The Emotional Fallback: Relationships We Hold On To
There Are Some Relationships We Just Can’t Let Go.
They are…The Emotional Fallback
There’s always at least one person that you have looming in the back of your mind (or heart). Someone who you tend to gravitate towards at the most inopportune times, someone who perhaps isn’t the best match for you. Someone who’s available to you in whatever way you need them to be… there’s always someone. These are our stories, our reasons for holding on… and our reasons for letting go.
The Mistress and the Mister
I met this guy the summer after graduating from high school. It started out as a summer fling, and before we know it, the end of the summer came and I went away to college. Things didn’t really work out long-distance, so the relationship ended.
A year after that, the Mister and I started talking again and it turned out to be a wonderful fall and winter… then came Valentine’s Day. We had made plans to get together… only I didn’t hear from him. The weekend passed and still no word. Then he called… to tell me he drove up north to spend Valentine’s day with a friend who really “needed” him. That friend turned out to be his girlfriend, then his wife and finally the mother of his child. He dipped out on me on more than one occasion, always without a word. No goodbye, just an “I’m sorry”, only to resurface later.
His relationship (and then later marriage) didn’t stop us from finding one another when we needed and things continued for about 7 or 8 years. I was naive to keep in touch, but everything with The Mister felt so natural and I found it somewhat comforting. I got to hear about every time he and the wife were having issues. He would go so far as to tell me that he’d made a mistake by leaving me each time. He always made a point to tell me how most of the guys I dated weren’t good enough, that I deserved better (like him?) And I listened, I listened because he loved me (and well, he was usually right). Someone who loved me as much as he did would only look out for me, right? It wasn’t difficult at all to keep me around, as I was desperate for his attention, for his love – no one told me that they loved me as much as he did.
Our relationship was a constant yo-yo of emotions.
I knew what we were doing was wrong, but I couldn’t bring myself to end it. It didn’t matter who I dated; there was always a voice in the back of my mind that would reassure me of who I was meant to be with, I just had to be patient. You know what they say about married people? You can’t trust them. They’ll tell you whatever you want to hear just to keep you around. This guy knew everything about me, through and through, and I (thought) I knew everything about him. One Christmas he called me around midnight – drunk – begging me to meet him. The wife was out-of-town (as she often was when he called) and he wanted to see me. Said he had a Christmas gift for me – a gift that I never did see. We went back and forth – me explaining why it wasn’t a good idea and how it was wrong, how it wasn’t fair to his wife. How it wasn’t fair to me. It was always him going on (and on) about how he loved me, how we were supposed to be together and how much of a mistake he had made by getting married. I did try to end it, several times, but to no avail and after that night things became somewhat public. I’m not sure who knew – if anyone – but on occasion we would be together, in front of his friends. I kept convincing myself that things would work out the way they were supposed to, the way that he had always described them to me. That one day he would actually leave his wife and come get me.
Ladies (and gents), let me tell you – and this really isn’t anything new – if someone talks to you about leaving his or her spouse and doesn’t after the first (or hell, the second) time then s/he WON’T, ever. Don’t be fooled. Yes there are always exceptions, but it’s not likely to be you. It took me a long time and a lot of tears to realize the truth in that and while our love affair has taught me a lot, I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. I somehow always justified my actions, and now sitting here thinking about it I don’t even know how I managed to do that. It was awful. I was awful. But for a while a man “loved” me and that’s all I allowed myself to see. We eventually stopped talking, I came to terms with the fact that things weren’t going to change and the guilt of it all started to eat away at me.
The last time I heard anything about him things were getting better with his wife. In the end I’m glad that they were able to work things out, or at least give the impression that they worked things out. Me? Obviously, I’m still looking.
The Long-Distance-Like-To-Flirt (LDLTF)
I’ve never really had a ‘real’ relationship (yeah, I know – that should be a stand-alone blog post!) That being said, there still is that one person I seem to revert to whenever I need a little ego boost – i.e. only creepy guys on Match.com are contacting me or that was a TERRIBLE date… let me just text Mr. LDLTF. Strangely enough, I’ve only met him in person, once. He was a friend of a friend. I was at a terrible time in my life and he came swooping in, supposedly with a crush on me. A moment of weakness turned into weekend of fun and just the boost I needed. Nearly five years later, the text messaging continues, with nothing too substantial.
Watching some cheesy Lifetime movie resulting in a tinge of “aw, wish I had something like that”? I’ll text Mr. LDLTF.
Granted, there’s something ‘safe’ about him. Maybe because I know I’ll never really run into him (unless of course I book a flight to see him). Maybe he will always just fall into the ‘what if’ category. And maybe I’m OK with that. Perhaps I already have a replacement emotional fallback…
Why Every Woman Over 30 Needs A *FWB
My emotional fallbacks usually start off with a kiss gone really well. And I don’t mean a kiss with limited slobbering and correct tongue-to-tongue compatibility, I mean girlfriend got weak-in-the-knees, disappeared to another time and space, “did-my-panties-just-fall-off-on-the-pavement?” kind of kiss.
While they were wonderful moments, they were also the start of relationships I wish I could undo. Why? Because each time they happened, instead of finding myself oozing in happiness and spending Sundays in bed with Pad Thai and movies (because shouldn’t crazy chemistry lead to happily ever after???), I’ve always found myself in a pseudo “relationship” that drove me emotionally crazy as I played the game of are we dating or not dating, in and out, back and forth, “my mind’s telling me no but my …” you get the picture.
And the potential for an emotional fallback to occur doubles when the person on the other end says things like, “You know we have a thing?” or “You know I love you.”
Chemistry can be a bitch.
Because even when they partially deliver and they do enough to keep me saying maybe — maybe if I’m patient, maybe if I live in the gray zone, maybe if I suspend my need for definitions — I still go back because I’ve already been hooked by the kiss, by an idea, by a fantasy.
This is a stupid place to be.
I’m sure there’s some unexamined part of my psyche of why I would return to a situation that’s not available to me, and it could be a mixture of pure hope and pure animal lust. But, once I fall, it’s hard to undo that emotion and move on.
Thankfully, I’ve grown savvy enough to know that if he isn’t pursuing you, he’s pursuing something else. (To be fair, that could be his job or his passions or whatever, just not you.) I still fall prey to men that I’ve been chemically attracted to that aren’t necessarily giving anything back to me except a physical relationship and a shot of hope, but I can now identify when I need to detach myself from a fantasy and move on. Whether I make that choice (especially after a few cocktails) is still in question, but the time between that glorious first kiss and the minute I move on is shortening.
* Friends With Benefits
Have you ever had an ’emotional fallback’ that you kept around when you should have let them go? Leave a comment and share your story!