I’m an odd sort of person, which I’ve been told time and time again. But if you met me I think you’d likely get along with me. In some ways I’m quite easy-going and in other ways I’m a stickler. I’ve somehow managed being in a relationship, a romantic one, and one I rather enjoy.
At 42 I have sort of come to terms with my being. I’m comfortable in my own skin and feel far less outside pressure than when I was a teenager.
The reason I am saying all of this is because I’m about to take you on a journey through my romantic relationships. Or at least how I think about it and deal with it.
Loneliness & Desperation
I want to address loneliness and desperation first. These 2 might be the worst drivers of being in a romantic relationship. Nothing wrong with looking for love, but is it feeling an unhealthy void or is it creating a whole that’s greater than the sum.
I mean, shit, like anyone else I want to experience love, positive attention, support, and have someone with whom I can laugh and have experiences. It’s the plight of the human and the beauty of being human.
But I don’t want to be with someone because I feel lonely. I don’t want to be in a relationship just so that I can hide my desperation. These tactics only take you so far – soon you’ll have to break up with this person and look for these fillers in another person.
Being in Love
Here is another big one – looking for love. Wanting to be in love. I recall the first few times I was in love and it was a great feeling. But now, knowing what I know, or maybe my jadedness, I wouldn’t call those emotions love.
They were hormonal surges, which created an attachment to another person. Kissing, making out, getting someone else’s attention at that age was huge.
But now I see love differently. I have friends I love, hobbies I love, and I love myself. Not that I need to but these create positive feelings and make it easier for me to overcome negative emotions.
I now believe that love develops after 2 people have lived side by side. Not lived together under the same roof, not necessarily. Love develops when 2 people do things for each other, support each other, are there for each other, and get to know each other.
I feel love for someone who has been in my life for several years. Someone whom I’ve seen grow and I’ve been able to be myself around.
And the opposite is true. When someone criticizes me, doesn’t accept me for who I am, and when there is friction whenever I’m around this person, I don’t feel close to that person. I want to avoid them.
Fortunately, I’m a guy. I say that because I hear that sex is experienced and viewed very differently for women than men. As a dude, it’s not hard to have sex. You can find it in a fuck-buddy, you can pay for it, or you can buy a blow-up doll – so I’ve heard.
I don’t think sex holds a relationship together and I don’t think it breaks it apart. But just like a good conversation – enjoying s movie together, playing a sport together – sex can bring 2 people closer.
If the sex is bad you can work on it. If the sex is good you can enjoy it. But to put the pressure of a successful relationship on sex makes no sense to me.
Couples who can find desirable sex outside their relations – assuming they can’t find it with their partner – have a higher chance of success. It’s like a good conversation – maybe you can’t have it with your partner, but you can have it with your BFF. As long as there are other good things making your romantic relationship a good one, you can always hit up your BFF for good convos.
Concerning friendship, I’m definitely an outlier. People want to find a romantic partner right off the bat. I, on the other hand, would be looking for an awesome friend with romantic potential.
I was the same – I dated online looking for a romantic partner. I was looking for the same puppy love I had back when I was a teenager. Which is ironic because the puppy love never lasted.
The person I’m with now is someone I enjoy having a conversation with. I enjoy hanging out with her even if each of us is doing their thing. And we have great sex and will try each other’s sports or activities.
Still, we’re quite different, just like 2 friends might be. I don’t like touristy stuff, I don’t enjoy driving in a car, and air pollution or noise bugs me.
She, on the other hand, has lots of friends, is social, loves exploring new places, and is much more easygoing with day-to-day stuff.
I’ve always battled money issues . . . just read the posts from 2015 and 2016. My relationship with money has slowly matured but it’s far from perfect.
With my partner, I’ve learned to discuss and manage this topic rather maturely. Honestly, I’m shocked b it. I chalk it up to her having a better relationship with money and being more responsible with it than myself.
Money is a relationship killer, no doubt. Being in a relationship brings the two into constant friction with money. It’s not that money is evil, but it’s a limited resource, like attention and time. When you feel it slipping out of your hand, you get overprotective, defensive.
I suppose we like being ourselves because it’s less threatening. We feel less judged and we get to manifest the true “me”. I chalk this up to being human and thinking we matter in this world maybe a little more than other creatures which can’t think of themselves outside of themselves.
Still, I want to be me because it means that I have to put in less effort. I don’t feel judged and I can express myself freely. Nothing wrong with someone questioning your thoughts and beliefs here and there – that’s healthy.
It’s when your being threatens the other person or vice versa, that’s when being in a relationship becomes more of a chore and less fun.
Individuality & Fun
Ah, here is the meat of it all. A romantic relationship which allows for individuality and is fun is like the holy grail of relationships.
You get the support, the companionship, the sex, the conversations, and you have someone who’ll hold that proverbial mirror up to you.
Nothing can be fun 100% of the time. But if you are having 80% fun and feeling 80% of the time like yourself, that’s a good thing. That’s an incredible experience to have with another person.
What I’ve Overcome
I’ve had to overcome a lot to be in a healthy relationship. I had a shit-ton of baggage and I can only hope that I’ve dumped as little of it on my current partner as possible.
- I was insanely jealous
- I was insecure
- I couldn’t trust anyone
- I was couldn’t express myself verbally
- I didn’t want to be vulnerable
- I was very selfish in the attention I craved
- I wasn’t selfish enough with what I needed
- I couldn’t consider the emotions of the other person
- I read into every word and action way too much
- I couldn’t recover from arguments
- I was avoidant and distanced myself
- I was impatient
- I believed every thought which crept into my head
- I had no criteria of what a good relationship was
- I didn’t see the other person as an individual
- I was striving for perfection
A Sustainable Romantic Relationship
I know, what a catch right? But a lot of this is in the past. Some of it is still a work-in-progress.
If I can accept Mo for being who is then I have a much easier time accepting my partner for how she is being. Maybe she’s feeling insecure, maybe she’s feeling depressed, or maybe she’s having doubts.
Creating that space for the other person is so powerful. But if I can’t take care of myself, I can’t be in a place to hold space for her. That’s the selfishness I’ve come to master – protecting my well-being for myself.