Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Old habits die hard

It's no surprise to anyone who visits here regularly that I am a big believer in taking the occasional break from dating. There are varying degress of a break - from becoming a full-on hermit, to just hiding an online profile. What you need may change from time to time, but the fact remains - anyone who is single for a while needs a break, every now and then.

I have personally found that a break is never more necessary than just after a relationship ends. I have found that if I move too quickly, I tend to transfer those old feelings to the new relationship - which doesn't ever work out well.

I am working on a few things in counseling that I know affect how I view, choose, and treat relationships. One of those things is finding balance between ignorning potential red flags and not walking away when I should, and searching for problems and perhaps walking away too soon.

In explaining some of my recent dating adventures, I told my counselor about this one man with whom I "ended things" after four dates. The guy had some control issues, and at first, I thought maybe it was just nerves, so I was trying to see if those were kinks that would work themselves out.

Things like offering to hold my purse while I used the restroom at a movie theater (????), checking with me to make sure I had turned my phone off before the movie (multiple times), commenting on my punctuality (or lack thereof) and asking if my dad knew about him (after four dates?!?). One may have been OK; maybe even two. But all of those things added up to someone with whom I didn't couldn't feel a connection.

My counselor was surprised at some of this behavior. He asked if this guy is divorced (he is) and for how long. When he found out my date had been divorced for over 6 years, my counselor asked if he was new to dating. Surprised, I said, "Yes, he is." Curious, I asked how he knew.

My counselor pointed out that people who either rush from one relationship to the next, or take a long break and become "rusty," have a tendency to pick up where they left off in the last relationship.

For example, a guy whose last relationship experience was the tail-end of an unhappy marriage will pick up with the next woman in that same place. He'll approach and deal with this new person as if she has the attributes with which he's accustomed to dealing (being late, wanting him to do everything, being rude). 

So I wondered, did I walk away from this person too quickly? Is that something that would eventually work itself out? 

My counselor said no - and that actually, he was impressed that I made the decision to walk away without feeling guilty (something else I'm trying to address). His feeling is that this person is probably not in the same place as I am, in terms of looking for a relationship. He said knowing to look for, and find, signs of important differences, is key to figuring out when I should stay, and when I should leave.

See - eventually, I was bound to break some bad habits and start to get something right.

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