It’s Just a Chapter — Not the Whole Story
They just do. Even if we know they are for the best.
Maybe it is because while we are in a relationship we are writing the rest of the story in our heads. We are drafting what could be instead of focusing on what is.
Forecasting in relationships can be a lot of fun, but the problem is that we may ignore red flags in the present because we are overly focused on what we want it to be. We are seeking to align reality with our inner narrative. It’s what humans do.
I’ve heard a funny (in an ironic way), old saying: Men marry hoping women won’t ever change. Women marry men hoping they will. Clearly, this is dated as it only addresses heterosexual and binary relationships, but there is much truth in it for everyone. I see it all the time. People convince themselves that their situation is different — even special. The lie is believing in the exception rather than the rule.
I tell people all the time, when choosing a partner, understand you are getting the floor model. It comes “as is.” None of us is perfect, but be sure to understand what the imperfections are.
My point here is that there is a danger in not accepting present realities in hopes of change or something better. It is dishonest, and heartbreak will be on the horizon. I get it though. We are all seeking to fulfill our dreams, which is how we have an active role in making breakups suck even more than they already do. We prolong the pain because we grieve what we wanted — not what was.
People come and go in our lives. At one point, what was seemingly ideal may grow into something much less so — even toxic. Does that mean that it wasn’t great at one point? Perhaps, but also perhaps absolutely not. The thing is that we will change and grow as adults. At one point in development, a relationship may be a great fit, but later, it may be an awful fit because one or both parties changed. If both parties grow in the same direction, then it works. If not, it becomes fractious.
The key is being open to accepting what is. There are people who come into our lives who are only meant to be in one or a few chapters. They are not meant to be a main character throughout the book. And it is okay to grieve some important characters. In fact, grieving is healthy and necessary in order to continue growing. Stunted growth, however, comes from keeping an outgrown character in the storyline for comfort sake because it isn’t a true comfort. In fact, if we are honest, it is a prolonged, dull ache.
There is the paralytic misery of change, and then there is a slow burn of misery associated with being stuck. You pick.
I circle back. Breakups suck. There is no way around that, but we can take steps to navigate breakups in a healthy way so that we don’t prolong our own pain. Want to know how? Check out my new book, Getting to Good Riddance: A No Bullsh*t Breakup Guide, which is applicable not just to romantic relationships but also to friendships and other breakups. I share the science of love and love stories that trip each of us up and how to be better coaches to ourselves in finding the love we seek. It is available wherever you buy books!
About the Author Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt is a recovering people pleaser, control freak, worrier and motherf*cker. One thing she knows is that life sometimes hurts, and we can’t run from that. We have a choice of whether or not to deny it or go with it. She’s learned that going with it is a better investment, but we need to laugh while doing it. After more than 20 years of providing counseling services, Eckleberry-Hunt developed the idea of combining cognitive-behavioral techniques, mindfulness techniques and profanity to help people get over themselves with a good belly laugh. She has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and is board-certified in health psychology. She has a psychology practice in Michigan where she lives with her husband, two teenage sons and the dog prince, Bacon. She is a human being and a work in progress — just like you. For more info, visit jodieeckleberryhunt.com.
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