Let’s…let’s stay together
Lovin’ you whether, whether
Times are good or bad, happy or sad
Whether times are good or bad, happy or sad.
Hold up! Stop the music. You know, I have patience for lots of things when it comes to men. But holding on to a relationship during bad times—I must admit, I have my absolute limits. I think we all do. But how much is too much when it comes to holding on to a relationship that no longer works? Does the time you invested in the relationship determine the amount of effort to salvage a broken relationship? There are so many questions which need to be asked if you want to examine something that no longer works. The thing is, there is no quick fix to ending a relationship. These days, when looking to see if the grass is greener on the other side, it may be worth it to just become a monk and cut your losses before you end up with an “EJ Johnson type” wanting to bang your back out. What is it about some men that keeps us hooked in the game? Maybe it’s having a familiar body next to us at night. Or maybe it’s the (good) dick that keeps us in a dead-end in cycle some refer to as “the gamble of love”. Perhaps, we may never know.
I spent two and a half years of my life with Dale. He was a family-oriented guy. He faithfully paid alimony to his ex-wife, took great care of his kids, and decided to take full custody of his only son to ensure a successful transition into manhood. When I invited Dale and his son to move into my home, I thought it would be a great opportunity to take our relationship to the next level. I wanted to feel like I had my own family. I wanted to feel as if I had a “traditional” lifestyle. When we both ended the work day, we would come home and “play house”. It was nice to help his son with his homework, cook dinner as a family, and live a life I never imagine I’d be living at 29 years old. But the truth of the matter is, I was miserable. Ultimately I received an epiphany–the perfect life I wanted, I realized would be perfect with someone else. Just two months after they moved in, I was masking a breakdown that was inevitably coming my way. I’m not sure if it was the numbing routine nature of our lives or the robotic, routine way we had sex, but I wanted out and I wanted out NOW! It was Christmas Eve when we both agreed we’d had enough. What was once an ideal family dynamic would come to a screeching halt that evening; the timing was inconveniently perfect. Dale and his son moved out on New Years Eve morning. As they loaded the last piece of furniture onto the moving truck and started to leave, an eruption of relief eliminated my anguish. Less than a minute later, he calls me to say, “you know…I heard you screaming ‘YES! YES! YEEEEES!!!’ as we were driving off!” Slightly embarrassed, yet completely unbothered I replied, “Oh! I’m sorry! (giggle) I guess I didn’t realize how much I really needed my space back”. We both laughed. It was the first time we both laughed in a month.
Although it may not seem like it, it was hard for me to say goodbye to Dale and his son. They had become such an integral part of my life. But what bothered me more than anything was the lack of clarity about why we broke up. I hate leaving anything and not be clear about why I chose to let go of something. We both agreed to see a relationship therapist. I needed to know two things: were my expectations of Dale too unreasonable or was I unclear about who I was and what I was bringing to the relationship. Our first session was all about discovery. Our psychiatrist was a very poised and direct woman. I could tell we were going to get our money’s worth and then some. After getting to know us for the first several minutes, she wasted no time asking us questions as if we were taping an episode of Judge Judy. Effective—indeed she was! Fast forward to 45 minutes into the hour long session, she concluded her assessment with a stern, yet grandmotherly response, “I guess I’m just gonna come right on out and say it! You two are just not compatible!” Pointing at me, she says, “Now him…he’s gonna be alright! I’m not really worried about him.” She then concludes with Dale and says, “Now you…we’re gonna have to schedule our next five sessions ’cause we got some work to do. Now take this pen and write down your next assignment!” I can’t tell you how revealing, purposeful, and vindicating a therapy session can be from a qualified and spot-on professional.
Starting over can be a scary thing. When you’ve invested so much of your life, your love, your body, and your mind to someone and to have the relationship fail can be a major disappointment. However, it is also one of the beautiful facets of life. Had it not been for failed relationships, many of us would not be in the fulfilled relationships we are in today. But more importantly, the lessons learned about who we are as men show us not only where we have been, but how we can be triumphant and be more equipped to make better decisions in the future. There were times I wanted to stay with Dale. The safety net was tightly knitted and was secure in all its parameters. But what good is staying together for security if the love is not there. I was not “in love” as some would put it. I don’t think I ever was. For me, that was my deal breaker. It’s understood two men will always grow and evolve independently in relationships. We simply did not have the language to establish what we clearly needed in the beginning of the relationship—that was to be able to trust each other with our hearts. It was a mistake I never made again. And since then, the beauty of each encounter I’ve had with a man, I’ve been very clear that our hearts need to be given to each other. It would be the only way we can trust each other and improve our chances of staying together. And so far, it has worked…beautifully.