Not Feeling It
Picture this, Rhodes, Greece, 2015: It is a few months before I would have the epiphany that would cause me to change my life and before I would start writing this blog in earnest. I am on holiday with my sister and we are looking for a club to go to after spending time in a bar owned by Rhodes’ answer to Rik Mayall and giggling hysterically at two guys wearing matching trainers that made them look like they were wearing flippers. Anyway, I digress.
We walk through the narrow streets, following the beat of the music escaping from various doorways each time the door is opened. After checking out a few places, we stop at a club with a plasma screen outside that was playing what we thought was live footage of the packed club inside. The guy on the door was was doing a hard sell. To be fair, the footage was pretty compelling and he promised an amazing deal for us. So you can probably guess what happened next; we got inside to discover that we were two of about six people in the whole club. We were fuming!
Back to the present day, I see parallels between the whole inviting footage/plasma-TV-outside-a-club scenario and dating/relationships. When we’ve just met someone and we are in the early stages of dating or we are setting out in our new relationship, we may get what we think is a dazzling preview of the amazingness to come. They are so full-on and busy painting this picture of being The Perfect Potential Boyfriend/Girlfriend TM or The Perfect Potential Spouse, that we reason that this is what we can expect from them in the future.
When days (yes, really), weeks or months pass and they do a complete u-turn on who they presented as or what they promised, we are baffled, wounded and left thinking that we just need to get things to go back to how they were in the beginning. This Future Faking (building up and faking a future so they can get what they want in the present) and Fast Forwarding (being emotionally, physically etc., intense to speed you through the early stages of dating), messes with our heads.
The people pleaser in us cannot help but blame it on us having done something to scare them away as if character and intentions leave a person as quickly as they can drop their drawers to the ground. We then try to overcompensate for what will undoubtedly be becoming an unfulfilling partnering and feel as if we’re getting increasingly diminishing returns in a relationship where it used to be so ‘easy’.
The whole experience can erode our confidence and cause us to be reluctant about subsequent involvements and prone to settling for less than what we need. We may reason that if we go low in terms of expectation, then that is safer than going ‘high’ and getting disappointed. However, you’d be amazed how lowering our expectations into crumb territory can not only be disappointing, but that it can wound us even more. How much lower do I have to go to get some love up in here?
Expectations are beliefs about what we think will and should happen. We may believe that we have experience of the person meeting our expectations, so we don’t understand why they can’t go back to how it was ‘back then’. The thing is, they weren’t meeting our expectations in the beginning. It was a brand new involvement where we did not know them. They didn’t change; you just got to know them.
In some cases, it’s not they changed, but more that we got to know them a teeny bit more and that they were in very real danger of us seeing past the bluff. In the early days, they could pretty much tell us anything and as long as it was positive and fitted with our picture of how things should and could be, we’d go along with it.
They also go so hard at trying to woo us and win us over that instead of wondering about why things were happening so fast, we allow ourselves to create this unrealistic expectation that someone could blow in on the wind and make a bunch of inferences and promises without having really got to know us and that they would deliver on it.
And that is why we feel so wounded because ‘in the beginning’, they didn’t know us so ipso facto, it must be ‘knowing’ us that caused them to do a u-turn. However, like the guy outside the club with the plasma screen of dated footage (that probably didn’t even take place in his own club) doing a hard sell on getting us in there, isn’t it time that we acknowledge that actually, it is a fundamental lack of integrity and maturity Moreover, we can give permission to ourselves to ask more questions or to quite simply know our pace and what we want so that we can’t be bulldozed by someone into going at a pace that doesn’t match our values.
Dodgy club guy knew that he was pulling a fast one.
And, I hate to break it to you, but people who go all super intense on you at the beginning and try to speed through the getting to know, have form for their behaviour. It’s not the first time they’ve behaved this way and they’re stuck in their own getting high on romance Groundhog Day whilst avoiding the intimacy of taking one’s time.
You also have to acknowledge a fundamental truth: that you don’t like what you got to know or that it is not what you want(ed). Sure, you can take responsibility for allowing you to get swept up in their whirlwind and you can acknowledge anything that influenced those choices, but what you must stop doing is blaming something you supposedly said or did on their lack of integrity and maturity.
Even if we had asked whether the footage that was being shown on the screen was live, it wouldn’t change the fact that a con was being pulled in the first place. When you find yourself wondering why they changed from being that great person, remember this: they didn’t change, they just showed you who they really are.