Pain and Pleasure: The Best Teachers

I am only 23 years old, (I know, too young to worry about this stuff) and I was dating a girl I met down at the Jersey Shore last summer all the way up until January.

We kind of drifted apart, although it was more her pulling away from me as she admitted. She is a full-time medical assistant at a pediatric office and is going to nursing school full time. While we had fun together and had NO problems whatsoever in the time we were dating, she said she couldn’t give me anything more at this time in her life.

I guess we reached a point where we would either get more serious or go our own ways. So reluctantly, I bowed out and went my own way. The strange part was, that even though I really missed her, I took it ok because for the first time I ended things with a woman on great terms and understood why it all happened. we remained friends and spoke on occasion.

Then we’d email each other occasionally and surprisingly, at the end of April, she informed me that her friend in the Army had been emailing her and he was home to visit that past week. She said they hung out a lot and that they were going to try a “long distance relationship” type thing, but she did sound confused about it.

At the time, I was o.k. about it and told her to do whatever makes her happy. But I recently ran into an acquaintance hers who told me her “boyfriend” was shipped off to Iraq and that they are still together and for some reason I got really upset.

I guess I was hoping I would see her around at the Jersey Shore again this summer and things would happen. but she hasn’t been there yet and won’t be down until mid-July. I haven’t been holding out for that, but I just feel that my opportunity for meeting women is slim since I wasn’t going out a lot in the spring, just working out and saving money. More importantly, I worked on myself.

My point is, without taking up too much more of your time, is that after all this time, I really do care for this girl and I miss her a lot. is that normal? Why did I take it easy at first? I know its not because I’m alone… I lead a busy life as well. I guess I don’t understand women. Why didn’t she want a serious relationship but then commits herself to some guy who will be overseas the next six months? Is the pen-pal thing just comfortable for her and easier since she doesn’t have to put time in with him?

I know you’ll tell me there are millions of other women, great prospects for me to meet out there. I’m not conceited but I am a good looking guy who dresses very well. But my confidence is shot to shit right now and I am in that rut where I feel I’ll never click with another girl like I did with the last one. I honestly do care for her and she is the only girl I’d said I’d marry one day. Not soon, cause I’m gonna live out my youth. But Bryan, I am really struggling with this right now… I know she had strong feelings for me too at one point… I think she backed off because she was scared. She always responds back to my emails, although she never calls or emails me first. She is very tough and she used to tell me that when it comes to relationships, once its done, its done. That’s her philosophy.

I’m different. I hang on to some girls if they mean something to me. She means a lot to me and I would just like to see her. she has been on my mind every minute the past few weeks, but I am afraid to tell her that. I am sort of scared of her, that she’ll laugh at me and tell me she has someone else. But I don’t think she really does. with him, she has emails and letters. I’m here, I still care for her deeply, and I’ll take just being friends if that’s what it takes for me to make my decision.

What should I do? Everyone tells me that is really old news and to get some balls and get past it. They do have a point. But my heart doesn’t want to let her go. Most importantly, and probably my emotional downfall, I don’t want her to forget about me. I know she still cares for me too, otherwise she wouldn’t bother returning my emails, right?

If you made it this far, thanks for reading this. I understand if you don’t have the time to help me out. I know that when one door closes, another one opens. I know this, because when I met Casey (the subject of my email) I was trying hard to get over a girl who I loved who dumped me for some loser only a few months earlier. Casey helped me get over her and more importantly, taught me that there is always something better around the corner. But, in doing so, I developed a great friendship with her and while romantically we were never “serious” or exclusive, we did have strong feelings for each other. And that is why I miss her. I feel I won’t ever find someone that easy-going, who likes to drink and watch baseball, the great physical chemistry we had, all of that. But you can’t force someone to want to be with you. That’s my take.

Thanks for listening.


Hi E,

Let’s get down to business. You basically have two separate issues here causing you pain and confusion. The key to your whole situation is in your last paragraph when you mention, “… when I met Casey (the subject of my email) I was trying hard to get over a girl who I loved who dumped me for some loser only a few months earlier.”

You had a valuable learning experience with the woman before Casey. Let’s call her Alice. Yet, rather than learn from the experience with Alice, you chose to run away from the pain as fast as you could. As a result, when the situation with Casey ended, the pain of rejection was twice as bad because you didn’t learn the lesson of how to deal with the pain from Alice.

That means you basically used (used, not abused) Casey to get over your pain of being rejected by Alice. In the process, you found out Casey was a nice person, you became friends and lovers, and the pain went away. When Casey left, the old pain from Alice came back because you never dealt with it. You just covered it up, avoided it and replaced her (by your own admission) with Casey. Then you had the pain of the rejection of Casey to deal with, too. So you had a double dose of the pain of rejection to deal with.

So the two separate issues I see you dealing with here are learning how to deal with the pain of rejection (emotional pain) and trying to understand why Casey really ended the relationship.

How you deal with pain determines what kind of a man (or woman) you are. It also determines how well you do in life. Pick someone you admire. How do they deal with pain? Now pick someone you have very little respect for. How do they deal with pain? I’ll bet the people you admire handle pain head on. The people you have no respect for do everything they can to run away from pain. Some use drugs and alcohol. Some get involved in rebound relationships. Regardless of what they do, the point is they avoid the pain in any way they can rather than deal with it in a positive, healthy, constructive way. This guarantees they will be forced to repeat the experience (with different names and faces) over and over until they learn the lessons the experience is designed to teach them.

Let’s look at physical pain. You break your leg. Once you’ve been to the doctor and your leg is in a cast, what do you do? The winners in life sit down and say, “Okay. I made a mistake. I broke my leg and it was my fault. I’m stuck in this cast for six weeks. I’m going to be in pain and this will be an inconvenience but I can take it. I can deal with it and I will get better. Now, what can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?” The losers in life sit there and say, “That stupid bike. It’s the bike’s fault I broke my leg. I’m going to stay on pain pills and get drunk every night until this is healed.”

Both groups have to go through the same amount of pain for the same length of time. Which group handles it better? Which group has a better chance of not having to go through the experience again? Which group do you have the most respect for? Which group would you rather pick your next girlfriend from? Which group do you think a women you want to go out with will want her next boyfriend from? You be the judge.

Emotional pain is really no different. It takes time to heal. It’s an easy analogy to say the relationship is broken just like your leg is broken. Physical pain is easy to see. We all understand it takes time to heal. Emotional pain is harder to see. But it’s really no different. It takes time to heal, too. And you can’t speed up the process any more than you can speed up the process of healing your leg.

What you do during that healing process is what separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls. The men and women learn from their mistakes so it doesn’t happen again. They understand it takes time to heal so use the time required to heal to better themselves. The boys and girls keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, thus earning the well deserved titles of “boys and girls” and “bad prospects”.

When you break your leg, you need to stay off that leg and not use it while it heals. Staying off of the leg gives it a chance to heal properly. If you keep walking on it, not only will you be in pain all the time, it will take twice as long to heal. Worse yet, it may never heal properly and you’ll walk with a limp for the rest of your life, a constant reminder of your accident. The same analogy applies to emotional pain: While you’re healing emotionally you need to stay uninvolved with anyone romantically until your emotions have had a chance to mend and heal.

You can’t preform one hundred percent with a broken leg, that’s just common sense. So the wise person lets it heal. You can’t perform one hundred percent while you’re healing emotionally, either. But, for some reason, that isn’t common sense.

Using a rebound relationship is really no different than using a drug or alcohol because it covers up the pain rather than deals with it. The most effective way to deal with the pain is to let yourself heal emotionally before you get involved with another relationship or you’re just going to bring the same problems into the new relationship and, when that relationship ends, the pain will be twice as bad, as you’re learning with Casey. So give yourself some time to “lick your wounds” so to speak. Stay uninvolved emotionally until you’re healed.

How long does it take? Let’s go back to the broken leg analogy. How do you know when your leg is healed? Simple: it doesn’t hurt to walk on it again. How long is that? That answer is different for each person going through it, how badly the leg was broken and how well they take care of it while it’s healing.

As painful as it may be for you to face this right now – getting rejected is really good for your ego. It gives you an honest evaluation of your net worth in the market, whether it’s the job market or the relationship market.

Now let’s move on to the relationship with Casey and why she left you. The two main reasons a person leaves someone is because they aren’t getting something they need, want or desire from that person or they found someone who better serves their needs, wants and desires.

Casey basically lost interest in you romantically. Why? To cut to the chase, you weren’t giving her what she’s looking for. Judging from Casey’s behavior, it looks like she’s moved on and is mature enough to stay friends with you so you can get over her at your own pace, rather than having her just say, “Look, it’s over.”

The real issue is dealing with your emotions. And dealing with rejection. Getting rejected is good for your ego because it puts
things in perspective. No one, male or female, gets every person he or she wants. And only an egomaniac would think he or she is entitled to get everyone and everything they want.

How do you deal with rejection? Not just romantically, but professionally and personally. If you examine it for a moment I think you’ll find a lot of parallels.

Immature people try to run away from pain in all areas, earning themselves the well deserved title of wimps. They use drugs, alcohol, rebound relationships, and anything else that will kill the pain, rather than deal with it, learn it’s lessons, incorporate that hard earned knowledge into their belief systems and memory banks, and use it to move forward toward their goal of happiness and financial security. The easiest thing to do with pain is run away from it in some form and virtually everyone without experience with pain does that in the beginning until they learn, the hard way, pain is an excellent teacher. Pain’s twin is pleasure and it, too, is an excellent teacher.

The real problem is your learning how to deal with pain and rejection. Her rejection of you is making you feel inadequate. And you don’t know why you feel inadequate or how. Why did she move on? Simple, she realizes you’re not what she wants at this time in her life. She has the maturity to realize there’s no point in holding on to something that, to her, is a dead end. What is it she really wants? All she wants is one thing: to be happy. She realizes you can’t make her happy in the way she wants. You can analyze it as much as you want and, when you break it down into it’s simplest components, I think you’ll see that’s what is happening.

Why did she end it? Basically, you weren’t giving her something she needs. You aren’t what she wants. It doesn’t make you wrong, or bad, or inadequate. So don’t beat yourself up or blame her. In her mind, you’re just not a match.

Let’s take a closer look at this. What do you want? It sounds like you want to have your cake and eat it, too. You want a committed relationship with Casey yet you want to be able to fool around, too. So you want her to be committed to you but you want the freedom to come and go as you please (pardon my pun). Not only is that unfair to her, it makes you sound pretty selfish. The only person who was put on this planet to make you happy is yourself. No one else owes you anything. From the sound of your email, it sounds like you think she owes you something or that you’re entitled to something from her. Why? Because you’re a good looking guy? A nice guy? Because you want something from her in terms of a romantic relationship? She doesn’t care what you want. She cares about what she wants. Just as you care about what you want.

Next, why do you find it necessary to put down the woman you went out with before Casey (“…when I met Casey [the subject of my email] I was trying hard to get over a girl who I loved who dumped me for some loser only a few months earlier.”)? She left you for the same reason Casey did: she wasn’t getting something from you she needed so she went somewhere else. Again, that doesn’t make you bad, inadequate or a loser. It just means you’re not a match.

One more thing I want you to look at: the emotional pain of getting fired from a job – how do you handle it? It’s a similar emotional pain to ending a relationship because, in a very real sense, a relationship has ended, the relationship between you and your employer. How do you handle the death of a loved one? That, too, is emotional pain.

Romantically, with Casey, you have a broken heart just like my analogy of your having a broken leg.

Now you know why so many love songs ask: How do you mend a broken heart? The answer is you mend it the same way you mend a broken leg. You give it time to heal, one day at a time. This, too, is a part of life.

Good luck and God Bless.

Bryan Redfield

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