I heard a story today which I imagine is unfortunately all too common.
The lady in question, let’s call her Ms Spectacular (Ms S), was telling me about a romance she had enjoyed over Christmas time.
She met her guy, let’s call him Mr Emotionally Mature (Mr EM) at a friend’s party. They had hit it off and so she had asked her mutual friend about him. Low and behold he was single (*yay!*) but only recently out of a 5 year relationship (*boo!*). Turns out he asked about her too, and so Ms S and Mr EM got in touch and shared some lovely time together.
Ms S was very excited about Mr EM. He was open and honest about his history and situation, he told her from the outset that he wasn’t sure he was ready for a serious relationship so soon after his breakup. He treated her well, called when he said he would, she felt he was a very genuine guy whom she could feel comfortable with and know where she stood. He didn’t hide his life from her, they even (albeit accidentally) ran into his mother on one of their dates, which he handed with grace and good manners. During the time they dated she found she was able to share some of her vulnerabilites with him and he responded sensitively and, in turn, he also expressed some of his worries and ‘less cool’ bits with her.
Unfortunately, on their last date he told her that he had decided that he needed time alone. He told her that he really liked how, amongst her other good qualities, she was so caring and sensitive. She was pleased that he had picked up this more intimate knowledge of her. It showed her that he really had been engaged in getting to know her deeply.
However, by the end of the conversation she found herself still confused as to what this meant for them, and so asked if he meant that he didn’t want to see her again or if he was saying he just didn’t want to be in an official ‘relationship’ (Yay Ms S! Way to go for being brave and reducing the ambiguity). She told me that he thought about it deeply and seriously in front of her, taking his time before reflecting that he felt it would be best if they didn’t see each other at all.
The date ended sadly but amicably. Ms S said she felt disappointed but also appreciative that he had been so honest and had taken the time to treat her respectfully right until the end. She said that, as opposed to dating relationships in the past, she left this one with her self-esteem intact. She had the impression that he really had been interested in her, and there was nothing that she had done ‘wrongly’, that the relationship really had been the victim of poor timing.
Enter Insensitive Friend….
Ms S told me how a few days later, she had recounted her story to a friend, only for her friend (who had never met Mr EM) to say: “Well, he obviously was just not that into you, otherwise it would have been the right timing.”
Previously secure and satisfied Ms S then experienced a day worth of self doubt, anxiety, and insecurity. She spent the day running over and over what he had said in her head, to see where she had ‘missed the signs’.
Luckily, Ms S, confident enough in her own judgement, was able to pull herself out of this space. She told me about how, she had weighed up the evidence she had about Mr EM against the two interpretations as follows:
1) It ended because of poor timing – he had told her from the beginning that this was a risk – he had been open, honest, genuine and respectful of her the whole time – he had told her specifically what he liked and appreciated about her – he had told her that this was why he needed to end it – he had met her in person to end it (when others would have just let it fade away)
2) that he was just not that into her – her friend thought that if he was more into her he would have made it work – there is a common discourse in our society that any reason a relationship doesn’t work boils down to there not being enough interest from one party.
She had known at least one couple who had dated unsuccessfully at one time, only to get back together and stay together years later. This to her indicated that the ‘just not being into’ someone argument might be flawed.
Recognising also that believing option 1 made her feel much better about the ending, she thankfully decided to go with her original conclusion (*sigh of relief*).
Why stew over an idea that just makes you feel bad right?!?
The moral to this story ladies is that no one else knows your life and your business better than you. When in doubt try to look for evidence rather than opinion. If you really, really, really need an opinion, at least ask someone who you feel has good qualifications to make one: find a friend who is REALLY good at relationships or seek out a dating coach. And if all else fails, do you really need to know "why?" to accept that it didn't work out and to reinvest your time and energy in finding someone new and fabulous?!