Nonfiction | I Survived

Relationship Hopping

Life events maketh the man…

So I’ve reached an epiphany. It’s only taken me 26 years, several bottles of Hendricks Gin and a lot of tears to get to this point…..”I used to be a relationship hopper” I said to a girlfriend one night at dinner. Her beautiful mouth turned into the shape of a dark tunnel. “I can’t believe you’ve just said that!! after all these years!!!” and she gave me a huge hug and congratulated me. Well, that was easy therapy and no money exchanged!! I never thought I would admit that to anyone. Ever. Now though, I’m in such a great place emotionally after months of therapy and soul-searching and meditating that I am really happy to admit my foibles and shortcomings to people without panicking over whether they’ll “unfriend” me on Facebook as a consequence or dive behind a bin to avoid me. Ironically though, it’s being a relationship hopper that’s led me to this point of bravery and confidence and internal happiness. And perhaps a bit of maturity too. Let me give you some background….

My parents divorced when I was 10. It was acrimonious and quite horrendous to live through. Let’s move on…I then got my first kiss when I was 16. An all-girls school wasn’t really the place to meet boys! And the caretaker wasn’t all that…..haha. From that first kiss with this odd American boy who I met at a sporting event and never saw again….I went on, aged 17, to have my first real boyfriend. He was flakey and non-commital and older than me but so handsome and we had great fun. He was my first love and I adored him. He, however, was still in love with his ex girlfriend. I then went through a series of relationships that only ever really lasted 6 months max. Men who I’d meet in bars and clubs who were always older than me and adored me but they all had issues and I don’t mean selfishness or not laughing at my jokes but real serious issues that now I would just be like “I’m here if you ever need to talk about it but we can’t have a relationship”. Back then it was all drama and exciting to share with my girlfriends in a bar even if quite sad to live through.

So I would go from man to man to man with only about a month’s single-girl breath and go on whirlwind romances for just 3-6 months before it ended. I kept looking for this elusive fairytale romance. This prince who would look after me and treasure me. A man who would support my eclecticness and my dizzy Goldie-Hawn persona. I eventually got my first long term boyfriend when I was about 24. He was really fabulous but unfaithful during his rugby tours. Boys on tour, beautiful women loving the muscles, alcohol in abundance. I was bitter and resentful. I’ve always had quite a sarcastic sense of humour so when this boyfriend of mine told me one night “I’ve just got to meet up with my ex quickly….she has something to give me” I replied immediately, “what like? a blowjob?”. He didn’t laugh. This relationship lasted for about 2 years and ended when I moved away to go to university. I think subconsciously I wanted distance from him and his rugby female fans. We tried to make it work but I was unfaithful to him. There was nowhere to go from here sadly. There, at Uni, I was in a sweet shop of wonderfully unsuitable but available men who adored me! my friends and I went on short fuelled fun-loves for 3 years until we graduated. Then I met my next long term relationship with someone who was my “brother from another mother”, such a great, brilliant wildly eccentric man but such hard work to be in a relationship with! We had amazing fun, some insanely crazy nights out meeting wonderful people but he was a commitment phone and a chronic workaholic and I became a horrific nagging, moaning girlfriend as a consequence. We got engaged and I got very excited discussing the wedding with him. I remember him saying to me “You’ve got a ring now. We don’t need to start organising weddings for years yet.” 

I remember moaning to a girlfriend once about how i wished I could just find a man who would take care of me and love me. She replied curtly, “What are you? a dog?”. She had a point but not quite the advice I needed really…. Anyway, this relationship lasted 5 years with about one month’s breath before I moved onto my next relationship which lasted 7 years involving marriage, one beautiful son and a very bitter, angry, 3-year divorce that really took me to the depths of chest-heaving angry sobs and lamp-lit mountains of legal paperwork to wade through every night at my desk while slurping wine and crying.

As a newly separated single mother at the start of my divorce proceedings, I had a short 3 month fling which I ended abruptly (I just wasn’t in the zone for a new relationship), several brief blind dates and then into my last most recent long term relationship mid-divorce lasting 3 years which really broke my heart in the end. My son only ever met my latest relationship or knew I was only dating him after 4 months of us being together. I was protective over my son. My son was 3 when I divorced so his emotions were fragile and he was still my baby. I was not prepared to start detailing the ins and outs to him of “mummy’s got a hot date! do you like this dress on me?”. No way! I know some single mothers are ok about sharing their dating schedules with their children but not me. Why do they need to know this? too confusing for their baby ears.

So where am I now? well, where I am now is the “enlightenment period” haha. I can hear my friends now shouting “PRAISE THE LORD!” and singing “halleluah!” down the street waving their bras in a conga line.

I realised that having a relationship during my divorce was wonderful and comforting and nourishing for me. My ex boyfriend was such a wonderful man and I cherish our memories. However, I shouldn’t have been in a relationship at all. I should have just fought my fear of being single and abstained from any relationship throughout the divorce. Why? Because I was angry and bitter and tearful and full of resentment and confusion and SO emotionally volatile and every single week consisted of legal meetings 50 miles away or piles of paperwork or lengthy phone calls or tactical decisions or angry rants at my lawyer for what he said and what he did and what he’s taken. Subconsiously, I took things out on my ex boyfriend when I should have actually taken my anger out on my ex-husband had I have had the courage to do so to his face. My boyfriend was close to hand though and I was hitting out. Just one of the contributing factors of the divorce – I was intimidated by him and scared of his volatile anger. I had postnatal depression for a very short time but his initial attitude was appalling. Because of the depression I was also pretty emotional too so we didn’t give each other an easy ride. In the end, with no sleep and dealing with dirty nappies and finding different pieces of purried vegetables on me and not knowing how to stop this beautiful baby from screaming his lungs out, I realised I just didn’t find my husband remotely attractive anymore and so a few months later I discovered he cheated on me with his ex girlfriend. She was married too. I found the messages. Nice. Anyway, I was metamorphosising my displaced anger and resentment towards my ex husband onto my boyfriend during the divorce. My boyfriend who I genuinely adored and who really didn’t deserve any of that negative flack at all. But he stood by me constantly and supported me and loved me and cherished me and loved me like I have never ever been loved before. 

That boyfriend and I had 3 amazing years together. I will always treasure them and he still comes into my dreams occasionally now. However, in hindsight I see that there was a constant shadow over me when we were together which was my dark tortured divorced soul. I was confused over some issues my boyfriend and I had that we vehemently disagreed on where we spent many nights in bed discussing and arguing and having tactical team talks late into the night when in fact we should have just been enjoying each other’s company and making jokes and having more fun! Issues to do with a part of his life that I found unacceptable but he found perfectly acceptable and basically told me he would never change.

I do wonder sometimes…. if my ex husband had not occupied so much of my headspace because of the divorce that we were going through, I wonder what exactly my boyfriend and I would have discussed actually. I mean, I’m not sure we had that much in common really apart from our amazingly electric energetic yet karma sutra sex!! Our conversations were always about my ex husband and his nefarious impending divorce actions or about the issue we had in our relationship. It was rare we would discuss the origins of lemons or who invented the left side of the road……!

I think I knew deep down that my boyfriend might not be my soulmate but I so desperately wanted him to be, so I convinced myself he was. He came pretty close. I loved him from the bottom of my heart so deeply. But this issue was unsolvable. We went to Relate and he even told the counsellor how he wasn’t prepared to change. My girlfriends told me I was fighting a losing battle. I’ve never been adored before. It’s quite an incredible thing to experience. I love being loved! who doesn’t? BUT….

………you make bad judgements when you’re desperate…..and as the divorce went on I clung to my boyfriend deeply. Desperate not to lose his support or his touch. He was my life raft to Sanity Kingdom.

I also believe though that people come into your life at the right time and my boyfriend came into my life when I really needed comfort and support through my horrendous divorce, my depression, my breakdown, my overshadowing anger and sadness. He was there as solid as any rock can be. But there was a chink in our link and it broke us.

Now, I have been single for 12 months and I am genuinely really happy. I have had friends come to me in tears on my doorstep or ranting over wine saying how selfish or ungrateful or unfaithful their partners are and after I’ve listened and hugged and cried with them and slurped Gin after Gin with them and offered advice and support for hours, I think “my god! I’m so glad to be single right now!” I crave companionship and cuddles and love but to sacrifice my own happiness and potentially my son’s happiness for someone who may not even like him? NO! My life is my son and I. Until that man that comes along who accepts me and my stupid jokes, my beautiful son and his weird dance moves and uncanny (!) impressions and who accepts me for what I stand for and my values then I am single. And happy to be so. And like I said earlier….

…….Ironically, it’s being a relationship hopper that’s led me to this point of bravery and confidence and internal happiness. And perhaps a bit of maturity too……..

I am 44 now. I am not a love-struck teenager. I deserve and expect respect. Therapy, maturity, good friends has led me to this point. And that’s what life is all about. Lessons to be learnt. And I’m so proud to be the woman, mother, friend, that I have become. I am me. Take me or walk away. x