Dear Dr. Love,I understand the psychology behind unfinished business and how adult relationships are affected by one person trying to find that so-called ‘happy ending thus successfully closing a chapter on a painful part of one’s history. However, how is one ever going to–FINALLY–actually finish that happy ending?The therory itself is rooted in the belief that unfinished business and the search for a happy ending is, ultimately, trying to heal old wounds that may be decades old. So like the old ‘room full of abusers’ analogy, if I go to party and meet a woman that I’m attracted to, why don’t I just avoid the inevitable pain and tell her this: ‘I find myself hopelessly attracted to you but, because of my mother’s inability to nurture me, sure as God made little green apples you’re gonna break my heart someday and leave me wondering why.’?I hope that you will see that I am not being flip but, rather, at 46 years old I am finding it hard to tell where the boundries are: how can I tell if I am over-reacting to a woman’s faux pas, or if this person is truly going to cause me some future misery?Thank you for elaborating,Easier Said Than Done
Great question! I totally understand the predicament. It is true that we are drawn to the people who feel like home, meaning that they are likely to hurt us the way our parents did.If you force yourself to date people who are good for you, your love life will feel like a laxative–good for you but hard to swallow.So, what can you do? All you can do is to study each prospective partner with both eyes open. When you see the flaws, get the other person talk about her previous relationships, why they failed–was their a pattern, watch how they act, learn more about their early lives, etc.When I say keep your eyes open as you study the flaws, this is harder done than said. This is because when we meet people who are likely to help us play out our past histories, we usually go blind. We stop seeing who the other person really is. In fact, the part of us that wants to fall into a recreation of our old wounds, doesn’t want us to see that we are going to be hurt again. The hope for a happy ending causes us to wear blinders.In your case, it sounds like you’ve moved to the next level. You are no longer wearing blinders (maybe you never did?). You are in reality and are seeing all your prospective partners with your eyes open, which means you see all their flaws. Only now you’re feeling stuck, immobilized by these flaws. You have even begun to worry that you are going to be hurt again, and you are unable to move forward.Here’s what you need to do. Do not bolt, at least not so fact. Just slow way down. Continue to investigate and observe.When you privately scrutinize this person you want to ask yourself. Can this person meet my basic needs…and give me my happy ending I seek? Using the same eyes that sees the flaws, ask those eyes if you see this person as capable of being responsive to you.In other words, don’t run for the hills as soon as the flaws are evident. We all have flaws. What you need to find out is, is this person too damaged, or flawed to meet your needs. If needed, write down your needs on a piece of paper and even discuss them with your prospective partner.What you want is a person that is flexible, devoted to learning and growing as a person, and most important, someone that cares enough about you to never stop trying to be the lover that you need–and vice versa.I hope this answers your question.