Tonight during my observation of a musical piece in a theatre, I had crossed paths with a young imprudent woman who happens to be the same fruitless tongue-lasher I have before seen in the lobby of my apartment building. Fortunately I live on the top floor and have a separate route to get there in which enables me to avoid the others. Of course she recognized me and rambled on for a moment about the building super. I assured her that I had literally no issues in the fourteen years that I have resided in the building and tried to cut her short so that I could continue on my way. As she recognized my hurry, she’d asked me if I had ever used an internet journal to which I responded, no. She went on to profess her beliefs of anonymity and in it; such has become her new therapist in ways that a human couldn’t ever provide. I’d found this statement a bit of a shock, and yet I felt perversely attracted to the thought of such a thing. After I concluded the awkward interaction, I found my way to the coffee shop before returning home. Amid the crowd of Sunday’s busiest loners, I sat at my normal table and began an internet search on my mobile device which produced several hits for ‘online journals.’ The mere idea of actually doing this is absurd, but I find that I cannot help myself. So, here I am entrusting the disclaimer that my anonymity will remain.
What brings me here is a colleague, a fellow psychologist who came into my office the other day. She had sought me out for some professional advice on love, and I thought “How awkward. Everyone in the office knows that I made a personal choice to be alone almost twenty years ago.” I didn’t want to dismiss her entirely as I normally do, so I had asked her why she chose me as somebody to ask. Her reply was considerably respectful and swift as she quickly replied with “Because you have always respected me and have never made a pass.” This made me think about some of my male counterparts and some of their tasteless conversations about our female colleagues. Tasteless because they are all married, without honor because they don’t seem to care. As a psychologist, I obviously cannot discuss my actual conversation with my colleague as it is a breach of patient confidentiality. That conversation did however make me think about myself and since I don’t see the need to visit one of my colleagues to discuss my innermost thoughts, I have now revealed why the idea of writing here anonymously was so attractive. In defense of my male co-workers, I must profess an obvious observation about their antics. One of them is superior in the act of seeking out the women and as a way to set back any awkward inner feelings, the others tend to follow his lead. They mainly do it as an attempt to ‘fit in’ to avoid some ridiculous accusation about their sexuality. Seems rather unprofessional to me, but I also know that people feel they need to adhere to grouping as a means to avoid social awkwardness. Find any one of them without Mister superior and he’s not as bold or tasteless.
Once I was done with my female colleague, the conversation had me thinking about love and my own personal life. Since you are unfamiliar to me, let me express to you who I am in case you do continue to read. I am a 64 year old senior psychologist in my office. I have my Psy.D. in the study of behavioral psychology. If you hadn’t figured it out quite yet, I am male. To conclude (meaning all I am willing to share at this moment) I have made a decision more than 20 years ago to remain single and celibate. That probably seems lonely to you, but I will get to that much later.
So let me begin with love. I am a living human which means at some point in my long life I had fallen in love. I want to discuss my personal situation with you because it has been on my mind since the encounter with the colleague. Pay attention, you might learn some things about human behavior that you may not have before known.
She was a wonderful, young student by the name of Anna who came in through program I was assigned to through my former university. I was asked to lecture a few semesters as part of my own professional journey. At first, I was intrigued that she had chosen my class because I was known widely as a prick (to put it mildly.) To tell you the truth, I really was, but that was how I learned. After a semester, this fine young woman approached me with news that she was going to drop my course. I advised her against such recklessness but then she confessed to having some sort of romantic crush on me so therefore she would rather go to another class so that I couldn’t say no if she were to ask me on a formal date. Her boldness caught my attention, but I didn’t cave in early on. It wasn’t until a month after she transferred that I finally accepted her invitation to a quiet dinner. This little back and forth went on for at least six months before I’d come to understand that I was madly in love with this woman. We became exclusive, and then official in which of course, the university spoke with me about the relationship. They had explained to me that the relationship made people uneasy and I was kindly asked to retire my position. Fortunately, I already had an offer from the same office I am with today so I took the dismissal with dignity instead of fighting it.
Anna and I had become serious enough that I moved her into my home not too long after the job transfer. I had a marriage and a divorce before Anna. My ex wife was first my best friend. We really married more for support and companionship. We weren’t in love but we were close in a sense that we both had gone through doctorate schooling and to be able to afford a decent living and not go crazy in our studies alone, we drew up an agreement and got married. Once school was over, she had informed me one evening that she was falling in love with someone so we both agreed to a divorce and she left with no hard feelings between us. We maintain our friendship today and never answer her husband when he asks if we slept together. She says that he can become a little jealous and tends to get caught up in who or what she did before him. I did sleep with her on numerous occasions throughout the marriage, but it was nothing to write home about. It only happened when she came home from a night of drinking. She was actually the first woman I had ever slept with, and I was 26 years old. I’d never really had the time for a relationship because I found that my studies were more important.
After Anna has finally moved some stuff into my home, I began early on to notice things about her that I had not before. She seemed to be real interested in the name ‘Michael’ and would light up every time she heard that name. After the fourth time of observing this, I had finally asked her why this name gave her such joy by just hearing it. She goes on to explain that she was dating a guy before me with that name and that he broke her heart. This admittance hit me a little off-guard. I ask her to explain herself to which she expressed to me what seemed to be an overall happy past experience with a former lover. This didn’t really bother me, except she never explained why they separated, but had simply said that they had grown apart. On observation, I could tell that she fondly enjoyed speaking about this Michael but it didn’t bother me in the least.
People do not realize it, but they have a habit of revealing what is hidden on the inside. She began to reference Michael when she saw the chance quite often. On a sunny spring afternoon, she wanted to take me to what she called a special place. We go and we enjoy this park that upon observation didn’t seem that special to me but I enjoyed having a peaceful afternoon with her. She brought me to a specific bench and asked me if we could watch the sunset together. We stayed and we did just that. Eventually, she began to take me along to several special places and began to reference things she did with Michael while there. A voice deep within called me a stupid fool in love so blind he can’t see what all of his schooling has taught him. Not only was this former lover popping up in conversation, but when I would leave alone to observe nature and meditate on my thoughts, she began to insinuate that I was meeting someone else. This accusation seemed petty and shameful to my character. Though I had often expressed my love to her, this accusation of a low-character mindset is very insulting to somebody like me. That voice in my head kept returning to inform me that I am foolish if I cannot see what is plainly obvious. Now I want to talk about what falling in love did for me.
If you are somebody who is in my shoes, you are going to have your wake up moment once you finish reading beyond this point. The biggest alarm with Anna was that she hadn’t let her past go. The truth about Anna is that she was still in love with Michael and yet pursued a new relationship with me. She simply could not let her past go and in time, it was too obvious for me a little too late. By taking me to those ‘special’ places she was reliving a part of her past with Michael in her mind. Instead of choosing new places to make new memories with me, she wanted to continue living out her past through our relationship. One might think to themselves, perhaps patience and love can fix that. Those people who think that have obviously never experienced that type of situation. I was so in love with Anna that I tried not to let my observations of her and Michael hurt me. There was even a part of me that was willing to go through the motions of reliving her past but then with time, I snapped out of it.
If you are in love and in a relationship with somebody, everything that you both do should be about making new memories in the present. Every person has a past, and every person has people in their past who are former lovers. It is foolish to assume otherwise. It is also foolish to not understand that they once had feelings for those people in their past, but it shouldn’t matter in the present. Two people who commit to another and profess their love to each other should be committed only to that present person.
It doesn’t feel like love once you come to terms with accepting that the person you’re in love with is still deeply tied and devoted to their past. It made me feel inadequate, unappreciated, used, foolish and hurt. Anna wouldn’t admit it for a while, but she was still in love with Michael. Once this was revealed by way of studying her, the pain within was unreal. It was a while before I walked away from her. The foolish romantic that I am wanted to believe that she would eventually get over Michael but she still took me to those ‘special’ places that she once shared with him. If you have read this far and you can relate, I want to try and help you open your eyes wider so you aren’t a love-sick fool like I was.
In a healthy relationship, any former feelings from a former lover may naturally exist in your partner, or they may not. They may have been with someone before you for a long time and perhaps some feelings linger, this is very normal from a psychological point of view. What is not normal and is very unhealthy is if those feelings or portions of the past are commonly present. If someone you’re in love with continues to reference or bring up a former lover, then it is time for you to take care of yourself. There may be a chance that somehow you remind them of their former lover. You need to wake up and know that this isn’t fair to you! If you are anything like me, you are completely devoted to your present lover and are in love and you don’t want to face the truth that your partner will not let go of their past. One of the worst parts of this experience is how I got compared to things Michael did. It formed a belief that no matter how hard I tried to please Anna, it would never be good enough because Michael did it his own way. But there lies the key and is my free lesson to you.
We are all designed uniquely in our own way. You may meet people who appear similar to someone you know but to actually believe that they would be alike is casting a shadow on to that new person. Once they do something that is more unique to whom they are, then whatever perceptions you had before should be let go. By telling someone that they aren’t doing something right because it doesn’t match what you before perceived can actually damage the recipient. If you still have strong feelings for someone in your past, you have no business misleading someone new. You have to completely devote yourself to a partner if you express feelings of love to that person. It is selfish and unfair to lead someone on or use them to relive a past love. If you simply cannot get over your past, then perhaps you need to consider some counseling and some time alone to work on yourself before you consider pulling someone else in. As my father used to say “Never settle because someone out there exists to love only you.” My father is correct.
I was in love with Anna but she really didn’t love me in return. I actually suffered a heart attack not long after I’d come to learn the truth. While recovering from the followed surgery, my professor had come in to sit with me one night. Before writing this, he is the only person I had ever told about my situation with Anna. He said to me then what I have said to you now. After a few hours of deep conversation and tears, I expressed that I will never again open my heart to another. True to our profession, he attempted to psychoanalyze me and insisted that I should not deny myself love. There are nights that I believe he is right, but there are many more nights where I am content with being alone. My choice would probably not work for most people, but most people aren’t me anymore than I am them.
While I was with Anna as you have read above, she would accuse me of infidelity when I wasn’t in her sight. This is something else I want to pass on to people to spare anyone who suffers through this. There are two guarantees you need to consider when someone is accusing you of infidelity. Either they were hurt by this in their past or they are considering infidelity themselves. Either one of these situations are not your burden.
Anna would sometimes have a desire to go off with friends and that was fine with me. Once she left, I would go to the lake and meditate on patient encounters from the office. I’d carry with me my notes and a pad in case of spontaneous thought. Unlike Anna, I didn’t go out with friends nor can I recall a specific one that I would sit with. This is just my personality type. My desire outside of the office was to be at peace and I was content in a still silence while in deep thought. Television wasn’t a real solution, nor was any other type of typical social activity that various people enjoy. I simply have the type of personality who is overall introverted. The last thing on my mind was other women or infidelity, but rather, my patients and my work. Anna would return and gloat about men trying to pick her up and would go on about herself a while. I was interested in listening but I wasn’t interested in the subject. Once she was done, she would ask me about my day. If I mentioned going to the lake, she got funny.
I am not going to bore you about insecure people because everyone can recall moments where they didn’t feel secure. This however went beyond that. Without her realizing, I would psychoanalyze her and eventually learned that she was hurt by a former lover through infidelity.
Now let me tell you why it is damaging to prosecute your partner with something like this. Accusing someone of infidelity is one of the biggest insults to a person’s character. To think such a thing about them because someone in your past had hurt you that way is the equivalent of injecting destruction into your relationship. Like it or not, adults are free to do things without a lover present. Before you became someone’s partner, you likely did things alone or with friends and shouldn’t have to stop doing them simply because you’re in a relationship. People also need room to breathe! To accuse your partner of infidelity because of your past or insecurity does not strengthen your relationship, but rather, begins to kill it. If you are the one accusing your partner, you are insulting them as a person and stating clearly without saying the words that you do not trust them and you do not want them to have a life without you chained to their side. Couples can do things together, and separately.
When I finally told Anna that she was insulting me, she had stopped for a little while. This was the point in the relationship where I was exhausted and completely fed up. I’d loved this woman more than she deserved and I had tried so hard only to get hurt in the long run. A year after I left her, Michael came by my office one afternoon and left a note with the secretary for me to call him. Out of curiosity I dialed the number he had left and managed to reach him. He asked me to meet him after work at a diner nearby my office so I agreed for the sake of curiosity.
On observation, he was frightfully immature for a man his age and quite restless. Before we could even get served a warm cup of overcooked coffee, he blurted out that he slept with Anna towards the end of our relationship and decided that he wanted me to know about it. He went on to make some minor insults but I stood from the table and excused myself. At this point I was over Anna, but I wasn’t about to subject myself to any agenda this man might have had. I am a man of dignity and honor and I will never lower myself to someone else’s standards for their entertainment and nor should you.
If you made it this far, you have learned why this pathetic old man had made a decision over 20 years ago to remain single and celibate and you will leave right here knowing that I do not regret my choice.
There was more I wanted to share but my smart stupid phone alerts me that I am needed for a crisis.
Guard your heart carefully.