Have you ever felt a connection with someone that almost immediately felt good and real, like there was definitely something between the two of you that you knew you had to explore further?
So you go on a few magical dates, and the more time you spend together, the more intense the feeling of connection grows.
But when you finally get the nerve to "DTR" — define the relationship — and ask what the other person is looking for, you are shocked to find out they're not looking for anything serious, or generally aren't feeling the same way you are.
Your mind starts racing a hundred miles per minute trying to justify what happened and what you did wrong. You're flooded with mixed emotions ranging from angry to confused. You wanted to see where this connection could go because feelings like this don't just happen all the time, right?
So do you walk away? Or do you give it your all and hope for the best — that the connection you're feeling in the immediate present will turn into something more sustainable?
Well here's the truth, as harsh as it may be: just because there's a connection between two people doesn't mean they are going have a committed relationship.
Of course, sometimes it does. But the problem is that so many of us expect our love story to fit inside a formula. We think something like this: amazing connection —> commitment —> long-term relationship bliss. But come on, love doesn't fit into a formula!
Once you realize this, it becomes easier to accept that you can allow the connection to feel true regardless of the outcome. You can accept it for what it is in the present moment, without thinking that you did something wrong to prevent a long-term relationship, or that you were making it all up in your head in the first place.
If you've ever questioned why you connect with certain people and not others, or have beaten yourself up about thinking that a connection was supposed to go the distance and it didn't, reflect back on the friendships or relationships that you had that are no longer a part of your life. They were were all connections, and you were both a great part of each other's lives at one time.
But connections with others do come and go. The connection you can sustain and work on strengthening constantly is the one you have with yourself. So the next time you start to doubt yourself or feel defeated after a connection ends, follow these steps:
1. Be really, really nice to yourself.
In moments of self-doubt, we immediately jump to beating ourselves up in a vicious cycle. So instead, start by choosing kinder words when talking to yourself. Try and understand the situation with self-compassion. You are not lacking, missing the signs, or being an idiot for exploring the connection. You felt something there, and you took a risk. This is 100% better than having regrets for not exploring the connection.
2. Do something simple for yourself.
Treat yourself to something nice, whatever that may be for you. Buy yourself some flowers, get a massage or a nice new journal. Just make a small gesture to tell yourself, "Hey, I've got you." Feeling good, even if it's just a temporary pick-me-up, will help take the edge off of your doubt and get you back into the mode of trusting that you know what's best for you.
3. Exist in the discomfort.
In other words, get present and breathe through whatever feelings you might be having. I know that in these situations we often wish we could change what happened, or we just feel embarrassed and want to run away from our vulnerability. But exploring self-doubt is an important exercise. Think of the experience as an important opportunity to get present and breathe into the moment, because you can only move ahead and progress from where you are.
4. Find the AHA.
Think about the positive you gleaned from making the connection. Maybe you were reminded that you are able to feel desired by another person again, or you got clear that you are looking for someone who is totally and 100% ready to tell you how he or she feels about you. These are all great outcomes of temporary connections.
5. Remember growth from past connections.
Past relationship connections served you in some way, no matter how bad the falling out or breakup was (friendship or relationship). Remember all the ways that this connection served you, even if it didn't last. All connections are put in your life for that reason.
These reflections can be proof that not every connection is the seed for a long-lasting love story, but a step on our journey to surrounding ourselves with the right kinds of people for us — both in terms of friendships and romance.
When you start to allow connections to happen without the expectation that they should turn into something in the future, you are able to more easily see why they were brought into your life at this moment in time.
This will actually open you up to letting in more connections (because you're not putting all the pressure on one) and will let you filter through the wrong people faster.
In the comments below, try writing a one-sentence "thank you" to someone you had a connection with even if it was brief. What is something positive you got out of the connection?
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