What Happens When He's NOT All You Want In A Relationship?


It's not a matter of does he like you. Do you even like him?

How do you use anticipation to add to the joy of an upcoming meeting with a partner? When you don't get all you want in a relationship, are you able to enjoy "enough?"

Let's reminisce about a past experience.

That holiday season was over; gifts had been given, carols sung, specials watched on TV, great meals consumed with gusto. If you had reflected on what tickled you, what pleased and delighted you, would you notice any theme that carried over to the rest of the year? Or do you act differently in December? Maybe the highlights of the holiday season could carry over to the whole year! 

I'd been reading Diane Ackerman's Deep Play and was delighted by her exploration of what she considers a daily or at least regular delight. I, too, feel at home with play year round, especially as she describes it — concentration, a desire for transcendence, creativity, challenge, rapture. She says deep play thrives on a romance with life, a sense-ravishing way of life. Ackerman describes deep play as a sacred playground where only the present moment matters, where we are worshipping life as a force, all for "the greater glory of wonder."

I'd been thinking of my last two months. In November, I'd  become emotionally involved with a man who was not really seeking a committed relationship. My ad had begun "Touch my soul and I'm yours" and his poetry, attentiveness ,and playfulness touched me. When he told me at the end of the month, "I can't do this; I'm not ready," I was disappointed and hurt. But I had experienced vitality and tenderness with him.

As Ackerman describes the eternal present, our month of "here-and-now became a pop-up storybook, full of surprises." How can one wholly regret outcomes that have been accompanied by awe and discovery? I was left with wistfulness over what might have been, but gratitude for the silk lilacs (because he knew I love lilacs), the mutual exploration, his vulnerable poetry, the sweetness. I still have the lilacs on my window sill.

For some reason, it felt right to respond to match.com ads within a week of his stated unreadiness. I had expressed feelings, cried, accepted that it was over, and, as my friend Charles reminded me, "It is your nature to move on. You're a realist; you recover rapidly. There's no right way to do it." Having a long term friend reassure me I didn't need a therapist just because I went from sadness to readiness in a week was a balm.

Well! On December 7th, Richard replied to my response and we were off and running. He wanted everything. He was metaphysical, philosophical, playful, and ready for a relationship. And in the 13 days of online and phone exchanges, there was mystery, daring, timelessness, the deep play of "muscling into life and feeling its real power and sweep." With huge anticipation, we met on December 20.

A very attractive man, and very sensitive to the cautious little girl in me, we had done well living with uncertainty those passion-filled days before meeting. The romance enthusiast in me found, however, that the fairy tale fantasy of the 13 days couldn't quite deliver what my fasting heart led me to hope for. It may have been a bit like a woman finishing a torrid novel and then looking around and seeing that she was in her living room, not on board a luxury cruise ship.

When I shared this deficiency of chemistry, one of my friends asked "What exactly does chemistry mean? What is it? What does work? What do you want? For how long do you want  it? Does chemistry happen at first? What happens over time? What could take its place? Is it in your mind rather than in another person?" All of those are good questions which she and I — as well as Richard and I — explored. At the very least, our December connection was ripe with novelty, learning opportunities, and the joy of losing ourselves in the activity of reaching for everything.

From someone who had, at that time, written a column for nine years for Active Singles Life, I might well feel foolish or defensive for offering my soul, my everything, sight unseen. I offer no apology, feel no regret. Richard and I had spoken of publishing the 58 emails, partly because we are both idealistic — or realistic— enough to still believe that everything IS possible, and we'd like to promote that truth or perspective to the world, and partly because it might be fun for others to be voyeurs of our exuberance.

We spent two lovely days at Whispering Firs B&B south of Mount Vernon, surrendering to the call of the lake, stocked ponds, deck, fireplaces, breakfast, hot tub and the bedroom. Just because one's journey doesn't meet all one's expectations is no reason to deny oneself the inherent pleasures of the respite from daily life. I'd since read Richard's ads on other internet personals sites, and each of them would have gotten my response. We'd continued our sharing of pleasure even as we checked out the personals with and for each other. I was very pleased that we could be so matter of fact about what was and wasn't so for us without falling into the maudlin and disgruntled places we could end up in.

Neither of us had closed off the possibility that a spark could ignite between us — certainly we had proven that we could enjoy spontaneity, go with the flow, push our limits and surrender to enough if not to the everything that we wanted to create.

What was incredibly interesting to me was when we were both at the computer in my office and my November partner returned my call. I realized that Richard and I knew each other so well that I didn't need to retreat to another room for privacy. Richard confirmed after the long call that I had said nothing that surprised him — I was "caring, considerate and insightful" on this as well as other calls he'd heard me on. He had known of my November bonding, and even hearing only one side of the conversation, came to some interesting conclusions.

To my great surprise, from this vantage point of having come in view of everything, without having climbed or swum or traversed it, I agreed with Richard that my November alliance could probably not have lasted. He did not have the self-confidence, the can-do attitude, the explorer's soul that could have carried him beyond self-imposed limitations. I got the closure that night that I wasn't allowed a month ago when he could not discuss his decision.

He and I could be friends, but he admitted that he might not even, at age 55, seek another partner. How sad for him and for a potential partner! Richard sitting next to me as I was on the phone made me feel more intimate with him. Those two months had been rich with pleasurable experiences. I wondered what would come next.... And years later, I still take joy in wondering, and in enjoying "enough" when everything is not present.

If you would like a complimentary 30-minute coaching call to explore what is enough and what isn't, or what changes you'd like to make in your life, call me at 206-938-8385 or email moreah@comcast.net and write Coaching Call in the subject line. I love to help people explore!