Stupid love songs

My friend Greg does not like it when I say relationships between certain types of people can be “toxic;” some people may never have the person of their “dreams;” there isn’t always enough time to “fix” something; it might not be worth the effort.

“I want to believe that with enough work, enough understanding, enough knowledge, we can overcome problems in any relationship if there is love,” he said.

I would like to believe that too. But I have come to accept that sometimes the effort is counterproductive. When my tendency is to chase and resolve, my partner may just want a damn break. It is her right to have that break. Even if she is avoiding. Even if avoiding makes me want to try harder. Which makes her want to run faster. Etc.

What I was trying to say was not that it is always hopeless, but trying harder at what has not worked (except temporarily) in the past is unlikely to get us where we want to be.

We can’t change the response pattern of our partner through an act of our own will. All we can do is communicate. If she doesn’t see a problem in the relationship except how I behave, she gets to feel that way, regardless of how it makes me feel. Even if she doesn’t want to talk about it. She isn’t “wrong.”

“ ‘This isn’t working for me’ is different than saying ‘You’re not doing your part,’ ” an acquaintance pointed out the other day.

I was also trying to say to Greg there is a woman out there who may be “accessible, responsive, and engaged.” A partner as he defines it. Wanting that is not wrong, either.

It might be we have to look for her rather than think we can, or have the right to, make the one we want to be with want to want us. We have to be realistic about how much we put into it, how much time we have, what we expect in return.

We have to stop doing things because we are afraid of losing what we are driving away.

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About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon

3 Responses to Stupid love songs

  1. Jeff Zurschmeide says:

    The thing about having the person of our “dreams” is that, a) dreams are kinda by definition not a reality-based scenario, and b) we bring ourselves to the party. Are we the person we dream ourselves to be, or that another dreams of finding? Or are we real, human, flawed, and idiosyncratic? I know I am all those things.

    So there’s an element of self-sabotage from the get-go. You can love with all your heart – that doesn’t mean things will work. And the converse – if it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean that you didn’t love with all your heart.

    I’m learning to settle down, not act on every impulse, not voice every emotion or fear or thought, and not to expect superhuman results from myself or another. Rather, I’m learning just to enjoy the moment. The rule in my current relationship is “It will last as long as it can.” And that seems to me an excellent way to be.

    • Erik Dolson says:

      Jeff, in my case, and I know for my friend “Greg,” it’s not just acting on every impulse, fear or thought but “reacting,” before thought. In spite of thought. In spite of intent. In a way that reflects that fear.

      The book due out in the Fall, “It’s Nobody’s Fault,” goes into the fear element in more detail.

      The fear we feel is primal, that of an infant abandoned in the grass who just saw the shadow of a tiger, a scream from the amygdala fueled by adrenalin.

      By the time it gets to the prefrontal cortex where the thinking happens, it carries the weight of absolute truth and cortex starts finding something to justify the fear.

      That’s an important point, by the way—the fear of loss precedes the facts and the initial “spark” can come from nearly anywhere. It’s not that something “real” caused the fear (just the debates and arguments that follow), but that the logical brain justifies the fear, creates the scenario. This is very hard to explain to someone who has not experienced it.

      Those of us conditioned to bring this fear forward to our adult relationships, often irrational and layered with all sorts of consuming self-loathing, would love to have the security of feeling “it will last as long as it can.”

      That for us is the goal, and hopefully, “keeping by being able to gracefully let go,” is not a dream.

      Thanks for participating.

  2. Claire Meisle says:

    It might even sound like a hysterical reaction to nothing apparent, but the coiled constant “voice” that overwhelms is not logical, nor is it current-derived. Consider, who was it-Mozart, who constantly heard music in his head, rather than thought, this is akin to the primarily strong assumption of the brain to perceive a certain way, to rigidly format ones lifestyle and to process all information in any form contrary to what might, dare I say it-be healthier. The lure of love can only momentarily outshout the brain. So there is a lull, where mating is exquisite. But the reactionary mechanism locked in long ago, and there is flight.

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