Don’t assume you know my relationship priorities

I used to fall for people who I really liked & really fancied. Usually I liked them so much partly because they were somehow unavailable, maybe not looking for a relationship like I was – or at least not with me.

Then, my heart having been broken by some such man in a life changing ‘I’m never putting myself through that again’ kind of way, I decided I needed to find someone who was more into me than I was into them to avoid this kind of scenario in future. He hadn’t just broken my heart – he had broken a part of my world view.

With the guys I was crazy about I always felt such guilt and shame that I was ‘allowing myself’ if you like, to be ‘used’ or not demanding enough for myself. The voices saying this came from the people who cared about me – usually and from a place of love and concern.

So the next people I went out with were generally those that chased me – how could I be sure if they liked my unless they did? And when I found what I believed and hoped was my ‘final love’ I wasn’t sure about him at first. He was very attractive, charming, gentlemanly, funny, sweet. But I wasn’t sure. Actually I wasn’t sure for months – possibly because we had a long distance relationship so it was harder to get to know eachother. But – he made me feel safe, he was very affectionate, loving, caring and very interested in me.

I did fall in love with him in the end, and well that was my last ‘proper’ relationship – again in the life changing sense – in that, as is the point of this blog, I won’t have another traditional relationship like any that has gone before because of my experience – with him but all my experience leading up to it as well.

‘Enough is enough!’ my tired brain and heart had chorused.

What else is there instead then, of this idyllic set up I was led to believe would one day be mine? What in fact is the reality of my situation and how do I work within it to get what I need and be happy?

Now, again, I find I am liberated to  fall for who I want because quite frankly given my relationship world view, this ‘new paradigm’ that I work within – it doesn’t matter because everything ends anyway. And remember the thing about falling for someone you like (and more importantly, letting yourself and not feeling bad or guilty about it) is that – well, it feels fucking amazing. Yes you can get hurt – of course you can! If you ever go after anything (or anyone) you want you can. Now too, I can bring together what I have learned about what I need, with a more realistic understanding of the likelihood of what is on offer for me in terms of romantic relationships. Its different from before where my falling for people was tied up with some kind of lack in me that is largely filled now. When I fall for someone now its from a place of security, with an understanding that it doesn’t mean forever as I used to hope it would.

But here’s the thing; it depends on your world view and if you are getting what you need out of the relationship. The assumption is still, always – you need someone who will want to have a relationship with you, want to stay with you forever and give you everything you need.

But when you’ve given up on the idea that a partner can do all of this for you it gives you so much more freedom to enjoy the bits of a relationship that others may see as not being good for you.

Of course someone should treat you well, and you should get what you need out of your relationship with them, but what bugs me is the assumptions about what it is that I may need. What about how it makes me feel to fall for someone, even knowing it may not work out? In fact, indeed with my new view of relationships – with eyes wide open if you like – isn’t this the best way? Isn’t this in fact a great part of what I now have? The freedom to fall for someone knowing full well it wont last. It doesn’t stop it hurting if it goes wrong, but how I am I then different to anyone else in this position? Its certainly less boring than playing it safe!

What I found much worse than the possibility of being hurt in the short term in fact was the illusion of security – when someone appears to be offering you something (believes they are) and its only years later that you find out it wasn’t what you thought – that’s what really hurts. And the worst thing is it doesn’t only hurt, it’s fucking awful. Because you start to try to save something that you thought would be a forever, and it (if it doesn’t work in the end and certainly in my experience) can be soul destroying, hugely anxiety making, depressing and the loneliest of lonelys.

The things that became most important to be above anything following my last relationship were;

  1. Honesty
  2. Responsiveness to my needs

For someone to then assume that I prioritise and expect longevity  (or indeed monogamy) would be to completely misunderstand the point – to not get what it is that I prioritise above these things (albeit because I have to, because I am working within what I find to be the reality of romantic relationships). This would be making the same traditional assumptions about what it is I want and now expect from my relationships.

However I am grateful for peoples assumptions. They make me think pretty hard about what I do think, and force me to find a way to express it which helps me in the long run.

I want my relationships to be honest, and I do want them to be reliable. In fact I do want them to have longevity but I don’t presume that the nature of them will always be romantic – I want them to be adaptable and flexible and morph over time in line with whats happening in our lives, to our feelings. We may be lovers, then not, then we may again (or not). Of course if someone I was engaged in this with then became monogamous with someone else (or vice versa) its likely someone would get hurt and the reality of what I have described is obviously much more elusive than the theory. But that then is the test of the relationship – can it become a friendship or not? But ideally I’m talking about someone with the same view of relationships as me, someone who can explore them flexibly with me and offer me the support that is necessary to do this, take care of my needs no matter what happens to the status of our relationship in the future (and this is they key, the challenge – finding someone/people like this). That to me is a truly strong, honest and enduring relationship. Idyllic – yes, painted in this way I’ll admit – but certainly less idyllic and more realistic than the other kind we are sold our whole lives!

And of course in reality it may not work, like any kind of relationship – there are many challenges; the pain and jealousy may be too much. But on the other hand if you can navigate the bumps and challenges along the way, you could make it work. Its starting to sound like I’m describing a marriage! Apart from the fact that there probably wont be sex in the long run.

Silly me, nothing like a marriage…



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