Hello, Love
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Hello, Love

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Introducing the Rangover — The Relationship Hangover

Are you looking to find love? It seems we can’t find it, it’ll find us… when two people are both ready. And if we are in a rangover, we are not ready.

Should we stop looking for love? In a sense, yes. But looking, being open to, and ready for it are different things. When a person has had their heart broken a few times they subconsciously begin to protect themself, at least for a while, and in order to be able to fall in love again, with seeming ease, some reflection, inner work and time is required.

To explain what a ‘rangover’ is, I need to give a back story. In 2017 I met someone on a train and I thought, “yup, that’s me done.” After our two hour conversation, my face ached from all the smiling and I could feel in my bones I’d met someone special. I was in hook, line, and sinker. I also began blindly wading into shark-infested waters.

Noticing what’s needed

It’s only in hindsight since I’ve had the pattern repeat two (nearly three) times, that I could see the red flags when I met her. Thinking about it, they were as clear as a fin poking out the water that something was coming to bite me.

But, through living the pattern I can also see why it was that, in those two hours and over the course of the next six months, I fell in love. The main reason was that I was ready to, it’s as simple as that — my last rangover was done — but it also seemed we matched on the big three of dating: intellectual, physical, emotional, and I’ve recently added a fourth for me, spiritual.

But we didn’t.

Physical, check, intellectual, check, spiritual, check, emotional? Uh er! By that I don’t mean we were cold, far from it, our attachment styles, love languages, and erotic blueprints complimented each other — affection through gestures and touch were given and received in abundance. What I mean is… emotional readiness.

Time to repair

I’d come out of a long relationship three years earlier and I’d had a couple of what I now call ‘Kintsugi relationships’ — relationships that help put your heart back together like the Japanese art form of using gold to improve broken pottery. I had no idea what was happening at the time but those relationships are like having an alcoholic drink on a hangover; they make you feel better for a while but it’s really only time that fixes you.

Therefore, when we met on the train, I was emotionally whole again and ready to take the possible risk of having my heart broken. There’s no blame at all when I write this but she, on the other hand, was not. She hadn’t unpacked her emotional baggage and she bailed at the point when we could finally get deeper into our relationship.

Flags of not being able to be ready

You might think you’re ready but the mind is a powerful thing and can cover over cracks. She was living with her ex when we met, they’d been broken up for a year but lived in separate rooms of their flat (flag no. one). They lived together still partly to do with a year-long lease but it was only when — at the point of her moving into her own place — she went cold on me that the reason they still lived together clicked. I feel it would be insensitive of me to go into detail but she’d mentioned an incident in her past. It seems it had caused such an emotional scar, I totally understood the reason for her exit at the point we could get closer. It created a Jaws-size shark that had been continually circling her and kept her emotionally marooned at sea. She self-sabotaged the relationship and it broke my heart.

That relationship ending started a ripple effect. A pattern which, thanks to therapy, learning to understand and talking about anxiety, I managed to catch in the act.

Signs we might not be ready

About five months after Train girl (not long enough it seems) I met someone on Bumble and for the first time in my life, I had this weird anxiety about very small things. They felt like fear responses, so I took them as signals it wasn’t right and pushed her away (signs of my own self-sabotage). It’s only now I can see the pattern, that I can remember what I was ‘afraid’ of. It was falling in love with her which is something you think you always want. Not if you’re in a rangover it seems.

So, Bumble girl and I broke up but came back together (another sign). This repeated a few times and even though we tried, we couldn’t be just friends. We eventually stayed together for eight months and fell in love. It was then, again at the stage that she and I could get ‘serious’, that her baggage burst open in catastrophic style. She also self-sabotaged us — she’d mentioned unfinished ex stuff earlier in our relationship as well (sign, sign, sign!). This time though, because I’d finally managed to let my guard down completely and to fully step into the relationship, the knife cut deep, really deep. To be honest, it shattered my heart and I fell into the deepest rangover I’ve ever been in. It was like a double hangover and then some!

Getting back out there too soon

I did what everyone does after a difficult break up; feel awful but still try to get back out there way too soon. Imagine a hangover so bad that you feel the need for ‘hair of the dog’ just to be able to function. I was emotionally all over the place but I put myself out there anyway. I did meet someone and she was great. I don’t want the hair-of-the-dog analogy to make you think I didn’t value her, I did, she is a beautiful person — each woman in this story is — however, those anxiety/fear responses happened again (sign). I thought it was simply me having commitment issues, so I tried to push through them but looking back, we didn’t stand a chance. I was knee-deep in a rangover but also, it turned out, she hadn’t unpacked her baggage either. I managed to stop it before getting hurt but, thinking she was ready, she fell more quickly and sadly got hurt. Going through what we did though, helped her face up to some stuff from her past. So, ultimately she moved into a better place.

At this point, I went to a retreat and had a couple of very moving experiences that helped me to really let go of the handle of the baggage I’d been carrying. I thought I was ready to meet someone again.

I wasn’t.

The reason is there if you care to look for it

As the universe would have it, I actually met two people very close to each other. With one there was a very quick physical connection and the other we dated slowly and built an emotional connection, first. I was practising trying to not control situations (thanks retreat) so, I saw both people for a while as I figured one would naturally tick the big three/four of dating over the other. Eventually, though, I decided to say to both that it wasn’t working. I’d met a possible life partner in a mixture of two people. Obviously that wasn’t going to work.

However, it was important because that contrast highlighted something to me around my (and the human) need to feel emotionally safe and what is required to feel that. I figured out how my attachment style, languages of love, and erotic blueprint played their parts and manifested themselves in more detail — all of which I highly recommend figuring out because it really helps with knowing what you need from a relationship and how to communicate it.

Regarding the woman with a strong initial emotional connection, it became apparent we were in very different life stages so we decided to be friends, which we still are.

When I called it with the woman I had the mainly physical connection with, emotions started to flow and when this happened the anxious/fear responses reared their heads. I talked about them with her and on the surface, she accepted me/them which made them pretty much disappear. However, they kept coming back (sign). I asked myself what I was really afraid of and the answer I unearthed again was, falling in love.

She and I spent time together and, much like with Bumble girl, got closer but for both of us anxieties kept cropping up. We talked about them, and to our credit had great communication, but they just wouldn’t stop for either of us. When I met her she’d recently come out of a fifteen-year relationship, five of which married (sign). When we weren’t getting closer I feel I caught both of our rangovers in action. I was just a bit further along with mine.

We tried seeing each other a few more times but it was futile really. Neither of us was fully ready to lower the drawbridge of our hearts and let the other one in. This all happens on a subconscious level and it’s only through being able to communicate and have events create a pattern that I noticed where we were. To her credit, although she didn’t call it a rangover, she eventually admitted to herself that’s where she was. Triggered by her recent breakup she realised it was being fed by lots of stuff from the past and until she addressed those she wasn’t ready for anything deeper with me or anyone.

Everything happens for a reason

It’s said that the universe keeps giving you the same lesson/experience until you truly learn it. I managed to convince myself that I could have commitment issues. This may be true, I might be a bit more guarded than I used to be but, having done a lot of inner work to iron out some anxiety creases from my childhood and looking back at the pattern of the last three years, I realised that I’d been caught in a rangover ripple effect.

A rangover is of course caused by a relationship ending. The good news is like any emotion, if we can give ourselves time and space (and not rush), they eventually evaporate leaving our heart ready for love again.

There’s a saying ‘You meet people for a reason, a season or a lifetime’, which in my experience is true, and remembering it helps with letting go and moving on with your life. People won’t stop having ‘Kintsugi relationships’ because it’s difficult to resist having a lovely time, so there will always be people we meet on our journeys that help put us back together again. However, if we haven’t looked inwards and unearthed the triggers from our past we’ll carry baggage, a suitcase full of sharks, into our next relationship. Either, we manage to work through them with whoever it is but get bitten a few times during the process, or we push people away simply because we, they or both people weren’t right (ready) for each other at that time. If it’s the latter, thinking back over the season of the relationship is needed to recognise the reason for the break-up, we just have to look for and be open to learning from it.

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