Someone I was dating once told me that I was like a boomerang because I kept pulling him back. I was deeply hurt and understood him to mean that he wanted to be free of me, but was constantly being lured back, like a moth to a flame. After I thought about it, I realized he was right. Our pattern was that we’d spend a day and/or evening together and then he would leave. We lived an hour apart and he shared a house with less than desirable roommates, so he always came to my place. A few times, I invited him to return and spend the remainder of a weekend or holiday. He almost always came, even if it was very late at night. There were times when I wouldn’t see him for a week or more. But he always came back. I assumed he was there because he wanted to be (silly me!) But he apparently felt like he was being pulled back, apparently against his will or his better judgement.
It occurred to me that he was the one leaving and coming back, so it was actually he who was the boomerang. The only thing of which I was guilty was enjoying his company and wanting to spend time with him. (I can be a real bitch like that..) But, if he didn’t want to come, then I didn’t really want him there. The daily texts and occasional phone calls continued. But he never said, “I want to see you” or “When can I see you?”
How quickly we can fall into roles and routines that feel comfortable, even when they are not healthy. Personally, I’ve been close to a lot of people who never shared their emotions or took responsibility for their behavior. Perhaps this was true of my boomerang relationship. Despite the distance between us and some major differences in our lifestyles, I know he liked me. Maybe he tried to love me, but just couldn’t get there. At times, I felt like I was an unwanted distraction. Every time he tried to walk away, he felt drawn back to me. Was he disappointed in himself each time it happened? I’ll never know. Rather than talk to me about it, he eventually walked away without an explanation.
Sound complicated? You don’t have to be a social worker or a psychologist to date in your sixties, but it helps. Recognizing unhealthy patterns is a big part of recovering from failed attempts at love. But it was also a loss. He is a good guy with a lot of wonderful attributes – not like the usual suspects for me. He was gentle and easy going and giving of himself. He had an amazing way of opening me up so that I was comfortable telling him things I had not told anyone else. When we talked about our childhoods and our families growing up, there were uncanny parallels that helped us understand one another on a deeper level.
It takes a lot of courage to enter into a relationship at any point in your life. But I think it’s more so later, after you’ve already endured some significant defeats. Every attempt that fails is another small layer of loss on your heart. Some people give up completely, hoping to avoid additional pain. Some walk away when the emotional connection becomes too close and they’re uncomfortable. Others persevere, recovering best they can before diving in again. Spending time alone, doing things that bring me joy, helps. I believe that you have to truly love yourself before you can expect someone else to love you. I’ve discovered that I really like my own company and I’ve found an amazing peacefulness there. I’m interesting, ambitious, creative and funny. And if I think so, it’s only a matter of time before someone else does, too.