“Oh, put me in coach, I’m ready to play today.” John Fogerty
By Maura A. Matarese, M.A. LMHC, R.Y.T.
Opening Day began with a bang this year. Tom Brady threw out the first pitch. Rob Gronkowski playfully stole his Super Bowl LI jersey. The pair chased each other cat-and-mouse style all the way to shallow right field. And most importantly, the Red Sox won.
It doesn’t get much better than that, in sports and in love. Yet many people find themselves lost in the field of disillusionment when the excitement of Opening Day with their partner wears off. Not knowing if they can end their losing streak, they agonize over whether or not their love can last. Why can’t every day be Opening Day, they bemoan? In every relationship, there really is only one Opening Day. However, if a couple can come to understand some basic plays in the field of love, then it’s very possible, should they have both the will and desire, to have many winning seasons together.
So what are some of those basic plays?
First, understand your attachment style: How you were loved when you were young is how you love as an adult. Some people need to feel close all the time; others need more space and some feel anxious, ambivalent or even avoidant when there is too much or too little of either one. Most people are drawn to others whose attachment style feels in sync with their own.
Heal your inner attachment. Those who have a secure inner attachment and got just the right amount of closeness and space as a child tend to fare better in long-term relationships. Those who didn’t get enough of what they needed often put the responsibility on the other to somehow make up for it. That’s when the fighting and disillusionment begins. Remember that you are the only person who can make up for it.
Know that it’s not possible for one person to fulfill 100 percent of what you need all the time. The other person will eventually fall off the pedestal and let you down. When couples learn to recover from the errors in play they both make, they become better players together. Learning to give yourself what you need and getting back up after you fall down time and time again makes winning together possible.
Honestly assess your willingness to continue playing: Sometimes people outgrow each other. Not all relationships last through the seasons of a lifetime. Many couples stagnate as they experience their ambivalence about staying together. Some work through it and rediscover their Opening Day excitement and commitment to playing through this season and the next. Others decide it’s better to leave or even switch teams.
Find the courage to know and do what’s right for you. The rules of dating, mating and relating are changing as serial monogamy and even polyamory (an open relationship) have become the new, albeit minor league options in town. They’re not for everyone, but do offer viable options for some.
Now that Opening Day has come and gone, let’s see if the Sox have what it takes to have a winning season. And if your Opening Day has come and gone, then you will soon discover that too. Regardless, play on!