Know That You’re His One-and-Only

Know That You’re His One-and-Only

A long time ago, I was standing in one of those lines.

You know the ones. Glaciers move faster. Might as well pitch a tent and break out the freeze-dried food, because you’re in it for the long haul.

I’d been staring at the head of the person in front of me for so long that every I was on a first name basis with every strand of her hair.

I was just wondering whether it was too late to switch lanes when I heard something. A song playing over the loudspeakers.

I had no idea who was singing it. I don’t usually listen to country music. But the lyrics caught my ear.

It was a song about a guy who is out with his girlfriend when they see another woman. The girlfriend can tell from the look in his eyes that the woman they just saw was his ex. Fear strikes her. Maybe her boyfriend still has feelings for this woman. Maybe their relationship isn’t as secure as she thought.

He sees that she’s reacting. He moves immediately to reassure her. And the way he does it is just perfect.

“Yes, there was a time / I thought she had it all / She meant the world to me / Back when the world was small.”[1]

I thought: Yes! That’s exactly right.

It’s hard to know what to say to someone who worries that you can’t love her (or him) with your entire heart because you’ve given that heart away before.

That worry doesn’t come out of nowhere. Have you ever been with someone who talked about an ex-girlfriend with an unmistakable glow in his eyes? He tells you he’s over her, but you know the truth.

These days, no matter who you date, he’s going to have a relationship history. He’s going to have one first love he never got over, or an ex who keeps popping up in his life like a bad rash.

What do you do about it?

Do you close your eyes and pretend his past doesn’t exist?

Or do you let him know that it worries you? That you feel vulnerable when he talks about his exes or hangs out with them?

That’s sure to convince him you’re not insecure in the slightest. Even better, cyberstalk him and interrogate him about every attractive girl on his list of friends.

Obviously, I’m joking. But what DO you do?

You change the way you think.

And his past stops worrying you, no matter how much it gets in your face.

Here’s how.

As much as it hurts, you need to see how he relates to his exes. You don’t want to ignore his past. The respect he shows his exes lets you know whether he can hold a woman’s heart with tenderness.

But you also need to know he’s put his past behind him. He’s not holding back with you because of residual feelings from some other woman.

Try something for me. Imagine a man and a woman. His world is a circle, about an inch across. Her world is a circle, about an inch across. Merge those two worlds together, and they fit perfectly. He is her entire world. She is his entire world.

Now, imagine that his world expands. (Why? Maybe because he grew as a person, or changed careers, or just got a bit older.) His circle gets larger; it’s now two inches across. Part of it sticks out from the world he shares with his girlfriend. She’s no longer his entire world. She’s only part of it.

If they both continue to grow and expand in different directions, their common ground becomes smaller and smaller, like a Venn diagram.

At some point, they may decide to break up, because what they have in common is no longer enough to sustain a relationship.

Can you see where I’m headed here?

Then he meets you. And your world is a perfect fit for his world. You contain each other perfectly.

You’re walking along the street one day when you see a woman. And you know, from the instant they exchange surprised glances of recognition, that they were once romantically involved.

Do you feel threatened?

Or do you remember that he loved her back when his world was small?

Sure, they still have something in common. But it’s miniscule compared to the entire world he shares with you.

(Sometimes, a man and a woman will break up for other reasons than outgrowing one another. When they meet again, their worlds still fit perfectly. That’s when you need to keep your eyes open.)

That long-ago day changed my outlook. These days, I don’t get mad when a long line makes me wait. I listen. You never know when you might hear a universal truth caught in song.

[1] Thanks to Google, I figured it out: Collin Raye singing “That Was a River,” written by Susan Longacre and Rick Gile.

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7 thoughts on “Know That You’re His One-and-Only

  1. Michelle said:

    Hello James, actually, it happened that this guy was into me, since 4 yrs.. during the 5th yr, I replied positively to him and we were together from then for about 7-8 months.. after that, I told him about my past, i.e. 2 yrs before I even knew this guy, there was a guy in my life who used me and then I broke all contacts with him, when I was done.. I used to attend classes in that area where this guy used me, even though I never had any feelings for him.. this was for 7 long months.. my current guy, although the previous one means nobody to me, nor then, not now, couldn’t take this particular thing about me.. he still loves me, but things went wrong after I told him about my past.. we were gonna get married.. but then, now he doesn’t even talk to me.. he doesn’t even wanna look at me.. he was very after listening to my past and couldn’t believe such thing can happen with me.. his friends tried explaining him about me, but he isn’t responding to it.. I don’t understand how to explain to him to not let that thing bother so much.. I used to stay at a hostel in my college campus but since two months, I completed my graduation and returned home and that is when he told me that he couldn’t get my past out of his head..
    I saw your page on Instagram and found some hope.. you are my last option.. please give me some solution to this..

  2. Natalie said:

    Hi James, the guy I’m interested in is going through a sad time. I texted him that I wanted to brighten up his day, so I sent him a sexy pic of me via text. And he responded below:

    You’re an angel in heaven!!!!

    Just curious how to respond back… please advise. Thanks

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Natalie. It’s up to you, of course, but when you have a win like that, it’s often best to just send a wink emoji or a “I’m here for you if you need to talk” sort of text. Something that allows you to “show up” in his mind but without any pressure to respond.

  3. Tara said:

    I have been dating a man for 4 years, on and off before that for 10. He maintains a friendship with the woman he dated before me, long distance, for 13 years. She stays in contact with him and his family. She has interfered in our relationship in the past. Invites him to visit her in another state and meets him from time to time which he keeps secret or lies to me about. I have tried letting him know this is very bothersome to me. He insists I have nothing to “worry about”. Last year he did go visit her. I found out and we broke up for a month. I think it still goes on , unchanged. . Other than this. We are good together. I am looking at this as he will never be fully available or interested in a fully one on one relationship with me, or anyone. We are not kids. Is it time to call it quits and move on?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Tara.

      If there a lot of positive things you love about this relationship, then consider this carefully.

      We humans have a tendency to think about decisions in binary ways (either or; all or nothing). Spend more time generating options before you decide on one.

      Reading your comments here, I find myself wondering if he has built up some sort of justification in his mind for his ongoing relationship with this other woman. It may be that one of the best options is to get him to express that belief/justification to a counselor who can help him understand the ultimate ramifications of trying to keep his options open with flames from his past.

  4. Rebecca Pendleton said:

    Please tell me how to get oit of this toxic relationship, please. I want out

    • Tracey said:

      Hi Rebecca,

      Toxic relationships are sometimes difficult to fix and even harder to leave. I want to suggest you bring up in our private forum where you can ask questions, share experiences with like-minded women and get extra real-time feedback and support for your unique situation.

      Stay strong,


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