Single Parent Faith

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Noncommital Dead End

“A dead end street is a good place to turn around”—Naomi Judd

Looking at my blog statistics, I noticed a large interest in the post, “Honoring Ourselves—Saying No to Noncommittal Men.” It got me to thinking that there must be a large number of women who are in non-committal relationships. The fact that they are googling this subject must mean that at some level they are unhappy about it. 

If it bothers you to be in a noncommittal relationship, this is an opportunity for your renewal. It’s a prod that there are better possibilities for your life. You don’t have to settle for less than you deserve.

With every noncommittal couple there is an agreement, be it a conscious one or not. The agreement is that this noncommittal state is acceptable. Usually the one who wants more from the relationship tells herself something like, “He just needs time” or “He was hurt by his ex and he’s afraid…I just have to be patient.”

It is always the one who wants more that is left holding shattered shells, perhaps hoping that if she doesn’t shake them (by bringing up the subject), these pieces will unshatter themselves and converge to a whole.

Why do people lie to themselves?

The answer to that question is unique to every individual. And that is a good place to start, on “oneself.” As long as we keep telling ourselves a lie, we will not understand what within us opened the door to a noncommittal person. Often, a lack of self-esteem and understanding of our value, is why we accept a noncommittal person into our lives. What is the barrier we have erected to our self-acceptance as truly worthy and deserving of a man who will commit his heart? Sometimes it’s an addiction to “fix” someone, that doesn’t allow us to properly set filters, so what we attract are men who are a project.

If you are a single mom, erecting filters is even more critical to protect your children from the heartache of a noncommittal man. Whatever he is not able to provide for you, he definitely is not able to provide them. They, like you, deserve someone whose love will be given freely without limits and conditions. These little eyes and ears are observing you. This is a teaching moment to them, likely to impact their own self-esteem. They deserve a parent figure who will love and commit to loving them in a healthy manner. Remember you are a package deal, whatever the man withholds from you, he withholds from your children.

When my co-worker was in his 30’s, he dated women with kids and got involved with their kids’ lives. He developed a bond with the children. Then when the relationship ended, he severed his contact with the children and moved on to the next relationship. It was surprising to me how many women fell for his good looks and personality, but couldn’t see that he was a player. I saw this happen time and time again. He’s now in his 50’s. He’s still having success at this lifestyle. All I can surmise is that there are a lot of women who are lonely and lacking self-esteem. But what is sad is that in the process, how many children’s hearts has he broken? Protecting our kid’s hearts is a parent’s job and shouldn’t be left to the person entering the scene. Likely they are self-serving (especially if noncommittal) and won’t give it a second thought when they move on or continue to string the woman along.

Often, when in a noncommittal relationship we find our thoughts focused primarily on the other person and we speculate on the potential reasons for his state. Sometimes women stay with these men because they feel sorry for him because he didn’t have a good start in life, or he had someone hurt him along the way. Sometimes thinking that if you love him enough, you can break this noncommittal stronghold. We think “we” can be instrumental and that we hold the answer to his healing. It is a lie designed to keep our lives hostage waiting on one person’s decision to grow up. 

What if you’re on an airplane experiencing turbulence, and the oxygen masks drop, do you wait on someone else to place the mask on your face? If you’re a child, yes.  Imagine yourself staring at the dangling oxygen mask. Do you sit there taking no action to save yourself? Do you sit there waiting for someone else to decide whether you live? To decide for you whether to place the mask on your face?

No! Your fight or flight instinct kicks in and you reach for the mask yourself, because you want to live! This analogy is of a scenario that is extreme and not a typical daily decision. But why should your every day life be any different? The decision we make on ordinary days are also life altering. Our life moves in one direction or another, depending on what we decide to act on during these ordinary days.

The agreement (whether spoken or not) you have with this person is that he wants you there making no waves, ignoring the obvious and in essence ignoring the problem. And without realizing it, you enable him, disregarding your needs and dreams for your life in the process.

During all the time you are trying to “fix” him or “wait” on him, you don’t put the mask on you and instead, essentially reach into his space placing it on him. Looking for signs that he is turning a corner and opening his heart. Looking for something that is not there. Any little sign that he is almost getting to a point where he can commit, if only you stick it out longer. The thing is, this is all perception. You are perceiving what his behavior or words “really” mean. You are assigning a meaning to them to make you hang on longer. You can hang on for years on a perception that at the end will prove to have been an error. You are perceiving what you want to perceive.

The truth is, as I myself have discovered, that I must be willing to look at the truth about “myself” and invest in “myself” to rid myself of this disease to “fix” someone. When you correctly place your energy on your own growth, it “will” yield marvelous results. You will no longer wish to throw your precious energy down a sink hole. Instead, you will value yourself and want to invest more in you.

It is a lie to think that we have the power to change a man. It is for God to reckon with your noncommittal man. He is not just noncommittal to you. His noncommittal roots run deep, permeating his life and spiritual walk.

If you decide you want to live life to the fullest, let go of your project (changing a man), and breathe in deep as you reach for your oxygen mask. What does this concretely mean? You take all that energy you formerly put into the distraction from living your life— because all the time spent thinking on him has kept you from thinking on you—and now focus on the work you are called in your own life to perform. The right relationship you deserve will make its way to you once you develop the right relationship with yourself.

Ella Venezia

Copyright © 2014 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rushing into Remarriage

The opposite of a non-committal man is an overly zealous man who rushes to get married.

Three years ago a single mom friend of mine, we’ll call her Trish, met a guy at a bookstore less than two weeks before Valentine’s day. By Valentine’s day he was sending her letters, cards and texts telling her that he loves her. She was swept up by her feelings upon hearing a man tell her he loves her. In a short time after that, it may have been another couple of weeks or less, he proposed to her and gave her an engagement ring.  By then she had already introduced him into her daughter’s life (she was six years old) and her daughter was crazy about him. He even went to the extreme of getting two engagement rings, one for the daughter and one for the mom, and had the daughter participate in the proposal. Trish was so wrapped up in the fantasy of this man, that she was pedal to the metal along side him, full speed ahead rushing toward a wedding date. 

Keep in mind single parents that children typically yearn for the attention of the parent less involved in their lives. In this case it is her father, so when a man steps into her mom’s life, quickly she attaches to him. She’s trying to fill the hole an absent father leaves. 

You can expect children to immediately rush to a conclusion of marriage (wanting this person to be their dad or mom), when they first meet mom or dad’s love interest. But it’s our job as the adults to slow things down and exercise discernment before immediately concluding marriage is the imminent conclusion, altogether bypassing (or shortening) the necessary season of “getting to know” each other. This getting to know should include time to observe how the other responds to life challenges, because they are a guaranteed part of life. This gives us time to observe their true nature after the shininess wears off.

Fast forward four to five months later, he stopped calling and texting and Trish was heart-broken.  The little girl was heart-broken. Some time after that, during lunch, she shared some things she learned that she wanted me to share with you.

1. Don’t be too  Quick to be too Honest
“Honesty is very good but being too honest in the beginning with a man, has lots of down sides. Because once you tell everything about yourself, everything you want from a man, he begins filtering himself and only telling you the things you want to hear. You get so fascinated with him and think he’s the one you’ve been looking for.  But. Honestly, you’re putting all the words in his mouth and in his mind. Even though honesty is very good, take it step by step.

In the beginning of the relationship it’s a good idea to just listen more than talk. Let him represent himself, instead of you telling him what you want— Especially if you are like me, who already had a bad experience, a bad marriage.

It’s not a bad idea to talk about this, but if you’re telling him all the qualities your ex didn’t have and the qualities you missed in your previous life, then you give him information to deceive you with. If you tell this new man all these things in the beginning, he may tell you what you want to hear,  and show you the qualities you want to see, but this is not his true self.”

2. Don’t Rush to Introduce a Man to Your Child

“I’m a single mom. I have a little girl. This man just stormed himself into my life and my little girl’s life and my family. You may think this is good because he starts showing you his fathering side by helping you and spending time with your child. But if for some reason you break up or this is not the guy you think he is, then there are two messes you need to clean up: yourself and your kids, especially if they are young.  As nice and sound as it may seem at first, when they convey they want to meet your kid, they want to be a father to your kid, don’t rush it.”

3. Believe in Yourself and What You Deserve
“As for myself I lived with a man (husband) who was very abusive. He used to belittle me, and crush my confidence.  I didn’t date anyone for a long time after my divorce. This guy was the first one I dated. I didn’t think about myself very highly. Don’t take yourself not serious enough. Think about yourself. Raise the bar high for yourself.”

Note above in number 2, where she said, “This man just stormed himself into my life and my little girl’s…” No one just storms in. We allow them to. We have the power to open the door or not. We have the power to exercise the brakes if it’s moving too quickly. If they do not respect your applying the brakes, or if they keep picking up steam again after you’ve applied the brakes, then see these red flags and act on them to protect yourself and your children.  A relationship that is honest and not a farce (short duration fantasy), will allow for a natural progression to unfold and discover each other. There will be no need for speed nor short-cutting. Only with time will you have opportunities to see the person’s true character. Don’t fall for any reasons that are given, for why there is a rush on this. No matter how sound or true the reasoning may sound, always error on the side of time. Time will allow you time to open your eyes, in the event you are wrapped up in fantasy and do not see things as they truly are.

Ella Venezia
Copyright © 2014 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved. 

Image Source: Tarah Madden @Pinterest