|Robin was giving me an anatomy of her divorce. “There were signs,” she said. “Plenty of them. I just ignored them.”|
“The counselor told me to ignore how he treated other people,” said Manuela, “and concentrate on how he treated me. But one day I became ‘other people.’”
It’s typical to do this in the early stages of dating and falling in love because, first of all it’s an exciting and complex process getting to know someone, and secondly, there are all those wonderful dreamy chemicals bathing our brains.
It’s also a time when we’re prone to be “optimistic,” to assume everything’s going to be marvelous. Nobody starts a new relationship hoping it will be a disaster. We invest a lot of time and energy into it, and we can begin to see what we want to see, not what’s really going on.
This, by the way, is one of the catch points about Emotional Intelligence, and about learned optimism. It’s recommended in many daily situations, particularly performance situations (like giving a speech or pitching an account), but it is never recommended in situations of great consequence. At those times, we need to take off the rose-colored glasses. Dating is surely one of those times.
While you’re enjoying the chemical bath coming from the brain-stem and limbic brains, stay in touch with your neocortex – the thinking brain – and process just exactly what it is you’re seeing and experiencing. Working with a coach, BTW, can help you with clarity.
“No hay casualidades,” say the Spanish. Roughly translated it means, “nothing happens by accident” or “there are no coincidences.”
Each of these things happened early on in someone’s dating career and were ignored:
· We were sitting at the kitchen table at his folks’ house and heard a mousetrap go off. Edward sprang to his feet, ran over to the trap, freed the mouse and then beat it to death with a fly swatter. Somehow I didn’t think that related to anything else but the mouse, though it made me sick at the time.
· Stanton was a good doctor. He had taken a contract and was working from home and made plenty of money and that blinded me. Turns out he’d had a couple of partnerships that had failed because he was so demanding and impossible to work with. Boy did I find out about that later. It’s very strange for a doctor to work out of his home. Somehow that never registered on me.
· Leo was always very relaxed with me, but whenever a waiter came around, or he talked about someone from his past, he was so critical, it was like he was examining them with a magnifying glass. Came the day I fell under the magnifying glass and was found to be ‘wanting’ just like everyone else, in tiny, little inconsequential, fly-speck ways.
· Eino always called his divorce “leaving home.” I’d never heard a grown male talk that way, but I ignored the implications. My friends said he was like a kid, but I just couldn’t see it until I became the surrogate “mom.”
· "You know how those fraternity parties are,” said Nita, referring to her college promiscuity as if it were common place. I had no idea what she meant, but I found out later on. She assumed casual sex with just about anyway was, ‘well, you know how it is.’
· Though she was always on her best behavior when we were together, Dalida referred to her secretary, her maid, and her hairdresser as “the help,” and demeaned them in front of me.
· Our dates were frugal, because I’m on a budget and Annie seemed to enjoy them. I missed that all her conversation was about how much things cost, and how she noted, as people passed by, the Gucci purse, or the Rolex watch, or the nasty “fake” jewelry.
Hard as it is, try and keep your head about you – that is, don’t get “flooded” by those wonderful chemicals to the point where you aren’t paying attention to the little things. That’s all it is – little things. Watch how they treat all the other people in their life. The Spanish also say, “What goes around, comes around.”
You will have learned, or will be learning, that it’s best to nip things in the bud. Yes, people can change. And yes, at middle-age we’ve all had our ‘learning experiences.’
Be mindful. Observe. Ask questions. It can save you from looking up one day and saying, “It was there all the time. Why didn’t I see it?”
“Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90% of all your happiness or misery.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr., “Life’s Little Instruction Book”
About the Author
©Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, The EQ Coach™, http://www.susandunn.cc , helping people like you negotiate the turns of midlife transition. We bring the power of Emotional Intelligence to your life through coaching, distance learning, eBooks and Special Reports. Susan is the author of “How to Live Your Life with Emotional Intelligence” – http://www.webstrategies.cc/ebooklibrary.html . Mailto:email@example.com for FREE eZine.
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