I have longed for a deep and meaningful connection with someone for as long as I can remember, one infused with passion and a deep mutual appreciation. I have tried to see it in every relationship I’ve ever been in, and I have often felt that the absence of reciprocity has been due to some shortcoming on my part; this would invariably motivate me to attempt to convince my partner that I was worthy. I’m sure you already know how that worked out in every case.
I eventually learned that I was trying to get love and acceptance from others that I needed to be giving myself. I started working on that quite fervently, and made some real progress before backsliding pretty severely. Even now, I look back and wonder where I went wrong with the people I cared for most. This tendency to reflect on previous mistakes can contribute to problems with my self-concept if I’m not careful, but it also brings uncomfortable truths about myself to the surface so that I can look right at them and address them appropriately. Basically, it’s a double-edged sword — very effective in the right hands.
After almost every relationship I’ve had in the last five years, I’ve promised myself that I would be alone for a year. The longest I ever went was a month. I’m trying this again, but this time with two major differences: firstly, I’m focusing on doing things that matter to me personally; and secondly, instead of saying I’m ‘alone’, I’m looking at how the interactions I do have contribute to my well-being and the enrichment of my life. So even though I don’t have this deep, meaningful partnership, I have purpose and fulfilment.
Now, it’s clear to me that I could never have the kind of partnership I yearned for if it was the focal point of my existence; that is, as long as my life revolved around it, I could never actually have it. The fact that I obsess with this idealized partnership is the whole reason these problematic attachment patterns exist in me, and they are what stop me from being a good partner. There’s a nice catch 22.
The dual benefit of focusing on clearing these attachment patterns is that if I’m alone, I’m not lonely, and if I do end up with a partner, I’ll be good for them. The decision was easy… The implementation is much more complex.