I want you each to answer one question as honestly as you can.
When life gets overwhelming, and you really need a recharge, do you get recharged by spending time alone, or do you get recharged by spending time with others?
I have given a lot of advice to others over the years. I’ve received a lot of advice, too. Sometimes it’s on the money, and other times it bounces off the receiver as if it’s the worst idea ever. I was talking to a dear friend a little while back who was heart broken. Over me.
In truth, I was heartbroken over her, as well. We had experienced a whirlwind romance that ultimately couldn’t work for all sorts of reasons, and I had broken it off.
This person is someone whose friendship I care very much about, and I really didn’t want to lose that.
I know lots of single people who think keeping good, working friendships with someone we’ve been romantically involved with is impossible in the long term. I don’t think so. I think making it work means both people find a way to completely detach from the relationship and be authentically happy for the other when they find love or the beginnings of love again. Easier said than done, sometimes, I know.
I also know that an ongoing friendship will always fail when only one person still has feelings for the other.
And so seemed might be the case with this woman. She was responding to the demise of our relationship by retreating into solitude, not wanting to spend any time with anyone.
I responded by jumping into the dating world again and moving on. She knew it was happening, which frustrated her greatly. If I could so easily jump back into dating, surely that means I was never sincere. Surely that means I never meant any of the things I said to her. Surely that means I had ulterior motives and was not heartbroken at all.
I was frustrated with her. Surely her retreat meant that she wasn’t trying to let go of me, and she was going to be attached to me forever, and that eventually I’d have to cut it off completely. “You need to get out and go on some dates or you’ll never get over us and friendship will be impossible!” I told her.
She immediately rejected the idea. “I don’t want to go on dates. I don’t want to be with anyone right now. I want to be alone!”
We got more and more frustrated with each other as our conversation went on. She wanted me to feel the heartbreak enough to cut myself off from the world. I wanted her to let go of the heartbreak and get back out there again. Both of us felt that “our way” was the right way to respond.
Once more I pressed her to get out and go on some dates. Once more she rejected the idea, as if it was insulting to everything natural. We went back and forth so many times.
And that’s when it hit me.
I had fallen into the trap of judging an introvert on an extrovert’s way of thinking, and she was judging an extrovert on an introvert’s way of thinking.
She pushed people out of her life so that she could deal with things in private. I brought more people into my life so that I could focus on others and move on.