Light Relationships : Time Apart

Light Relationships : Time Apart

There are many reasons why my past relationships have ended. I have been insecure, angry, unable to open up. I have gone for women with big pasts knowing I wasn’t yet mature enough to handle their stories. Most importantly, I have never been able to communicate what it is that I actually wanted, only tried to be what the moment called for. 

“When you see a couple out walking together in the morning do you feel happy, neutral, or irritated?” I ask Ashley, Ruby, and Eugene the other night.

Eugene looked at me and laughed. “What is this?” 

“I’m just curious. I have a strong opinion on this and I need some input from other people for context.” 

Eugene and Ruby briefly discussed if they have ever even walked together in the morning.

“Well you aren’t exactly charming in the mornings.”

“It’s a process to come to terms with waking up again.”

Ashley felt generally happy. “Unless I’m jealous of them,” she added dryly. She enjoyed the idea of couples though. 

Eugene found it to be generally pleasant. Definitely not irritating. “Why would someone get mad at that?” 

Ruby said it depended on the couple. I told her that all of this made me realize that if a couple is even taking the time to walk together then it was probably a good indication that they still maintained some form of connection.

“What about you?” she asked.

“Oh I hate it. Whenever I see a couple I feel like all of life’s potential has been removed from my lungs.” 

“Jesus, dude!” Ashley said. 

“They just always look so bored and they don’t talk to each other in a way that makes me feel strongly that I want what they have,” I responded. 

“Well, yeah. A lot of couples suck. But that doesn’t mean you have to be in that kind of relationship,” Ruby added. 

I don’t want to be two people half asleep buying into the idea that we have merged into something greater. I don’t want to go to sleep at night knowing we haven’t done anything above what is very minimum that would keep us together. 

That isn’t the type of merger I want. 

When Alexis finally decided she wanted to be with me she said if we were going to be together then we were going to have to do it all the way. “If you want to be with me then you need to marry me,” she said. 

Looking back, there were an incredible amount of sensors firing in my brain telling me this was probably not a good idea and not in line with what I really wanted. I believe my mind was quite literally saying, you do not want to do this. I didn’t want to get married. Maybe romantically, for the high. But not really. And, honestly, she probably didn’t want that either. 

I also didn’t want to let her down. I adapted myself to be the person for the moment. Told the voice in my head that it was mistaken and that I was going to do it anyway. I could muscle through it. Change what is real. And I actually felt a layer harden right beneath my skin, separating me gently from who I really was.

I wasn’t able to communicate what I wanted because I didn’t want her to stop liking me. I also didn’t have the tools to express that I did want to be with her – badly – just not in the way she was proposing.

The me now might have said to her – “I’ve wanted to be with you for years. I couldn’t be happier right now. This is everything to me. And I would love it if we could be together for a while before we talked about getting married to make sure it is the right move for who we are together.” 

I tried to practice this more with Maddy. Keeping things light. Letting her know early on that I wasn’t looking for a conventional relationship because they have always ended the same for me. And I’ve always tried to repeat them again hoping a new partner would change the outcome. 

I didn’t want to spend every waking minute together. Even if I thought I did in the moment. Even if it was hard to express. It’s that rush towards security. Getting into every corner of each other. Abandoning ourselves. It fills the first 6 months with the best drug-like sensations that exist. Then I start to come down. And slowly normalize. And return to the person I was before this other person came into my life. And in that moment I die. Because I wasn’t building something. I was taking something.

I want to slow that down. Stretch it out. And make sure the person I return to isn’t a person I don’t even recognize. I can only do this if I’m coming from a secure place. Not throwing all of who I am to the side in order to merge fully into you. 

Where this gets challenging – is finding a partner that trusts me when I tell them I don’t want to live together, or that if we do live together I want to spend at least 1-2 nights/week apart. 

For me, it’s about finding that sense of isolation to remind myself who I am and where I came from. To give myself space to continue to work on things that need attention. It doesn’t always look pretty. Sometimes it’s watching trashy TV, or eating dessert from a container, or pacing around my house beating myself up for not being as motivated when I’m alone. And sometimes it’s more productive – filling my time with phone calls to friends and family who I find easier to ignore when I’m in a relationship. Or sitting down and doing some serious writing. 

It forces me to check in. To be alone with myself. And to be reminded of the progress I’ve made and the work I still need to tend to. It also allows me to miss her. Her smile, her company. All the moments I can easily take for granted. It always me to inject newness into the situation constantly.

There is the argument that I could practice being more present and more grateful and look for newness in the continuous moments we spend together. I think there is some merit there but it is entirely impossible for me on its own. 

My brain craves novelty. And as much as I love the idea of taking notice of the newness in everyday life, nothing hits harder than the changing up of my environment. It does all the work for me. It lets me feel like me. It keeps me light and free and makes me happy to return to partnership. 

I want to make things easier on myself. So I can constantly show up as a good partner. And also look at myself and be proud of the person I am separate from my relationship. 

If we merge, I want it to be like this.

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