It’s amazing the things you learn while you’re in a relationship.
For instance, I’ve learned how much I love being single. Let me explain. I love being able to do what I want, when I want. I love the ability to not have to consider another person’s feelings in any of my decisions. I love the freedom.
But on the other hand, there are positive things about being in a relationship. It’s nice knowing there’s someone who loves me, all of me, good and bad. It’s nice having someone to plan things with and spend time with. It’s nice to have kisses and cuddles, and other things… And I love having romance. The trick is though, to maintain that romance or else, the romantic relationship becomes just another friendship with benefits.
Ultimately, I’m learning that I’m not the type of person who needs a relationship. You know the type I’m talking about. Always in a relationship since they were in high school, probably married at this point with kids. That’s the type of person that values relationships and has made them a priority in their life.
That’s not me.
I’m the type of person who values freedom and independence and not feeling tied down or smothered. There are many times when I wish I was the other type of person. I wish that I could be satisfied with a stationary house with a family. But I need to be on the move. I need to travel to explore, to see more.
Unfortunately this inner desire for adventure and eye- and mind-opening experiences comes at a price. Loneliness.
I’ve moved a lot the past eight years of my life. From Arizona to Boston, back to Arizona, to Italy, back to Arizona, to Thailand, to Florida, and now to Utah. I’ve only been able to maintain a small handful of friends. My travels uproot me and prevent me from wanting to get too attached when I know I won’t be settling down any time soon.
It’s been a lonely life interspersed with intense moments of connection and sadness as I inevitably leave. And through it I’ve wanted so badly, a best friend, a partner, a supportive hand. It didn’t necessarily need to be a lover, that would just be a bonus. Ultimately I just wanted to feel less alone in this world.
When my current boyfriend came along, I wasn’t ready. It was a long-distance relationship that I only saw friendship in. It took many months for me to finally be convinced that we could be something more. When I finally let my guard down I realized that I had manifested my dream.
Not only did my best friend become my boyfriend and lover, but he’s also my business partner, someone who supports me in my creative and professional goals, someone who holds my hand and looks into my eyes with unconditional love.
How this happened I am still amazed at. I excel at self-sabotage. Leaving my relationships like I leave the newest place I’ve called home for the year. I would pick apart things that are wrong in a relationship until eventually it would unravel and fall apart, or I would throw it against the wall and break it into a million pieces. Either way, I was the master at short-term relationships.
Always looking for something better, I would lose sight of all the good that was in front of my face. My perception of love would become fogged by the inner demon voices telling me that my lover was going to leave me or would stop loving me. The ultimate destruction of my soul, the thing I couldn’t bear to experience.
So I left. Over and over, that was my mode of operation. Either finding emotionally unavailable men who would never love me or men who loved me but I tossed away out of self-preservation, only to then realize my mistake and want them back.
What’s interesting about all these discoveries about my relationship habits is that I’ve learned most of them while in my new relationship. And I didn’t learn them the easy way.
I’ve learned them through acting out similar behaviors and replaying old stories and beliefs. By being willing to throw away my current relationship as all the old thoughts crept back into my head, burrowing so deep the headache blurred reality.
Having endured and perpetrated many fights in the beginning of my budding romance, I’ve learned something truly special: relationships are not fairytales.
I feel a lot. I mean, a lot. Therefore, everyday brings a new feeling and a new set of eyes on my relationship. Some days I miss my freedom and want out, other days I’m so in love and want to plan a future together. And in the past I would allow these thoughts to cloud the reality of relationships, people change day to day and it’s the commitment that dictates my resolve.
I’ve always played the short-term game. Impulsively starting relationships or ending them. Not fully thinking through all my decisions but rather what the instant gratification would be. This has led me to an unsustainable life. Not only have I found myself not to be fully self-sufficient financially, but I’ve also never had a relationship last longer than five consecutive months.
I’m growing up, despite all my temper tantrums and idealizing of Never Never Land. And that’s what relationships do, well, the healthy ones. They teach you to grow up. They teach you to put another person’s needs over your own and to be so willing to do so. They teach you to make compromises and let go of self-righteousness.
Still figuring it out, I don’t claim anything near perfection. But I do proclaim that I have faced off with a lot of my shadow and am still in a loving relationship. Thanks a lot to my partner who sets an example of steady, unconditional love. He is my teacher, and I, his. Together we are growing stronger.
I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow or a year from now, but I’m making choices today that are hopefully laying the groundwork to have a strong and unbreakable foundation for the future.