In the social club I belong to, it is very common for members to date. It’s not casual; sex is involved. Breakups are a struggle. The two people try to avoid each other at events, and some don’t attend because they just can’t stand seeing the other person or are just too hurt. What is your advice about how to break up without too many angry thoughts, feelings or too much hurt?
You can’t control how another person responds to the demise of a relationship. But you can trust that the Divine is at work in their lives. I say this because the residue of disturbing thoughts and emotions that persist when dating ends are valuable guides. They reveal where we may have lied to ourselves and another in order to squeeze into a relationship, rather than allowing it to grow to fit us. As a result, we feel betrayed. If we live on the surface of our emotions and thoughts, we will believe we are solely betrayed by the other. If we aspire to a deep, passionate and truth-centered life, we will acknowledge the myriad of ways that we also betrayed ourselves. Those betrayals reveal that we are so desperate to be loved that we would sacrifice our own truth. One example is choosing to ignore the soft inner voice that questioned the relationship. Rather than acknowledging and processing that information, most people deny it. Then they pretend later that the betrayal was a surprise. In addition, it takes skill and self-awareness to determine if the voice is truly a warning or whether it’s just questioning out of habit or fear of change.
Clubs are like families. Knowing this should inspire you (and the other members) to begin relationships by thinking about how you would like to be treated and then behaving accordingly. For example, when you establish plans for a first date, articulate your expectations and invite your date to do the same. This is love. If you tell me up front (or after a few dates) that you want to date me and others in the club casually and that includes sex, I know what I’m in for. I can then decide if the relationship is right for me.
Then, if I’m under some illusion that I’m the only woman (or man) who will change your mind, I only have myself to blame when you continue dating others or when the relationship ends without the happily-ever-after I expected. On the other hand, if you feel guilty or embarrassed about initiating break-ups, you probably were not clean about the closure. So be honest. It’s shockingly simple, direct and compassionate (which is probably why it’s so rare).
How do you recognize someone who is emotionally closed to one-on-one relationships or intimacy?
By looking in the mirror? I mean, aren’t we all shuttered in some way? Terrified of the consequences of emotional, mental, physical or spiritual intimacy? Some of us fear nearness to God; others shun their families. Still others can’t surrender to sexual pleasure. Then there are those who hide their own thoughts from their family, friends and partner. Oh, and I neglected to mention the people who are terrified of themselves and their own true potential, which, of course, is where all intimacy issues are rooted.
So how can we open to all levels of intimacy? By using every relationship as a laboratory to learn how to love ourselves and others in generous but healthy ways. And by getting help. Good relationship skills require training beyond reading books. Invest in yourself.