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We cannot pretend our way into a great relationship.
Often, we pretend to be someone we’re not in order to gain the approval we crave from the people we like. We stifle our humanity — our real reactions and human feelings — for their love or acceptance. More often than not, this ends up backfiring. It sure backfired on me during a transitional time in my life.
I was forty-four years old and divorced after 26 years of marriage. It was Valentine’s Day and I just agreed to marry a wonderful man named Ed. His two children were not happy about the news of our engagement.
“Congratulations. That’s fine, just don’t expect me to come to the wedding,” his 11-year-old son, Michael, said.
His reaction was an unpleasant surprise to his father and myself. In an effort to win his affection, I had been so sweet to this difficult child. I smiled all the time. I smiled so much that my face hurt!
In the months that we spent time with him, I ignored certain behaviors that had me seething because I thought that he would warm up to me by letting him get away with it. I was being phony, trying to placate him and losing sight of who I was while trying to mesh my life with this new family.
All my pretending wasn’t working to change his mind about me. One day, Michael called to tell me he had purposefully declined a ride home from an arcade, thinking instead that I would come and pick him up so he could stay longer.
It was already quite late in the evening, and by the time I would have gone, picked him up, and brought him home, it would be well after midnight. He was well aware that I had to get up at 4am the next morning to give a sermon at church.
At this point, I was so tired and grouchy that for the first time in months, I couldn’t contain my feelings. I let him know exactly what I thought of his inconsiderate attitude.