The “WE”-totaler’s Dilemma

Hello my patient and loyal readers. It’s time to remove your jaw-clenching dental guards because the deferred episode of “Mailbag Monday” has arrived. So, let’s not waste another nanosecond on hooey:

Dear Nerdy Romantic,

About 2 months ago I started seeing a guy I met on a popular online dating site. I really like him and think this could be something really special…but for one tiny problem:

In my previous relationships, I’ve been a bit of a “Desperate Debbie.” I go from zero-to-breaking-the-sound-barrier in 60 seconds and within a week I’m buying matching bath towels with our monogrammed initials.

But this time, I’m trying to ease back and get some perspective. It helps (or hurts?) that he requires a good deal of space; i.e. we get together twice or 3-times a week. This is totally unchartered territory and I have no clue how to navigate the time we don’t see each other. Do I call just to check in? I guess my question is — how do you ensure distance makes the heart grow fonder instead of just becoming distance?

Wow, okay. This is a doozy. But it helps that there really is only 1, single solitary place to start answering:

barney“Sharing Is Caring” chants that lovable, Prozac-snorting purple dinosaur Barney. Sure, good, fine. But what his Play-Doh-eating fan base is too young to realize is this:

When you grow up — i.e. start using your “woo-woos” and “fee-fees” for realzies — sharing can also become SCARING the crap out of someone and sending them running for the hills with no forwarding address.

It’s a fine line. And I have to wonder whether you (the self-proclaimed former “Desperate Debbie”) have in fact been on the wrong side of it — OR — whether you’ve just been with the wrong person. The distinction is this:

Door Number 1:

You’ve realized after a life of heart-doodling-around-last-name-sharing that your need to infiltrate every pore of your lover’s existence is rooted in some negative pattern of childhood abandonment that if continued, will either:

  1. Do to any potentially healthy relationship what a blaring siren does to a baking soufflé, or —–
  2. Trap you in a creepy, interconnected, ever-churning cycle of codependency that is the stuff of certain horror movies:

flowers in the atticIt’s safe to say the children of Christopher and Corrine Dollanganger — Cathy, Chris, Carrie, & Corey — would have preferred if their parents had gone to a few Al-Anon meetings.

Door Number 2:

You’re trying to change who you are, fundamentally, to fit who think the other person wants.

Because here’s the thing: There is no shortage of “WE” seeking men out there. Guys whose very dream is a sentence-finishing, bar-of-soap-sharing, iPhone calendar synching, peeing with the door open, pet name giving, kiss-blowing and “I miss you already” saying when you walk into a different room in the same house LADY.

This we-lationship could totally work, So Long As both parties are into it. And then, it becomes this two-minds-melding-into-one symbiosis. Like an angler fish and a bio-luminescence: the glowing organism lures pray straight into the sharp-toothed fish’s mouth, and in return, the fish provides a steady stable home for the bio to live on.

(Enter “Finding Nemo” heart sigh here)

PERSONALLY, I’d rather put my head in the direct path of 2 charging rams than be in that kind of we-lationship — but that’s just me.

This is you we’re talking about. Now, IF — after all of this — you are still sure of your choice in Door Number 1, then let’s walk through it:

You are entering the life of a “WE”-totaler. Cold. Turkey. No more binge-linking your names into one. In this world, Renee Zellweger doesn’t say “You complete me,” to Jerry Maguire. She says, “You complement me, in all my independent desires and separate interests.”  

It’s not about the QUANTITY of time you spend together, but rather the quality. About being comfortable in your own skin and in your own space — AS well as when those spaces converge.

I can’t remember where I heard this story. I think it was in grade school, while learning to distinguish between the different geometric shapes. But I think about it in terms of what I consider to be a balanced relationship. Here goes my greatly paraphrased version:

Sitting at the edge of a steep cliff, there is this giant, multi-sided, rhomboid-like mis-shape; all points askew and asymmetric angles struggling to organize themselves in such a way that the piece as a whole can get to the bottom of the hill. But no matter how hard it reconfigures itself, the shape won’t budge. Finally, it gets so angry and frustrated, that it breaks apart into 2 perfectly rounded circles. Looking at each other from across the cliff side, the 2 circles delightedly roll down the hill together, side by side.

In the end, no matter what kind of relationship you’re in, remember this: “That which is for you, will not pass you.”

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