Learning from Bad Relationships – Part 2.

The below is the second  part of a series of real life examples. For Part 1. see https://unlimitedpotentialhealingcenter.com/2021/12/30/stuck-not-knowing-what-to-do/

In Part 1, I said that your gut might be telling you that something is ‘off’, but you don’t know what is off or how, whether those feelings are trustworthy, nor how serious they are, and what you should do about it. 

I gave you a real life example of circumstances that pushed me to get engaged to someone before really clarifying or knowing how things might change once we were married. And once I got a clear gut level warning that something was wrong on the eve of the wedding, I was so heavily invested that extraditing myself was going to be painful and humiliating. Consequently, I went ahead with the marriage only to break up a year later.

Here are other reasons why you may be stuck not knowing the right thing to do and why you are having difficulty in taking appropriate and timely action in a relationship – 

  • not considering or correctly knowing in advance the likely consequences of your choices or decisions, 
  • not having an older, wiser, more experienced person with whom you can confide for good advice,
  • not feeling comfortable in discussing certain matters with others who might be able to help,
  • low evaluation of your own self-worth,
  • difficulty or inability to stand up for yourself,
  • ignorance of your own power to make your dreams to come true on your own, and
  • fear – fear of making the wrong decision, fear of the other person, fear of being alone, fear of not making it on your own, fear of humiliation, fear of ___. 

Even with friends or loved ones, you might feel that some matters are too personal or embarrassing to discuss. Some topics are taboo especially with those who might judge you like your parents, teachers, or minister. Or you may think or find that others are as clueless as you and unable to help.

Perhaps you think you can choose one option, and if it doesn’t work out, that the other option will still be available for you. For some things that will be true. But other things are an either/or. Knowing that making one choice will forever close the door to the other option/s might be precisely why you are stuck and afraid to make a decision that may turn out to be a big mistake.

Too Young to Go Steady

My first love was in high school. His name was Donald. Donald was an aggressive pursuer who went after what he wanted, which was me. I was a twirler and he played in the band, so we were at all the school games together. We started going out every week, which usually meant the movies, sitting in the balcony to watch the first showing, then necking during the second. Then his father drove me home while to my embarrassment, Donald wanted to continue kissing me as his father saw us in the rear view mirror. 

At the end of junior year he asked me to go steady, but I felt too young to be in an exclusive relationship and never possibly date another person. So to let everyone in the school know that I was open to date other boys too, I invited someone else to the junior debutante ball. Don was hurt and broke up with me, taking someone else to the very same dance. I was sorry, but it was too late. 

Donald broke up with this girl after high school, and married someone he met in college. He became a surgeon and they raised a family together. I saw Donald again and met his lovely wife many years later at a high school reunion. He came up behind me, putting his hands over my eyes, then swinging me around to give me a big hug. He was my first love, as I believe I was for him. Donald finally died passing out from low blood sugar while flying his plane solo. 

What can I learn from this?  

I did not consider how my asking someone else to the dance would be seen by Donald as an unforgivable slap in the face in lieu of all the time we had spent together. Even if I did not want to go steady, I should have made my feelings of love clear to him , and have invited him to the dance.

He Says He Loves Me, But…..

With Donald clearly out of the picture, other boys asked me out. The next one of any importance will remain nameless. He was intelligent, genius level – so smart he was promoted a full school grade ahead although we were the same age. He was going to my father’s alma mater to become an engineer also like my father. I absolutely adored his family including his grandparents, aunts and uncles. In fact, I wanted to move out of my house as my mother and I fought a lot, and to be part of his family instead. 

This fellow like his predecessor was a fervent pursuer. We went out every weekend. He called me multiple times daily. He sent me letters although he lived close by. But he also was pressuring me more than I felt comfortable. 

One night as he drove me home after a date, he asked me to go steady. And like Donald before, I told him no. But this made him fly into a rage and he stepped on the gas until we were going 90 miles an hour down a residential road. He said that if he couldn’t have me that he would kill us both. 

I was now afraid to say no to him. Yet I told no one of the incident. Nor did I tell anyone that I suspected that his multiple daily phone calls were driven not just by love but to check up on me – to make sure that I was home and not out possibly with someone else (no cell phones in those days). 

I told no one either that a few times he waited at my car in the college parking lot. Was this love, obsession, or an insane jealousy to see if I was alone? If he was truly concerned, why not just meet me outside of class to walk me safely down the long hill to my car? It made me uncomfortable. Instead of feeling loved, I felt as if I was being watched or even stalked. But time would pass and my uneasiness would once more calm down. 

In my senior year in college, he asked me to marry him. I went to my father to tell him about the proposal secretly hoping he would say no. Yet still, I did not reveal the instances of periodic jealousy and temper of my suitor. Without knowing the details, my father gave me his permission to wed, and so I got engaged. I was unable to say no on my own.

As I said, the real draw to this man was his family. But in addition to that, my mother told me in a fit of anger that no man would want to live with or marry me. She said that only once, but it stung me so hard that it went deep into my psyche and I figured that no good man would want me, but only someone who needed me. This man wanted me. And all the girls my age were getting engaged and happily planning their weddings. I wanted that for myself too. 

In those days, a woman who had not snagged a husband [the phrase commonly used at the time] by a certain age was thought destined to be an old maid. The thinking of the time was that a woman needed a man to make it financially as well as it was the only socially unacceptable way she could have children, something I very much wanted.

Thankfully, an argument arose regarding wedding details. In front of his parents and sister, he flew into a rage, throwing a ring I had given him on the floor. His father drove me home. Having witnesses to his temper was precisely what I needed to finally have the strength to end the relationship. Once home, I called and told him to pick up the engagement ring I left in the mailbox. Now, it was finally over.

What allowed this relationship to continue for four years was that I lacked not only the inherent belief in being lovable and worthy of always being treated with respect, but I also lacked faith in myself to make my dreams to come true without a man there to support and love me. I bought into the current feeling of the times that a woman without a man was not just socially suspect, but unable to financially make it in the world, have a successful career, afford a home of her own, or be able to raise a family. I did not want to give up my dreams of what I thought was a good life, the American dream, nor did I want to be lonely. I wanted love and companionship. I wanted to belong to someone and make all the difference to their life. So I perhaps was fooling myself that I could have been happy with this person, or that I felt more for him than I did.

What can I learn from this? 

•Low self worth sets you up to accept or tolerate unacceptable behavior. Yet as your self evaluation varies for different aspects of your life, you can high self esteem in one area, and low in another.

•Not standing up for myself at the first instance of bad behavior set me up for more of same.

•Threats of harm should be reported. In retrospect, I should have informed both my parents and his of his behavior.

Tune in for the next in the series. Let me know what you think. 

What have you learned from your own unpleasant experience/s? 

Send any questions or comments to Roxanne@RoxanneLouise.com.

Copyright 2022 by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in other free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to http://www.roxannelouise.com and http://unlimitedpotentialhealingcenter.com  are included with the content.

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