Whether we are aware of it or not, each one of us brings into a relationship a certain amount of “not-okay”ness. We are either underdeveloped or broken by life experiences to some degree. In the 70’s there was a popular book called, I’m Okay, You’re Okay. It is a catchy title, and I appreciate the contributions of the author, but I have found that not only me, but many of my clients need a different book called:
I received a desperate email the other day from one of the women I am working with who is coming off a difficult divorce and is now bravely working her way through the dating world. Along with the email, she also posted her current dilemma on her blog post called “What Should I feel??”
After thinking about it, I decided to write a letter to her man for her. This may help some of the rest of you who might be dealing with something similar. By the way, the gender and pronouns can be switched to the opposite.
First, I want to thank you for the love and attention you have been giving me. It is so refreshing and invigorating, especially when I compare it to what I have been through in the past. It is so reassuring to find that I am lovable after all. In the short time that we have been dating, I am confident that you are a good man who is trying to get it right.
You have expressed a great deal of love for me, but at the same time, you feel the relationship is one sided. I recognize that what I bring to the relationship right now is not enough for you. I recognize that I am not meeting all of your needs. Being aware of this scares me.
You see, I feel like we are a pioneer couple sitting in a covered wagon in the middle of the plains having a conversation about needs. It feels like you are saying to me, “For this trip to work for me, I need you to get some more flour, a box of nails, and a spare wheel if one breaks.” I look back at you like a deer in the headlights, because I currently don’t have any of those things, and there is no Wal-mart nearby. This scares me, because it feels like you are saying, “And if you don’t bring those things to the relationship soon, I will need to make this trip without you, and you and your children will have to make the rest of the trip alone.”
When I reply with something like, “I am giving you all I have,” I am not lying to you. I do not have hidden resources. I am not holding back.
You say that you love me. I believe that you have loving feelings for me, but are you sure that you love ME? Broken, tired, resourceless me?
I am not a liar, but I am also not that good at describing what I am thinking and feeling accurately. Can you love someone with this flaw?
As you have experienced, I can be tender, loving and fun, but as you have also observed, I can flip like a switch. I want you to have someone more consistent and predictable than me, but currently, I am not able to provide more than that.
I calculate that you would be better off with a different woman with less baggage. What I hear you saying is, “I love you, and you are almost enough for me.” What I FEEL like you are saying is, “At some point, if you don’t meet my needs, I will have to go to a different woman to get the rest of my needs met.”
If it is true, that I am not enough for you now, the way I am in my current, “not-okay”, state, then please, let me go now, before I fall in love with you even more.
You are enough for me. But I do have one deal breaker. I cannot make a long term commitment to a man who is not satisfied with me as I am now. I promise to improve, but I had that promise to myself before I ever met you. I will work to become a more whole and more healed woman every day. That may be the only “product guarantee” I have to offer.