I had lunch with a dear friend I don’t see often enough. A bright, intelligent, beautiful woman, slightly north of 50 years old and aging gracefully! As we were catching up on our lives, filling each other in on the exploits, trials and tribulations of our children, the conversation turned to romance. Not our romance, but respective forays into the sea of love since our recent divorces.
While I did not even date during the two years following my separation, my friend was lucky in love, much sooner than I was. I had heard bits and pieces about the guy but in no great detail. I could hear the happiness in her voice when we spoke or exchanged emails, so I was naturally curious about the course of her relationship. Happiness turned to gloom in her eyes as she told me how that train had recently come off its track and the two of them were no longer together. As the conversation went on, it became apparent to me that this was a one-sided relationship.
While it takes two to make a relationship work and two to make one fail, we sometimes hold on, even when we know it’s probably hopeless. Why? Why do we hold on and work so hard to make something work, to fix others’ shortcomings, to get them to see it our way? Why do we bend, mold, and even break to make something fit?
My friend had the insight and courage to ask me what I thought went wrong. I do love it when I read articles written by women telling the world how men think! Ladies, even if you grew up in a household full of men and or consider yourself “one of the boys,” you will never truly belong to the club –– check your shorts! Sorry for the image, but it’s the same for us men trying to read your minds. You get my point.
Sometimes (if we’re truly lucky), it’s just time to let go, for your sake as well as his. It’s just as apparent as Myra Kirshenbaum says in her great book, “Everything Happens For A Reason.” In my friend’s case, her relationship had served its purpose but had run out of gas – nothing left in the emotional tank but strife and conflict, and who needs or wants that at 50-plus (or any age)? I told her it sounded like this guy felt inferior in her presence, diminished in her eyes. The smaller he felt, the harder she tried, and the worse it became.
Let’s be with folks who celebrate us everyday, who don’t make us feel small, inferior, guilty or whatever other deficiency they want to label us with. And herein lies the beauty: they are not wrong, we are not wrong; we just don’t work together anymore! Thank them for their contribution to your life, your growth, and your well-being and move on. Never look back, never regret, and never change or diminish who you are just to make something work. Did they make you feel alive? Introduce you to mind-blowing sex and release all of your childhood ghost and inhibitions? All of the above? What a gift! But it’s time to let go.