For most of my young life, I lacked confidence in my relationships with others, males in particular. My father and I didn’t understand each other or feel close to one another. so conversations fell short. Neither of us were sure how to make it better.
In high school, I didn’t speak to boys unless required to, and felt embarrassed and nervous around them. To stay within my comfort zone, I related mostly to females, did school assignments and worked on the family farm. Attendance at social events or dances at school was not permitted by my parents, so dating began in college. There, I enjoyed being around men more, but still felt uncomfortable. Like any young woman my age, I tried to make sense of the opposite sex without clear role models or education other than trial and error.
After graduating from college, I married, and over the course of my life, married four times. In addition, there were a two other significant relationships, and one of them gave me a daughter. My last relationship of seventeen years with Eric began wonderfully and then went the way of all others and we nearly parted. But I committed myself to unraveling my part of the equation, and we turned things around. We found our happy place again and spent good years together after that. In 2017, Eric passed away from cancer.
Finding and welcoming a man into my life was never a problem. Getting along with a man, and creating a loving, satisfying relationship with him was my challenge.
In retrospect, I see that my tendency was to find a good man, and slowly take him off his game. To cause them to become confused, weak, or angry. I didn’t realize the consistency of this, and would have not consciously chosen the pattern, but in hindsight, there it was.
Once my partner had lost confidence, he didn’t enjoy himself, and didn’t enjoy me. (I also didn’t enjoy him, or me.) When that relationship ended, I’d find a new man, and hope for the best.
As the saying goes, when the student is ready, teachers appear. When my relationship with Eric fell apart, I reached out. I changed. I grew. I took responsibility.
Within one month, our connection improved. Within three months there was hope. After six months, Eric was responding to a new me, and together, we created an entirely different way of relating. We were happier.
When we shifted positively, Eric seemed encouraged, and I was beyond elated. Eric’s confidence returned, and we began to enjoy each other in the easy, casual ways we did when we first met. We learned from each other, we listened, we grew.
To have a better relationship with Eric required changes from me. Contrary to popular opinion, it takes one person to change a relationship.