After one experiences a feel-good sort of relationship, it cannot be denied that one can be tempted to re-track in his or her mind how this relationship 1) surpasses all others that came before and 2) is what was worth waiting for all along. And, of course, the learning lessons from all those past relationships start to become crystal clear. Through past posts, I feel that I have been fair to those ex’s I refer to, carefully telling the story squarely settled within my own perspective and own recognizance of mistakes I, too, had made. But also to be fair to myself as I move ahead in my current relationship – the motherload of all relationships, mind you – there is a time where I need to square up and unload some feelings. I believe all along we – you as readers, and I as being human with her nasty days – have waited for it. It’s cleansing, it’s human and above all else, others need to hear someone else that gets it too. Because let’s be clear, we all have had relationships that have caused us such frustrations and anger. Daring to speak on behalf of others that have shared their dating experiences with me, we have all been down similar roads.
So, if I were to write a letter to X (and to not just one X, mind you, but a combination of assorted x’s that have all been guilty of one thing or another, because yes, I have dated more than one guy that could be just as cowardly, insecure and self-absorbed as the previous) it would go something like this…
I realize that this letter might come to a shock to you, as you probably predicted that I would sit around mooning over you for the remainder of my 30’s, and until then, in my 40’s I would become so resentful, I would settle into spinster phase and I always would continually wonder…”what if about us”. Well, not so much. Because, I feel, at the end of the day, no matter how quickly you may have moved onto the next relationship or how much you dragged your feet on a making a decision about our relationship, or hid behind your own yellow cowardice, I still win. And it’s because of the following things:
- I no longer have to hide the fact that I’m getting my PhD or that I hold a professional job because you would rather have someone who would stay home (and I quote) “be your rock” while you move up in the food chain of management. Because we all know the full story; there was only going to be room for one successful person in that relationship, and that was always going to be egotistical you.
- I no longer have to create a powerpoint presentation on all the ways that I can 1) make you happy 2) be a good girlfriend or 3) someday, perhaps your wife. Now, it all comes extremely easy to understand – and no longer have to convince – the person I’m with. Because, from the start, I was me. And that required no convincing or strategic planning document to present him with.
- I no longer have to avoid bars or restaurants because my partner is afraid we will run into someone I may have once dated. Because hey, get this, everyone has a past, and I’m finally dating someone that has an ounce of security in himself and doesn’t really care who we run into.
- It is so refreshing to have someone to show up on time and/or not want to leave early when the event or function we are attending are not – horrors! – all about them.
- I no longer have to pretend to like certain hobbies in order for you to simply pay attention to me, or want to hang out with me, clouded over with a perception that “hey we have something in common.”
- I never, ever have to wonder if he is going to call. Because he always has. Because he wants to. There is no secret code, no mystery hanging in the air, no three day rule. We are simply too old – and too secure with who we are – to bull shit.
- How refreshing to be with someone who actually knows what he wants from life, a job, and THANK GOD, a relationship. No more beating around the bush or hiding behind past relationships that may have “wounded him” so much that commitment is simply not in the cards. Maybe not for you and I, but commitment was always a possibility for you. You just couldn’t say as much.
- What a weight off my shoulders to not have to walk on eggshells anymore, to weigh words I say like perfectly sculpted measurements, just so as to not offend you, hurt your feelings and/or put you on the defensive. Because all that ends up being is a lot of work at the end of the day and no paycheck to show for it.
- I don’t have to consistently ask anymore “When am I going to see you next?”, because I already know the answer. Again, no mystery, no “we’ll see” or “my week is pretty tight” or “I’ll call you”. It’s already a given that the person I’m with will make the time because I’m – at last – a priority for him.
- That I can go to social functions and not worry about having to entertain someone, or worry about someone else saying something that might have offended my partner or made him so angry that he “needs to leave right now”. How refreshing for us to bask in the glow of everyday life knowing that no one says everything perfectly, and no setting or place is absolutely where we want to be all the time – we go because the other person wanted us there. And that’s enough for him. I now have someone that takes in every moment and just finds himself lucky to be somewhere -anywhere! – that’s with me.
Within this letter, I would be remiss – and it would also be uncharacteristic of me – to not also acknowledge ways in which I take responsiblity for how past relationships have gone wayward. These, too have been learning lessons and I know I haven’t been perfect. Now I:
- Can openly admit that I’m smart, I’m going to be a doctor, and maybe, just maybe, I might make more money than the guy.
- I no longer wait by the phone because my to-do list, my bucket list, my grocery list and my guilty pleasure list is way too much to tackle for me to just sit around and wait for the phone to ring.
- I no longer pretend that I’m a vegetarian, an avid skiier, or can slam shooters all night and still be able to get up the next morning at 6AM for work. I love to eat meat, I prefer intermediate hills and hot cocoa in the lodge and 9:30 is my bedtime and Irish Car Bombs are my downfall. And I’m perfectly happy with that.
- If a guy wants to – or threatens to – leave the relationship (instead of talking about it) because something doesn’t set right with him, he’s “not ready” for a relationship or I have disappointed him in some way, I let him. If he truly “wants a shot at the title” he’ll be back.
- If a guy questions a friendship I have with a guy or my past dating relationships, only to make a comment like “Well, guys date women like that, they don’t marry them”, I’m out. No one should make time for someone that can’t get past your past.
- I realize that a relationship is about two people, and just as I have accused others of a similar thing, I also am guilty about making times during the relationship all about me. I am also guilty of placing unrealistic expectations on a relationship – and on you – without really having the opportunity to delve into what the relationship was all about in the first place. That is not fair to you or to me. We all know that it is about both people in the relationship, there is compromise, and that no person should be put on a pedestal without proving their place on top of it.
- If a partner doesn’t realize that going to an event that my mom and dad are hosting as “important”, that speaks volumes to me. I find another a tree to bark up.
- If he is not it to win it, than neither am I.
- I now consider my family and friends’ well intentioned “words of caution” for a guy I’m dating, rather than insisting that they “don’t know what they are talking about” or “all relationships are hard, this one just happens to be harder than others”. I now realize relationships at the start should be easy, for the hard parts are only yet to come.
- I no longer make excuses for bad behavior. And that, my friend, has been my biggest learning lesson.
Despite the fact that this letter may harbor on the bad points, I do recognize that there were times in our relationship that were loving, fun and memorable and are anchored within corners of a big heart. All of our mistakes are learning lessons of how we come about to the motherload relationship in the future. My hope is that you -like me – have also developed a list of ways you wish I was different, as well as a list of mistakes you have grown from. This all speaks to how we move forward to what is right for us in the end. For in order to be good to each other, we needed to let go of each other, no matter how it all went down.
Just like Carly Simon’s song, there will be x’s who read this in vain and think this post is still all about them. Truth is, it is. And also about that other guy I dated. And the other guy. And the next.
For my readers who are used to my more optimistic way of looking at relationships, skirting the negative in order to see the silver lining, I still had to write this. It was the last cleansing part I needed to do in order to continue to move forward. Part of the learning meshes with part of the healing. And that is all part of the process.
And to Good Will Green Eyes, thanks for being one of my most best – and favorite! – teachers. Here is to us continuing to learn together in the “fut-uah”! That is one lesson I look forward to writing about. You think this blog ends here? Au contraire, friends. It has only just begun.
Copyright 2012, Leah A. Flynn