The tadpole is a mysterious, elusive creature. Secrets and change are deep within its body. Bright, shiny, and smooth with the newness of life and its very existence.
I used to watch them as a child with wonder, curiosity, trepidation and excitement as it went through its cycle of growth and existence. It embodied my favorite oxymoron-
The only constant in life is change.
I embraced every transition and watched closely as it grew its legs and then eventually lost the tail. The prospect of this developing creature was filled with such hope and promise.
Every once in a while, the tadpole dies before fulfilling its promise of a new and exciting existence. My disappointment was always quelled with another tadpole which started the entire new sequence once again.
Recently an old friend came to see me. We had not actually seen each other for a few years and she had moved out of state. I could tell she was not her usual sparkling self.
After about an hour filled with updates, photographs, and our usual reminiscing, plus a number of glasses of wine, she switched to vodka. In an uninhibited state, Amy came forth with what was clouding her mind. “I’ve been seeing this guy…” she began. I could tell from the look on her face and her strained and halting vocal cadence, this was not going in a good direction. She proceeded to tell me that she met him online and they immediately hit it off.
She and Mark had a fabulous three weeks together. She hadn’t clicked with anyone like this for a very long while. Amy was divorced for many years and she now had two grown and married children. She was totally enamored by this man. I asked what the problem was, as something was obviously troubling her.
“Everything was so great and I love him, I really love him…” She looked down at the granite bar top in my den staring, thinking. She looked as if she was about to cry, but didn’t. “He wanted me to lose weight. He wanted me to get a facelift. He is not happy with the way I look.”
“That’s it, I declared. He’s done. Forget him!!!”
“The thing is that we still speak. As a matter of fact, for the last month we are still friends. We text every morning and every night, and I still love him,” she dreamily cooed. I told her that I found it interesting that he texted her every morning. She stated that she texted good morning first. I asked her if he ever initiated the morning texts. She admitted that it was rare.
“I haven’t heard from him again today, Amy lamented. I texted him this morning and all he said was that he was busy. I’m going to text him again.”
“Oh no you’re not!!” I was tempted to wrestle the phone away from her. It was too late. She texted him to call her…. It was virtual crickets for a few hours until he finally texted- Busy, talk tomorrow.
Amy was apparently fixated on the first three weeks, which in my mind was barely the honeymoon phase. Her “relationship” was a glittering tadpole which never reached its potential. She was stuck in this strange purgatory of joyous romantic dreams and adventure, which she desperately wanted back. It appeared that her relationship would never transition out of the tadpole stage and grow deeper, stronger and soar.
How many people mourn this dreamy and quite unrealistic stage? For most people, this stage is in the first three months of a relationship- if it lasts that long.
The adrenaline rushes are indeed addictive. What causes these twisted feelings of ecstasy intertwined with fear and uncertainty? The relationship is underdeveloped and untested. It is based on fun, fantasy and longing. Will they call? Will they text? How long should I wait to panic if the text is not answered immediately? There is a feeling of urgency and excitement juxtaposed with what ifs.
This is also a time we tend to place people on pedestals. We absolutely refuse to see the bad or negative and dwell on the happy, shiny and intimate moments. We ignore, we make excuses, and sometimes literally bury our heads and cover our eyes, ears and mouths.
When and how do relationships begin to grow legs? This usually occurs during the 4-6 month period which can also be a tricky, challenging, yet rewarding time. It is a time of growing pains mixed with joy and discovery.
Arguments and disagreements occur, hopefully followed up by fruitful and enlightening discussions. The outside world begins to seep in coloring our views and reactions toward the person.
This is a crucial time. The authentic selves begin to emerge as we uncover one another’s truths. Does this relationship have a foundation? Is there a true friendship evolving? Are there legs to stand on? Can a couple survive this period and come out stronger than ever?
If the answer is yes, there is potential for a strong and satisfying relationship, although many couples try to hang on to the initial period of elation. They may choose to ignore the red flags that have emerged during this period hoping to chase that initial tadpole instead of searching for a new one.
The next morning I texted Amy. “Are you ok,?” She immediately texted back that she was, but very tired. There was no mention of the previous night. There was no mention of the discussion. There was no mention of Mark.
She flew back home. “Did you arrive safely?” I texted. Everything was great. She arrived safely back home. No mention of Mark. No mention of the five hour angst she experienced waiting for his text or call.
Amy is a smart, accomplished and beautiful woman with so much to offer. I sincerely hope she is no longer chasing that same tadpole…