I’m not going to lie, my self-confidence has taken a pretty bad beating over the past year or so. Dating a widower is not for the faint of heart, ladies. Hearing things such as: “You’re just not the one for me”, “I just don’t feel like I can’t live without you”, “I just don’t love you in the way that’s needed for an exclusive relationship”, “I just don’t feel the pull to be with you”, “I don’t feel like I just can’t wait to see you” and so on are not easy words to hear, and even harder to stomach. And if those words were the only ones I was hearing, it would be easy to pack it in and say, okay, I get it. You don’t want to be with me.
But those are not the only words I have heard, and in fact, they are much less in comparison to the words I have heard on the other end of the spectrum. Words such as: “I love you”, “You deserve the best”, “You are beautiful,” “You challenge me and make me a better man”, “What we have is real”, “You are not the problem, I am”, “You are a remarkable woman,” “You are a rare woman,” “You are a hell of a woman,” “You are a sweet woman”, “You are a passionate woman,” “You are a smart woman” and…are you seeing a pattern here?
But to quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: “The bad stuff is easier to believe.” It is incredibly difficult to hear the things in the first paragraph and not feel like chopped liver. It is nearly impossible not to focus on the negative.
So why do I still want this man? Beyond the fact that my gut tells me that he is strong enough to overcome this and he is worth it, the simplest way to explain it is to say that the good far outweighs the bad.
Not only do I hear more positive reinforcement than I do of the negative, but I see with my own eyes that this man really does love me. How? I have watched his actions when we are together. I have seen it in the way he strokes my hair and gazes admiringly into my eyes, I have received breakfast in bed on more than one occasion, I have seen him open doors for me, walk on the outside of the sidewalk to protect me, I have seen him hold me close when I have cried, I have seen the tender way he kisses me. I have seen the way he looks at me sometimes as if he cannot believe his good fortune. I see all of it, and during those times when I do see it, I know without a doubt what it means. It is very obvious during those times that this man does love me.
But then we part ways, me feeling on top of the world with hearts lighting up my eyes, and he starts to feel guilty. At least this has been the way he has described it. When I ask him why guilty? The answer is enough to devastate me and send me into a complete tailspin all over again: “I feel guilty because I know our relationship is not going anywhere.” Oh, for the love of all that’s holy!!! Thus, begins the actions on the other side of the fence. This is when he pulls away and I am left to deal with my confusion, heartache and battered ego alone. From my research on grief, this kind of behavior is common to widowers and is commonly referred to as the “push-pull syndrome.” I have gotten incredible insight about this particular type of behavior from author Julie Donner Andersen (Past: Perfect! Present:Tense!) which seems to identify exactly what I have felt over the past couple of years.
Normally, my advice to any woman dealing with a complicated man would be to simply watch his actions and try not to listen so much to his words. While I am heeding that advice, it is certainly not that simple in this situation. What I experience are negative words vs. positive words and positive actions vs. negative actions. They are all competing against one another causing confusion for both of us (and our best friends).
So how the heck am I supposed to decode this? The answer comes through strong and clear: Patience. Give it time.
One way or another, he will choose. He is currently choosing to bury his head in the sand, or maybe he is actually trying to figure it out, I guess I really couldn’t say. But if our history is any indication; he just cannot run away from this woman, from this love. After all, Lola is not exactly the kind of woman a man finds easy to leave in the dust.