I’ve been coaching an under 30 something guy, helping him with his break up. My heart goes out to him because he was in deep and his girl was taking him for a ride.
Dan bought his girlfriend moved in together. Everything was blissful until Dan lost his job. That was a big blow to his ego and he says the situation may have caused him to be suddenly needy. Dan admits that he probably called Jill too often at work because he was board or lonely and may have required too much of her attention. Or maybe more than she had bargained for originally.
Jill started to pull away, fights broke out regularly, and both were miserable. Here’s where it gets interesting. Jill made a new rule that she didn’t want to discuss the relationship. Then she moved out, but left all her stuff. She still called and texted him. They still went out on dates.
But Jill refused to discuss what was going on and claimed she simply needed some space while he got his poo-poo together. And she wished he could reclaim his confidence – to be the man he was when she first met him vs. this new clingy guy.
Needless to say, Dan was pulling his hair out, didn’t know what to do and contacted me.
I found the whole thing fascinating because from my perspective, Jill was playing the traditional man’s role in this scenario. "I don’t want to talk about it" is usually what the guy says right? Well not this time.
I confirmed for Dan that this was a tough one especially since no discussion was possible. How can you negotiate or compromise when you can’t talk about things? You know where my recommendation is going don’t you?
Let go of Jill I told him. Tell her to come get her stuff and don’t be home for her pack-up party. Kick her to the curb to quote a good friend of mine. This is truly the only next step available for a self-respecting soul.
But Dan just couldn’t do it. He kept calling her, pleading with her, questioning her about what went wrong and how he could change things back to the way they were. It’s very sad. Things rarely go back -it almost never happens. What’s worse, chasing after Jill didn’t make Dan look confident did it? Nope, he looked even more needy than ever which had become a big turn-off for Jill.
That’s why the kick her to the curb suggestion – because anyone with self-respect and a spine would stop the drama and end it. I suggested to Dan that he could simply tell her that he’d like to continue the relationship anytime she wanted to move back in and be committed again. So he didn’t have to end on a bad note -that still leaves the door open – but for a healthy relationship.
Jill, in reaction to the changes Dan was going through, had made this an impossible situation. She wouldn’t break up with Dan, and she wouldn’t stay with him either. But she kept calling him. Now what is that indecision on her part about? They both a part in this heart-wrenching drama. Perhaps neither one has the backbone required to move forward.
Jellyfish don’t have spines or a backbone. They flutter around and repeat the same mistakes over and over again, stating that they just can’t help it. You can hear them repeating the sad mantra -"I can’t help it, I can’t help it"
I reached out to Dan to explain that helping himself is EXACTLY what is required. No one else can take charge of his life. No one else can regain that self-respect for him. I hope he finds the inner strength to get her stuff out of his place and out of his sight. Only space and time can heal these wounds and the sooner Jill’s stuff is out, the sooner he can start the healing phase.
If you ever find yourself in this situation where your partner has one foot in and one foot out, kick him or her to the curb. If you want to, you can tell the person to return when s/he decide s/he is ready to be "all-in.". Nothing else is fair to you. You can’t negotiate when you are on uneven ground. You both have to be in it to work through it.
In case things start getting a little briny in your relationship and the smell of the ocean at low tide comes to mind, remember that s when you usually see those poor jellyfish, beached on the sandy shore. Not a good vision. Let it motivate you out of any jellyfish tendencies that may be lurking in your mind and stand up for yourself.
Healthy and alone is far better than being jerked around and taken advantage of. And let’s not forget- there are countless other fish in the sea – most with excellent skeletal systems.