Monday, January 24, 2011

Asking The RIGHT Questions in 2011

“Why couldn’t my ex-girlfriend be more supportive of me?

“Why couldn’t my ex-boyfriend be more appreciative of me?"

“If only my ex could have been more ambitious, we’d still be together. Why couldn’t he be more ambitious?"

“If my ex could have just been more affectionate, we would never have gotten divorced/broken up. Why couldn't she have been more affectionate?”

These are just some of the questions people ask themselves after a relationship has ended - sometimes long after a relationship has ended. We all have friends who seem to recall only the good points of a less than enviable relationship and exclaim “if only so and so could have been this way [insert grievance here], we would still be happily together today. WHY couldn’t he/she have just been that way?” In fact, most of us have been guilty of engaging in this revisionist history at some point in our lives and the unrelenting quest for the answer to WHY?

Why? Because. Because he wasn’t that way. She wasn’t that way. He/she may never be that way (or at least not with you) and that is probably never going to change. At some point, it's time to accept that not all questions have satisfactory answers and move on.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. Of course, men and women recently getting over a break up or divorce need to ask relevant questions and receive helpful answers so they can learn from the past. Posing these “why” questions should also help many individuals answer important questions about themselves (e.g. “why was I so drawn to someone who did not want a real relationship with me," "what could I have done to bring out the more affectionate side of my ex," etc.).

Perhaps your ex couldn’t give you the support/attention/praise you needed because he or she wasn’t capable.*

Perhaps he or she didn’t give it because, as hard as it is to accept, he or she didn’t love you on the level you loved him or her.**

Perhaps in the end he was just a self-absorbed jerk, or she was an insensitive, indifferent shrew.

However, the reality is that sometimes you can ask questions until Snooki receives a Nobel Peace Prize but you are never going to get an answer that makes sense of things. In the end, the answer is the same: Because.

Now you can keep asking the same questions looking backwards OR you can go into the new year asking more relevant questions that start with WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW - that’s right, at the risk of pissing off our third grade teachers everywhere we are swapping the fifth “w” question with an “h” - HOW.

Just some of the questions you might ask yourself:

WHO am I compatible with (not just attracted to)?

WHAT can I do to learn from the past and make smart choices to meet Mr. or Mrs. right in 2011?

WHEN am I going to stop making excuses about why I haven't met the right person yet and start making things happen for myself?

WHERE should I being going to meet the type of person I want to attract?

HOW am I going to go about meeting a partner who is supportive, affectionate, reliable, into me, etc.?

Once you start asking these questions - positive, proactive questions - you will start getting productive answers. And, it’s my bet that once you start asking positive questions you are undoubtedly going to exude a more positive energy with the potential love interests you’re meeting in 2011. After all, “why” is so 2010 ...

* Of course, there is some value in exploring why your ex wasn’t capable as it can alleviate feelings of guilt or inadequacy you may have about the relationship as well as potentially elicit feelings of understanding and empathy for your ex. But at some point, spending too much time on this once the relationship has ended is counterproductive.

** Years ago, an old law colleague of mine made a very effective analogy when I was venting my frustration about how my ex could not step up as a boyfriend. As she put it, asking my ex to be considerate and stable was like asking my cat to go to the grocery store and pick up some cereal for me. It wasn't happening. In similar Monday morning conversations when I lamented if only Brad (names changed to protect the not so innocent) were a better boyfriend, my wise colleague also liked to use the indelicate expression “if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle.” Tough love, for sure.

Be proactive about your love life in 2011.