Perfectionism, otherwise known as the art of never failing, is often bred from a childhood desire to please our parents and by virtue of which, receive their love. At its core, it’s a fear-based approach. Perfectionists are so afraid of making mistakes and facing the rejection or ridicule that could ensue, that they figure by only doing everything right, they can get a free pass on the discomfort.
The “almost” relationship, the “practically” dating, the “pretty much” my boyfriend— I have been there, done that, and even wore the damn t-shirt. If this type of relationship, by which I mean one that’s nearly a relationship but not a real relationship at all, sounds in any way familiar, that’s because you’ve likely experienced a situation like this before or you’re currently in the throes of one now.
The thing about grieving is that other people tend to forget you’re doing it. Or they conceive that after a week or two, you should be able to transcend the experience and keep any lingering emotions neatly folded in the back of your bottom drawer, paying particular attention to ensure they don’t bubble over in public.
Let your heart break. Let it bleed. Let it ache. Let all its pieces fall to the floor at your feet. Let the tears flow. Let yourself fall to your knees. Let the pain become physical. Let yourself live in a way where your heart is allowed to be broken. By this, I don’t mean put your heart in harm’s way and fail to care for its welfare. I don’t mean date people who are difficult to love and pretend it doesn’t matter when they throw you out like the day’s trash.
The thing about being tied to the emotionally unavailable is that this person can be sitting right next to you and still feel miles away. It’s a strange sensation, really. You miss the person most when they’re close, because you know it’s only a matter of time before you get locked out. You can sense it — sense the fact that they’ll be pulling away from you shortly.
I used to have a bad habit of consistently dating men who were on the fence about me. Countless were the excuses, too — “you’re the girl you marry, not the girl you date,” and “I’m not into labels, but I’m not dating anyone else right now” stand out in my memory.
Giving advice is a very nuanced affair. And I’m not unaware of the fact that a lot of my writing may be construed as “advice-giving,” though that’s not my intent. Writing is cathartic for me and helps me identify how I feel about a particular topic on my mind. If people can relate, that’s great; but I’m writing about my experiences only, and trying not to paint everyone with the same brush.
Now that I’m newly thirty and engaged to be married, I’ve been pondering just how dysfunctional my high school and twenty-something relationships were. Not only were my partnerships largely unimpressive, but the entire dating culture when I was young seemed to reinforce all sorts of unhealthy and immature behaviors.
A reminder that breakups aren’t the only things that can eviscerate your heart. As with seemingly everything else I write, this particular piece was intended as a general and objective overview, yet it ended up evolving into something intricately personal. I hope you can relate, but I also kind of hope you can’t.
Enabling has been a theme at the forefront of my life lately, and I’ve been catching myself in it left right and center. I’ve come to realize that it’s not a form of loyalty, and it’s certainly not a healthy way to love someone, either. But it used to feel far too comfortable for me; that is — until it didn’t.
To know what real love is, we must first identify what it isn’t. I’ve been in love, and I’ve been in love. I believe there are many different types of love — love that gets you through, love that hurts, love that teaches you valuable lessons, love that instills the same experiences again (because you didn’t learn from the first time). And then there’s love that lasts.
According to psychiatrist and co-author of the book On Grief and Grieving, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross posits that there are five stages of grief that patients go through when diagnosed with a terminal illness. These infamous stages were later adopted by the masses and applied toward the grieving process in general, illnesses aside.
But many people find these steps to be restrictive and not encompassing of the full grieving spectrum.
Note: while I’m focusing on signs of a codependent friendship in this article, the same information can pertain to any type of relationship. Not too long ago, I started assessing my friendships and noticed that some people in my life benefited heavily from my support, engagement, and care.