My ex-boyfriend recently reached out and perhaps that’s why I thought it was appropriate to ask him a few questions.
Being fairly blunt I dove right in—I wanted to understand something that was kind of touchy and hoped for honesty.
Which one of the three items below is missing when someone says good-bye but at the same time continues feeling the other two feelings for the person they are leaving? Perhaps for the rest of his or her life.
2. Real love.
3. Best friends and lovers.
It wasn’t so much me needing an answer to the question as it is a theme in so many lives, both young and old.
I hear details of relationships ending from many of my clients. What really had me going was how this dynamic was affecting someone near and dear to me.
I know what it’s like to have someone come racing back into my life telling me I’m the one that got away, the one they should never have left and so on. Even being told his mom had a picture of us hanging in her hallway throughout his first marriage. It isn’t quite as romantic as it sounds even though for some, it is, but for the majority of us, we feel the same lack of courage as before.
How do these relationships end in the first place? Why would anyone leave a great relationship—their real love, best friend and intimate lover?
1. Lack of courage in oneself.
Some people believe they are not worthy of receiving great love, especially if it is unconditional. They succumb to fearful thoughts about their lover eventually leaving them or feeling destroyed when they they disappoint their lover, feeling shamed and unable to recover. So they think they’re cutting their losses and saving everyone heartache.
2. External Factors.
Other people, parents, friends and society all have opinions. Sometimes we don’t believe in ourselves enough to think we’re doing the right thing for our lives and instead defer to what other people think is right. In the case of love, it rarely is and the choice is one this person will usually regret when they walk away from their special relationship.
Some took a vow during childhood to approach love a certain way. It may be, they were raised by a single parent or watched their parents struggle in a relationship together so they made a vow about their future so they or their children would not experience a similar situation.
There is usually a loss—whether it is an idea, a place to live, a job or even another relationship—it is too scary and it brings us back to the first reason. The lack of courage in oneself to feel they deserve or can sustain this true partnership.
All four take a great deal of awareness to understand.
Life is not like the movies and often people make choices based on anything but love.
When the motivation is one of these four, this individual isn’t moving on emotionally. Usually, they get into a new long term relationship, one that requires less vulnerability, risk and may even look better on paper so they don’t have to struggle with those four items.
These individuals settle.
So, I asked my ex-boyfriend, who himself had come back in my life at one point, about courage and did he feel like he has settled in his latest relationship? I didn’t feel any qualms. I wanted to understand a different perspective. What was up?
He didn’t really answer my question. He said he matured and was making different choices. He still didn’t say why he chose to not go for what he stated he had wanted. Lack of courage? Awareness?
I’ve had many clients who were together when they were younger and reunited years later but it wasn’t a fairy tale.
The lack of courage was still present years later. For one couple, it wasn’t just a lack of courage but fate cut short their reunion. It was a messy, painful drama for everyone before he passed. He was married to someone else and wanted to live out his last days not with his wife but with his true love.
Some return from the past and their relationships are a whole new dynamic, both people have grown and are actually more capable partners now. Perhaps there is confidence or a better knowing of oneself that had been missing in the past.
More often, the idealizing that one or both do over the years only leads to a future, painful parting.
What can we do?
Find courage, whether it is happening now, in the past or it’s a hope for the future. Do the risky thing no matter what happens—there is far less regret in living life through action, rather than just in our heads. When we don’t honor our heart we miss out on experiences, which connect us deeper to our own truth.
Get clear on this relationship that has been deemed as amazing, great, wonderful and see it through very real eyes. Don’t dress it up or shoot holes in it based on the opinions of others. Don’t think about what is right or wrong, pay attention to the heart. What does it say?
If it’s not a current relationship see where there’s attachment and why? What is missing from life right now? And how can we fulfill our needs on our own?
When we have an opportunity to explore a once great relationship again we have an opportunity to explore ourselves too. We can look at it with new eyes and hopefully the courage to follow our heart wherever it may lead.
Eight Ways to be Happy After a Breakup
The Laws of Breaking Up and Getting Over it
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: Alef Vinicius/Unsplash
Read 27 comments and reply