Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Communication is everything

A friend and I were messaging last week after she accidentally outed herself on Facebook as having been in a relationship for about a year. I should probably say "accidentally outed" in quotes. While she mentioned the guy in a post, the relationship wasn't the focus; it was part of a bigger story. Just like it was in real life - not her focus, and not really a secret, just a part of her story that hadn't come up before.

Anyway, she told me a few details about the guy and their dating style that make their relationship a little less than conventional. It's a style many would consider unacceptable; some might even consider it unhealthy (I'm not one of those people; just wanted to offer some context without sharing a story that's not mine to share).

She said for her, it's been the healthiest relationship she's ever had. No co-dependence, she gets alone time (which is important to her), and they don't take each other, or the relationship, for granted.

"We TALK," she said. "That is huge."

It got me thinking about my own relationship, and how it probably appears to others - lack of commitment, going nowhere, unhealthy.

We don't live together because we're not married. Toyfriend is too traditional. But we'll probably never be married because... well, that's a separate post. So it's likely we'll never share a roof.

We often spend holidays separate because combining families is complicated. He doesn't attend every function
with me because he always has a choice and sometimes the choice is one of his kids, or a friend, or just a night to himself. 

But we also talk - and that is everything. I know how he feels and how committed he really is to me and our relationship. We are not always together, we don't share a mailbox, and he doesn't do everything I want - and that's OK. Those things, while nice, are not proof of commitment or love - and I am lucky to be in a relationship where I don't have to rely on those things to feel secure.

All of us spend spend so much time and energy searching for this missing something in relationships. We think it needs to be marriage or family or living together or whatever. We convince ourselves that if we just take that one little (or big) step, we'll feel secure and sure of where things are, and where they are going. 

But that security, or those steps, are not what's missing. What's missing is communication. Once you find that, you realize it's the thing you've been searching for; that other stuff was just a substitute.

It's the one thing you really need.

Communication is everything. It's what's missing in most relationships, and when you find it, you realize that's what you really needed all along. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

So much more

I've resolved to write more this coming year. The thing is, sometimes I put it off because I don't have time to write out the whole thing, or I want to organize my thoughts, or I want to use a real keyboard instead of my phone. But sometimes you just have to go with what you got, start typing and see what comes out. Then hit publish and hope for the best.

Last year was HUGE for me and Toyfriend. We honestly almost broke up at the beginning of 2017. I never would have imagined we'd get to 2018 together, let alone happier.

We had a lot to overcome. Some boundaries to negotiate - then renegotiate. We had to improve communication - on both ends. I, personally, had to work on setting, and managing, expectations.

We just celebrated our best holiday yet. We were able to share it with both our families and some friends. Most importantly, we shared it with each other with just enough compromise and no conflict.

I know that may sound silly, but for me, it is huge. I have come to expect conflict at holiday time. Being able to share the time with someone is big - and being able to rely on his support during all that family time means everything.

I spent a lot of time in 2017 learning what I want from my relationship - and also realizing what I can expect (realistically). I know I will need to give up some things - some just for now, but some maybe forever.

It's been a battle, figuring out what I can live with, and without. Sometimes it feels like too much to give up.

Then I have moments of real clarity - a genuinely happy holiday, for example - and I realize that while I may be giving up some things, I am getting so much more in return.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sort of single

I find Facebook groups to be a little like a hostage situation, with most members suffering from something that resembles Stockholm Syndrome. We didn't ask to be there, we're not really sure how we got there, we can't figure out a way to leave, and it seems easier to just try and get along with everyone.

But I am in this one group that I actually enjoy. It's all women (at least it seems to be) and topics for discussion range from mascara to childhood surgery to mental health to pumpkin spice.

Most of the ladies in the group are married moms. Please don't misunderstand - I like married moms. Some of my best friends are married moms. Some of the best people on the planet are married moms.

But I am not a married mom. What's more - I'm not a married mom by choice. I'll definitely never be a married mom, so I'm not even a married-mom-in-waiting.

So some of the posts aren't really for me, which I accept and scroll on. Or maybe I silently troll the comments. It sort of depends how bored I am at work.

Not long ago, I was scrolling along and saw a post that opened with: Single ladies, this one's for you! What do you want to talk about?

Super-excited, I stopped all the work I wasn't doing and eagerly dug in. Finally a conversation I could join!

Except - I really couldn't. They wanted to talk about dating, and family pressure to find someone, and a host of other topics to which I could totally relate.... back before I started dating Toyfriend.

I realized, not only am I not a married mom - I'm not even married, or a mom. I'm also not really single, either. I used to think I would always consider myself single until someone was helping me pay rent. While I still don't have that, I don't really feel single anymore, either. I have relationship issues similar to my married friends - but I have it easier because I have a boyfriend, not a husband, and my own space. I can relate to my friends who are in unmarried relationships - until we get to the part about planning to be married and/or have a family. That's not me either.

So I'm not really single - but I'm also not in what most people consider a relationship. I don't seem to quite fit in anywhere.

Which is probably a good indication that I'm in a relationship that is right for me, since I almost never do well when I do what everyone else is doing... but it does leave me with surprisingly few people to whom I can relate.

Maybe I need to start my own Facebook group?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Perfect to me

I've been sifting through old posts today, trying to find one that I clearly remember writing... but don't remember when, or what I used for a title.

It was about what I was looking for in a relationship. Not something typical... I wanted more. Something wonderful and amazing that made me feel loved and powerful and safe, all at the same time. I had come to realize that for me, love probably wasn't going to look like it does for everyone else... and that was finally OK with me.

(I did find this post... which speaks to some of those ideas. I'm linking here just because I looked for so long, I feel like I need to have a link...)

It's been on my mind because Toyfriend and I have had a couple of long discussions about where our relationship is going, and how it's working. The truth is, he does not want to live together. He says he may in the future, but I disagree. I think if he doesn't already want to take that step, it's likely he never will. Either way, I either have to accept that, or move on.

He asked me the other day, "In five years, if we're still like this, you living one place and me living in
another... will you be happy?"

I was honest and answered, "I don't know."

But I do know that if he had asked me that two years ago, I would have said that wouldn't be acceptable... and yet here I am, 2 years later, and it's perfectly OK with me.

I think love changes you. Not in obvious ways, like the way you look or your attitude or your job or your political affiliations. Real love changes your soul. It makes you dig deeper, and grow stronger. It changes your perspective. Suddenly, the things you thought were most important really don't matter much at all. Maybe it changes your priorities - or maybe it just changes the way you see them.

Toyfriend told me he wants me to be able to say to my friends, "He's perfect." He worries that he's not perfect if he won't give me what I want on this issue.

I thought for a moment, and then I told him, honestly -

"You are perfect in all the ways that matter."

Friday, August 4, 2017

Nice guy syndrome

This is a departure from talking about my ongoing struggle with relationship anxiety. I saw a post from a friend who is dealing with something I have always found pretty intriguing (and also pretty annoying): Nice guy syndrome.

In case you're wondering - this is actually a thing. Urban Dictionary defines Nice Guy Syndrome as:
A condition where a guy feels he is entitled to dating a girl simply because he has been her friend and let her cry on her shoulder about the jerks. When she is not attracted to him, he chooses to blame it on the fact that he has been a "nice guy" and she only wants to date jerks. Really, not the mentality of a guy who is actually nice, because one should not be kind in the hopes of getting a girl and simply be kind for the sake of being kind. Any guy who tries to guilt you into dating him simply because you are friends has the mental affliction known as nice guy syndrome.
In my friend's case, her post says that she and Mr. Nice Guy went on two nice dates - and then he showed signs of being a little clingy. Since he's recently out of a relationship, my friend viewed that somebody.
as a red flag that he's not so much into her as he is into having

My friend isn't going to settle for just being anybody's somebody (hats off to my friend here). So when she told him things just didn't seem to be working out (perfectly fair after two dates, I'd say), his response is that girls just don't want a nice guy and his friend chimes in that she (my friend) must be damaged if she doesn't want to date him.

Damaged?!

It is not damaged to decide something that new just won't work out. It is not damaged to decide you're better off on your own than settling. It is not damaged to be upfront with another person and let him know where he stands.

It is damaged to try and lay blame on someone for doing any of those things. It is damaged to expect that just because you were nice to someone literally twice that she owes you a date, or a relationship, or friendship, or sex, or... well, anything.

A nice guy knows that a woman doesn't owe him a thing. He is not nice with an expectation of something in return. He is nice simply because he is a nice guy. If it doesn't work out, a nice guy thanks the woman for her time and the memories and whatever - and moves on.

Listen - women do this too. We find excuses for the guy not liking us or not calling back or ghosting or whatever. We tell ourselves we're too much of a woman, or we're too strong, or too this or too that. It's all an effort to make ourselves feel better. Maybe this is just the guy way of making themselves (and their friends) feel better.

That's fine - but then you keep it to yourself. Think to yourself, "Well I was nice, so it's her loss," or whatever you need to think to get yourself past this moment. But don't bring it back to her. That's not something a nice guy would do.

It reminds me of a quote from the Social Network. Erica - Mark Zuckerberg's college girlfriend - tells him:
You are probably going to be a very successful computer person. But you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole.
Even the nicest guy can be an asshole sometimes.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Biggest challenge of all

It sure has been a while....

Quite a while back, after Trooper* and I broke up, a friend asked what I would do with this blog if I found a relationship. My thought was that if I ever did find one, I would use this blog to talk about how one transitions her life from single to couple.

There are a ton of hiccups, obstacles, milestones, and funny moments that make up a couple's journey
from the first date to debating toothpaste, and a bunch more after. I figured they would make for an endless supply of blog fodder.

The truth is, they do. I'm just not paying as close attention, and I'm letting good posts slip right on by.

I suck at relationships. Not because I'm not able to be faithful, but because I'm especially bad at looking out for myself. I look out for the other person first, sometimes at my own expense. I am more concerned with what he wants and needs, and I tend to put my own wants and needs on the back-burner. It's a problem, not only because we all have to look out for ourselves, but also because if I'm not paying attention to what I want - how can he?

Not only do I put myself on the back-burner - I tend to make myself responsible for his happiness as well. I let myself take on the burden of planning, worrying, researching... and for being the bad guy. In my mind, if there's conflict, somehow it's my fault.

That all leads to a lot of anxiety, a little depression, and that means even the best blog posts get away from me. It also is why I think I'm bad at relationships.

It's been over two years since Toyfriend and I met, and almost two years that we've been dating. It's been the most exciting, happy, fun, joy and laughter-filled time in my life.

So why can't I just be confident and enjoy how it feels, and not worry about where it's going (or not going)? I tell myself every day that's how I should be. I tell myself everyday I need to focus on the good, remember he loves me, and remind myself of all the wonderful times we've had and the future plans we've made. I tell myself that is enough...

..and it is. More than enough, actually.

But in the back of my mind, there is this little voice that always tells me that while it may be enough and he may be enough, I never will be. At the end of the day, I am right back where I started, feeling like any minute Toyfriend will figure out he could do so much better, and he will be out the door.

I can navigate all the toothpaste debates, remote control quarrels, and even family scheduling. But my own anxiety and self-doubt... that's proven to be the biggest challenge of all.


*Remember him? He's doing well. He's got a great girlfriend and a good job, and seems really happy. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Extra weight

I came across this article today while I was supposed to be working. I'm having a weird couple of weeks - at work and at home - so I spend a lot of time trying to distract myself and deflect an anxiety attack.

I know a lot of people who, post-divorce- said they'd never remarry. Whether it was the overwhelming commitment or the fear of losing another person or even just the cost or hassle, they felt they were done. Relationships are fine, but when it came to marriage they'd "been there and done that."

Most of those friends are now remarried. Not only that, but they gor remarried pretty quickly after meeting their now-spouse. When asked what changed, they said they finally met the right person.

So, I'm wondering... if someone doesn't want to marry again, does that mean that she has just learned better about herself? Or does it mean that she just hasn't met the right person? Could a he or she warm up to the idea of marriage over time? Or does it mean she never will, if she doesn't want it right away?

I suspect the answers to these questions will not make my week any less weird, so I'm just going to return to Pinning makeup ideas.