Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Different Kind of Miserable

A Different Kind of Miserable

We are innately driven to reconcile our loneliness (yes I know I’ve used this sentence before), and some of us seem to sort out the logistics pretty early on by finding someone who is willing to agree to keep you company UNTIL YOU DIE (in theory). I’ve been having some thoughts and feelings about all that.
So you found someone who you trust and adore and with whom you want to share a life and you have faith that you’re going to grow and change together in blissful synchronicity and that you won’t end up estranged and bitter and wishing you had banged more people when you were hot? Congratulations!
That’s really special and I’m glad it’s working out. You might want kids and a stable life and some assurance that there’s going to be someone around to deal with you when you’re old and icky. That’s great because someone needs to be in charge of making more people. We obviously don’t have enough people so I'm really glad you're on board to make that happen. And hey, I’m worried about being old too! Worried enough to feel compelled to sign a piece of paper that says I’m done figuring out what I want in the interim? Not quite. I’m not saying I can’t see myself being very happy in a long term committed relationship, and I know that doing so wouldn’t necessarily undermine my independence, but I have zero anxiety about the fact that I might not find that person any time soon. I don’t believe that the misery that can come with loneliness is any more miserable than the misery that two people can cause one another.
Love is not a prize that you win for being wonderful. It’s easy to fall into the trap of viewing the lack of a romantic relationship as a sign that something is wrong. Following that logic, you might give love away to someone because you do find them wonderful and want to be close to them as a way to resolve your own insecurities. Love isn’t always a generous act. It can be both selfish and extremely detrimental to your own self esteem. If you are enamored of someone because they represent an alluring experience which is outside of your own, then you run the risk of subjugating your own values and interests in favor of theirs, at least while you’re together. You also run the risk of turning the subject of your love into a symbol for what you want your own life to look like, and in doing so you assign him or her to an intangible realm of idealism in which he or she can never become an equal partner. It’s tempting to look for the missing pieces of your life in another person, but if you don’t do the work to make your life look how you want it to while you’re alone then there will always be a crackling void of uncertainty between you and your significant other.
Sorry about that last paragraph, guys. That was a bit much. If you know me you might be scratching your head a bit seeing as I was in what would be considered by most to be a long-term, committed relationship not so long ago. My best explanation for how that happened is that shit was different when I was 19 and the whole long term thing sort of snuck up on me. I really do value intimate companionship and it never occurred to me that I was allowed to have that with someone I wasn’t exclusively beholden to in some way.

Either way, that was then and this is now and what I’m doing now is trying to appreciate the people who come into my life for what they have to offer and not for what I want from them. This approach might not be sustainable, and sometimes I put myself in a position where I am more than likely going to get my feelings hurt because I am genuinely excited that everyone I meet might be in my life in some form and some of those people aren’t so much looking to know me in any extended way so they’re all like “Heeeeeey calm down over there.” and I’m all like... “ :(  K“.

I should probably mention that I have a straight male best friend with whom I regularly hold hands and take naps and who I occaaaaaasionally kiss on the mouth. And we used to date. And I spent Easter with his family? So I might be cheating a little bit so far as the whole resolving loneliness “on my own” thing is concerned but our exchange is far more honest and relaxed than it ever could have been had we continued dating.

 It’s a lot easier to get close to someone in a meaningful way when you really don’t care whether or not you line up with their pre-existing notions of an ideal mate. I'm hoping that I can take a little bit of what I've learned from this friendship about love and mutual respect and carry it over to all of the connections I make in life, even if they're far less involved. The whole thing might be problematic if either of us were in a relationship but keeping someone at a distance just in case a bonafide suitor shows up seems like an awfully silly way to live life.

I know that I'm not the first person to think there might be a better way to do this whole love/relationship/lifeplan thing. I'm not saying that I want to lead a strictly polyamoruos lifestyle(crediting a guy I met online for my use of that particular term), or that I'm even actively pursuing new relationships at the moment. Frankly I'm having a hard time managing my time as it is and I'd like to focus on being as good of a friend as possible to the people I already know rather than spend too much time meeting new ones.  I simply seek to challenge my own understanding about what a relationship "working out" means and hopefully get a little closer to figuring out what I want, and how I can be relatively happy in a sustainable way without leaving a trail of emotional wreckage in my wake.

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