Better Than Real Life Advice: The YES and the NO

Dear BIRL,

I’m in a new relationship – well, fourteen months in, now – and in a few weeks, we’re moving in together. I love my girlfriend to bits and our relationship has been characterised by kindness, humour, amazing smart conversations and shared hopes and dreams. (And incredible sex. Very important.) We spend every night together anyway, all our friends love us together as a couple, and I think in most ways moving in together is a total no brainer. She’s amazing! I love her! It’s going to be the best house ever!

But there is a part of me, a big part, that is really scared about this move. Before this relationship, I was married, and that marriage broke down acrimoniously (to say the least). I lived with him for five years almost to the day, and those five years of cohabitation were characterised increasingly by distance, loneliness, being ignored, being yelled at and pushed away. I still can’t go back to the suburb we lived in because it upsets me so much to revisit it. Moving out of that apartment, leaving that relationship – they’re two of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. So now, when I think about moving in with my girlfriend, I can’t help thinking – what if it happens again? What if it all goes wrong? What if moving in together means that I get treated like this again, and I’m STUCK THERE? I know it’s the least likely thing – the two relationships are almost opposite – but I am still afraid.

The bond is paid, the contracts are signed, it’s set. We’re moving. I can’t delay it now, and I want us to have the house we are going to rent (which is our dream house). So how can I find ways to get my brain into a good place about this move – feel braver, recognise that this is a different thing, and embrace it? How do I start again and feel good doing it?

Now Emotionally Really Vulnerable Or Unacceptably Scared


Dear Emotionally Vulnerable,

What an amazing time for you! Exciting new adventures on the horizon! Taking a leap with someone who loves you! Your dream house! So many good things are coming at you at the same time. Good things can be scary because the loss of them hurts, so feeling trepidation at taking a big risk — AGAIN — is absolutely normal. But I have some things for you to keep in mind.

  1. Have faith in yourself that you are capable of learning and growing. You are not the same person who married your ex. Those warning signs are now apparent to you and you are a smart, emotionally stable lady. Trust yourself. The experience of your divorce was painful and awful. Past you would not let future you relive that again because you are awesome.
  2. Heartbreak does not mean failure. Heartbreak is about sussing out what works for you and what doesn’t and having to face that reality even when it is painful. There will always be rough roads to tread, even with your current love, even with all of these fantastic adventures. But you are a strong, amazing person and you will be ok.
  3. Taking risks make for a successful life. The best thing you can do for yourself is say YES. An enthusiastic YES. And experience everything that that YES brings into your world. The second best thing you can do for yourself is say NO. An enthusiastic, heartfelt NO. Which you have already done to the betterment of your life 1000 fold. You are living a full, exciting, heart breaking, love-filled life. You are successfully living, congratulations.

I have had many, many, MANY broken hearts. One time I cried so much after a break up that under my eyes were stained for days. There were times where I gave far too much of myself, and had to take a lot of time to find those pieces and put me all back together again. Every man who I ever really REALLY loved broke up with me, except for 1. He stayed. But I have never regretted the many times I said YES and I have grown stronger and better with the NOs. Your fear is telling you there is something to lose. If there wasn’t then it wouldn’t be worth the risk, the leap! The adventure wouldn’t taste as sweet.

If you fall on your butt at the end of this you will be ok. You will brush yourself off and still be you. You have gone through worse. But living in a world where the possibility of something not working out is always on the horizon takes away from the goodness in the now. Trust yourself that you are smart and strong and fantastic. No matter what happens later that won’t change, and in the mean time look at this life you have. Such a good one.



2 thoughts on “Better Than Real Life Advice: The YES and the NO”

  1. “Heartbreak does not mean failure. Heartbreak is about sussing out what works for you and what doesn’t and having to face that reality even when it is painful.”

    Yes, yes, yes.

  2. The thing I think I learned from my divorce is that looking back, I thought I was trapped many time but that really, the only thing that made me really truly trapped was in my head. (I know there are crazy financial constraints, life-upheaval etc, but I’m pretty sure I could have always made it work…)

    Lauren gives wonderful great advice: say YES. You’ve already said yes to love, say YES to moving forward with your lovely lady.

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