And so, as we approached our impending crossroad, and I began to sense, from her sudden reticence, that Debbie was starting to get nervous–I remembered to get nervous. Staring down the barrel of what could quickly and easily become my most serious relationship to date, I became petrified by the prospect of supreme commitment, no matter how far away such a fate might have actually been. Our relationship had great potential, and it was scaring the crap out of both of us. Sorry, Grandma, but "nice Jewish girls" are as susceptible to anxiety as we nice Jewish boys are. Why Falling In Love Is Just Like Investing In Real Estate
The unspoken tensions came to a head when, after sitting silently through an entire movie at her apartment, I asked her what she was thinking about. Following a long, awkward pause, she explained that she needed space. Overwhelmed, she felt we would benefit from spending less time together. I told her I agreed, but was secretly panicking inside.
The next morning, I saw my therapist. (I may not be equipped to fix my own intimacy issues, but at least I had the sense to not push the eject button before consulting a professional.) I told him about the girl I had come to like so much, and about how invested we had become in one another. I told him about her pulling away, unnerved and frightened, and how it had triggered my own apprehensions. I told him about how uncomfortable it felt to have no roadmap while paradoxically dreading long-term commitment at the same time. And, I told him about my plan for swiftly ending the relationship, defusing the ticking timebomb before it could blow up in my face.
"Did you ask her if she wants to break up?" asked the good doctor.
"Yes," I responded.
He sat back in his chaise lounge and placed his hands behind his head, weaving his fingers through wild, white, Einsteinesque locks. "And what did she say?"
He stared at me and smiled knowingly. "Then listen to what she wants. Don't be afraid of a little discomfort in the process."
Of course, he was talking about The Burn. Why fear The Burn? Because opening yourself up to it, being vulnerable, is downright frightening. What if it scorches my throat? What if I can't get the bitter taste out of my mouth? What if I drown? 5 Ways Abandonment Issues Can Ruin Your Relationships
What I had failed to remember in the midst of panic is that love is only made better by the growing pains. Intimacy without fear of loss is just sex. That little taste of potential loss makes us feel alive and keeps love vibrant and new. Instead of fighting it, I needed to relinquish control over the outcome of this adventure and accept the possibility of a beautiful failure. Don't run from The Burn, I intoned to myself, live in it.