How relationships get tricky when you always have a foot out of the door
Last week, a friend of mine was telling me about her dating pattern. She recently started seeing a healer and it’s made a world of difference to the way she sees herself and her relationships. She says that she’s finally identified the problem that makes her fall for the worst kind of men. And I’m not even talking about bad boys. Because bad boys are predictable and almost always follow a pattern. My friend seems to have a thing for chasers. Men who think they want something and the moment they get it, they want something else. So her dating, semi-dating and fling history consists of a series of men who have spent the best years of their life fumbling around in the dark.
Her newfound realisation about her dating pattern got me thinking about the patterns in my life. And the unfailing constant in my relationships is that all of them seem destined to fail. So my pattern seems to be impossible relationships. I tried to banish the disturbing thought from my mind. It helped that The Dude was around, and as I snuggled close to him, I was almost able to pretend that it wasn’t true.
But the next night, as I lay in my own bed, the thought was back like a bad penny. Thinking about this pattern also got me thinking about the reasons behind it. And the answer, as usual, was lurking in my past. I’ve been in love once before. We spent four amazing years together before falling out of love. If there was one person on earth who could help me find answers to the questions whirring in my brain, it was him. And so I called him.
The Ex has a theory. According to him, subconsciously, I set men up for failure. And because I start with the assumption that they will hurt me, I gravitate towards the ones that are most likely to. The Ex also thinks that my lack of faith comes from that time of my life that I rarely let myself think about. When I was 10, someone in my family did something bad to me. I was in his house, sleeping next to his daughter in her bed, when it happened. He didn’t rape me, but I felt violated. I remember shrinking into bed, confused, scared and guilty. For the next three days, I didn’t sleep a wink. I’d lie huddled next to my cousin, pretending to be asleep, while he stood looking at us from the doorway. The tears would come only after he’d gone away.
So what The Ex and I have concluded is that my relationship pattern is the doorway. It seems that I always have one foot jammed at the entrance, keeping the door ajar, in case I need to bolt. Which is why I only go for men who allow me to keep not just a foot, but a leg out of the door. Because I don’t believe there can come a time when I won’t want to run.
Given the difference in age and life stages between The Dude and me, I often find myself lacking compared to the women who came before me. There are days when his past bears too heavily on our present; days when I feel like I’m playing catch-up with the two women he’s been in love with; and days when it feels like in some ways, I have to make up for their inability to accept the more difficult parts of his personality.
This last week, for the first time since I fell in love with him, I’ve considered the thought that perhaps my past was holding us back just as much as his. After a silly argument last week, The Dude, in his irritation told me that there were times when he felt like he was being tested all the time. And no matter what answer he gave, it was always the wrong one. Maybe it’s true. I know it saddens him every time I admit that I still don’t trust him completely. He tells me it doesn’t bother him anymore, but I’m not sure that’s entirely true. So far, I’ve conveniently let him shoulder the blame for it.
The past couple of days I’ve been wondering where our relationship is going. But how can it possibly go anywhere if I refuse to budge from the doorway? It would be easier to put it off for another day. But six years is a very long time to stay in one place. And The Dude deserves better. All our dudes do.