Half A Relationship– Who Would Choose That?

broken heart

A client I had not seen in a long time came in for a session. She had recently gone through a break up which wasn’t an official break-up.

Ever heard of it?

She had been dating someone for the past nine months, where effort from him and intimacy hit its peak two months into the relationship. Then what was left were a lot of words… promises.

It was a long distance relationship, but she met his family and it was a love-fest with them. He was pleased, but his inability to ‘enjoy’ talking on the phone and seeing her too often continued to grow.

A month ago they went on a 10-day vacation where he presented the possibility that it was time to level up to boyfriend/girlfriend status. They shared a special connection and it seemed destined to move forth. After all, they were similar in many ways—even sending the same cards to each other. And as a bonus there was great chemistry! But back at home after the vacation, it started to unravel slowly. He was less available and more ‘put out’ to make time to see her, yet declared he didn’t want to lose her.

Sound familiar?

As she hung by a string, trying to figure out what exactly was going on, he brought a third party into the relationship, but still declared he wanted her in his life.

I share this because it is not uncommon, at least in my line of work. These half in/half out relationships, non-committal with action but can’t let go with their words, seem to affect generations of folks following the sexual revolution. WTF?

My client is a very intelligent, attractive, business woman; a Type A personality who knows what she wants and does not usually justify bad behavior or find herself unable to make a decision that would make her happier. But the fear of loss and abandonment, coupled with what she felt was a real connection, made it difficult for her to stop accepting breadcrumbs.

As the generations of people who did not get married at 19 and stay married their entire lives has expanded, so have the types of relationships many people find themselves in. All of these experiences take their toll on our self-esteem and self-confidence, dramatically increasing the fear factor. So as we get older, this phenomenon makes for some unusual situations.

It’s not to say that people who find themselves in these ‘sorta, kinda’ relationships have a fatal flaw or something is tragically wrong with them. On the contrary, many of these individuals are successful, stable, capable and want love as much as anyone. But wanting it and being available for it are two different things.

Many years ago I went this route myself.

I got divorced and went to therapy. After doing therapy for a few years, I thought I was in pretty good shape. I wasn’t. I possessed no clue as to what it meant to be anxiety-free, connected to myself, truly confident, whole, happy and not seeking outside validation to tell me I was lovable. I was still looking for someone to fix what was wrong with me or fill up the gaping hole inside of me.

On top of it, dating gave me extreme anxiety.

Either the process of dating or being in a ‘sorta kinda’ relationship, or even a dysfunctional one. I had a couple of connections, just like my client, and thought each one was THE one. Instead they were both my greatest mirrors and lessons.


Who needed one while suspended like a yo-yo between closeness and distance? Being caught up in the intensity of having someone who understood me superseded the lack of time together and all the other red flags. My fantasy of what I wanted it to be would slowly fall apart. I was a mess, finding myself in situations that seemed inexplicable to myself, let alone to others.

I hear these words from so many people who contact me. They look for psychic readings, books and other people to tell them it’s okay to hope this shitty situation has a silver lining. It can have a great outcome, but not in the way most of us think.

We attract what we’re capable of dealing with, so in these symbolic relationships, as much as we want love, we have to look at how unavailable we are to its full commitment.

Many of us don’t want to give up because of the mind-blowing connection. Plus, for most who are time-constrained with their busy careers, the idea of not investing many hours together has appeal. That is until we recognize that instead of an increasing connection over time, as we seemingly get closer, there’s a decrease. We can have the most amazing connection to people who just aren’t available to meet us at the heart.

Who are these people?

They are married or in another half-assed relationship or perhaps even single, but entwined in their own past pain. They come fully loaded with an instruction manual as thick as a dictionary of terms and conditions, so we’re lucky to get any of their time or affection at all.

For some, the longer we’ve been at the relationship game, the more entrenched we may become in believing we deserve less.

We make excuses for the lack.

We say the few moments of attention are worth all the hours of heartache. We break it off and somehow find ourselves back in this dance with this person, over and over again.
Some wonder where the strength and decision-making skills we had when we were younger went. We used to be more discerning and, perhaps, we were always the ones who left the relationship. Now we find ourselves unable to move on or unravel these ties that bind.

I see it often, and I’ve been there.

If we want change, it’s up to us. We have to take the focus off the other person and place it squarely on ourselves. If we think getting over this person and moving on means to focus on their flaws, all we’re doing is prepping ourselves for another relationship that will cause us heartache.

We have to believe that we deserve the whole enchilada, but first we need to see why we believe deep down inside that we don’t. From there we start to create changes within ourselves. Once we gain clarity and start to treat ourselves with value, our confidence will grow and then we make better decisions.

Connect the dots. Where does the anxiety of abandonment begin? Go back to childhood. Where did you feel alone, misunderstood or unloved? What did we put up with and where did we wall ourselves off from being vulnerable to this same pain again? When we’re walled off, we’re emotionally unavailable too. If that’s the case, then of course it isn’t the person we point the finger at as commitment-phobic or damaged beyond belief. It’s the one pointing the finger.

We attract where we are with ourselves.

Most of us who are on the ladder to success–Type A and going after what we want–aren’t even aware of the underlying drive to prove ourselves that can skew us to be cut-off emotionally in our relationships… until…

We meet the person who wakes us up, even if it is waking up to a cup of cold water on the fantasy we have about our willingness to be vulnerable.

As long as we stay invulnerable or cut off from our truth, we will not move forth, grow or be happy.

Once we decide that our current lot in life is no longer an option, we can commit to ourselves and transforming the beliefs we have, which kept us stuck in these half relationships.


Two feet in or One foot out?

When you take an accounting of your life, what do you consider is solidly part of the core? Versus what you SAY vehemently is a core part of your life, but in truth its sorta, kinda involved, but not really? As in, what is your commitment to people, places and things that decorate your existence?

I like quotes. Sometimes they resonate with a state of my being and other times these statements remind me of a way to change my perception (at least momentarily). Many people live on these “inspirations” as a mantra, or as I like to say applying perfume on “poo-poo”. They figure the positive affirmation will outweigh any negative feeling that may be have a stranglehold on their well-being. And usually they find, it is pretty ineffective as more than a soother for the moment.

Many quotes/statements in actuality are taken out of context of their original format. Why do I bring it up?

Well, in our society we like things fast and furious.

We like immediate gratification without much commitment.

Not to say people don’t make commitments, but most of the time its the one foot in, one foot out type.

Quotes are immediate gratification; they don’t say much in the way of commitment to greater well-being all the time. That resolution would require one to dig below the surface and greet all the negativity stuffed into already over-filled boxes and closets inside of a person.

How many commitments do you have one foot in and expect good results?

What do you have two feet in and your commitment is solid? Your kids? School?  What about your job? Your friends? Your love relationship? How often do you agree to anything without second-guessing yourself?

What is the difference between appearing to have interest in something vs. being 100% whole hog into that thing?

Appearing to have interest, so you seem “at times”, as though you are engaged is not a commitment. You can feel the difference. Do you think if you go through the motions that you are convincing someone “you are all in”? The truth is they know as much as you do that your not truly participating with both feet in place.

People become afraid to invest all the way, because they don’t trust themselves to make a solid decision that will keep them from being disappointed. Some individuals like to keep their options open in case a better job or mate comes hopping along.

Maybe you just dislike something so much that it pains you to think of being wholeheartedly committed, but yet too afraid to leave it…and therefore you stay half-heartedly in a job, relationship or other “stated commitment”.

Fear does amazing things for us. It holds us back from success. It also holds us back from putting both feet in even when it is something we really, really want….such as love, a new job, an interesting hobby, learning a new skill, finishing a degree, an exercise routine, creating deeper bonds in all areas, so that we feel connected, maintain well-being and have a sense of belonging.

If you are not 100% committed to your job, as far as putting effort into being fully present and connected to what you are doing, and seeing yourself successful, then you are doing yourself a huge disservice. When you are not fully committed to your job, you cannot be successful. You may get by or do the minimum of what is requested of you and in some cases you could do enough to receive some accolades, but it will never feel fulfilling and successful.

Why do people just show up for the paycheck? Because we are afraid. We are afraid to shine, we may think we’ll fail and we better play it safe. We all are afraid and there are situations for many of us in which we do one foot out the door and another on a banana peel.

And there ain’t nothing in this world that is worth having without risk. No risk, no reward. 

What about in relationships? Married, dating someone, friendships, and even parent/child relationships.

Just because you physically show up or say the words, “I am in”, does not necessarily equal two feet in the relationship. Many times we think lip service followed with no action is enough to keep the relationship going and again we “appear” to be towing the line. But are you? How successful are these relationships where you don’t show up for important people in your life?

We notice who shows up when the chips are down, not all relationships stand up to crisis. Or how about when that person stands you up for any occasion. When somebody does not show up for you whether it is a friend, parent or lover, you feel disappointed and abandoned. If you have issues with self-worth you think you must deserve to be treated poorly or you feel angry, maybe adding on to years of resentment.

And the person who is not in with both feet, that person you feel abandon you when you needed them, they are NOT off having a party thinking you deserve to be treated that way. Instead they are either numbing out so they don’t have to deal with themselves, overcome with daunting guilt or handicapped by their own fears of being ineffectual or engulfed by you or the situation.

People who are committed to their own well-being, want to help maintain it in others not subtract it from a person they care about in any capacity. It makes for “happy and healthy”. When you care about yourself, you are able to say “yes” to life, not run and hide. Both “feet in” means courage, living full out and riding wild unicorns! It means success guaranteed! Why? Because you are “living in the present”, when you give it your all, you are fulfilled.

So in what scenario would having one foot in a relationship ever have a pay off?

It doesn’t.

You are ensuring the end of the affiliation. Being partially in is not giving it your all….so how could you expect a positive outcome?

You are killing it slowly with false promises, not participating fully. Giving excuses wears thin.

Why would anyone want to live SO SMALL? FEAR. It is a four letter word.

What can you do with a one-foot in person, even if it is you?

In long term friendships there is a choice, communication that is open and honest to get to the root of what is going on for each person. At least armed with information, a decision to invest in the friendship or move on can be made clearly. either both feet in or you could decide it is best to move on.

As a child and this is your parent who continues to abandon you or say they are in your corner, but you can never find them physically or emotionally; it is a much deeper issue then just deciding to move on.

In living together or a marriage it takes honest communication or counseling to determine what both partners are truly committed to creating in their lives. They may decide to jump out or jump in to it all the way. Honest communication makes a difference for a person exclusively dating a commitment-skittish person.

If you have one foot in with your job it’s a matter of asking “why” you are there. Are you doing what you love? If so, how can you commit fully? And if not, commit to an exit strategy.

I know for myself that I am both feet into what I have said “yes” to at this time.

My decisions have more focus, because I don’t want to commit half-way to anything I choose.

I want success, happiness and fulfillment, so my commitments are based on my 100% motivation in understanding why I want to engage before I take the leap off the cliff.

And trust this statement, I have been taking all sorts of high dives without a parachute and I cannot wait to see where I land. Taking risk is the quickest way to change your life.

And the biggest risk I can think of is to be fully on board with both feet in to whatever you endeavor to do!!