What if you’re in an on-again, off-again relationship?

When I fell in love with my colleague, I was in heaven. He seemed to be all I ever wanted.

The moments we spent together were beautiful: We walked through the city during a full moon night, enjoyed romantic dinners at our favourite Indian restaurant, visited an exhibition or went to a spa. He appreciated who I was and had a good sense of humour. We had similar interests, and we seem to fit well together. In the beginning, I did not bother that he didn’t send me messages and that he wouldn’t answer my calls. I was just happy about the perspective of seeing him again. It changed when we had been on a business trip to Taiwan together. We spend a full week together, in meetings during the day and strolling through the city at night. Then, I visited a friend in Singapore, and he headed back home. I sent him a couple of messages and never received an answer. I tried to call him, and he never answered my calls. My confusion about his behaviour transformed into hurt.

Do you experience the same?

After a while, I noticed a pattern. Each time when we became close, he would disappear, go on a business trip and stop answering the phone. I wasn’t able to talk to him about our relationship or our future. After six months, it became even worse. He sent me a message that he would break up. After a couple of weeks, he came back and continued our relationship as if nothing had happened. When it happened the second time, I decided that it was the last time that I would return. I wanted a partner who wanted to have a committed relationship.

What patterns do you experience?

I wasn’t happy about this pattern, and I felt very confused because I wasn’t able to let him go at first. But there were some invisible strings that I wasn’t aware of that made it impossible for me to leave him:

  • Desire to heal and save my partner.
    When I met my partner, I sensed his loneliness and pain, and I wanted to heal his wounds. I focused more on his pain than on myself. I repeated a pattern that I had learned early in my childhood – taking on the responsibility for the lives of the people I loved. I thought more about him than about myself. I tried to understand his inner world more than I wanted to understand mine. This relationship taught me that I could neither heal nor rescue my partner, but that I can heal and rescue myself. And so I did. What do you need to heal within yourself?
  • Lack of self-love.
    When I started this relationship, I had no idea what self-love meant and how I could practice it. I was used to caring for other people and fulfill their needs. I didn’t know what my needs were and how to fulfill them. I considered my partner’s needs as more important than my own. During our time together, I learned that our needs were equally important. I started to understand my needs, such as stability, support, and closeness, and I acknowledged that my partner couldn’t cover these needs. What are your needs in a relationship?
  • Lack of worthiness.
    Deep inside, I was convinced that I didn’t deserve something better. I didn’t feel worthy of love, and I accepted this as being true. After this relationship, I started to challenge the truth of these beliefs and found out that I was worthy of love, no matter what had happened in my childhood. Love is a feeling, and I may fall in love with the wrong man but I still have a choice… love doesn’t have to be suffering because a relationship is a choice. It’s up to me that I choose a man with whom love is joy, not suffering.

What holds you back from choosing a man with whom love is joy?

After the end of this relationship, I learned to love myself, connected with my soul and re-established my worthiness. I found ways how love can expand in a relationship and committed to my vision of a fabulous relationship. I healed those invisible strings that made me stay with the wrong partner. With all its confusion, this relationship was an important turning point in my life that opened the door to experience true love. And I am deeply grateful for this.

What learning do you want to make?

I’d love to read your comments below.

Do you like to read more?  Check this article:  Do you fall into these love traps?

Natalie Jovanic

Natalie Jovanic is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor and Shiatsu Therapist. As a counsellor, they pass on what they believe in, but it isn’t just knowledge, theory, and professional experience. It is also their wisdom gained through their own transformative journey of healing abuse. Natalie is trained in trauma-informed practice and EMDR. They are the author of A Brave, True Story.