The waiting game
My boyfriend’s friends have sex with different girls every week and my boyfriend feels like he is missing out. He’s 21 years old and our relationship is his first serious one. Before we began dating, he followed me around until we became best friends. I finally fell in love. Everything was perfect for six months, but then he said he stopped loving me and ended our relationship. After two weeks apart, we met and could not stop smiling at each other. He said he missed me, loved me and was just scared that everything was too good. We got back together, but he still thought about leaving me. I know he loves me. He even gave me a ring on New Year’s. Now he has ended our relationship again, saying he wants to see how life is without me. He wants to stay friends, but I said I can’t because I love him. I know I should forget about him and live my life, but I believe that he’ll be back, someday. Am I in denial?
Denial, schmial! I’ve never been too attached to the concept of denial. That’s because worrying about whether you’re in denial just puts one more layer between you and reality. That’s more complication than a suffering mind needs. Instead, focus on the truth: it doesn’t matter whether this man will be back someday or not. The reality is: he’s not here now. Inspired by that knowledge, how do you choose to live your life? I don’t suggest the lady-in-waiting routine. Why put your romantic life on hold for a man who is so certain that having sex with a different woman every weekend makes life worth living? What could possibly motivate you to give yourself completely to a fellow that is willing to give himself up to multiple opportunities to score STDs? Please don’t say “love,” unless you mean the love of drama. You may have an affection for each other, but genuine love is deep, abiding and does not drive a person to drop a committed relationship in order to fulfill random sexual urges.
The problem, of course, is not that your former boyfriend has had few relationships. The difficulty is that he’s immature emotionally, mentally and spiritually. His age is not the culprit; lack of self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-awareness is. He doesn’t have the self-confidence to be himself. He needs to belong to a group of guys who would rather put their health at risk than experience real intimacy. That doesn’t make him a bad guy, just a terribly superficial and manipulative one. That explains why you’ve been on an emotional roller coaster. Your feelings are not signs of love’s highs and lows, they’re signs of chaos. Love yourself enough to see the end of this relationship as an opportunity to have a healthy commitment with someone else who is capable of it.
I am a counselor and have a professional question for you, since you’re a counselor, too. Why is it that people often apologize for crying? I usually say something reassuring like, “There’s nothing to be sorry for. Tears are good.” But this doesn’t feel like enough. Suggestions?
People who apologize for crying are really apologizing for being human. These folks believe that tears translate as being out of control, meaning that others will see them as human (and ordinary) rather than as superhuman, which is their ego’s preference. In contrast, consider the words of Ignatius of Loyola, a Catholic saint and military man, “Tears are the sign of God’s movement in us.”