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Confession #12: The Gusto

February 8, 2010

I’m a sprinter. I start things with gusto, with excitement, with passion. I thrive in those first 100 yards.

But then the lactic acid begins to build up, and I have to glide for the next 100 yards or so before it begins to feel like a long distance run. I lose steam. I lose focus. I feel like I don’t have the endurance for such runs.

The sprint analogy is perfect for my history with women. This is different than the prototypical relationship curve where you start off super passionate and then that lust dies down and a greater love emerges. I’m specifically talking about who I am in those relationships.

I kind of feel like I’m all talk. Because I start off relationships with such gusto. I say all the right things, I write all the right things–these aren’t things I’m forcing or faking; I genuinely feel those things and express them.

But after a while, the gusto is gone. I got so hyped up that this woman is the one, and then I realize that things aren’t quite as perfect as they seemed, that our connection isn’t as strong as I thought, and I simply stop trying. Or when I do try, it’s forced. I start to get a wandering eye.

This is the pattern. Everybody has patterns in their relationships, and this is mine.

It seems to me that there are one or two things going on here:

  1. It’s me. I come out of the gates too fast, I exhaust myself, and then when things aren’t as clean and easy as they originally appeared, I stop trying. I simply lose interest.
  2. It’s you. You are not the woman you told me you were, or you have imperfections that I scowl at instead of embrace, or you’re simply not the one for me and I should have realized it sooner.

In all likelihood, it’s probably a combination of the two. And I must say, being intentionally single has helped me immensely with number 2. Because I actually have time to realize if a woman is better for me as a friend than a lover. I have a deadline to keep, after all. Without that deadline, I’d be rushing into things like the sprinter I am.

I need to give the fine wine that is a woman the space and time to breathe a bit. I’m fortunate to have that time now.

But I also can’t ignore number 1. It’s not that I want to slow down or stop being vulnerable. Those are good things for getting to know someone on a deeper level. But there’s something missing. There’s something I have to do to be able to carry this gusto throughout a relationship–some of it, at least. The analogy would suggest that I need to pace myself, but does that work here? When you’re falling for someone, why would you want to pace yourself?

I’ve experienced all types of love, all shapes and sizes. But the one that has felt the best to me is the love you feel when you’re falling for someone. It’s exciting, it’s uncertain, it’s tender. It sweeps you off your feet. But the other loves return you to solid ground. Sure, they have many good characteristics about them too, but in my experience, none of them are better than falling.

I think the key question, as bad as it sounds, is this: After you fall for someone, how do you stay interested in them? Or is there a a way to fall in love with the same person for years and years? How?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Dionne permalink
    February 8, 2010 10:40 am

    To quote Anthony Lapaglia in the movie “So I Murdered an Axe Murderer”, “I got 2 words for you- Ther-apy”. It’s all out of love and concern, but if you are truly wanting to get to the heart of the matter and actually do some “work” to resolve the issue then that’s what you’ll need to do.

    • Eric permalink
      February 8, 2010 7:13 pm

      If you need therapy, you need a new woman.

  2. jay permalink
    February 8, 2010 10:42 pm

    OK, you love to sprint. So, why do you love soccer so much? In part, soccer is one sprint after another, up to about six miles for a midfielder in 90 minutes. But then, it’s more than just sprinting. There’s ball control, vision, balance, cutting, passing, strategy, teamwork, finishing, as in a shot on goal. You’ve been playing for 20 plus years and you still love to go out and kick a ball. You can appreciate football, kickball, stick ball, tennis, etc., and still go back to soccer.

    You weren’t always so good at soccer. You practiced for hours to learn the various skills associated with the game. You listened to coaches and watched other players that were more experienced.

    If you are going to develop a long lasting relationship with a woman, maybe you have to look at it differently than you have up until now. Those feelings you get when you are falling in love, they are equivalent to the first time you wound up and connected with a soccer ball, and it felt like it rocketed off your foot, and you wondered what you did to get such power and bury the thing in the net like that. But you were only six years old, the goal was only six feet wide, you were only six feet out, and there were only six players on the team.

    It’s likely easier to see the difference between Bumble Bee Soccer and the World Cup than it is to see the difference between, say, “Serendipity” and “On Golden Pond,” or between “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Notebook.” But if you work on it you might see that there could be some value in a longer term relationship that would be very rewarding. To get there, you will have to work at it, study, learn, practice, plan. Ideally, you will find someone who shares your vision of the possibility of some new reward, and you will work together to get there.

    Meanwhile, the fact that you are thinking and writing about this seems to indicate that you sense some opportunity for some wonderful thing out there to be found beyond the fireworks of love’s first rapture. Keep looking and be prepared to invest.

    • February 9, 2010 12:33 am

      A reply from someone who knows me longer than most :). Thanks, Dad.

      I appreciate your words of advice. The thing is, I’ve done all those things (study, learn, practice, plan) in several other long-term relationships…so either I’m not doing something right or those weren’t the right women. Or both. More likely both. So when I find the right woman, how can I last through the sprint? A wise woman told me today that I need to find a long distance runner, metaphorically. I liked that.

      • February 10, 2010 12:36 am

        Or perhaps you just haven’t had enough practice.

        My advice:
        Read jay’s advice again in a few weeks with fresh eyes and fresh mind. I think you will see something that you have not indicated seeing in your response here.

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