Are you a "what iffer" or a "nexter"? I think of people in two categories. Either they dwell on the past, analyzing it to death until they have wasted their present on "what ifs". Or they are the type of person that believes any reflection on past experiences is pointless and says "next" without regard to the life lesson. I am certainly a person of the later. I think I might have spent the last few years "nexting" many life lessons that seem to be hitting me now.
Randomly (and during a late viewing of O'Reilly) I started thinking about the one relationship in my life that I still deem a success. Yeah, we did not end up married or even friends (also, I think it is weird to maintain a relationship with exes, but that is for another blog) but this relationship was my life's largest influence on my current outlook on dating and relationships. Looking back, the simple answer to our end was that we grew apart. I generally label it that and move on. But that isn't really a fair analysis of what happened.
Maybe my lack of reflection is as simple as not wanting to admit one day someone stopped loving me. Isn't that our deepest darkest fear? One day we wake up and our heart's desire no longer cares for us?
Sometimes I think it was my inability to emotionally commit entirely to someone who was just waiting for me to let him in fully. Walls do not build strong relationships.
So was it me? Or was it him? Was I the impossible one to live with? Did I drive him insane with my ultra type-A behavior and mild chick-flick obsession? Or was he the one who just couldn't be strong enough to see it through?
My epiphany tonight was that why it ended does not even matter. I spent so long avoiding the analysis of the relationship that I missed the whole point of the experience. What matters is what I take from it. Through our strengths I learned that love and commitment are real life possibilities. Sometimes another person's needs and wants are as important as your own. I learned that partnerships with respect and consideration are much stronger than doing it alone. Through our failures I realized that any relationship takes work and strength to carry the weight of the tough times when the other cannot. Most importantly, I learned that the end of anything will not break you unless you let it.
I'm not sure what my conclusion is. I think it's the central question of why do I now approach dating and love from such a jaded perspective when in reality my past has taught me that love exists and when you find it can be amazing. In fact, even when it fails, you gain belief in yourself as an individual.
I will try to remember this conclusion from now on. I cannot go on expecting so very little from the male population, when my first real life experience was truly amazing even though it ended. That is simply unfair and a fine example of cognitive dissonance.