Rule # 28: It’s not you it’s me
” Honey, it’s not you, it’s me.”
” I need time to work on me”
” I love you but I’m not in love with you”
At sometime in your life we will hear one of these phases, maybe all of them in a single conversation. You will be in relationship and things are swimming along, and all of a sudden you get hit with the ” babe, we need to talk” line.
I have seen my kids and relatives suffer through trying to make sense of these conversations and what to do next. I’ve see you suffer through ranges of emotions from sadness to anger and everything in between. I’ve worried about you sinking into depression or not being able to find your legs after a breakup.
There are some universal truths, which you will ignore now, but may prove valuable.
1. When its over its over
I’m a strong believer in counseling and rehabilitation of committed marriages when they are under stress. I have spend years in therapy in my first marriage and although it did not save my marriage I believed it gave me the tools to live a healthy life post the relationship.
I however, know that its important to recognize that marriages with children are significantly different from dating in your teens and twenties. Before you make a life long commitment to each other you have time to evaluate and decide if this person is a life partner. You should expect to find many people that just aren’t good fits with you. And you should expect that part of the time they will recognize its not a good fit before you do.
Acceptance that dating and relationships are a process where you expect many outcomes lead to dead ends is an important lesson in life. In the world where everyone gets a trophy for just showing up this may be hard to accept. But sometimes you don’t win, and sometimes you don’t get to have want you want even if you ask really nice. You have to accept that every romantic feeling you have isn’t valid just because you have it. Just because I think Halle Barry should love me doesn’t make her do so. Trust me I’ve tried.
You have to accept the hard fact that maybe she’s just not that into you. Yes, you are handsome, charming and a good dancer- but its not a fit. The keys to personal happiness in relationship is to do healthy things and realize when its over, its over.
The mistake people make in their early relationships is that they believe like with their mothers, if they ask often enough, and in enough different ways they will change their minds and realize that you are the love of their lives. It didn’t work for me and Halle and it won’t work for you.
In fact the constant ‘talking’ through the problems and never ending texts just makes things more unhealthy. In these non-committed ( no marriage or kids) relationships this type of obsessiveness in trying to “fix” things leads only to bad feelings and restraining orders.
When its over its over- negotiating your way back into someone’s life demeans you and annoys the other person. When its over, accept it gracefully and move on. Your love of your life is out their you just need to find her. You’ve learned it wasn’t them and narrows down your search, be grateful for not wasting more time.
2. Love isn’t always LOVE
A phenomenon I’ve seen in the last decade is that the use of the word love has started much earlier and much more intensely in a relationships. In my entire life I have told 5 women I love them, and meant it each time. Some people say it to five different people a week, some five a day.
But many people have grown up in a world where divorce is common, relationships are fluid and loving a person is emotionally the same as loving a good cheeseburger.
Love is not a universally defined emotion, I’ve learned over time that love is personally defined by actions not words. Its how you treat someone, and care for them that defines love not words. Love without care is empty and meaningless.
I’m hearing people now in their 20’s declare love after the first date or after a good romantic encounter. There should be a rule that you should not be able to say that you are in love until you taken care of the other person with an intestinal bug. Nothing says Love like cleaning up projectile vomit and getting back in the bed and holding the person it came from.
Words are cheap, and are getting cheaper by the year. Don’t evaluate your relationships based on promises of love, evaluate them based on caring real actions. Everything else is just words.
“But she said she loved me” is wishful thinking. If the words came without caring they are meaningless. Don’t be mad about the emptiness, but realize that understanding they are empty before you invest your life in a committed relationship is a gift. Finding emptiness ten years into a relationship is much more sad and difficult to deal with emotionally.
3. Self-Pity isn’t sexy
You got slammed to the curb by a girl that you thought was the love of your life. Your world is shaken to its core, and you are trying to figure out what happened.
Your next step is to not focus on what has been or what could have been, but on what will be. Take a trip, learn a new instrument, take a dance class, volunteer at a hospital…anything but sitting there and feeling sorry for yourself. Because the world won’t care, and girls will avoid you. People want to be around moving forward, positive people- focusing on what was just slows you down from finding our what is next.
Having people feel sorry for you gets you chicken soup and warm sweaters, moving forward get you a date. Dates are better.
I wish I had words to spare you the pain of relationship and words that would heal a broken heart- I don’t. Look to Taylor Swift for that type of advice, I just don’t have the inspirational words to make sense of a bad relationships or sell 10 million albums.
What I can do is clearly tell you that the words ” it’s not you it’s me” are lies, because in the end it is you and only you that determine your own happiness. It only you who can choose a path of positive, healthy actions that will lead you to a positive, healthy partner to share your life.
Yes, it didn’t work out for Halle and me, but I got over it and so will you. I hear she is a very difficult person to live with, and I dodged that bullet.