by Priyanka Yadvendu
When I was twenty-four years old, I met a man at a bar on a girl’s night out. My girlfriends and I were about to leave the bar and head home. It was a normal night filled with drinking and dancing the night away.
As I came out of the restrooms, I locked eyes with a set of sparkling brown eyes. He stood a foot away and smiled. The alcohol pulsed through my body.
But even before I consciously knew, my soul knew. My heart commanded me to not go anywhere and against my wishes, I smiled back.
He asked me to dance and we made small talk. I don’t remember anything about our conversation, except that I kept thinking how tall he was. He was six feet three inches. I am five feet tall and even with my heels, I felt like a dwarf.
We switched numbers. He called me and we went our first date. Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong. He suddenly changed the location of our first date minutes before I was to head to the restaurant. A band played loud music literally right in front of our table. I couldn’t hear a word he said.
After dinner, he paraded me across San Jose downtown in my brand new heels. My feet bled and we had to sit down at a park. (Several of these moments inspired key scenes in my debut novel Enchanted Silence!)
While sitting on that bench, we spoke about our views on marriage which would determine the fate of our relationship.
He confided he didn’t wish to get married. He came from a family of divorces and had mostly been involved in flings throughout his life. I revealed I saw myself being happily married with children in my future.
Despite our differing views, we kept on meeting and eventually fell deeply in love with each other. That day on that bench, neither of us could have predicted that.
We were perfect for each other in every way. We shared a love for adventure and possessed intellectual minds. We had a goofy sense of humor. We both even shared a fear of intimacy and commitment.
But four years later, that main difference wedged its way into our relationship. Today, I know we had to happen because I had to learn and grow from this experience.
Here are seven honest lessons I learned from falling in love with a commitment phobic man:
1. Don’t be afraid of being vulnerable.
I am uncomfortable expressing my emotions. I can be crumbling inside, but I will barely show it. Being the oldest in my family, I feel a sense of responsibility and commitment. It was ingrained in me that being emotional is not what gets the job done.
As a result, layers of emotion and pain were stuck energetically in my body. This carried into this relationship. I believed that I had to be guarded and hold myself together all the time.
If I cried or broke down in front of him, I believed he wouldn’t want me anymore. I would come across as weak.
But you cannot be truly intimate with someone until you learn to be intimate with yourself. Daring to show your true self is the key to a meaningful relationship and having a true connection.
2. Relationships are mirrors.
He had a deep seated fear of intimacy. That became blaringly obvious over the years. He would often cite divorce statistics and avoid the topic of marriage. I never knew too much about his childhood and the relationship he shared with his father.
He barely dropped the walls to let me in. But why had he come into my life? Although I wanted marriage and children in my life, I was terrified of commitment and relationships. I had drawn sturdy walls, too.
The difference was he was openly a commitment phobic and I was a closeted one.
Every relationship teaches you about yourself. This person is aligned to your soul and meant to stir different parts in you so you can turn inwards and clear your inner blocks and fears.
3. Love without attachment.
During this relationship, I had a pattern of striving for happiness and self-worth through him. When he called me, I felt happy. When he didn’t call me, my mood plunged. My state of mind completely changed.
I found that I started overanalyzing and over thinking. He does not like me. He is getting bored of me.
And then I would drive myself crazy on whether I should text or call him. Is it too much? Am I being lenient?
When he did respond to me, I would breathe a sigh of relief yet hold resentment towards him. And I would not express these feelings to him and instead become cold.
When you become your own source of love, you do not love someone else from a place of fear and attachment. When you want to express your feelings, you do it. When you want to text or call him, you do it.
When you want to show love, you do it. You don’t do these things expecting anything in return. You do it because that is your desire and this comes from a beautiful space within you.
4. Keep your ego out of the picture.
This one is tied to the previous point. My ego came into the way sometimes. When he didn’t call or show me love the way I wanted, my ego reared its ugly head.
I used him to validate my self-worth and when he didn’t respond the way I wanted, I became angry with him. I turned icy cold and shut him out.
I am not saying you must accept wrong behavior or let someone walk over you. Rather, be conscious that you are not perfect and neither is your partner. It’s about not judging yourself when you respond from a place of control, fear, or insecurity.
Peel the layers of ego off and instead be real with yourself. Observe yourself, ask yourself why you are responding the way you are, and do the inner work.
5. Is he capable of loving you?
During our relationship, he always treated me beautifully. I was blessed in this respect. Because of his support, I was able to realize my dream of writing a novel.
But because his fear of intimacy and commitment was greater than his love and respect for me, he was never able to drop his protective walls and let me in completely.
He kept me at a distance. This created emotional turmoil in me. I questioned myself and our relationship a lot. Though he was a good person, he didn’t love me the way I wanted to be loved.
When someone does not love you the way you want, it does not mean that person is not a good person. It means they have to sift through their own emotional baggage and clear their fear and blocks. And that is not your responsibility to fix.
6. Learn to receive.
Giving is an important part in a relationship. However, receiving is equally important. One of the most beautiful things I learned from him was learning how to receive. I was used to being the giver in my relationships with my loved ones and friends.
I found it difficult to receive actually. I remember he once remarked how I didn’t know how to take a compliment. It was a simple comment, but it stuck in my head.
I didn’t know how to receive because I did not know how to give love to myself. I didn’t know how to be intimate with myself.
If you have trouble receiving love, then start practicing becoming comfortable with opening yourself and receiving love. Treat yourself to a massage or favorite meal. Look at yourself in the mirror and compliment yourself.
7. Forgive and lead with your heart.
When you go through a challenging relationship, you want to just close your heart and shut off. But it is during this time that you must keep it open even more.
When you are walking around with anger and resentment towards that person, you are only hurting yourself.
If not for that person, you will need to forgive for your sake. It is the only way to move forward.
I took the time to process all my pain and anguish. I did whatever soothed my soul. I woke up several nights drenched in my sweat. I ate take out. I spent hours crying on the phone with my best friend.
Don’t try to avoid the pain. Dive deep in this process so you can fully heal yourself and keep your heart open. Because then you will be opening yourself up to beauty and love in all its forms in your life.
If you came out of a challenging relationship, keep your heart open. This was meant to awaken your soul so you can create an amazing relationship with yourself!
Priyanka Yadvendu is passionate about supporting women to listen to their enchanted silence to live an inspired life. Her upcoming book is Enchanted Silence, represented by Holloway Literary. To savor a peek of the first chapter and enjoy her free e-cards and helpful resources, visit http://www.priyankayadvendu.com/
* Photo credit