If you’ve ever said “What was I thinking?” about an ex…then you are familiar with the concept that love is blind. Why is that? What is it about our hormones, chemistry, or arousal template that causes us to stay with someone who isn’t right for us?
Well…it could be a lot of things. It could be some family pattern or role modeling we experienced in childhood. It could be issues with our self esteem. Perhaps it’s a very loud ticking clock that seems to over-ride our sense of good judgement.
I’ll share a little story with you:
In a past life (from 19?? – 2006) I had a habit of “dating down”. Almost always the relationships ended with me in a ball of tears and overwhelming anxiety for weeks, months…sometimes longer. Then something would happen…at some point the black cloud would lift, I would start to feel like myself again, and next thing you know I’m saying to myself “What the f**k was I thinking?”
Whoever came up with the phrase “Hindsight is 20/20” was so right on the mark that he or she deserves an award or something. You know who else has 20/20? All your friends and loved ones who stood by and watched you date down. Usually you only find out about this AFTER the breakup when they are consoling you.
I’m not talking about the supportive comments that are required like “Don’t worry, he wasn’t good enough for you anyway” or “Well, it’s their loss because you’re so amazing”. No. What I’m referring to are the outright huge sighs of relief and blatant truths that only come out of their mouths after your relationship is really over. That’s when you realize they had perfect vision all along.
One of the best examples for me was my friends and family after my engagement ended. Once my tears had dried and I was actually able to utter his name with disdain instead of remorse, my loved ones had some choice words about what they thought. Apparently, most of them couldn’t stand him and only accepted him because, and I quote, “You loved him, and we love you, so we just accepted it”.
My family actually shared some not-so-nice nicknames they used behind his back. I won’t share them here…you’ll have to trust me that they aren’t nice.
I know why no one ever said anything to me about what they thought of him while I was still in the relationship. It’s just not wise. If they had said I should leave him I probably would have gotten mad at them and it would have pushed me closer to him. If I had listened to them and left I would always wonder what if and maybe blame my loved ones for “making” me make the wrong decision. Then, if I went back to him, I’d feel as though I couldn’t keep the naysayers around anymore. It’s just a no win situation (except in the case of life-threatening behaviors, in which case concern in the form of support and possible assistance would be a good idea).
Even as a therapist I know when I can and can not share my opinion of someones significant other. But what if we, the “Dater-downers”, were able to hear (and accept) those observations from the people in our lives who actually have 20/20 while we are suffering from blindness? What if we had a trusted few who could lead us out of the dark?