Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How Did You Ever Fall for That Jerk(ette)?!

So last time I promised you that I would explain how people fall in love with partners who treat them good and bad, hot and cold- so you can avoid a similar fate as the woman in Kenny Chesny’s song “Better as a Memory.” (see related post below).

I’ll be honest. I once dated a guy who said to me, “I don’t think you are in love with me, but in love with some image of me that isn’t even reality!”

I thought he was whack.

At the time.

Now I can acknowledge that he was so right.

I wasn’t “in love” with him. How the heck could I have been!?

I was miserable with him. He didn’t come close to meeting my needs (nor me his, to be fair). We were a horrible match.

So, how on earth did I come to think I was in love with him???

The answer: Compartmentalization.

That’s a fancy psychological term, but it’s meaning is simple.

Let’s say you have a big box.

Inside this box is a whole bunch of stuff:
white stuff (the good stuff) and
black stuff (the bad stuff).

This big box is like you and me and any person you date. We’ve all got good and not so good qualities and behaviors.

To fall in love in a healthy way, we acknowledge all of the good and the bad and appreciate the whole person, because in the end, the good outweighs the bad and we feel good around our partner.

But some people have a habit of falling in love in an unhealthy way.

And yes, I used to be one them.

These people use Mental Gymnastics to hide the bad stuff and only focus on the good stuff. They pretend that the bad stuff doesn’t even exist.

It’s like you had that big box of white and black. And you got two smaller boxes.

You put all the white in one box. You put all the black in another box.

Then you tied the black box up with a pretty bow, and hid it way up in the back of your closet and never looked at it again. Bad- all gone.

Then, you kept that white box right in front of you and you gazed lovingly at it every day, admiring it’s beauty and falling ever more deeply in love.

The problem with this?

You are allowing strong feelings of love or attachment to form based on only part of a person. And completely ignoring the parts that don’t fit what you want to believe.

But man, it’s a lot of work, because every time some black pops up, you have to do more mental gymnastics to put it out of your view, into the hidden black box- so your white box stays pristine.

So, your love isn’t really love, it’s a fantasy game- that always has a bad ending- because no one is playing in the real world.

Do you get what I am saying yet? If not, here is one more way to picture it.

What Color Is Your Crystal Ball?

You’ve got a crystal ball in your hands.

In reality, it’s half white and half black.

I ask you, what color is the ball?

You answer: “It’s white!”

Ummm, no it’s not.

And falling in love this way will bite back every time.

Because sooner or later, your mental gymnastics will fail you.

And you’ll land flat on your back. Let’s hope you don’t break your neck in the process.

I almost did.

That’s Screwed Up!

Well yeah, but if this sounds familiar to you, I want you to know that compartmentalization is actually a coping tool you learned as a child.

As a child, you need to see your parents as good- otherwise the world is too scary.

So you learned to put the bad away and pretend it was all good. You needed to do this to survive. So, at the time, it was a helpful thing.

It’s just not so helpful anymore!

The Solution: Facing Reality

The solution here is actually simple.

You’ve heard me say it before. Just pay attention to your feelings.

Keep checking in with your gut. Start a journal and make notes after every date.

Pay attention to the good and bad feelings and write them down- so you have them in black and white- then you can’t pretend it’s just white going on!

You can’t be so desperate to find The One, that you’ll make anyone into The One.

You have to wait, pass on the wrong ones, and be available when the right one, the one whose box is mostly white anyway comes along!

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