A year ago, I met an attractive, smart, interesting woman. Shortly after meeting, we lived together for six months. I thought everything was great until she abruptly ended it. She said she enjoyed our time together and that the sex was great but that she needed more from a man. She was not impressed with my pot-smoking or my lack of ambition to seek a higher-paying job. I respected that she was straightforward and honest, so we stayed friends. We also had sex occasionally for a few more months. Now we don’t talk. I still love her and miss her. How do I avoid a recurrence? We were best friends and, believe it or not, there were no warning signs. At what point do you discuss the future with someone you’re already living with?
The nanosecond you realize that you want a future together. Of course, the ideal moment for such a discussion is before you cohabitate. Moving in “shortly after meeting” isn’t fair to either of you. It doesn’t allow you the time necessary to make a rational decision about whether this person is capable of building a long-term relationship with you (or if you’re capable of doing so with them). A friend of mine once said that you should never choose a person as your business partner until you have seen him or her in each of these conditions: drunk, sick, sad and angry. The same advice applies when choosing a romantic partner. Once you’ve experienced people at their worst, you know if they have good communication skills and the ability to resolve conflicts; whether they share your value system; whether the attraction is truly mutual; and whether they can tell the truth, be trustworthy and keep a commitment. (And, of course, if they are drunk, sick, sad and angry all at the same time, they require a referral to Alcoholics Anonymous.)
If you want to avoid repeating the six-month breakup, incorporate lessons from this relationship into your life. Lesson one: Be patient in the process of getting to know someone. Lesson two: Great sex is wonderful, but it’s not enough to sustain a relationship. Lesson three: People leave, and there is nothing you can do to stop them. Lesson four: When people leave, it’s not always about you. Lesson five: When it is about you (pot-smoking and a lack of ambition), consider it a personal invitation from the universe. Change. Grow up. The world needs the gifts you’re hiding beneath that cloud of smoke.
I want to make a major shift in my life, but I can’t decide if it should be geographical or emotional. I have a support system in place to advise me, but I need clarity on the right choice. An emotionally intimate relationship is available to me right now. The geographic move would increase my wealth significantly. Suggestions?
Love or money? I opt for whichever choice would draw you nearer to your God. I vote for the choice that would startle God into gratitude for your creation. I encourage the option that would force you to shed inhibitions, drama, defenses and neuroses—the path that would persuade you to move beyond the limits of the life you are now living and expand into the realm you were born to inhabit. I urge you to select the path that would transform your inner landscape until your heart glides like an angel toward compassion and intimacy with your brothers and sisters on the planet. After all, a geographic move would allow you to present a new face to the world, but if you haven’t altered your internal mechanisms, your mask will soon falter, reviving the pattern of problems that now exists in your life.