When Kate came to me, she had a very specific goal.
She was in a complicated situation with a man. They’d been together for some time. Recently he’d pulled away. He told her he wasn’t sure what he wanted anymore.
Their relationship wasn’t “doing it” for him. He needed to feel free to meet other women. But he didn’t want to lose her.
Kate felt frantic. She latched onto the last thing he said. He didn’t want to lose her. Surely that meant he had feelings for her. What could she do to show him that she was his one and only?
So many women like Kate have been driven to desperation by the fear of losing their man.
They’ll do anything to keep him in their life, even if it means compromising their values or settling for a situation that’s not anything like what they wanted.
If YOU were Kate…
And your guy told you that either he wanted to break up or he’d keep seeing you as long as you allowed him to see other women…
What would you do?
Ask the Future You
When making decisions about love, we often get caught up in the details.
We analyze what was said and done. We agonize over what to do next. We don’t want to lose.
Sometimes, when a situation is causing you a great deal of pain and confusion, it can help to step back and zoom out.
Imagine yourself 5 years into the future. You’re more of the woman you’ve always wanted to be. You’re wiser. You’re more experienced.
What would this woman, this future you, say about the situation you’re in now?
Taking a long-term perspective on love can help you stay centered in your values.
It’s very easy to bend your values when you’re desperate to keep a man you care about greatly.
Even if this man doesn’t serve your long-term goal of committed forever love—because he only wants something casual, or he’s not the marrying kind—you can double down on your determination to make this work no matter what it costs you.
Because you know what YOU feel.
You love him.
And when you love someone, you’ll do whatever it takes.
Play an Infinite Game
It can take a lot more than advice from the “future you” to help you break out of the desperation and panic caused by a man who’s threatening to leave.
What I can offer you today is one mindset shift that many people find helpful.
Thought leader Simon Sinek distinguishes between finite games and infinite games.
Finite games have a beginning and an end. They’re bound by rules. The goal of a finite game is simple. It’s to win.
“Getting the guy” is a finite game.
The game starts when you meet a guy you like. Winning looks like a committed long-term relationship. Losing looks like going your separate ways.
When you’re playing a finite game, the drive to win is stronger than any doubts. Maybe you don’t want this man after all, but you’re in the game now. You don’t want to quit. (You might even think to yourself that you can dump him AFTER you’ve won him.)
An infinite game is different.
An infinite game never ends. The rules keep changing, and the only goal is to keep playing.
You know you’ll be playing this game for the rest of your life, so the individual wins and losses matter less. What matters is staying motivated, resilient, and focused on the reason you’re playing.
“A life of love”is an infinite game.
You play the game of love because love is the reason you’re here.
You hope to meet a man who’ll help you move closer towards your vision of a love-filled life. But he isn’t the goal. Love is the goal. Perfect love is an ideal that can never be realized, but you’ll die trying. What better way to spend a lifetime?
A Thought Experiment
When I asked Kate what she wanted…
Not what she wanted right now in this situation, but what she wanted for her life…
She said she wanted a loving relationship with a partner who was her equal and committed to building a family and home with her.
I asked her to imagine herself there.
To immerse herself in the safety, security, comfort and love of that relationship.
To believe that she already has it. That there’s nothing she needs to worry about. That it will be so.
Then I asked her to switch and think about the energy of the relationship she’s in right now.
Does it have those same qualities?
Does it feel like she would expect her dream relationship to feel?
In a very small voice, Kate whispered, “Not really.”
Ultimately, no one can tell you what you should do in love.
The choice is always yours.
But when you’re caught up in desperation and panic, seek out different perspectives that help you see the situation from varying angles.
You may just find that the answer was in front of you all along. It just took a bit of distance to see it.