It starts with this: do you want a relationship? A real relationship, where two of you are getting your needs met, giving back and forth, intimately involved with solely one other person? Yes? Ok. With merely one other person, or two? If you only want to be with one prized-other, only date people who are available. Duh, right? But you’re reading this blog. Maybe ask, then, why am I pursuing someone who is involved with someone else? An unattached person means they are not married or committed. They do not live with someone else. They haven’t told you they are confused, or only see you as a friend. You want someone who is available to you wholeheartedly, so that you can build your relationship upon trust and honesty. She or he is not sleeping with, living with, or having regular breakfasts with someone else, and does not plan to when that other person comes back to town. Or else, you’re sort of involved with them too.
Because if there’s a triangle, who is going to be the unincluded one? You. They live together! He’s holding out for her. Or, her financial stability feels tied to him. You may not agree with their arrangement. You’re a much better choice! But there it is, keeping on keeping on, THEIR relationship. And you are the Outsider. It most likely won’t end pretty for you.
Unless, you like the chase, being the underdog. Or you cocoon yourself, encased in temporary and false protection — there’s no failure if you only tried with someone who was never really available, you think. Or, you are accustomed to and prefer chaos, or even worse, you are so familiar with neglect that it has become the norm. It will likely end the way it’s beginning with you in the back seat, letting the other two take turns driving the car. You will still feel like you are unworthy, perhaps even abandoned. Why would you do this to yourself, aware of what you’re doing? Are you aware? Like Carrie Fisher’s character in “When Harry Met Sally,” who says to Meg Ryan, “You’re right, you’re right, he’s never going to leave her.”
Do you want emotional and sexual well-being? Quit deluding yourself; truly ask this question. Maybe you don’t, quite yet. That’s ok, it may just be where you are. You’re on a learning curve. Maybe you like the thrill of a surreptitious affair. Or the power of being in the wings, distant, or disrupting a marriage. Perhaps you are uncomfortable with true intimacy, and someone who is attached feels “safe” somehow — you play games with yourself thinking that if they reject you, it won’t really be because of you, it will be because this other person has held their attention longer. Or, do you hope to lure them out? Does that feel powerful on some level, as if you’ll succeed big-time if you get the girl or guy someone else wants too? Ask: what are you really doing with this unavailable person?
An authentic task in love is to decide if you’re worthy of love, and if you want to take the risks involved in really putting yourself out there. Love walks you out on a limb and dangles you over the edge. Yet, that’s life, and I will tell you, all wonderful humans are worth it . You have a lot to offer. Right? You know this. Do you really want to invest your time and offer your heart to someone who is either confused, or has already got their own heart, time, family or money set on someone else? Do what you’ll do, knowing where the percentages are higher.
If you really want a relationship, work on yourself. Put more of your awareness and time into becoming a person who can be vulnerable with someone else who reciprocates. Stop cocooning and transform yourself. You’ll emerge like a butterfly.
Pamela W. Brinker, LCSW