…AKA Your Expectation of Reciprocation Is Holding You Back
Remember that ex that I swore I would never speak of again? (Well, c’mon, it wouldn’t be that interesting if I kept my very rich inner life so private, would it?) So here we are…but it’s not what you think it may be.
Back when we broke up, I was asking for commitment from him in a rather significant way. I believe at some point, he asked me what the thing I was asking for looked like, and my response was something like, “Well, we’d have to treat our relationship like we planned to be in it forever.” (That’s not intense at all, is it?!)
He wasn’t quite ready to sign up for that, so in order to honor my desire for the kind of relationship I wanted, we parted ways.
In the parting of ways, and the no-contact that followed, a couple of things became really clear to me. My desire to be with him had nothing to do with having gotten comfortable, or being uncomfortable with change, or wanting to *be* with someone just so I wouldn’t be alone.
Feeling what there is to feel is important, even if uncomfortable.
What’s funny, is that when circumstances shift, we sometimes reject our actual feelings because our circumstances make it uncomfortable to feel them. It’s certainly odd for me to walk around saying, “I still love a guy I broke up with 6 months ago.” It’s also totally batty for me to say things like, “Now may not be the time for us to be together, but I don’t think we’re actually done yet.”
(Right? Depending on the tone, and the underlying motives/agenda, I can either be crystal clear and have stellar intuition, or I can be the crazy lady who JUST. CAN’T. LET. IT. GO. Believe me, I’ve considered both options very thoroughly.)
Me being with this guy isn’t really an option for us unless something shifts. I could choose to get mad at him about, “Why won’t he just give me the thing I want, dammit?!” Or I could create a standoff type situation, where I don’t move until he does first.
Neither of those choices are that helpful.
The (obviously more challenging) alternative.
Feeling what you feel, no matter what. Standing clear in what you want and how you feel, no matter what the other person says or does. Not waiting for someone else to go first to see if you’re invited to the thing you want.
So, what have I been doing in the face of all these feelings AND knowing that under current circumstances it’s not helpful to either of us to be together?
I’ve chosen to love him without having to do anything about it.
I’ve chosen to share openly without expecting anything in return.
I’ve chosen to let my feelings be my feelings and not pretend like they don’t exist.
I’ve chosen to not need to know how it all is gonna turn out.
What does all this mean for you?
This is certainly not prescriptive for how to engage with an ex, so I hope you don’t read it as such. There are lots of really fine threads running through this, mostly the ones where I know my own patterns so well, that I can see my own bullshit coming a mile away. I trust that this is the right path for me, but unless you know your patterns like the back of your hand, it may not be the right path for you.
So, don’t do what I do – got it? No, wait, DO *do* what I do…but the thing we do that’s the same is below the surface, not the way it looks in real life.
The takeaway here is that when you can let go of expecting anything, it frees up so much more of you. We all have so much love to give that waiting for evidence that someone else is gonna love us first is just us hurting ourselves. It keeps us from fully sharing the gifts we have that make US feel good to share.
Wait. Before you do the thing you’re gonna do. Read this.
I know. You read the last paragraph and got your panties in a wad, asking, “What about someone doing something for me for a change? Why do I always have to be the bigger person? Why do all men act like children and need me to go first? Etc. Etc. Etc.”
And you wanted to say, “Fuck that.”
I have the same chatter pop into my head sometimes. But for me, it’s recognizing that the chatter isn’t the truth. It is true that when I lead with generosity, it feels good to me. It is true that when I go first, I get to spread the love I want to in the world.
The other thing that is also true is that you need or want something that you’re not getting. I get that. You want to be noticed. You want to be cared about. You want to be love. I’m not discounting that one bit.
I pinky swear promise that I will write about that next week.
But, for now, don’t let waiting for someone else be the thing that keeps you from fully expressing yourself, pursuing your passions, having the life you want. It’s only you cheating you.
Tell me in the comments below one thing you would do if you didn’t have any expectation of something happening in return. Ready, go!