There seems to be a running theme going on with my loved ones and, well, not-so-loved-ones. It's this constant need for people to project fantasy into their relationships because they just can't face reality. For example, you (this is the royal you, as I have no desire to put others' personal problems on display) have a relationship with someone. Maybe it's not a "boyfriend/girlfriend" thing, but it's more than a friendship. You feel close to this person. He (or she, but I don't feel like typing that over and over and over, so it's he from here on out) is there for you. You share your secrets. You find common interests that bring you closer together. You have common "enemies" (for lack of a better word). You think the world of this person and defend him to anyone who may feel differently about him. You're willing to put friendships and family relationships on the line because you *know* they're all wrong and don't understand you or your relationship.
But then something changes. You catch this person in a lie. He's been unfaithful and disrespectful. When you call him on it he lies some more. He twists things around and around so that you end up defending yourself. Then you start to wonder if maybe you're crazy. Maybe it is all your fault. Maybe you are the one in the wrong. And then you see more lies and you put your foot down. No more! But he cries and yells and begs. He tells you he will change. That you are his reason for wanting to be better. Never mind that he's still lying about things. Never mind that every word he says is another manipulation. You know what he's doing. You're not a stupid person. But then the fantasy kicks in.
"This time things will be different."
"He means what he's saying."
"Honestly, if I hadn't done X, Y, and Z, none of this would have happened anyway. So it's not entirely his fault."
"Things were so good between us once before, we can get that back."
"I know the real him. He's a good person. He loves me. This stage won't last."
"He did so much for me, I owe him another chance."
"We can just be friends for awhile. Why should I give up the friendship just because I know a relationship won't work?"
You want SO MUCH to believe this person. You can't just turn your feelings off. So even though you've been hurt, lied to, disrespected, cheated on, made to feel crazy, blamed, etc., you still care for this person. So how can you still care for this person and NOT be with him? Or at least be his friend? The thought of cutting this person out of your life scares the hell out of you. You can't imagine life without him. And so you stick with your fantasy. You believe what you want to believe in order to justify staying by this person's side. And then weeks or months or however long later you wonder why you're in this position again. And the cycle starts over.
But you can stop this. It takes work. It takes courage. It takes strength. You have to be able to accept that this person you love is NOT the person you want/wish him to be. He is who he is. That's not to say people can't change. They absolutely can and I've seen it. But people need room to change. They need distance. And if you're completely honest with yourself, you can see the signs for yourself whether or not they are serious about changing. For example, if they are still lying and refusing to take responsibility for their actions or they're still doing the same exact things that they have always done. If they aren't willing to make sacrifices or start giving you ultimatums. If they insist you be with them while they're making these changes or if they refuse to respect your decision for wanting space while they work on themselves. You know when someone is serious about changing their behaviors. Pretending they are when they're not is just another part of the fantasy.
So, accept that without distance, you will never break out of the cycle. You can't be friends. Not up front, anyhow. And you can't be afraid to live your life without him, because most times people like this don't want to change, don't know how, or just aren't willing to put in the effort. So you may be saying goodbye forever. And this hurts. It sucks. But you have to take care of YOU.
My old shrink has a saying (which I'm sure is some famous saying I don't know who to attribute to). If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten. My new shrink has a saying too, though it's more clinical. Past behaviors are indicators of future behaviors. If you don't take steps to throw a monkey wrench into the "business as usual" cycle of a destructive/abusive relationship, you will always be hurting.
So, SNAP OUT OF IT! Put your foot down! Accept the hurt of letting this person go so you can start to heal and live your life the way YOU want. Take time to get to know yourself. Learn to live life without this person.
And believe me, I know how hard this is. I have been there. Again and again and again I've been there. But I learned something very important. I can't be with someone I "need" to be with. That never works out. It always ends in heartache and disappointment. I can only be with someone I "want" to be with. Does this mean if my partner left me I'd be happy as a clam? Of course not. I would mourn the loss. But I know that I'd be okay. I know that I can be happy by myself. I know that there are other people out there that could also make me happy. I don't "need" to be with him. I'm with him because I "want" to be with him. For the first time in my life. When you get there, the feeling is so liberating. I can fully appreciate him for who he is, good and bad. (Because let's face it, no one is perfect.) There is no fear of loss on my shoulders. There is no fantasy. Because living in reality is so much better.
It took a long time to get to this point. I spent time alone, learning who I am and what I want. I dated on my terms. And now here I am. My relationship isn't perfect. That's impossible. But I'm happy. My partner and I deal with issues as they come up and settle them. There is no drama. It's just two adults trying to better our own lives while contributing to each other's. Maybe that sounds unromantic and boring, but hell, I've had enough "excitement" to last me a lifetime. I'll take happy, stable, and adult, thank you.
My example was an amalgam of issues I've either experienced first hand or have seen from the sidelines. Not every situation follows that formula, but the point remains the same. Fantasy doesn't become reality just because you want it to. Just because you love someone with all your heart doesn't mean he/she is good for you. Faith, belief, hope, wishes...none of that has a place in a relationship (or in anything in life, really, but that's another topic for another day). People live in fantasy worlds to make their reality more tolerable. But if you just LIVE in reality, accept the bumps and bruises along the way, there really is no need for the fantasy. Keep it to your books and movies. Because in the long run, living a fantasy only makes reality worse. It draws out the inevitable. And the inevitable always comes.
Anyway, sorry to get all preachy. But I am seeing way too many people that need a dose of reality. If I can even reach one of them, it'll be worth it.