Growing up in Wisconsin, I never just jumped into a swimming pool or a lake, I always had to check it first, to see if it would be too cold. But, as anyone whose ever done that knows, swimming is fun and your body will adjust to water that seems too cool for your liking. There are two ways to go about it – wade in one inch at a time, suffering miserably for minutes that seem like hours, or just jump in and get it over with in one fell swoop. Both are unpleasant, one less traumatic than the other, but the traumatic one doesn’t last nearly as long as the easier approach.
Taking a band-aid off the top of your forearm can be the same way. Will you tug and pull and coax the band-aid off slowly, experiencing each and every hair as it is ripped from your flesh, or will you grab a hold of a corner, grit your teeth, and rip the blasted thing off? One is quite traumatic, but it’s over quickly. The other is more tolerable, but it seems to go on forever.
People generally favor one approach over the other and use that approach throughout their lives. Think of how it could apply to the break-up of a relationship.
Some folks just up and tell their partners it’s over. They move out, or they leave and they’re gone and you never hear from them again. The end. The band-aid is just ripped off. Others languish in unsatisfying relationships for years and years, hoping the band-aid will just fall off or that the pool water will warm up while they stand there and wait. They begin to end the relationship a little at a time. They get a little ‘space’ or ‘time to think’ and they reduce the intamacy just a little bit. Then a little more. Then a little more. Sometimes they stand there, almost up to their necks in the pool, but afraid to dunk their head underwater. They stay in an unsatisfying relationship, languishing for an extended period of time because they’re unwilling to take the trauma all at once. They want to space it out over time.
So, what type of person are you? Do you just jump in? Do you wade in? Do you check, then jump? Or do you wait on the shore indefinately, hoping you won’t have to do anything?