Don’t Complete It, Complement It

***Warning: Some NSFW language***

I had dinner plans with a girlfriend (a friend who is a girl) that I set up a few days prior. My actual girlfriend was sick with bronchitis for nearly a week. Immediately as she exited the doctor’s office, I texted her asking when I could see her next. I was not in a place that I could afford being sick myself, starting a new job and all. My girlfriend asked me if we could get dinner, but I already had dinner plans with my friend. Shortly thereafter, her responses grew shorter to one or two word messages.

My anxiety kicked in. I attributed the change in the messages’ tone to me having plans with another female. While my current girlfriend has never given me any indication that she is the jealous type, my ex-girlfriends were. I had flashbacks to when my ex told me that she did not want me hanging out with specific friends, and I obliged to make her happy/avoid further conflict. I ended up postponing my dinner plans out of nervousness.

I went home and laid in bed. I threw a pity party with me, myself, and I in attendance. My girlfriend picked right up on my irrationality and gave me space.

The following day we talked about what happened. She explained why there was a change in her texting tone. It was totally separate from our conversation and had nothing to do with my dinner plans. I apologized and we moved forward. We made plans to go out with my friends later that night for trivia night.

We got there and met up with my old college buddy. He was with his coworker and his coworker’s wife. Now, I openly admit that I do not have the most politically correct sense of humor, but I do try to joke to break the ice. When my friend introduced his company, I said, “I’m sorry, and I’m sorry.” His coworker and wife looked at me confused. I said, “Sorry that you married him and sorry that you work with him.” (Pointing in my friend’s direction)

After a few chuckles, the conversation moved along without interruption. We lost, but the night was fun nonetheless. We left after my girlfriend got her brownie to go. I gave my friend his belated Christmas gift, and we were on our way home.

As I hit the highway, my girlfriend looked just over the rim of her glasses. She brought up the comment I made at the beginning of the night and said, “They didn’t laugh.”

“Okay…?”

“Maybe you shouldn’t make those types of comments with people you just met and will be spending the night hanging out with.”

I automatically took this as an attack on my character. I see myself as a ball buster and am not one to be concerned with others’ acceptance. If someone does not like me, something I do, or something I say, just say something. That has always been my attitude. “What are you trying to say?”

My girlfriend kept reverting back to the couple’s body language and lack of laughter. I bit my tongue before I went off. I did not say another word for the entire ride home. I knew I would regret it later if I did.

I texted her a few times when I got home, but the talk was not constructive by any means because I was being a sarcastic asshole for most of it. I even went as far as threatening to break up with her. It was as hollow of a threat as they come. I was just being a needy bitch.

Thank the lord I had therapy the next morning. I jumped right into it and explained what happened to my therapist. I was beyond confused. I did not know if it was all me. I thought it could be just that I was not ready for a relationship. I thought that my girlfriend might just not be a good match for me.

For someone as insightful as I usually am, I was at a total loss. I had zero clue where to start. My therapist helped me pull it apart. She pointed out a rather deep observation. If I did break it off now, was I doing to avoid these issues or because my girlfriend was not a good match for me? It was definitely more so the first of the two. My therapist highlighted the fact that no matter who I was dating that I would have to confront these issues eventually.

I have done a lot of work to get to the root of my issues. Most of them come back to core beliefs such as “I do not deserve to be happy,” “I’m a failure,” and “I’m a fucked up person.” Through extensive amounts of therapy, I worked through and accepted these beliefs across multiple contexts. The one area where they had not been addressed yet was in my romantic relationships.

What made this even more difficult was the inclusion of another individual where serious feelings were involved. If you have been reading my posts especially recently, feelings are not my friend. I tend to numb them or shut them out altogether. Now I am in a situation where I am asking my feelings to be vulnerable. From the start, this sounds like a bad idea.

The other major belief I struggled with was ensuring that my girlfriend was always happy. My therapist pointed out that this is unrealistic and was likely the root cause of my codependent tendencies. God forbid there was the one time she is not happy, I take the blame and possibly for no reason. My therapist said, “You should add to each other’s happiness.”

Right after my session, I spoke to my girlfriend to let her know what I took away from it. Even though I had a strong grasp on my flaws, a new situation arose asking more of me than what used to be required. It required communication with someone else. It was a situation where I needed to utilize my rationality to balance out my feelings. My girlfriend even admitted to her own flaws and came from a place of understanding.

Just yesterday, I even asked my girlfriend about her past relationships to get a better sense of where she is coming from. Her biggest issue was inexperience with dating and wanting to focus on herself. She said that she was finally in a place to date again. I asked her outright, “What made me the lucky guy then huh?”

As if she had been in my session the other day, “I don’t need someone to be happy. I need someone to add to my happiness. You add to my happiness. You make me laugh. That’s huge.”

Rather than complete, complement.

-The Caring Counselor

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