Delusional Relationships


Since I stopped drinking three months ago, I’ve become aware of the delusions in my life, especially with men.  In the past, I’ve had a few real romantic relationships that have lasted for several years at a time.  In between said relationships, I developed a love of ambiguity and tied myself to men that didn’t want clarity with me. I found it to be much easier to throw myself at someone who wasn’t invested in me than to spend my energy finding someone who liked me back.  The faux safety net of ambiguity I kept creating was actually hurting me more in the long run.

I walked on this blurred line for years, primarily with co-workers.  I would tell myself (and him, whoever he was that time) that we were “just friends”, but we both knew it wasn’t that simple.  In reality, we would talk all day long, sometimes hook up, and pretend we weren’t jealous if the other person liked someone else.  These types of connections were easy to find in the restaurant / bar industry.  When working late nights with a small group of people, it’s common to get comfortable and even have a “work boyfriend”.  But the closer I would get to my “work boyfriend”, the more complicated things would become.  Flirting behind the bar would quickly graduate to drinks after work, X-Rated sleepovers, and finding hidden places to make out on the clock.  The sneaking around is fun for awhile, then it gets messy.  I didn’t like when he would flirt with the girl ordering 6 Jager-bombs.  He didn’t like if I didn’t text him back fast enough.  These “romances” tended to have a quick expiration date, then one of us would start hooking up with someone else, giving the other person a pass to do the same.

After leaving the restaurant industry and transitioning into retail at lululemon, I still found myself in the same problematic situations.  Though I physically left an unhealthy bar scene, I managed to carry over some of my same behaviors to the retail world.  I found myself turned on by stimulating conversations with male co-workers.  We would share motivational quotes and talk about how we are going to change the world by crushing our goals.  Then those talks, too, would carry over to drinks after work and occasional X-Rated sleepovers.  I thought that a common interest in sex and personal development was an automatic precursor to love.  We liked each other, we motivated each other, we talked everyday, why would I have pursued someone else?  They didn’t think that way,  because while they saw our interaction for what it was,  I remained afloat on my cloud of delusion.  Eventually, they would start dating someone else, someone real who could be vulnerable and risk getting hurt, someone who was ready to be in a real relationship.  And I would go through break-up type emotions over a relationship that existed mostly in my head.

Until very recently (like…this month), I realized how unhealthy this game was, but man did I love playing it.  When it comes down to it, I just can’t handle friendships like that anymore.  Just because he flirts with me at work, that doesn’t mean he likes me.  Just because we text all the time, that doesn’t mean he’s not texting other girls, too.  Just because we hooked up a few times, that doesn’t mean we’re dating.  Looking back, I now see a pattern of romanticized friendships that I just read way too much into.

I can’t solely blame alcohol for my problem with men.  Sure, a lot of my past hook ups wouldn’t have happened if I was sober, but I’m learning that my problems with men are layered.  I drank heavily to avoid reality and create my own distorted version of it.  These relationships were often fueled by alcohol, but it was my love of self destruction that kept the fire going.  Now, I respect myself enough to know that I deserve something real, too.

Copy Editor: Alisson Wood

7 thoughts on “Delusional Relationships

  1. Jackie Lara

    Wow Tawny. Your clarity is incredible.

    Yes it hurts to hear about what you did to yourself but I know it’s therapeutic for you, so I’m learning to deal with it.

  2. Mark Goodson

    I had similar delusions as a man in ‘relationships’ as well. So much that I thought about what was going on (and in other cases–not going on) in between the lines was absolute falsehood. It boiled down to this for me: I wanted the ones who wouldn’t have me, and I was cruel to the ones who would have me. Stinking thinking.
    I stayed out of relationships for 14 months when I first got sober and I would pass on that recommendation to all single people in recovery. I learned to love myself in that period. Now I’m married with 2 kids and all that craziness is behind me. Thanks for an insightful, honest, and open post!

  3. brandonbenz

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. In the past three years or so I’ve a strong tendency to date women who always wanted to do the “friends” thing. My lack of self-respect always said yes, I was the guy who really wanted to fall in love and live happily ever after. It always seemed like the same story, we would date and the first two months we would be happy and enjoy life and then I would scare them or they scared themselves and would totally disconnect with me. I would naturally get hurt and ask them why they are acting this way and their response was always, “we’re just friends, I told you that from the beginning.” Looking back on it, I always thought I met the love of my life and jumped into relationships head over heels and typically got burned. After it happening numerous times I finally promised myself that I can’t let the emotion of love, get in the way of what I want to accomplish in life. I haven’t felt this single in a very long time and I’m completely okay with it. I do miss sharing myself with somebody physically and mentally but lately the price has been too high. Thanks for sharing your post with so much honesty, I know you don’t speak for those women I had in my life but I feel like it sheds some light on those situations.

  4. Lilu

    Wow…. this read hit. I love seeing how we have both grown from six years ago.

    Love that you have found clarity. I enjoy the blogs…. way to go Tawn. Much love

  5. Dharma in Heels

    I related very much to this. I had similar relationships with men for the longest time!!! What I started to realize was…. As someone with an addictive personality… I traded one addiction for another! It is such a fix. That rush. That newness. Even the wondering and the anxiety of will he call, text? Where will this go? Etc.

    I feel this is an important thing for everyone to go through though. This is when you take notes on what you want and don’t want when the right one comes along.

    It’s earth shatteringly easy when they do.

    Sometimes, it’s boringly easy. But that’s good. Because highs and lows can’t sustain you.


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