What a Man Thinks...about Love & Relationships
By Justin Stumvoll
A modern take on Dear Abby from the male perspective. Author, Life Coach, & Co-host of the Liberation Project Justin Stumvoll answers your burning questions.
Q: “Is it possible to never get over someone?” ~D.W.
I’ve met with so many women who think they found Mr. Perfect only to have Mr. Perfect exit out of their life. Years later they’re still comparing every man they meet to Mr. Perfect and they think they’ll never get over him. Here’s a hard dose of honest truth, for every woman who feels like they can’t get over Mr. Perfect. YOU NEVER WILL AS LONG AS YOU THINK HE WAS PERFECT!
There’s this idea that the right man will fulfill your heart and make you happy. No man can or will do that for you. A man, or any human for that matter, was never meant to be your source of fulfillment. If you can’t get over a man, it’s because you’re living in an imagined reality of what that man could be for your and how he could “make” you feel. You believe that you can’t find joy, happiness, or whatever you thought you were getting from that person, through another avenue.
Choosing to not get over someone is really choosing to place the power of your well being into the hands of someone else. Imagining life with this man you “Can’t get over.” is really just a way to avoid having to grieve a loss as well as face your deeper fear that you don’t believe you’re worthy of finding another relationship where you feel loved and known.
So is it possible to never get over someone? Yes, if you choose to hide in the illusion of what was, rather than accept what is and move forward.
Q: “I have a daughter who started dating a nice boy at age 14. As a mother, how can I stay connected to her during this relationship?” ~S.H.
Start by having a personal conversation with the boy. Let him know that you’ll neuter him with your bare hands if he hurts your daughter, and that’s nothing compared to what your husband will do… I jest. But, I’m sure it would be a shocking experience that the boy would never forget.
I recommend that every parent of a teenager takes a moment to decide whether or not they care more about connection or control. You can’t have both in any relationship, whether it’s with kids, friends, or significant others. Since control is an illusion, I’m always working on pursuing connection.
I have many young people in my life that I deeply care for and love like children. Since the human brain isn’t fully formed until around the age of twenty-five, many of them make what seem to be radically stupid and painful decisions in my eyes.
I know that life is messy and I have accepted that pain is an unavoidable part of it. I find that whenever I feel responsible to protect them from the pain of their life choices, I’m more apt to want to get frustrated and try to control them into making better decisions. This always leads to broken connection. Accepting that they are going to make mistakes and experience pain helps me to let go of control and learn how to ask questions and just listen.
I spent the last year and half caring for a young woman who is much like a daughter to me. She survived some very painful life experiences and has been on a journey to find healing. I know that one of her main love languages is quality time so I’ll grab her randomly for lunch or take her with me when I have errands to run. During these interludes, I ask her questions about her life where I genuinely get excited about the things she loves. She feels incredibly bonded during these times because she feels known.
When we hit muddied waters, as she shares decisions she’s making that leave me wondering if she forgot where she left her brain, I don’t try to fix her and tell her what she has done is wrong. Instead, I ask questions about what it looks like to love and value herself. Throughout our time together I never freak out, because I know I’m not in control. My kindness and patience always leads her back to my doorstep. I always reinforce that I care more about openness and honesty than I do about her behavior. Because of this she has given me the freedom to challenge her when she’s living in a way that goes against self-value and self-love.
Relating like this can some times feel negligent because a skewed view of love says we control and protect people from making poor decisions. I’m not always going to be with her in life. Every moment is about me playing the long game. I’m setting her up to live an open and honest life. I’m teaching her to think about the bigger picture. I’m teaching her that love doesn’t punish her and push her away, but rather it draws closer. The more that she feels known, believed in, and loved, the more likely it is that she’ll feel connected to me, even when the worst of her is exposed.
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Justin is a nationally sought-after speaker and life consultant with a decade of experience facilitating emotional healing in the lives of individuals. His goal is to redefine love in practical and empowering ways in order to restore marriages, families, and the broken-hearted. Justin is also an author and the co-host of The Liberation Project, an international podcast focused on healing the masculine soul.