Last week, I wrote about having deal-breakers and standards, and the importance of staying true to yourself. The other piece of that that I didn’t mention is that whole “guilt” thing. Dating is full of many different emotions and guilt is most certainly one of them. Don’t get me wrong, a little guilt is not such a bad thing. When a guy invites me to sushi and then changes his mind and offers pizza, believe me, I want him to feel a little guilty about dashing my sushi dreams for that evening (insert violins here).
The guilt that becomes problematic is when it forces us to settle. I am very fortunate to know a lot of wonderful people. Because I have such a wide circle of friends, I have watched a lot of relationships come and go. It is, of course, so sad when people break up, especially if they are two good people who are just not meant to be. Whenever this happens to people I know, someone always feels guilty. I hear a lot of “she’s such a great girl…. I never meant to hurt her…. this feels so awful.” Yes, it does.
The problem comes when they turn into these sentences: “Maybe I was wrong…. maybe she will change… I feel so bad, maybe I should give her another chance.” A good friend of mine recently broke up with her boyfriend and felt so terrible for hurting him that she almost went back to him just so she would feel less guilty. She knew deep in her heart it was not right but the guilt just overcame her. What happened? Six weeks later it ended… again… even messier this time.
I am not saying that we don’t make mistakes. Sometimes, people really do deserve a second chance and it does end up working out. I think though, that when someone considers giving an ex a second chance it can’t be about guilt. Guilt is powerful but it doesn’t fix anything, or change anything, it just is… and eventually it goes away (hopefully).
I dated a guy a few years ago that I really cared for. He was truly a good guy. When he ended things with me, I had this strange combination of feelings– I was heartbroken, but I got it. He knew in his heart that I was not the one for him. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about me, or that he didn’t enjoy spending time with me, or even that he wouldn’t miss me. It was that he didn’t feel we were meant to be for a variety of reasons that looking back, all make sense. I share this story because I am very grateful to that man for breaking up with me (now there’s a sentence I never imagined writing). At the time I was so sad, and I know that made him feel terrible. But, the reality, MY reality, is that I never want to be with someone who doesn’t love me without question, 100%, and WANT to be with me. Don’t we all deserve that? Don’t we all deserve to be with someone who wants to be with us as much as we want to be with them?
I guess I say this to both those who feel guilty and those who are the ones who’ve been hurt… Guilt is real, and powerful, and at times consumes you. However, it is not a healthy basis for a relationship. It is not a reason to be with someone. Do not forget who you are and the things you are not willing to compromise… that is not something to feel guilty about.
Now if you eat my dessert…. then you can go ahead and feel guilty enough to buy me another one.
That seems reasonable.