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A Letter to All My Exes About Why I Couldn’t Commit

A Letter to All My Exes About Why I Couldn’t Commit

Dear ex-lover,

I am writing to you today either because we broke up in such a way that it makes it impossible to contact you in person, or because I’ve already run far, far away and would probably come up with a last minute excuse as to why I won’t be able to talk to you in person. So either way, I decided to write you a letter to (semi)personally apologize to you.

First of all, thank you. Thank you for the time I had with you — it was epic, it was passionate, and it was unforgettable. I didn’t fall for you in the way John Green wrote about in his novel The Fault in our Stars, in which Hazel states: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” That is a beautiful notion, but that wasn’t the case for me.

I didn’t fall for you, I jumped for you — the way you would jump off of a cliff into a refreshing pool of water. It was immediate, and it was exciting, but just like the way the adrenaline after that jump soon wears off, my feelings toward you soon evaporated.

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Yes, there was a “fault in our stars,” but let me try to reassure you with the well-known cliché that hit me when I realized what was really wrong with me: “It’s not you, it’s me.” You see, you once asked me why I wasn’t in more relationships before you, why I was single for so long.

At first I thought it was my career, my ambition to succeed in life, that was keeping me from going through the whole process of dating, falling in love, and thinking about a future and a life together. You looked at me like I was this precious stone that magically fell onto your lap; a stone that was meant only for your eyes.

But the truth is, I never was. I wasn’t some precious stone waiting to be owned by only you; I was a girl suffering from a thing called Commitment Phobia. Now, wait — don’t go all plague on me; it’s not contagious. It’s just something that was bred in me by nurture. I had little control over it because I didn’t know it existed, and so it eventually became my nature.

Aren’t we all always facing the constant Tug-of-War game known as Nature vs Nurture? So imagine my shock when I realized that aspects I thought (and maybe it did) made me a strong woman, were actually preventing me from having lasting and fulfilling relationships — and not only romantically. I have issues with committing on lots of things, hence my indecision, which often drove you crazy.

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As I am quite new at this, I will allow the highly educated Dr. John Grohol explain to you what Commitment Phobia is in his article, What is Commitment Phobia & Relationship Anxiety: He states that people who have commitment issues or commitment phobia generally have a serious problem in committing to a relationship for the long-run — ergo my longest relationships ranging from two to four months (and even that was often a stretch for me).

He goes on to say that although they still experience love like anyone else, their feelings can often be increasingly more intense and petrifying than they are for others. He continues on: “these feelings drive increased anxiety, which builds upon itself and snowballs as the relationship progresses — and the expectation of a commitment looms larger.”

Being in an intense relationship with you scared me subconsciously. I had this image of an ideal man and an ideal life — a Utopian life without all the instability and the fights I saw from everyone I looked up to as a child, and I was scared that what I felt for you wasn’t real and wouldn’t last.

That is why I started to avoid spending time with you. That is why (without you knowing) I constantly found fault with little things you did and complained to my friends about it — never talking to you. The fact that communication wasn’t our strongest point perhaps also led to our demise.

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I was evasive, made up excuses and never allowed myself to be truly vulnerable with you. I honestly tried. At first when I saw you, I told myself that you were the one. In the beginning of our whirlwind romance I honestly believed it and I told myself that for you, I will open up. I did. I told you about my depression and anxiety, and the roots of it being founded in an unstable childhood — having to face complicated family dynamics where you are left in a constant state of emotional panic, never knowing what the mood and the outcome of the day would be.

It’s not an excuse — it’s a symptom. A symptom of a society where we allow innocence to be demolished by pride, anger, selfishness, and abuse. That is why I focused on my career and not you; that is why my independence was so very important to me — I had to prove to myself that I can stand on my own two feet, that I don’t need anything or anyone, and that the only one I can truly rely on is myself. You started to rock that boat.

You told me you loved me, I didn’t say anything. I walked away. You found someone else. It didn’t bother me.

And it was the fact that it didn’t bother me that got me questioning what was wrong with me.

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So, like any addict I am forced to sit on my butt, state my name, and admit I have a problem. This, as with any addiction or illness, is the first step. From here on out, I can do more research, seek support from others, and even counselling. It is hard to face up to a mask of strength that you created for yourself and tear it down in order to deal with the bruises underneath it, but it has to be done if I want to take ownership of my own life and not leave it in the hands of the past.

I truly am sorry that it didn’t work out for us, but I am glad that you found your happiness. I hope that she gives you the love I never could give you — the love you so rightfully deserve.

Sincerely,

Your elusive Ex

Featured photo credit: Simone Perrone via magdeleine.co

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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