Relationship Post Mortem: 5 Lessons

It seems that along with the perils of blogging and online dating comes the online break-up, sometimes as an indirect result of a post. My last blog-post opened an email dialogue between Seattle and Hawaii (where CHA is on a long visit) that I hadn’t anticipated. Some issues had been percolating for me, but I was saving them for his return and an in-person conversation. I hadn’t expected an email exchange to end in a break-up. Perhaps in the absence of eyes and chemistry, it became clear that we weren’t quite as aligned as we both thought we were. I am sorry that the conversation had to be conducted over the sterility of email, where it is so easy to have words misconstrued.

I have learned some important lessons through the course of our relationship, for which am and will always be grateful to CHA:

1. I may have put too much pressure on our relationship with thoughts of “pre-destined,” “soul mate,” etc. My shower premonition may have been accurate, but perhaps not in the way I expected. It takes time to sort through the layers and truly get to know a person. Only then, I think, can you truly determine the “pre-destiny” quotient.

2. I love CHA’s “Blank Canvas” notion of putting one’s past behind you and beginning a new relationship from a blank slate. The problem was, I found the idea profound in theory, but more difficult in practice. Trauma and loss and widowhood no longer identify me, but they exist in the fabric of who I now am. Separating myself from them would be like trying to separate milk from milk chocolate. Nor am I able to separate Arron from my life now. I speak of him anecdotally in conversation, regularly, as many people who have lost a loved one do. But I have learned that it is possible to view myself as not a widow, but as simply a woman, like many other women of a certain age, one with experiences that have made them so much more interesting, given them so much more depth. Love that!

3. I must be honest with my kids, no matter how painful it might be for all involved. I am still blown away by the “frank conversation” I had with Carter and how much it seemed to ease his mind and even made him grow up a little.

4. I must trust my kids. I perceived their reactions to my dating to be based on the notion that they were, in a small way, losing me and therefore threatened by my new relationship. I wasn’t spending quite as much time with them and much of my mental energy was centered on the relationship I was in. But now I wonder if part of their reaction might have also been a reaction to the person I was dating, seeing him as “not right for me,” a common refrain from them. Its hard to know for sure, their view was hardly objective. I suppose the only way I will know for sure is to witness their reaction when the right person does come along.

5. I must spend time getting to know someone before jumping into the relationship with both feet. This is one I seem to continue to commit again and again. I think most people in the dating world do. We go into the relationship seeing what we want to see, overlooking the other’s humanness, flaws, values or lifestyle choices that may in the end prove incompatible. I must caveat this by saying that in no way have I ever regretted that I do this. I have had some exquisitely happy experiences, including ones with CHA, having taken the “living in the moment” mantra to heart. But a few more coffees, lunches, dinners before the first kiss sure wouldn’t hurt.

And a final addition:

6. Of course blogging isn’t the best for a relationship either…

There are many qualities about CHA that I will miss and I am sorry it turned out as it did. I hope he finds all the ease and grace that life has to offer.

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  1. Derek June 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    OMG Abbey,
    So sorry to hear about the break up. I just got dumped my self and the reason being is that I was doing too much yoga (i.e. me following my dreams and life path)! Funny how life rolls out. I too had premonitions and stuff like that where grace seemed to be guiding it all and then one day out of nowhere: “sorry” she says, : ” I just don’t see us being together”. Anyhow its probably a good thing seeing how the first bit of discomfort she felt she decided to ultimately fully withdraw. Lord knows what might have happened if we had any real conflict. I could image only hell! Now on to the next decision…should I pull out that orange robe or maybe seek out the arranged marriage that was offered to me years ago in India. The future Journey is what I’m most excited about!Hope to see you soon! Just remember your awesome just the way you are…

  2. annie June 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I am sorry to hear about your break up. I wouldn’t discount pre-destiny entirely. I think we do sense people we are supposed to know in whatever capacity. But potential is only just that.

    I can’t comment on trusting children’s judgement for dating/mate fitness. Katherine was just four when she met Rob and she loved him instantly though there was ebb/flow as she discovered that daddies are not all sunshine and puppies.

    I am still in favor of jumping in. How can you really know otherwise? I agree though that this is a dating dilemma in general that has nothing to do with widowhood.

    There is someone who is meant for you. You will run across – probably sometime/where when it is least expected b/c that cliche is one that seems we can count on in dating.

  3. Dampdynamite June 16, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I am sorry it didn’t work out. My own serious relationship that I truly believed was “God Given” and my dead husband had a hand in did not turn out to be. I think he was not able to handle the fact I was in a happy marriage that was not my choice to end. He was always saying things like he couldn’t compete even when I tried to tell him there was no competition. Ego. Guess he wasn’t the man I thought. I am still trying to accept another ending that was not my choosing. Sucks.

  4. Jen June 16, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Ah, I’m sorry for the ending. I like the lessons you articulated from the experience, and I agree with Annie — don’t get too cautious. Sure, another coffee date or two before that first kiss is OK, but do let your natural enthusiasm shine. Live life to its fullest, enjoy every minute. Goodness knows you are worthy of happiness.

  5. Crash Course Widow June 16, 2010 at 1:01 am

    I’m so sorry the relationship, and the ending, didn’t go the way you would have liked it to. But thank you for sharing all you have with us. Knowing how other compadres deal with this mess called dating helps me.

    Can’t wait to see you again in August! =)

  6. Abigail - Site Author June 16, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Supa, thank you for the virtual hug.

    Derek, I am sorry to hear of your break up as well. And contemplating an orange robe! That’s a big step. I wish you divine guidance…

    Annie, I guess I just worry that I put too much pressure on the relationship thinking it was somehow “meant to be.” It may have allowed for things to happen perhaps more quickly than they would have otherwise. That said, I am and always will be a jumper-inner. Just who I am.

    DampDynamite, I feel for you on the “can’t compete” front. A common widow(er) problem. It takes a very secure person to date one I guess.

    Jen, Thank you. And don’t worry. See my response to Annie re: jumping in.

    Candace, Thank you. I am glad that the silver lining in all that I have written, is that I am helping others, even in some small way.

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