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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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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