Here’s what is getting me through this breakup: (1) doing things that I really enjoy doing but that I have not done very much during the time that I have been in a relationship and (2) doing things with friends that I previously thought I could only enjoy doing with a boyfriend.
Let me clarify:
(1) I am not in any way resentful of the time I have spent in relationships. I do not feel in any way that I have been pushed or tricked into “giving up” things I enjoyed doing for the sake of the relationship(s). But it is just a fact that when you (okay, maybe this needs clarification, too, so for now I will say I instead of you) — when I am in a relationship, there are always certain things that I would somewhat like to do, but if the other person doesn’t like to do them, it isn’t a dealbreaker for me. I’m flexible, and at the end of the day, what’s most important to me is companionship, no matter the form.
But still, when I am alone and making decisions for myself and myself only, there are things I like to do. Recently, as I have been remembering what it is to be single and independent, I have found a lot of enjoyment in those things. Biking instead of taking the bus or train. Biking around just for fun. Really, just biking. Heading out to a show at 10pm instead of going home and going to bed. Doing random things with friends, even if it’s a gamble as to whether or not the activity is going to be hugely fun. Not caring what time it is or what the plan is or what else I need to do and just going with the flow. Um, hello, blogging.
Again, I’m not saying that relationships have forced me to not do things I like to do. However, I know that I have often made the choice to fret over how another person is feeling and allow that to influence my own decisions. When I am committed to someone, I put him first — even when he doesn’t ask me to and maybe would even prefer that I didn’t.
(2) There are many things that, in my head, I see myself ideally doing with a significant other. “Date” things: brunches, walks, neighborhood wanderings, other outings. But really, the majority of the things I have, in the past, enjoyed doing with a significant other, I can also enjoy doing with friends. A revelation that many people have already realized, I know, but it really hit me this weekend. I don’t have to mope around and feel sorry for myself that I don’t get to do X and Y things because I don’t have a boyfriend to do them with. Of course, there are certain exceptions here. . .but on the whole, this is true.
Tonight, I ate sausages and drank delicious Czech beer and had three hours of great conversation with a friend I don’t see often enough. We talked about how to find the balance between allowing yourself to be influenced and molded and changed by a relationship, while also retaining your independence and your identity. Both have value, and I think both are essential, but this is something I have yet to do successfully. I’m getting better — I have done this increasingly well in each of the relationships I’ve been in. But I’m not there yet.
I think part of the difficulty for me is that I am committed and loyal and serious. But I’m also very trusting of my intuition. In all honesty, I won’t spend more than an hour with you, one-on-one, if you aren’t someone I see myself having a real, meaningful friendship and connection with. And even moreso for relationships — as much as I want to dismiss the whole “you know when you know” thing, I do know. I haven’t gone on more than one date with anyone I couldn’t see myself with long term. It’s crazy, arguably — but I feel like if I’m not invested as much as I can be invested in something or someone, it isn’t worth being a part of in the first place. I don’t know how to not be committed, how to not give of myself fully. I was spoiled by a long relationship where I was loved that way in return, but in the past year and a half, I have (painfully) learned that this is not how everyone operates.
But really, I don’t think this is something I should change. I don’t advocate anyone living a guarded life. The fact that this is how I operate, emotionally, means that I may get hurt more often and more deeply than the average person; I have learned this. But I’d take that any day over half-assing any relationship or friendship.
So, I’m not sure where that leaves me. I keep trying, I guess, to find the healthy balance. I remember whose house I live in. And until then, I lean on my friends, and I trust myself to learn more about who I am and what I need.
“Every day is a struggle, from the trough to the crest. Waves keep crashing forever, and only death brings us rest. Sometimes we drift on a current; sometimes we wrestle the rip. If I’m not waving but drowning, promise to not lose your grip. And we will fight against the tide, going under side by side. And if our lungs give out, we will breathe without, and heaven’s gates will open wide. . .” – Or, the Whale