Thursday, November 29, 2012
The topic this week is a very sensitive one. The question was posed "How do you handle thoughts of comparing yourself and Jeremy in your mind?" The "right" answer might be to say that I don't ever compare myself to Jeremy or wonder how I measure up... but thats not the honest answer.
I think in every romantic relationship there is a desire to be the "one-and-only." If at some point along the way you feel like your position as the "one-and-only" is threatened then you might ask yourself questions like, "What am I doing wrong or not doing right?" or "What does the other person do or have that I don't?" Unless you are highly self-confident you may find yourself thinking about some of those very questions... or others like it.
While some people may tell you that it's ridiculous to feel like you are "competing" with someone who is deceased, the truth is that those feelings are normal. Don't beat yourself up for having those feelings. At the same time, don't allow those feelings to beat you up either.
There are definitely times where I feel insecure and compare myself with Jeremy. There have been times in the past when I wondered if I made Vee as happy as Jeremy did, or I questioned whether she found me as attractive, or fun to be with, or if our intimate relationship looked different in comparison. I think there were times that these thoughts were fostered by hearing Vee talk fondly about past experiences she had with Vee and wondering then how I measured up to those memories.
It is at this point where I had to ask myself an honest question... was Vee making me feel second best, or was I doing that to myself?
The answer was simple. Vee has always been great at never comparing me to Jeremy. We share some similarities, but she is careful never to compare us. In addition Vee is great about making me and our relationship feel special. The problem lies in my own thinking. My own insecurities cause me to question how I measure up and its normal to have those questions from time to time. However, if those questions are left unbridled they can eat you alive.
While I can't answer for everyone, I have found a few things that keep those questions at bay and give me peace about my relationship with Vee while giving her freedom to share and discuss her feelings and memories about Jeremy.
1) Vee loved and still loves Jeremy.
I know this sounds simple (and maybe contradictory when dealing with this subject) but its true. The love that they shared was genuine and did not die with Jeremy's physical presence. Once you fully understand that love and know that it is ongoing, the need to compete will diminish.
2) Vee chose me.
Vee didn't have to choose me. There were several guys that pursued Vee after Jeremy died. She could have chosen any one of them or someone else, but she chose me instead. She cherishes me and the qualities that I posses. While I don't always understand exactly why she finds me so great, I have to trust her love for me.
3) Vee is not the same person with me as she was with Jeremy.
To try to compare if Jeremy made Vee more happy than I do is really comparing apples to oranges, because there is more than one thing that changed in the equation. Vee is a different person, she thinks differently, sees the world differently, and has a different outlook on life. I trust that Jeremy was the right person to be with her then, and I am the right person to be with her now.
4) I don't make Vee responsible for the way I feel.
If there are times when I feel insecure then I take ownership of those. The truth is that it's normal to feel insecure from time to time when dating a widow(er) - just be honest about it and even more importantly don't blame the other person. When I come across those times I make sure to let Vee know its about how I feel and not about how she is treating me.
All of this being said, you might find yourself in a relationship where it's not you who compares you to the deceased spouse but your widowed girlfriend/boyfriend. If you feel like this is the case then the best answer is open and honest communication. Allow them to see how they compare you and be willing to let them see how it makes you feel when they do. They simply may be unaware that they are comparing you or unaware of its affects on how you feel. Either way, it is up to you and your widowed girlfriend/boyfriend to set boundaries in the relationship and figure out what works best and fits comfortably for the both of you.
I have adressed this question a little more in my blog post "It's Ok" (CLICK HERE for the link) or on my guest post for Widow's Voice "Second Best" (CLICK HERE for the link) I encourage you to check both of those out for more information about this topic.
By the way, keep the questions coming! I am open to trying to answer any questions you may have about Vee and I and our relationship together.