This is probably way more common than you think.
A couple years ago, I met a man online. Our first date was insane – not in a wild and crazy way, but more of an I-can’t-believe-how-well-we-fit kind of way. We went for a long walk in the rain, got soaked, then sat at a coffee shop staring at each other with awe and admiration as we revealed bits and pieces about who we are.
A couple weeks, a couple dates, and an invitation to a weekend in California later, we had plans to go out for dinner in the city he lived in. (We lived about an hour away from each other.) Unfortunately, I was getting sick, so I asked if we could postpone. He was really looking forward to seeing me, and asked if I wanted to just come hang out on his couch so he could take care of me.
I wanted to see him too, so I agreed.
What happened next was a game-changer for me.
I went to his house, and he took amazing care of me. He ordered Thai food (three stars spicy to clear my head), made me tea, helped me get cozy on the couch, and was super attentive and interested in wanting me to feel well-taken care of.
It was a kind of attention on me and my wellbeing that I don’t think I’d ever experienced before. It felt incredible. Like heart-melting incredible. There was a man that didn’t know me very well, showing up for me when I certainly wasn’t at my best, and I didn’t have to do a damn thing to get him to treat me well – he just did because that’s who he was.
It was revelatory. I could feel all my insides relax and sink in to this feeling of being supported and loved in a way that I hadn’t before. And there was a moment, in his house, surrounded by this guy and all that represented the way he approached life, where I was like, “Whoa, this feels amazing. I want to feel this way all the time.”
And it all went downhill from there.
Having this feeling, I gave him a look. And I’m sure the look spoke volumes. If I had to name it, I’d call it the “I’m putting you on a pedestal now/I want you to be mine” look. (I didn’t mean for the look to say that, but honestly, I’m sure it did.)
Something shifted. I felt it, and he felt it. We didn’t speak about it, but from there, the slow distancing began.
What went wrong?
You might be wondering why it all fell apart from there, so I’m gonna tell you. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have a story like this too, and have been puzzled about that distancing that happened.
There are of couple of reasons this amazing relationship-of-dreams-in-the-making quickly came to an end after this particular evening where the aforementioned look occurred.
This started with me having a feeling. I really liked that feeling. I hadn’t had it before. I wanted to have more of it.
So, what did I do? I locked on to the person that I was with when I had the feeling, and made that man responsible for being the one who created that feeling for me. But that was wrong.
He did not create this feeling within me. I did. I allowed someone to take care of me and to support me. As a result, when he did just that, I felt it intensely.
If I had not allowed it, and instead clung tightly to the idea that he didn’t want to take care of me, he could have repeated the exact same gestures, and I would have felt unsupported and not taken care of.
In the face of experiencing these favorable emotions so strongly, I clung to wanting to have more of them. This resulted in an energetic clinginess. Whether I knew it or not (I didn’t), I was digging in my claws to “have” this man.
Once that happened, things could only deteriorate from there.
Many men can’t articulate what happens exactly, but that gripping? They feel it. And it makes them want to run for the hills.
Making a guy responsible for how you feel creates a fuck-ton of pressure on a man. (And don’t ask me how they know that’s what we’re doing, but they definitely grasp exactly what is happening.) When you assign your happiness (or lack thereof) to a particular person based on their moment-to-moment actions, why would anyone sign up to play that game? They can’t possibly win!
Feelings don’t come from outside experiences, they come from within you.
Ice cream doesn’t make me happy. I’m happy when I’m with ice cream.
My kid doesn’t make me happy. I feel happy when I’m with him (often).
My work doesn’t make me happy. I feel happy when I do my work.
This man didn’t make me feel loved and supported. I allowed myself to be loved and supported so I actually let those things in and feel that way as a result.
People don’t make you feel a certain way. It is the way *you* are being in any given situation that allows you to feel a certain way.
So, that feeling I felt with that man that ended in disaster? I can have that feeling really any time, any place, with any one. I, and I alone, am responsible for creating the space within me to be able to allow it.
The same goes for you.
See if you can name five feelings you’d like to experience in a relationship. Write them down, say them on repeat. Be on the lookout for those previously elusive feelings that you’ve only had with romantic interests to show up in other parts of your life. And then report back and tell me what you find!