I finally realized why my past relationships didn’t work out. And no, it’s not because I lack “the techniques you can use to make your man stay.” The techniques suggested in this one of many patriarchal articles about “how to keep a man” take at least two lifetimes to master. I am hoping to ‘keep’ a man in this lifetime.
To be clear, I am not perfect. I have broken hearts. So I am not going to sit here and lie that in all my past relationships, I was a helpless victim.
After my first heartbreak, I invented a “walk away and don’t look back” strategy which seems to hurt people. They think it is brutal. But I honestly think that if your heart is not in it, it is kinder to walk away.
Also, I realized that much as I am forgiving, the generosity of my forgiveness towards any human being who plays with my heart only goes as far as refraining from declaring plagues and calamities upon his life.
Anyway, as I was saying, I finally realized why my past relationships didn’t work out. It’s because I was focusing on the symptoms instead of the problem itself. I realized that things like lying, cheating, being brutal and being unavailable are only symptoms.
And what is the problem, you ask? It’s like this.
To me, relationships and jobs are very much alike. Our compulsive need for romantic affection can be likened to a job vacancy. When there’s a vacancy to fill, you go through the process of vetting candidates until you find and recruit the one that best suits your needs. On paper.
You see, people are good at acting competent when they want to be hired. They will say that their greatest weakness is that “I sometimes work too hard.” Ever hear of those lines? “When I love someone, I tend to go overboard.”“My ex-girlfriend said I was way too nice.”
And there’s no way to know, at least not at the start, that this Johnny person who calls because he “can’t sleep before listening to your sweet voice” is under qualified. He will act and act until you give him a permanent contract with health benefits.
Then he will suddenly start having endless emergencies that make him cancel appointments or show up late. He is suddenly too busy to check in with you.
You think he has changed and that talking to him will get him back on the right track. Soon, you learn that sometimes to get him to do the tinniest thing, tenth time’s the charm. You turn into a nagging girlfriend. He becomes distant.
You try threats and incentives all at once. But in relationships as in jobs, the most important motivation for excellence is having love for what you do. You can’t nag someone into loving you.
So in a nutshell, I discovered that the problem with my past relationships was trying to keep someone who does not want to be kept.