In my recovery, I’ve been concentrating not only on myself, but also on what love means. What relationships I want in my life, and how I can know myself better and make better choices. I’ve read a few articles recently that I’m thinking about, mulling over…and that I hope will help me make better decisions in the future.
Being on the Same Page
In my most recent relationship I discovered that one of the most critical variables is to be able to grow together. This requires talking, checking in, managing each others’ needs, being open about them on every level. Even if it’s hard. Especially if it’s hard.
We never talked, not really. There were too many feelings and things hidden and brave faces, false fronts, to “make it work”…but it never worked. There was a point in which there was significant condemnation, a lack of respect, an inability to understand. Anger unmanaged, issues not discussed, dirt swept under the rug.
Until there was such a huge pile of filth under that rug that the rug could no longer cover it.
So aside from owning my part in that debacle, I’m going to look for someone who is interested in growth. Not just relationship growth, but personal growth. Someone who strives as I do to be a better person, no matter how difficult. The article linked below talks about a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.
When people embark on a relationship, they encounter a partner who is different from them, and they haven’t learned how to deal with the differences. In a good relationship, people develop these skills and, as they do, both partners grow and the relationship deepens. But for this to happen, people need to feel they’re on the same side. . . As an atmosphere of trust develop[s], they [become] vitally interested in each other’s development.
Where I was constantly learning, seeking, he was perfectly happy with his accomplishments. I’d changed so much, and he saw no reason to change. Even my hair color changes regularly. When we met I was a teacher and dressed conservatively. Now, I dress with an edge and an eye for accessories and details. I’d gotten my second master’s degree, morphed my career from an hourly ESL tutor to a UX professional for major corporations. He kept the same job for ten years.
We were very different people by the end; we grew apart instead of together. I’m hoping to meet someone who is more like me in the growth and personal development department, who is happy to grow, wants to keep the air clear and actually clean up problems instead of ignoring them. I was complicit in that, and I’m not going to do it again.
The 64% Person That You Round Up To 1
I’m a huge fan of Dan Savage and his podcast, Savage Lovecast. I actually paid for an annual subscription because I get that much out of it. Not just his no-bullshit approach (yes, one of my goals) but the ways in which he illuminates the things that I never understood about relationships. Every podcast he exposes at least a nugget of advice that I have never thought of, and occasionally he blows my mind with an observation.
The most recent “holy shit” moment was regarding the “price of admission” and the concept that there is no The One.
In Episode 464 (at about 13 minutes in) he counsels a girl and these phrases changed my perspective drastically:
- A dead love isn’t representative of my entire love life – these feelings exist within me and a person can bring those feelings out.
- I am my soulmate, there is no other person who “completes me”.
- “You’re not really going to say “most of the time I love being with you”, that long-term relationships “sometimes feel like weasels locked in a box together”” hahahaha
- “The .64 person that you were going to make into The One” – that nobody is perfect for anybody else, and the icky sides and imperfections get ignored for the sake of the relationship
- We all have to have a life worth living – I’ll meet someone or I won’t, but you I’ll be living a rewarding life
Also of interest to me is his concept of The Price of Admission – that there are certain traits or needs or qualities about a person that will not change – if you’re willing to deal with those, then you’re willing to pay the price of admission. Have a listen:
I Love You But It’s Not The Way You Love Me
And like her I want to start saying the following to everyone I feel it for: “I love you. It’s no big deal. It doesn’t mean you’re The One, or even one of the ones. It doesn’t mean you have to love me back. It doesn’t mean we have to date, or marry, or even cuddle. It doesn’t mean we have to part ways dramatically in a flurry of tears and broken dishes. It doesn’t mean I’ll love you until I die, or that I’ll still love you next year, or tomorrow.”
I guess what being in love really means is temporarily seeing the divine in people, catching little glimpses of their perfection, momentarily being blinded by the light of their glory. I just fell in love with my daughter again 30 seconds ago, when I caught her making one of those crazy faces at her dolls, and if you’re not careful, I might just fall in love with you.
Now I get it. Why I can speak about love and loving people I barely know. And I fall in love repeatedly – like when I see my big giant doggy sprawled on the couch like a baby, deeply asleep, or the way that my heart catches when I wake in the middle of the night and find a kitty sleeping close to my face, so close that I can kiss them…and when I do they start to purr.
And I can love so many people, for many different things.
And the love I feel when I am treated tenderly or gently by someone who means a lot to me – it doesn’t mean that I want a Happy Ever After – that’s just a ridiculous extrapolation. I love now, the you that you are here in this moment. and it’s magic.