“He just met her… She’s supposed to be his transitional person; she’s not supposed to be the ONE. All this time I thought he didn’t want to get married. But, the truth is, he didn’t want to marry me.”
Meg Ryan’s line from When Harry Met Sally speaks for many women. Or maybe your ONE did know he wanted to get married, but started picking you apart and finding fault just when everything got really great. Then most likely his next relationship was with someone who had the qualities he perceived to be missing with you—because that is what he convinced himself he needed most.
I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse, but for someone with commitment issues the better the relationship the more anxiety they feel. It’s much easier for them to make a commitment to someone who looks good on paper and is a good intellectual choice, but less of an intense “love of my life” connection. One man flat out said to me, “Am I head over heels in love with her? No, but I like it that way. It works.” They had commonality, and he really liked her. She didn’t stimulate his commitment anxiety.
Many people would call that settling. Commitmentphobes think it’s smart. Did you see the movie Moonstruck? Cher’s character Loretta announced she was going to marry Johnny Camareri (played by Danny Aiello) her mom Rose (played by Olivia Dukakis) asked:
Rose: Do you love him?
But when she announced she was going to marry Johnny’s brother Ronny (Nicholas Cage) instead:
Rose: Do you love him, Loretta?
Loretta: Aw, ma, I love him awful.
Rose: Oh, God, that’s too bad.
What I’m trying to say is that just because someone gets married doesn’t mean they married the love of their life. You may still be their true love; you were just too scary for them to deal with. What’s most important is that you don’t allow it to make you feel bad about yourself, or prevent you from finding happiness with someone else. Your perception is your reality, so you need to decide that he settled, and even if you’re still single you’re happy, because you’d rather be alone than with the wrong person.
Both men and women get married for all sorts of reasons other than finding their true ONE. They may have been burned by love, and think it’s too painful to open up to trying again. They may succumb to the peer pressure that all their colleagues are married and it looks better professionally. Or their biological clock may be ticking and they found somebody willing to become a parent. But for someone who has unacknowledged commitment issues they don’t know how they will feel about falling head over heels in love or getting married until they do it—and their anxiety can become overwhelming.
Let’s face it; marriage isn’t what it used to be. It’s become easily expendable. The odds are against them that they will stay married till death—especially if one or both of them didn’t really know themselves (or each other) before they made any promises or vows. Sex & the City’s Carrie and Big were based on real life people. Big (who clearly had commitment issues) married a socialite after only knowing her for 5 months. Carrie was heartbroken. But in the end Big came back to Carrie finally telling her, “You’re the one.”
That frequently happens in life too. That by no means should you wait if your love married someone else! Take comfort in knowing that if he had married you first, you may have been the one he ultimately divorced. Decide that you dodged a bullet, and that you are the amazing catch that got away! Move on with your life feeling empowered.
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Donna Barnes is a NYU Certified Life & Relationship Coach and the author of Giving Up Junk-Food Relationships: Recipes for Healthy Choices.. She is based on New York’s Upper West Side but coaches clients all over the world via Skype or telephone to help them find the romantic bliss they crave. She’s been the on-air Relationship Expert for ABC News’ hit series “What Would You Do?” for three seasons. She taught Bret Michael’s girls to “Rock at Love” on VH-1. And you may have previously seen her on Good Morning America, Fox News, Late Show with David Letterman, NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s Early Show and CNN just to name a few. www.DonnaBarnes.com