Parachute Relationships

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I made the mistake of falling madly in love just 6 months after my long-term relationship ended. I was not over the anger and the resentment of that relationship. Inevitably the new relationship failed 6 months later. I was so heart broken, I lost my job [and] my pride. I became suicidal [and] I became an alcoholic.

Months later, I hooked up with someone, just to survive. This was almost 3 years ago, and I'm better now. Employed, and getting my finances straight, and I no longer want to die. However, I have never loved this woman that I'm with. I really don't think I can ever love again after the 2 women who I was so in love with before. I just don't think I can give my heart to anyone ever again. So, my question would be; love or security? Do I leave and attempt life alone, waiting for passion, love and romance? Because I long for it. Or do I succumb to the security of this person who I really can't stand, and continue the unwillingness to ever love again?

ANSWER

You don’t need Freud, or me, to tell you how wasteful life would be in a loveless relationship. But you my friend have a bad track record, and if you think there’s any chance that you’ll end this relationship and jump into a new one without a significant break in between, don’t even bother. Do us all a favor and minimize the carnage of your decisions.

Your last three relationships have been parachutes ~ each new relationship transitioning you gently from the “bad” one, into your new, soon-to-be bad one. People like you are sometimes referred to as serial monogamists, but the truth is that you’re afraid to be alone. Without an appropriate break between relationships, you risk not healing from the previous relationship. Instead, the bad experiences sort of blend into one very ugly montage of failed relationships.

I remember once many years ago when I was in pieces over a breakup, an older friend turned to me and said, “Darcy, two halves do not make a whole. Get yourself whole again and then you’ll be ready for another relationship.” Though I wanted to smack my friend at the time, I soon realized that it was among the best advice I had ever been given. So today, I’ll pass this on to you.

You are not whole and you haven’t tolerated the discomfort of being alone long enough to become whole. You talk about survival and suicide, yet the coping mechanisms you chose (women and alcohol) just numbed your internal pain, which may have been triggered by some of these women but which was not caused by them. What you did was put a band aide on a hemorrhage. As long as you continue to repeat this mantra to yourself and others about hooking up with someone “just to survive,” the longer you align yourself with a horseshit excuse and side-step responsibility for having made a very selfish decision. Twice.

If you were in my office, I’d tell you what I’ve told dozens of women, who, like you, were not ready to be in a relationship: You should be wrapped in Yellow Caution Tape, lest some unsuspecting lesbian cross your path before you’ve sorted out your baggage.

Do find yourself a shrink’s couch on which to lay and sort through your baggage, for no less than 6 months and preferably for double or triple that.