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To forget the one that got away is hard & here is why

"I've seen tears well up in the eyes of women in their 50s telling tales of adolescent heartbreak."

“I’ve seen tears well up in the eyes of women in their 50s telling tales of adolescent heartbreak.” Photo: Stocksy

My friends and I have an expression: “pulling a Mike”. To “pull a Mike” is to throw yourself at someone and declare your love, only to be knocked back so completely it takes a week for the pulpy remains of your heart to resume beating again.

Mike was a guy I knew in university. He was a history major. A dark, pony-tailed type, he was just a little bit smarter than the rest of us and his slightly frayed Levi’s fitted just a little better than anyone else’s. He was partial to big words with lots of syllables and stroked his chin when he spoke. I used to gaze at him across the classroom, imagining the bright, pony-tailed children we’d have, all the while missing the finer points the professor was making about the economic implications of crop failure in Tudor-Stuart England.

Having pined for him all year, I decided, as exams approached, that I needed to make my move. I prepared myself carefully, skolling at least four cans of VB before approaching him. This made me feel bolder than I really was, not to mention more attractive; it also made me drool a little and sway from side to side as I delivered my speech.

It went something like this: “So Mike, is this attraction mutual, or is it just me?”

His response was swift, and unambiguous. “It’s just you.”

Flashback: my parent’s holiday house, the summer of 1979. Sean Lewis was nine, a year and a half older than me. He had charisma. He won the local Fonz contest; I wanted nothing more than to be his Leather Tuscadero. So I was thrilled when he came up to me down by the swimming dock and said he wanted to talk. As he spoke, I was so mesmerised by the lock of sandy hair that tumbled over his left eye that I almost missed what he said.

“Why do you keep following me around? It’s weird.”

I’ve had plenty of successful dates in my life, and several happy relationships, but for some reason it’s the rejections that stick. I can barely recall the name of my first high-school boyfriend, or the guy I lived with for two years after I finished university. But I remember specifically that Warren Black took Carol Mayfield to the first boy-girl party at primary school instead of me.

I’ve talked to a few people about this, and I know I’m not alone. I’ve seen tears well up in the eyes of women in their 50s telling tales of adolescent heartbreak; it seems there is no scar like the one inflicted by a 17-year-old boy on a 17-year-old girl when he takes someone prettier to the ball. Why do these romantic mishaps sting for so long?

For one, we just seem to be predisposed to remember bad times more clearly than good. Maybe it’s a primeval survival thing. (Wow, things went really badly when I tried to pat that sabre-toothed tiger. Next time I’ll just stay in the cave.) Rejection is traumatic and love is not; obsessing over an unrequited passion 20 years gone might be like remembering exactly where you were the day Kurt Cobain died, or on the morning of September 11.

And heartbreak hurts, literally. Science tells us so. Anxiety (and romantic knock-backs definitely cause angst) releases hormones, like adrenalin, which can stress the heart and force it to work harder.

Some scientists also equate love with other forms of chemical addiction. In this case, it’s the oxytocin withdrawal that gives you the DTs. And how about this: Dutch researchers had test subjects send in photos of themselves to be viewed by other volunteers for an experiment on “first impressions”. Weeks later, the scientists hooked each individual up to an electrocardiogram and measured their heart rate as they heard what the other people thought. When they were told another person didn’t like them, their pulses slowed. Rejection really “broke” their hearts.

Then there’s the simple fact of age. When we’re young, romance and dating weigh more heavily than in later years. Life’s true traumas are not yet apparent, and so we assign our quota of emotional turmoil to affairs of the heart. Somewhere around the age of 30, things change. Children are born, parents grow older and weaker, friends disappear or are lost. Romantic anguish takes a back seat.

And this, maybe, is the point. Looking back on the dockside rebuff of a schoolboy, or the beer-fuelled longings of my 20-something self, I actually feel nostalgic for those early heartbreaks. There is a wonderful innocence in idealising someone the way you do when you are young, of fantasising about marriage and family and love, without the foreknowledge of how nice but, well, mundane these things can become in adult life.

I’m not as brave as I used to be (or I don’t drink as much) and haven’t “pulled a Mike” in a while. I did look up the original Mike the other day. He’s a history professor, still pony-tailed, still in Levi’s. I’ve moved on and I can see now it never would have worked between us.

But he’s left me with some useful words. A younger friend came over the other evening, regretful and teary after propositioning a guy by text and getting the following reply: sry not in2 U.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “you’ve only pulled a Mike. Enjoy it while you can.”

Sunday Life

Henry Sapiecha

SIGNS THAT YOUR RELATIONSHIP MAY BE IN TROUBLE, SO CHECK THEM OUT HERE

We know the big signs of relationship trouble: abuse, addictions, infidelity, deception, control, anger, etc. Many relationships don’t have these problems, but they’re still rife with other issues. They are the smaller red flags you’re not paying attention to that—when done every day—chip away the foundation of your relationship. These things happen to the best of us because we don’t think of them as that bad and we can always find a way to justify our actions. As in, I might be mean to him, but at least I don’t lie to him. He lies to me all the time. Team GEM has come up with 10 signs that your relationship might be in trouble. We don’t like to leave you wondering, so we offer our ideas on what you can do about it, too.

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1. STRANGERS GET BETTER TREATMENT THAN YOU GIVE EACH OTHER

This happens in all kinds of relationships, whether romantic or platonic. We’re nice to strangers because we only see them for a few minutes and it’s easy to be on our best behavior. It’s easy not to snap at them or nag them. But the person we see every day—who left his dirty laundry on the floor or locked her keys in the car again—doesn’t always get the best treatment because we’ve seen that person at his or her worst and, quite frankly, we’re sick of it.

What you can do about it:

Take a day to observe your own behavior. Be honest about whether you have a mean edge in your voice when you talk to your partner. If you do—don’t worry! You’re human and we all behave badly sometimes. Now that you see yourself, take another day to think before you speak to your partner. If you feel the urge to say something mean, bite your tongue (figuratively, of course). Say what you want to say without the nasty edge. Throw in a sincere compliment. Your partner may not notice or appreciate what you did, but keep doing it. Lead by example.

2. NEITHER OF YOU IS FOCUSING ON WHAT’S RIGHT

There is no way that one can be in a relationship and not have struggles or problems arise. As conflicts happen, there’s a tendency to have tunnel vision about fixing them by looking at everything that’s going wrong. You both feel like you’re doing the right thing by discussing your relationship, but you’re in the defensive mode of picking at every bad thing about it in the name of strengthening it.

What you can do about it:

Reframe your thinking about your relationship. What’s right in it? Seriously, think about the things you love, the stuff that’s going well, the last time you had a good time together. When you’re discussing your relationship, highlight the good stuff. Ask for more of it and do more of it yourself. You’ll feel better and so will your partner. It doesn’t mean that you don’t deal with pressing issues; it means that you change the conversation to one that’s empowering to the relationship.

3. YOU LIKE EACH OTHER BUT DON’T LOVE EACH OTHER

On your first date, it really was kinda cute the way your partner scraped her teeth with the fork at dinner. It wasn’t so bad the way he started every comment with, “Hey, you know what?” Now months or years have passed, and you think you’re going to lose it if you see that bad habit One.More.Time.

What you can do about it:

If love is still present, then you still have a chance to work on the “liking each other” aspect of the relationship. First of all, recognize that you yourself have habits that annoy your partner. Then, understand that there’s a good chance that your partner is not trying to annoy you! It’s impossible to hold on to the “first date façade” for months and years at a time. Let go of your annoyance and anger about small things that irritate you. It won’t be easy, but every moment you hold on to poisonous feelings is another moment that will steal your chance to be happy with the person you chose.

4. YOU DON’T MAKE TIME FOR INTIMACY

Sex is falling to the wayside or has stopped completely. You don’t hug or kiss each other. Communication doesn’t go much beyond the topics of kids, bills, and chores. You’re not connecting physically, emotionally, and mentally. This is a dangerous place to be because one or both of you is heading toward indifference—if you’re not already there. The textbook definition of indifference is a lack of interest, concern, or sympathy. It’s difficult to overcome a lack of concern for your partner

What you can do about it:

One place to start is to physically connect with your partner. For some couples, that could mean making love more often. For others, that might mean holding hands when you ordinarily wouldn’t. Human touch enhances the level of attachment we feel to others. Touch can send a powerful message of comfort, love, and security. It is a way to sympathize with people and show your care and concern. Your partner probably deserves your intimacy.

5. ONE OF YOU THINKS YOU ARE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

A self-centered attitude will drag a relationship down subtly, but quickly. It’s hard to be in a relationship with someone who insists on always having his own way, who makes unreasonable demands, or who is unwilling to compromise. It sends the message that the other person’s needs are unimportant.

What you can do about it:

If your partner is the self-centered one, there isn’t much you can do about it since you can’t change other people. But, you have unlimited power to change your response. If he wants you to pick up the dry cleaning and it’s inconvenient for you, then communicate what you can do. You could say something like, “I can pick up the dry cleaning or pick up the kids, but I can’t do both. I can do one and you can do the other. What do you prefer?”

If you are the self-centered one, you have to ask yourself what you’re really trying to achieve in your relationship if your behavior is a source of unhappiness. If you want to salvage your relationship, you have to be willing to do the hard work of self-reflection and then take action to balance your partner’s needs with your own.

6. YOU HAVE NEW INTERESTS THAT DON’T INCLUDE EACH OTHER

Healthy couples should have separate interests. It’s part of what contributes to making each of you more interesting to the other. At the same time, it’s a problem if you—or your partner—have new pursuits that take the time you used to spend together or you have some of the same hobbies, but you no longer do them together. Of course, it may not mean anything to pick up a hobby, but beware if the hobby is leading either of you to spend more time with other people.

What you can do about it:

Bring your partner into what you’re doing and ask to join in what he’s doing. If you don’t enjoy golf, you don’t need to play 18 holes. Take a quick trip to the driving range instead. He may not want to join your theater company, but invite him to a rehearsal or show. The point is to find opportunities to come together sometimes.

7. YOU DON’T MAKE THE EFFORT TO IMPRESS EACH OTHER

Remember the days when you used to impress each other? You used to plan how you were going to look, think, and act when you were together. You put a lot of thought and effort into your appearance and behavior. Maybe now you don’t even bother to throw on lipstick and you no longer feel the need to stay abreast of issues your partner cares about. Impressing your partner in word and deed shows your investment in the relationship. If you do not impress each other, you’re losing your investment.

What you can do about it:

Time to start investing in impressing. Take a look at what you can do to pique your partner’s interest. It really won’t take much effort to look like you made an effort. If your usual date attire consists of sneakers, jeans, and a T-shirt, switch to nice jeans, a colorful blouse, and heels. You haven’t changed much, but it will look like you did. If your partner likes football and you only pretended to like it to seal the deal, then wow him with a nugget of information that you can easily get from watching ESPN on TV or online. There’s no need to be phony; you don’t have to learn the rules of football. But, you can talk about a human-interest story like the death of Adrian Peterson’s son.

 8. YOU ARE TURNING AWAY FROM EACH OTHER

Very little hurts more than your partner approaching you about something—anything—and your response is to literally and/or figuratively turn away. No matter how you feel, it shows a lack of care and concern not to respond—even if that’s not the message you intended to send. If your partner is turning away from you, then you know the pain.

What you can do about it:

Sometimes the problem is that the person doing the turning away is angry and doesn’t want to say something hurtful. Sometimes you—or your partner—don’t know what to say, so you figure it’s best to walk away without saying a word. You can prevent a bigger problem by acknowledging your partner as a person in a relationship with you. It could be as simple as saying, “I don’t know what to say right now. Let me think about it.” Or allow your partner some time to process his thoughts. You could say, “I know you need to think about this, but I do need to hear from you, too. Can we talk tonight?”

By doing so, you’re acknowledging that you understand your partner’s needs as well as your own.

9. YOU’RE TALKING TO THE WRONG PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP

There’s nothing wrong with seeking advice from friends and family about certain things. The point of having people in your life is that they help you on your journeys. The caveat here is that friends and family may not be very helpful when it comes to your relationship. Even if your aunt and uncle have been married for 50 years, even if your college roommate is a licensed marriage and family therapist, your connection with them is too close to look at your relationship objectively.

What you can do about it:

Stop talking about your relationship with friends and family. One member of TEAM GEM got this piece of great advice from her mother when she was a newlywed: “If you want me to love your husband as a son, then you can’t tell me all the things he has done to hurt you. You will forgive him and move on, but I won’t be so quick to forgive because you are my daughter and I love you more.” Your relationship will be better off if you talk to your partner first, then take your problems—individually and as a couple—to a licensed therapist. Can’t afford it? See if any colleges around you offer a degree program in therapy. You may be able to use the services of supervised graduate students and the fees are usually on a very reasonable sliding scale.

10. YOU’RE NOT SURE IF YOU SHOULD STAY OR GO

You’ve talked about all your issues, you’ve fought, and you’ve cycled through good and bad times. But, you wake up in the morning and you’re thinking that maybe your relationship is over.

What you can do about it:

Whether you stay or go is a decision that only you and your partner can make with some pretty deep soul-searching. If you choose to work things out, give it your all. Bring out your best self and treat your partner respectfully. Fully engage with your partner and really listen when he speaks. Avoid fighting. Wait at least three months have passed to evaluate whether your relationship has a future.

rsAfter two decades as a television news anchor, including four years on CBS’ The Early Show, Rene decided it was time for a change. Tired of reading from a teleprompter, René was determined to find her own voice and inspire women like herself – juggling busy lives, raising children and trying to live up to impossible parenting ideals. The result is René’s missive on modern motherhood, Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting and its subsequent website www.goodenoughmother.com.

As the daughter of two, breast cancer survivors, René underwent a preventive mastectomy in 2007 and now works tirelessly to promote early detection.

Rene is a regular guest on CNN, BET, Anderson, The Bill Cunningham Show, The Today Show and The Doctors and is an in-demand speaker. She is a proud wife to Buff Parham and parent to Casey and Cole.

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IF YOU ARE A WOMAN IN NEED OF FRIENDS, THEN TRY THESE METHODS TO GET AHEAD

MEETING PEOPLE WILL GET YOU FRIENDS, SO HERE ARE SOME CLUES TO GO

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1. Building a new friendship is a lot like when you were kids.  You want to hang out with someone like yourself.  Someone just as fun, hip and cool.  You want to make time with that person, in a meaningful way, but usually based around common interests and activities you can do in your spare time.  Give some of these tips a whirl and enjoy your new friends!

2. Use a service like Meetup.com, which hosts outings for everything under the sun that you could imagine.  It is for other people like you, just looking to make a connection with others that share your interests.

3. Use a daily deal, like Groupon to help you find an activity you like. That’s a great way to meet others that are interested in that activity.  If it becomes a regular meet up, its easier to make friends and be in an environment where you are already both entertained.  A cup of coffee afterwards can be an easy segue into making a bond.

4. Meet people at church.  If you are involved in a religion, this is a great place to meet like minded people.  Churches have many opportunities to become involved in your community, and for regular meetups

5. Join an adult sports league.  Although I have never been, the signs for “adult kickball” do sound pretty tempting.  It seems like that would be a good place to get a little exercise, meet some people, and have a lot of fun.

6. Get out with your dog (or maybe even get a puppy). Lifehacker readers Em and Powermobydick (on Twitter) say that walking their dogs and going to dog parks have helped them meet new people. Other obvious but still effective ways to get out there include volunteering, starting a new hobby, joining a neighborhood book club, and even traveling.

7. Join the “Y”.  A gym has a lot of opportunities for you to get involved in classes, or just work out.  With everything from a light paced yoga class, all the way into the pits of the weight lifting area, you are sure to meet someone that has a similar interest.

8. Join a PTA or similar organization at your child’s school.  These groups are filled with people that, like you, love their children and want to be involved in their life.  To be honest, they also are usually filled with people that want to expand their social life outside of their children but don’t know how.  It’s a great way for you to make friends, and still involve your child.

9. Find some volunteer work!  My grandparents volunteer at a local theater and have found many people they connect with, but there are so many places you can get involved in and meet people that, like you, just want to help.  Pick a cause that is close to you, and by default you will meet others that also care.

10. Make a weekly activity time with a friend you have and would like to see more, or rekindle an old friendship with some friends.  If every Friday you make some time for you and a friend to go fishing, or to have a cocktail and dessert at a local restaurant, you will have something to look forward to with that friend, and it can make for a lot of fun!

11. And lastly, don’t forget to say “Hi!” to people.  I was born in the south and we could strike up a conversation with our “new best friend” in the checkout line at the grocery store, at the gas pump, or standing in line at the DMV.  Put yourself out there and good luck meeting new people!  It can be tough, but nothing is more rewarding than having an adult friend to confide in, and spend time with.

Sometimes its tough for moms and dads to think of ourselves first, but a little time out with a pal is so valuable to being a well balanced and loving parent.

modernJessica is the founder & managing editor of Modern Day Moms, an award-winning national publication with articles centered around the latest trends, arts & crafts, recipes, must-haves, travel & more. Aside from blogging, Jessica also manages to make time for social media by managing some of the most popular twitter accounts in the country. Wife to a talented artist, she is also mom to an adorable little girl who can navigate electronics like nobody’s business.