Monday, March 17, 2014
When Gathering Evidence Becomes a Dating Crutch
Photo credit: deegolden from morguefile.com
In my 20s, I was an endless evidence gatherer. In fact, that even was true with women who I never dated. I recall one in particular who demonstrated a bit of interest a few times, but then didn't really respond to my "let's get together sometime" kind of comments. I sat around for weeks, rethinking the conversations we had had. Did that look mean she was interested? She really liked the poems I had written. That must be a sign. But she didn't want to get a drink with me? Is she a recovering alcoholic? Should I ask her about that? The questions were endless, as was the tallying. All for a woman who probably thought of me as some nice guy she had a few conversations with, and that's about it.
I have had to train myself to cut off the evidence gathering mind. To know when enough information is enough, and when it's time to make a decision.
You have to learn, for example, how your mind rationalizes the poor behavioral patterns of a partner, or the ways in which you discount or marginalize your own needs in a relationship as a way to keep the peace. Or out of a fear of losing the person. You also have to learn to see through the cooked up stories your mind makes about ambiguous situations. It takes some discipline, and really a willingness to let go of knowing for certain what's going on.
In other words, it's all about balance. I think it's especially difficult in the beginning, when you don't know the other person well. And also when trying to decide if something should end or not, where emotional attachments and feelings of not wanting to give up on something you've put a lot of effort into come into play.
When it comes to those of us who have challenges with leaving, it's really important to remember that you don't have to justify everything. You don't have to have reasons for every last thing you don't like about the relationship, nor do you have to explain all of that to the other person. Offering some of that to the other person, especially if you've been together a long time, is probably a kind thing to do. However, if somewhere in your mind you believe that you have to explain your way completely out of a relationship, then what you have built is a prison, not a relationship.
If you find yourself spending numerous hours tallying pros and cons about a relationship, and/or constantly digging for more information or opinions from others about your relationship, this is probably just another form of endless evidence gathering.
At the end of the day, it's all about trying to avoid pain and suffering. Which never works in the long run.