relationship between us, but do not want to set myself up to be hurt.
Then you need to do a little soul searching since you are the only one
who know what is good for you.
He may marry this girl or he may realize how much he cares for me. I am willing to live with the reality of the results and do plan to go out with other guys and do other things, but is it a huge mistake to allow these long conversations?
Do the conversations hurt? If you are in pain, certainly consider putting a
stop to them. Letting him know you so enjoy his company but are unable to
handle this new relationship because you are still too attached to your
feelings for him is an honest and kind way to halt your relationship. On
the other hand, knowing that life is full of both love and pain, the good
and the bad, and that it is OK to feel what you feel, and that you can
tolerate whatever you feel, you allow the relationship to continue to where
You see, there is no "right" or "wrong."
Letting things be, not trying to control outcomes, is a freer and fuller
way to live, though there are no guarantees that the outcome will be what
you want or that there will be no pain. The reason why most of us try to
control others, or our environment or outcomes is because we are trying to
insulate ourselves from pain, anxiety, and from hurt. We narrow our
lifespace when we do this; we avoid pain, but not really - because feelings
we avoid grow and come back to bite us when we're not looking.
Personal Power is about taking
personal responsibility. It is about not being a victim nor a
controller. If you take your power, you cannot be anybody's victim, nor
will you seek to control anybody. It is about emotional maturity. It
is about running your own life, and doing it wisely - so you are not driven
either by temporary emotional states or by pure reason, but by a
combination of feelings and reason. It is called "Wise Mind." (For those
who are interested in finding out more about these concepts, look up
"mindfulness" and "dialectic behavior therapy.")
I need advice about the direction this relationship is
taking. I read the book
Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl-A
Woman's Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship
by Sherry Argov
& realize I need to be my own independent person and am just beginning to learn who this new person (myself) is? I will not compete with this new person or any other woman. I am my own unique self and that has to be what S or any other guy wants. I simply do not know how to handle this new development of a different type of closeness.
Dearest Suzie, you've entered a
wonderful, more spiritual path. It is about taking responsibility. It is
about letting life be. It's about making your own decisions and not
avoiding life's inevitable pain. It is about letting life happen, unless
you choose to intervene for whatever reason in taking care of yourSelf.
I would advise you continue allowing
yourself to enjoy each other, come what may. Including pain. But that's
just my advise based on what would be good for human and spiritual growth.
You may disagree, not be ready for the pain, etc., etc. Being responsible
for yourself means taking all this into account and choosing the best
option for you. Of course, you can always change your mind.
Meanwhile, please consider reading some
of these selections. They will assist your journey into knowing and loving
yourself - and in your taking your Personal Power to the max! You want to
learn more about being mindful: