It’s been about two years since my last marriage ended, and there have been a few things on my mind about it. There’s no denying that the attraction we had when we met was instantaneous and deep. From the first touch there was a connection that I’d never felt before. I was completely smitten. And as our relationship quickly developed, it was just amazing to me at just how much we were alike! We seemed to agree with each other about everything we talked about. Our interests were the same, and we had shared many of the same experiences. And she was quick to accept some differences and try things that she knew I liked. On our very first date she ate raw oysters, which I later found out she hates.
It seemed like a match made in heaven. I believed that I had found my soul mate.
Even the simple things were in complete lockstep. When we sat down, our legs crossed the same way at the same time. We had the same manner of speaking, and used the same idioms. We even dried off exactly the same way after a shower.
I told her more than once, I felt like she was me with breasts.
But eventually, that all changed. It took a while, but over time we became less and less alike. There were still many shared interests, but it wasn’t like it had been before. Sure, any relationship changes over time, but it had been so evident in the beginning, that it seemed more than just a natural progression.
But; by her own admission, she was just mimicking me.
When we split up I pointed out how we had been so in tune, and so exactly like each other. Her response was that there are visual clues that anticipate actions, and it was easy to match. I don’t think, and I don’t think that at the time it was intentional or manipulative on her part. I think it just sort of happened. From my perspective, and maybe from hers too it was real and true. But it’s not sustainable.
And two years ago, it ended.
So now I find myself back in the dating scene. One thing about myself is that I am quick to tell someone how pretty they are; or how smart; or any number of compliments. And it’s sincere, every time. I look for the good in everyone, and never tell anyone anything I don’t believe. But I’m starting to realize that it may not be a good way to be. One thing I know is that what so many people really want is just to be paid attention to. People like to be noticed, listened to, and complimented. It can make a woman feel very good. But what I’m starting to see is that when they do feel good like that, it’s easy for them to believe that there’s a serious interest in them much deeper than I intend. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t happen very often, but the women I’ve been meeting seem to think that there’s a relationship developing when that’s not what I’m offering at all. My feelings and compliments are real. But at the same time, I know that it’s something that makes women feel good, and it’s a way to hold their interest. Again, it’s not intentional or manipulative. I’m really just trying to be nice.
But really; how is that any different from the mimicking that was so attractive to me with my last marriage?
I think the basic reason for this kind of behavior is the desire to be liked. I’m actually very insecure with myself, and am as nice as I can be so that my inner doubts are not obvious. I use humor for the same reason I think. I can be very entertaining at times, which can add to my attractiveness. Who doesn’t like to laugh? And with my memory I can recall jokes and stories that fit pretty much any situation. I won’t say it’s a front, but more of a technique of self protection. It is not a plan, it just happens that way. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. But then, I get the overtures and outright offers for a relationship. That might not be so bad, but I’m not interested in that level of commitment, and I am talking with a number of women at the same time. I’m really not playing the field, but that’s what ends up happening. And it’s not good; people get hurt.
And then you throw in the bipolar aspect.
Even when not in a full blown mania, I have more of a tendency to run just a little bit hypo manic. This is especially true during the fall, when I’m trying to combat a natural depression that occurs every year. I overcompensate for the down feelings, which can push me too far to the other side. And w hen manic; even hypo manic, my charm can be irresistible. My actions really become automatic. And I am able to focus completely on whomever I’m with at the time. As Steven Stills said: “Love the one your with”. That really sets an unrealistic expectation.
I haven’t really thought that much about it before now. But, as usual, my therapist picked up on it and has made it a topic of conversation. And the more I dwell on it, the more I think that it’s unhealthy and damaging. This behavior is so unfair to others, and leads to disappointment and pain. One of the things we’ve talked about is that however you’ve been treated in your last relationship; you tend to do the same to your next one. And I’m starting to believe that is true. Even though it wasn’t on purpose, I was made to feel good and bought into a relationship that turned out to be false. That’s just what I’m doing now.
This is not good.
But I don’t want to stop being a nice guy! I really enjoy the flirting and compliments and doing the sweet things that make women feel good. My feelings are real, true, and honest. But I need to do something different. I suppose I can be charming and fun without giving the impression that they are my one and only. I need to make sure that I’m clearly communicating my position and let them know that, while I enjoy their company, it’s not exclusive. I’m not really sure how to do that to be honest, but that’s why I’m in therapy. That’s where I figure these things out. And it’s become clear that I do need to figure this out. Just like the way I was ‘sucked in’ to my last marriage, I don’t want to do the same to anyone else.
I’ve caused enough pain already.