I am sitting here, 4 days before Christmas, being quiet. I am processing and thinking and it is time to put in writing the lessons I have learned. I have this great post planned for New Year’s Day but before I can really put into words what I want to say that will make it so great…I have to do this one first. Call it a stepping stone, call it a lesson plan…I have to say this and put it down so I (and anyone else reading who needs it) can refer back to it again and again. This post will be my In Case of Emergency guide, because as much as I feel I will never find anyone I would want to spend extended amounts of free (in every sense of the word) time with, let alone fall in love with…I will (eventually) and I need to remember a few things.
The first thing to remember is to not allow the blinders and the rose colored glasses to become permanently glued to your face. Seriously, they are called blinders for a reason and as much as we all say it hit me out of the blue, I had no idea, I was blindsided…there were flags, signs and warnings that you chose to ignore, justify/rationalize and basically gloss over. That is because the blinders and glasses are glued in position…at the very least they are too tight and make adjustments hard to maneuver. If you can remember this, the rest will be easy to not only remember but to do.
Listen to your friends…not your girls, or your posse but your FRIENDS. The ones who have your best interests at heart. They will see what the blinders and glasses will not and they will be the ones to tell you when you are being played or it isn’t the great love affair you think it is. Even Oscar, who is the strongest believer in love I know, finally told me to give it up with him. Artsy Craftsy… who has always been for him and I to get it right… gave up long ago…for awhile, I think it was on both of us. But the rest of my Panel…they saw, they knew and they did their best to warn me. Perhaps if I had listened then, I would not be writing now.
Pay attention. I cannot stress this enough…pay attention. Men are not known for being the best communicators but they do say things…and IF we are paying attention, we choose to not hear or ignore what we don’t want to hear. The biggest indicator (in my case) was the on again/off again that was not precipitated by an argument. Who leaves a perfectly good relationship when things are going well? How about a person who doesn’t want to be there? Him would up and leave…ignore me, act as if I never existed and blame it on the depression and because my blinders and glasses were so firmly attached…I believed. I sent emails, jokes, voice mails…I would hang in there and try to help him out of the dark place…only to be told I deserved better and he was leaving. Which was another communication I chose to ignore…if a guy tells you he is not worth the effort, you deserve better, he cannot satisfy you…believe him the first time. I didn’t. I kept reassuring him, making him happy, pleasing him…and it did not work out…not long term and barely for the short term. If a guy wants to leave…let him. Do not let what you see/think be your motivator…obviously he is not perceiving the same things you are.
This next one is important…and will probably be the hardest thing to do: know exactly what you want, that you two are on the same page at all times and make sure you are both holding up your end of the bargain. I know it sounds like a lot and a little of relationship policing but it is a simple matter of communicating clearly and effectively with each other. I am of the firm belief that anything other than a one night stand is a relationship. Forget the acronyms…if you are friends with benefits and getting on a regular basis…relationship. In an exclusive FWB? Definite relationship! When it comes to sex on a regular basis with a consistent partner…there is no NSA. There are already strings attached and if you aren’t careful, you will get caught up in them. In the beginning, whatever you and the guy decide to enter into…you tend to stick to that, regardless of your intentions..and if you are entering into a FWB situation hoping to get something long term and meaningful out of it…you need to state that up front. But usually, everyone is initially looking for something light and casual…and this is where the regular checkups come in. Relationships are tricky…you have these wall and fences up because you swear you will never hurt like you did the last time…but the fences have gates and as much as you tell yourself that you aren’t looking for a relationship…people sneak in through the gates and next thing you know, you are falling. Things are different..and if you feel the differences, he feels them also. Here is the thing when the falling starts…it changes the original agreement and it is in your best interest to talk things out to make sure you are both still on the same page…except women (meaning me) don’t want to upset things when they appear to be going so well, and men…again, not the best communicators. So no one is talking and you are falling and no one is enjoying the moment… we (me) are analyzing and questioning and talking to everyone but our partner about it and then….the moment is gone and what to do now because you are no longer falling…you fell. Every once in a while, it is good to check in with each other and make sure that the pages remain the same.
You know, I remember an argument him and I had…him broke up with me the day before my birthday and I was outdone. Hell, I had just gone through the dry spell/depression period with him and we had just reconciled not 3 days before…after I had to issue ultimatums and demand to know what the hell his problem was. (You know, the more I look back on this…I was deaf, blind and hard-headed) Him told me I was seeking more than he could offer and my berating him and tantrums were not helping. I deserved more and better and it was time to move on to the next chapter…and I had the nerve to ask Morning Person what he meant by that. Morning Person told me he was breaking it off; I insisted he could not be…we just got back together. Morning Person told me only I had gotten back together…and that hurt. Anyways…I am telling you the story because I did not expect more of him…I was looking to him to hold up his end of the agreement: we were going to have a sex based relationship…and this was fine by me. We had re-evaluated from 6 months before and he said he no longer wanted to be exclusive….he wanted to be monogamous and while we would/could do out the bedroom things…it was primarily sex. Fine, I could deal with that…except we had not had sex in 8 weeks…IF it was a sexual relationship….could I freakin’ get some, please? You always know when the relationship has an unhealthy balance to it…when someone is not carrying their weight…don’t carry it for them.
Expectations…they have to be lowered and acceptance levels have to be raised. No, I am not saying to let him fuck you like a whore and then not pay you like one…some behaviors simply should not be tolerated at all….but maybe choose personality over the pretty face, manners over money and a decent man over the height factor. I am just thinking that maybe since no one is perfect…look for the perfect guy for you and not just window dressing. I will take someone who is not society’s ideal physically over the Department Store Ken. I am going to start writing down all the qualities I want in a man versus the physical characteristics (although apparently it does not take much to satisfy my physical requirements…be breathing with a penis) and when I am ready to get serious about dating…I know that guy will not be found on Craigslist or Backpage . Who knows where I will find him…I met Married Man on the bus and him at work…but I will know what are must haves and I do not think they are expectations: respect, courteous, humorous and intelligent. I think if he cannot offer me the most basic of those qualities on a consistent basis, he just may not be the one for me. As Queen Bee put it: I may not know healthy, but I damned sure know unhealthy when I see it.
And recycling…I am told constantly that him will return and I need to be prepared. Artsy Craftsy and Morning Person are hoping I have found my Next Big Thing by then but Chef put it best…he can return but I do not have to take him back. And for real…who knows what the future holds? All I know is I have learned this lesson well: you recycle, recycle, recycle…and they still remain the Ex. I wonder what it is with these on again/off again relationships and I have come to the conclusion they are the most potent because they are made up of moments that leave you breathless and all you want is to be breathless again. I am no exception…him was the one great love…him was the one who “got “ me…and sometimes I will still say he was my soulmate. I tied all my happiness and all my self-everythings into him and we all see where it got me. Today…what drives my happiness is me. Seeing the improvements and progress I have made, becoming comfortable with myself and my company again. Being able to do little things for family and friends…learning new things and becoming more social in the process. I make me happy. Sound cheesy? Perhaps, but I can no longer allow myself to get sucked in and dragged under…by him or any other man…so the recycling center is closed. Yeah, there are still times I wonder why we could not work it out, why it ended the way it did but sometimes all there is is the spark, the brief burst of flame and then…darkness because the love was simply too unhealthy to live.
After all these lessons (some I am still learning) I think when it is right… there won’t be any questions, there will be no efforts and exertions and it will be no surprise to discover he “gets” me…it will just great to be understood consistently and for the long term.