Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 5-2-2021
“No one is worth chasing. Not for love, not for attention, not for fun, not even for truth or closure. The only truth that matters is if I feel you are drifting away, then that means you are not interested anymore. And if you are not interested in me, I won’t be interested in you.” -EaE
Here I am challenging myself beyond measure, as my father gave me my most difficult blog topic yet, he even chose this title. Being that I am only a few months post a devastating break up, I was not quite sure how to start. However, he gave me this challenge, and I find myself with the need to rise up and discuss relationships, love, the concept of a ‘soul mate’ and the pain of love dying and/ or losing a love. Of all my experience to include clinical experience I still find love to be the trickiest topic of them all. There is no intervention or treatment method that can cure a broken relationship that I am aware of. I even told my first supervisor back when I was working at the Brooklyn Vet center to ‘never give me a couple to work with, I cannot do couples’. When he asked me “how come”, I simply said: “I’ll just tell them to get a divorce”. Call it the lame cliché Disney movies, or both my parents going through multiple marriages, most of my military friends going through divorces, my clients constantly venting about their intimate partnerships and/ or my own issue’s sustaining a relationship, but I had become what we call ‘jaded’. I also have what some clinicians like to refer to jokingly as a ‘broken picker’, meaning I tend to go after people that are ‘bad for me’.
I believe there is a reason many say that chemistry and lust is what forms a bond between two people, but it is commitment and compatibility which will determine whether or not they are in it for the long haul. And in many cases, it is becoming increasingly common that these ‘lifelong commitments’ are not so lifelong after all. Do I believe this makes any of us failures? If we cannot sustain a relationship or stay in a marriage until death do we part? Many of my clients procrastinated on divorces that they secretly desired due to the fact that they felt it would mean they would be viewed as a ‘failure’. This means that society’s perception of them far outweighed their happiness. Wow! I can greatly understand and appreciate that lust/ love can lead us to do some hasty and sometimes irrational things. However, the lengths most of us have gone through, the pain many of us have endured to fit this ‘norm’ of meet and ‘live happily ever after’ because society, family, friends, books, movies told us so is fascinating.
My father has been helping me a great deal after my most recent break up (an engagement at that) and I really do appreciate hearing other people’s stories of heart break. It does give me hope. One thing he said that stood out is that he found himself “waking up next to a beautiful woman every day but feeling so alone”. This brought me back to my first serious relationship of nine years. (Onset at the beginning of my Air force career) Remembering how we committed at such a young age without having a grasp on what any of it meant, slowly growing a part but having zero clue how to have that conversation or how to put it to a close. This one really did feel like a from ‘soul mate to roommate’ situation. After reflecting on my own experiences, my clients, as well as my family and friends I have come to realize just how hard it is to end something even when we are miserable. Why? For many people, promises mean something, even when we don’t want to upkeep them anymore.
Memories and Fantasies
The reason I am not going to speak on ‘true love’ or ‘how to make a relationship or marriage work’ is because I have never made it to the alter. Instead, I will speak on what I know. In most cases when people stay in a miserable relationship, it has more to do with the memories they built with their partner as well as the future they are fantasizing about and hoping for. It has little to do with their current lack of happiness and/ or logical thinking. Many people I have spoken with in clinical settings as well as social settings have admitted a great deal of relationship stress but ‘hanging on’ due to how much ‘they have been through together’ or the ‘promises they made that they cannot go back on’. Promises are made all the time, especially in relationships, especially in the beginning when we want to do anything to make that other person happy because they make us so happy. However, people change their minds all the time. What we want changes, who we are changes, we learn new things about ourselves everyday and we get further and further from that person that made those initial promises.
Then there are the fantasies which are often onset and warped by society. Marriage, kids, white picket fence, this love and these feelings WILL last forever, this is the ‘happily ever after’ that we are taught we deserve. Even if our present situation is miserable, maybe we can work through it and still get a fraction of that fantasy we had been hoping for and building onto in our minds since…. Jr High/ High school timeframe. Memories and fantasies will keep a person in a relationship long past its expiration date. The heartbreaking thing about this is, that means you are not in it due to personal desires, but rather hanging on to ‘what was’, as well as a fictional ‘what will be’ that you have created in your own mind. All sense of happiness will be lost, and the mind will continue with this built-in relationship survival program, and for what? Because promises were made, because a breakup is painful, because society may frown upon it, because of money, because of routine, because of a fear of being alone, because we want to believe that we have a “soul mate” too.
I’m not going to go as far as saying soul mates do not exist, however, I don’t think it’s helping us to cling to the concept of it. Truthfully, most people gave me some pretty ridiculous and frustrating advice after my break ups. I’m sure many can relate. An endless series of “don’t worry you will find the one”, “he wasn’t good enough for you” , “your soul mate is out there” etc. Everyone has that person they know that has married roughly 5 or 6 “The ones” in their lifetime. This perpetual cycle is very damaging and often causes us to rush into lifelong commitments with people we are barely compatible with. There is nothing wrong with being single but society still fears it and pushes for everyone to search for “the one”, “the soul mate”. What about self improvement? What about lessons learned? What about self care?
My opening quote may seem a bit harsh or bitter, but it is very well intentioned. I recently became aware of attachment theories and the fact that I am attachment preoccupied due to abandonment issues from my past. This means that I attach easily and anxiously and will often do ‘whatever it takes’ to make something work, even to obsessive and unfair levels. I have put myself through heartache I never deserved. I did learn the hard way that no one, is in fact, worth chasing. Not that anyone is worthless. It is simply that if someone wants to get away from us, we should let them. It is not good for anyone to be in a relationship they do not want. It is also not good for any of us to be blindly in a ‘fake relationship’ that we think our partner wants as equally as us. I vowed to myself that I will never chase anyone again. Not only is this liberating and empowering, but it breaks the vicious cycle of my anxious attachment which led me to more harm than love/ happiness. I do not have to worry about being room mates with a person I no longer find happiness or joy with.
One thought on “From Soul Mates to Room Mates”
Single forever here. Beats getting cheated on, lied to, used…dear friend has shown not everyone does that and has raised my standards higher but friendship is valued without messing it up. Navy veteran friend gives a glimmer of hope watching him and his wife but short of that..am good!
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