My Personal Love Story

FamilyMy blog is maturing! Time to offer my personal love story to you. And I encourage any of you brave souls out there to send me yours. Be forewarned that the perspective you read about in this love story is exclusively mine. I don’t expect to be able to express this story to you without falling into familiar blind spots and other distortions, in fact, I expect it and welcome it.

I grew up in a family with four sons, I was the third. My father was a hard working workaholic and my mother the immature daughter of a controlling father and mother whose six attempts to conceive children produced only one surviving daughter. As you might imagine, she wasn’t going anywhere according to my grandfather, and the man she married was destined to work in the family business.

My relationship with my mother was unusual to say the least. When I was very young she was scary due to the fact that she was unable to separate from her parents and was frequently angry and frustrated. As I got older I became ‘parentified.’ This means I took care of my mother emotionally with frequent discussions of her emotional pains, feelings about other family members, and what she could do to cope. These conversations grew more frequent well into my 20’s and 30’s. I like to humorously think of my mother as my first ‘treatment failure.’

As a young man the best way to describe my love life throughout college and graduate school is to call it a ‘serial monogamy.’ I specialized in finding good-looking emotionally needy women for 1-3 year exclusive love relationships. Predictably their neediness became intolerable over the course of the relationship until it lead to frustration and breakup. Only after a thorough examination of my ‘love life pattern’ in therapy was I able to see that I was finding women ‘like my mother’ in some unconscious attempt to ‘fix them into loving me the way I was supposed to be loved earlier in my life.’ As you can imagine, this never worked except to reproduce predictable painful heartaches.

The impact of becoming aware and learning about of my love life agenda caused me to take a break from dating and relationships for a while. I believed I needed to concentrate on work and clear my head. After awhile I started to believe that I could ‘spot’ a woman who had more to give for a reciprocal relationship that wasn’t ‘parentifying’ in either direction. But as it turned out, I was too nervous to take a risk on what I had learned.

I took a job as a clinical director in a psychiatric clinic where one of my duties was to hire new staff. In a job interview one morning, a beautiful young woman showed up in a flowered dress for a job as a clinical social worker at the clinic. I was immediately struck by her presence. In fact it was difficult to focus as I had usually focused on job related issues. I found my mind wandering in the interview. What was about to happen was unexpected. Out of my mouth beyond any control I said the following words to her “Are you married?” If I could have recalled the question as it left my lips and journeyed in slow motion to her ears believe me I would have done so. She cracked a smile, looked directly at me and said, “Are you?”

The impact of her short little question is best described as a punch in the nose. At which point I looked down wrapped up the interview and gave her the job. I placed her on a schedule that was pretty much opposite to mine because I felt I was not ready for whatever that was that transpired in that job interview. As you can imagine, months later she showed up one evening at my office as I was preparing to leave. Standing by the office door she asked how I was. I nervously asked her if she had eaten because I was going to have my dinner at a little French restaurant not far away.

From here on a series of ‘dates’ took place over the course of six long years. Each date was a disappointment to one the other or both of us. Yet we pressed on checking back with each other over the course of time between relationships to other people. By the way, Victoria had her own nervousness to contend with at the French restaurant. She drank too much of the table wine and I had to buy her a cup of coffee before allowing her to drive home. No I did not take advantage of her and remained her ‘boss’ throughout the whole incident.

This is not to say I behaved myself in other dates after that. A year later I invited her to dinner and scared her away with my movie selection, ‘The Shining.’ She actually left early that night uncomfortable. It was probably the movie and the distance I was keeping that freaked her out. Then of course there was the date where I drank too much at my after work spot with my friends two hours before she was to meet me there. That date ended a record 30 minutes after she met me. Oh yes, I failed to mention, I tried to carry her across the street in a drunken attempt at chivalry before she drove off.

After that last date we took a break from each other until a phone call she made to my private office years later to refer a patient. I asked her how she was. Hesitations and a few more conversations lead to one more date. Before the date she asked a professional friend what the hell she was going to do with this guy that keeps showing up in her life. After hearing the history he told her to tell me she wanted to go to this very expensive restaurant in Manhattan. If I paid the tab without complaint, I was her man, period. Well I paid the tab without complaint.

Victoria moved in shortly after that date, we lived together for 18 months, then married. Four years later we managed to bring our son, Bradley into the picture. All I can say is I’m glad she was available 6 years after I met her. If you ask me why I took so long? I’d have to say I realize I wasn’t ready to take a risk. Maybe she was, maybe not. It was so foreign to me that a woman who could love me and be loved by me without the emotional neediness or ‘parentifying’ relationship I had experienced I didn’t trust it so I resisted as long as I could. I guess I didn’t want to be disappointed. I regret the wait.

It took me 6 years to learn that I could be in love without recreating my past. If I can help people get this kind of ‘education’ in the shortest possible time by learning what they need to know to take a risk on love in new and more effective ways, that will be very gratifying indeed.

* If you have a personal love story you would like to share, we are interested. We are gathering love stories in the weeks to come and selecting a few to add to our blog. We will include a link to your website if chosen. Please email your love story to: Dr. Thomas Jordan


Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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