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2 hours ago, kayc said:

The experts say there isn't such a thing as love at first sight, that you grow it...I think a little of both is true.   When I met George, we felt an instant connection, we could relate to each other, we could have talked for hours and really understood each other.  Chemistry/attraction can be part of it, but that's just infatuation, for me the attraction grew the more I got to know him and it was largely there due to how he treated me.  We respond to good treatment.  He always made me feel protected, cared about.  He often said he appreciated how I'd always be honest with him  Sometimes the truth hurts but he knew that no matter what I said to him, it was coming from a good place because I always had his best interests at heart.  We trusted each other, had faith in each other, this was core in our relationship.  He said he appreciated how I allowed him freedom...it never occurred to me to be any way different!  We naturally wanted to be with each other, and we held hands and cuddled.  it wasn't like that in my previous relationships. When we were apart, we missed each other.  Once a year I'd go to my sisters' reunions and he'd go fishing with the guys, but other than that, we spent our weekends together.  We WANTED to be together!  Neither of us felt smothered, if I wanted to do something with the ladies or he wanted to do something with the guys, that was fine, but most of the time we spent our free time together.  We were each other's best friend.  We listened to each other, cared about each other, it was just good and we both felt loved.  He was respectful and there for my children, who were teenagers by the time we met.  When we got married my daughter was on her own and my son had a year left of high school.  Him and George got along great, considered each other friends.  George was a wonderful stepfather.

This is what looked like a good relationship to me. I know how to recognize love because now I have a barometer by which to gauge it.  But people can fool you.  They can parrot what they know you want without really meaning it.  It's important to pay attention to red flags, not excuse them because they "must be having a bad day".  If something doesn't feel right...it probably isn't.  Consistency is key.  

Absolutely! With both Joe and Tim, the connections were instant. We WANTED to be together, however, that doesn't mean that feeling was going to last without effort, work and growth. That's how relationships last for years: consistency. While the initial attraction, spark and connection are great, these things don't sustain relationships. People change, grow and so do their feelings, if they aren't with a person who supports them and understands this, the relationship will never last. Even if they do understand it, sometimes life just drives people in a different direction and the other person can't or won't go with them, so they break up.

For years, Joe and I's relationship was similar, but as we grew up, we got complacent and stopped desiring each other, that fostered too much comfort it became a recipe for disaster. We were also heading in different life directions, he wanted a family ASAP, was comfortable working his job as a fast food restaurant manager in a small Midwestern town, and I wanted to finish college, enjoy being an adult and go to graduate school. What both of us wanted was not compatible with what the other person wanted, and it caused tension between us. I would have married him, but did not want children so soon, nor was I willing to drop out of college to do so and Joe was not supportive of my decision, so it didn't work. We slowly began drifting apart which led to his infidelity and eventual break-up.

Tim and I's relationship was great on the surface and the connection was instant, we enjoyed being together and WANTED to be, but deep down it lacked true emotional intimacy, and I didn't fully understand this until I learned about why he behaved as he did and his pattern of similar behavior with previous relationships. While I loved him and he seemed to love me, as KayC said, people can fool you. The way he behaved towards me after his father died was baffling at first, but once I started learning about his history, it made more sense. I was finally able to see the now glaring red flags that had subtly been there all along, and his mask was removed.

While both relationships had their merits and great times, they were not built to last, but that doesn't mean the love wasn't real.

4 hours ago, Vanush said:

None of these relationships worked out, but the first evoked an innate desire within me to love and care and spend time with the girl, despite her eventually not being right. Whereas with the second the desire eventually was simply not there despite my wanting it to be (although confounding factors exist). 

I guess the question simplifies to this, in the right relationship, should you feel that innate desire to spend time with that person a lot, or does it fade and require effort? (As it did with Sarah in the first 4-6 months).

i know I must stop the destructive cycle of looking at photos too, that never helps, it is just still so hard to accept it’s over as I find myself thinking over and over- what if I had one more chance. I think the reality is though, I tried and tried, and it made us both sadder

If you love someone, it should not feel like monotonous, hard and forced work to put in effort to maintain a relationship. ALL RELATIONSHIPS REQUIRE EFFORT. Love won't answer a phone call, love won't reply to a text message, love won't buy them a small gift when they've had a bad day, watch their favorite show with them even though you hate it or remember how they like their coffee; EFFORT WILL. CONSISTENCY WILL. However, if you have to force yourself to put in effort that isn't being reciprocated, and your gut says it isn't right, listen to that and act accordingly by removing yourself from the situation. Remember, people can fool you.

Love is not just a feeling, it is a deliberate conscious choice too. Some days you or your partner will only be able to give 80/100%, so the other person will have to give 120%; you will struggle, you will argue and you will say things you regret and need to apologize for, but at the end of the day even when you're at your wits end with an argument, you still need to choose love and your relationship over 'winning' the argument. Even when you need to cool off and can't stand each other for a little bit, you still choose love when you work to resolve the argument.

Even still, breaking up and/or walking away from a relationship or person that you cherish for the health of yourself, is still choosing love.

--Rae 

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Yes absolutely. That resonated so much with me! Putting in the effort to make a relationship work does not feel like hard work for the right person or relationship. You've captured that so well. 

Today I attended a barbecue around the corner from her house, and it brought back some unresolved feelings. When I reflect back, a part of me wishes I took the plunge. The plunge of meeting family, friends and calling it a relationship. At the time my sister asked me whether I could see myself marrying this girl, and I couldn't answer yes or no. Perhaps an unfair question but nevertheless I decided no. 

I feel like there seems to be an inevitable boredom phase which I've hit with a few people where I havent been able to break through it. Perhaps it is where I realise there is not as much in common as I first thought, or where the bond is not strong enough. A tricky period.

Ultimately, i can stand back from my feelings and see that I'm a guy who is hung up on a girl he declined, a girl that he didn't want despite multiple attempts. It seems absolutely ridiculous in those terms but the fear that this was a "one that got away" situation is absolutely terrifying. 

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Another habit which I wonder whether either of you get into is looking to and pining for past relationships when you feel sad or your current relationship is not going well.

Perhaps this indicates that there is too much unresolved grief

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Love was the driving force behind everything we did and how we responded to each other, everything came from that, including the effort.  I was number one in his life, he was number one in mine, it doesn't work unless it's reciprocal.  Our connection was there, all the time, even when apart.  

Rae, I agree with what you said about supporting each other and sometimes timing makes a difference...I don't think George and I would have connected so well had we met when we were very young, we both had some things to learn to be in a state of readiness for each other, it's like the stars aligned just right allowing us to meet at just the right time when everything was in place.  It seems our lives were preparing us for each other.  We met in our 40s.  I can lament we didn't meet sooner, that all that time was "wasted"...but really it wasn't, it was all in the right timing, preparing us for each other.  Nothing was wasted, everything we learned in life up to that point was all part of it.

And yes, Vanush, perhaps there can be another...I can't imagine it but I've learned not to rule out either...I had a friend, Beth, in her 80s who met "the love of her life", they married and were very happy before they died, ten years later.  You never know!

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9 hours ago, Vanush said:

Another habit which I wonder whether either of you get into is looking to and pining for past relationships when you feel sad or your current relationship is not going well.

Perhaps this indicates that there is too much unresolved grief

I used to do this years ago when I was lonely, or still in the throes of moving on from a guy. These days, I'm aware it's unhealthy and counterproductive to do this while pining for a person. 

However, occasionally I do look at photos of my grandfather and John, but not because I'm pining for the past anymore. Now it's evolved to things like: It's their birthday and I wonder what kind of cake they'd want.

I don't miss Joe or Tim anymore, and my present life is better than my life with either of them. I've accepted we didn't belong together, but that doesn't mean the love we shared wasn't real or meaningful, it's just over now and I've moved onto better things.

Yes, you may have some unresolved, residual feelings from one or both of your lost relationships that are worth exploring. I know that when Tim left me, I remember some residual feelings from my break-up with Joe resurfaced because Tim made me feel unlovable and undeserving in a lot of the same ways. They're worth exploring, and no they don't just disappear. You need to confront, understand and accept them before they stop bothering you. 

2 hours ago, kayc said:

Love was the driving force behind everything we did and how we responded to each other, everything came from that, including the effort.  I was number one in his life, he was number one in mine, it doesn't work unless it's reciprocal.  Our connection was there, all the time, even when apart.  

Rae, I agree with what you said about supporting each other and sometimes timing makes a difference...I don't think George and I would have connected so well had we met when we were very young, we both had some things to learn to be in a state of readiness for each other, it's like the stars aligned just right allowing us to meet at just the right time when everything was in place.  It seems our lives were preparing us for each other.  We met in our 40s.  I can lament we didn't meet sooner, that all that time was "wasted"...but really it wasn't, it was all in the right timing, preparing us for each other.  Nothing was wasted, everything we learned in life up to that point was all part of it.

And yes, Vanush, perhaps there can be another...I can't imagine it but I've learned not to rule out either...I had a friend, Beth, in her 80s who met "the love of her life", they married and were very happy before they died, ten years later.  You never know!

Absolutely, KayC! Love is the driving force behind the effort! And, no time was a waste. I used to feel that way about both relationships, and college some days when I was emotionally struggling and refused to admit I was unhappy and hurting. But now I feel the same as you, no good relationships are a waste, and the bad ones are merely life lessons.

--Rae

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I don't look back on exes except I wish my kids' dad and I could have made it, 23 years is a long time and two kids later...but then I remember how it was and I'm good!  With George it's different, he was the love of my life and we didn't choose to end our relationship, death took him.  I will always miss him and appreciate the wonderful husband he was!

Life is too short to waste time on regrets, I've learned something in every relationship, especially the horrid ones, pay attention to red flags and do not repeat!

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Intriguing, thought I’d check in and see how everyone is, I’m going ok. I have managed, with your encouragement, to stop looking at photos. But dreams, songs all seem to keep me stuck in the one place, I’m seeing a therapist, which is a positive step. But he hasn’t been able to assist me just yet in stopping the recurring desire to call her up and beg her to take me back. I had a dream that we were married, and I daydreamed about it now too. It is such a horrible place to be stuck in right now. Perhaps because I know the way I felt when I was with her, so I cannot see any sense in my feelings. Perhaps though it is more about me and my mindset, and that when I was with her I had work to do on myself before I was able to love anyone else. 

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Remind yourself how it really was and what it would REALLY be like if you were together.  That always cures me from looking back, for a while anyway!  ;)
I'm glad you're seeing a therapist.  Let him know what you want/need to work on and if you don't start seeing results, don't be afraid to look for another one.

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20 hours ago, kayc said:

Remind yourself how it really was and what it would REALLY be like if you were together.  That always cures me from looking back, for a while anyway!  ;)
I'm glad you're seeing a therapist.  Let him know what you want/need to work on and if you don't start seeing results, don't be afraid to look for another one.

Thanks Kayc. That tip reminded me to look at a document I wrote for myself. I recall agonising in the morning once and knowing I would think this way about things after I had called things off, I recall imploring myself to trust my gut. Funny isn’t it, as a man I feel so bereffed of people to talk about this with, I feel like I have to always just grin and bear it, no one wants to hear about your struggles, it’s better to say you are doing well

 

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I've always felt it was important to have someone to talk to, I've always had that with my sister Peggy.  I almost lost her this year and I know someday I will be without her (she's 8 1/2 years older, not in good health, and has dementia) and I don't know how I'll be able to handle it when I no longer have her, we talk every day on the phone.

I hear what you're saying though, and I do think for guys it's sometimes different, they interact differently, women talk and that's a way they process things in their brain.  I think it's easier for us somehow.  Like guys show affection by giving each other a hard time.

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Hello all, it has been a little over a month since I’ve checked in, how is everyone? I continue to return to the same thoughts at the moment. I am considering, perhaps this person was really someone I would have been with, had I been in the right place. I definitely wasn’t then. Upon reflection I was never open to the possibility of a long distance relationship with her, nor the possibility of not being in my home state.

You know that Joni Mitchell song lyric, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. I think that somewhat applies here.

I am in the process of seeing a therapist to try to work things through. At times my mind does wander and thinks, what if I were to call her up, what would happen. It is a constant push and pull right now, but I wonder if the explanation is simple, the right person but not the right time for me. That however, would lead me down the path of contacting her, and I don’t know if that would be the right decision either.

It does unfortunately leave me with this gnawing feeling of loneliness though

 

 

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I might add that I’ve been making new friends, playing sports and avoiding looking at photos, so they keep coming despite the avoidance 

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I'm glad you're seeing a therapist to try to figure things out and it sounds like you are self-aware which is always good.  And focusing on your life, making friends, sports, that's good!  It's a positive step in the right direction...I'm one of those that thinks if something is meant to be, it'll happen...maybe you'll meet someone when you least expect it!

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