I often feel like my relationship won’t make it.
I know, I know. I just posted this positive and hopeful 4 part intro story about how we overcame some [of what I thought were] insurmountable obstacles. But, I am a firm believer that all things are impermanent. However, I do hold out hope that the positive aspect of impermanence will be the final outcome (i.e. all relationships are impermanent, but I’m holding out hope that the end of it would be the result of, say, a long life followed by death, rather than a breakup). But, I am aware of the human nature and its general resistance to change, and aware of human nature’s tendency to kind of gas-out, lose interest (overly familiar), or die towards an idea, person or experience in an area of life, and in essence, never look back.
For example… I used to practice jiu-jitsu. Over the course of year I went regularly. I loved it. I felt strong. I competed 2 times and won first place each time. I earned my blue belt. I made time for practice – I was diligent about classes. I was reading articles on it and watching videos to help me improve. That wasn’t but roughly 2 years ago. Life has weaved its messy intricacies into my existence and coupled with it’s routine familiarity, I have since chosen not to make that a priority. Now? I am re-evaluating at the current moment if I even want to pick it back up. I don’t have a firm decision either way at the present moment, but I am considering tapping out altogether… This would also save me my monthly gym membership fee that costs nearly as much as a cheap car payment. Which…but of course, I have been paying for consistently over the course of the last 2 years (oh, c-mon… you know we have all done it – keep paying because you have every intention of “starting next week”…)
I digress. The point is, I gassed-out with jiu-jitsu and may not go back.
So, that’s what I am trying to say with my outlook on human nature + impermanence in regard to my relationship. I often times think my relationship will end in the lose interest, gas-out way. Yes, I hold out hope that we’ll make it to death do us part, but if I am honest, I don’t always believe it will. And while we have undergone some incredible growth moments in our relationship, I also see the loop of familiarity on the horizon. Yes, I love him. Yes, I am so attracted to him sometimes I could scream. Yes, I admire and respect him. But, when you aren’t feeling the reciprocal of those affections? Well, if you’re me – you assume your partner has begun to gas-out. With enough time passed of feeling this way, well, you tend to start to gas-out too.
I think this is could be a woman thing. I know for sure, it is my thing. I am a strong advocate of fanning the flame, doing the work, self-improvement, taking classes, reading a book – whatever I can learn – in order to enhance and grow my relationships, my life and my outlook. I want to be stretched. I want growth. I love growth. And I believe growth almost always comes from discomfort, that feeling of newness and insecurity, mixed with a gut-tickling fear. With my guy, I want to do a couples retreat. I want to read a couples book together. I want to schedule time with just him and I for talking and connecting, tough conversations, and confessions of wildly uncomfortable topics. My guy on the other hand, does not have this insatiable appetite for growth in the relationship realm. Not at all. His appetite is geared towards learning and creating, say, a lamp, building a motorcycle, installing our bathroom exhaust fans, or learning how to code on Khan Academy. But in learning in growing in relationships? Nah, It’s almost as if he just repels the idea of growth in this arena. He’s a Steady Freddy. A regular If-it’s-not-broke, don’t-fix-it kind of guy.
Don’t get me wrong – he has done a lot of work towards our relationship in the past as I have called out in my Doomsday post series. But,we had to almost break first. It seems to me, that while we could be proactively enhancing our relationship ALL THE TIME through various tools and practices (which, if you make it a habit, the small ways to improve a relationship doesn’t seem too cumbersome), he tends to address it when it’s already reached that breaking point for me. I want incredible, out of this world, mind blowing connection and interaction…and, well, he’s good with what we got. I think that is a man thing. Or maybe it’s just my guy.
It’s not that he isn’t interested in having a great relationship. I genuinely think he is. I just think it doesn’t occur to him that it is halfway up to him to make our relationship great. That he too can initiate some of this work that meets certain needs I have. I can only take us so far. I can only initiate connection so much.
Which, now, let me say, our relationship is good. It’s great by many standards even… But I am an overachiever. (I have problems with this to some extent.) And I recognize my issues and I try to take a step back. But what I can’t do is settle or coast. If I am not growing, I feel like I am withering. I don’t know if I really am, but I have to be working towards the better version of something when I am in it. So, I have to weigh this against that feeling that my partner is becoming overly familiar with me.
What is it that I am actually seeking?
Well, not co-existence with sprinkled in weekly sex sessions, that’s for sure. Not a limited 2 hours of post work, superficial exhausted discussions…Not a repeat of “time spent” together that is singularly focused on a project or task. Basically, not a lot of what I am getting. Connection. Intimacy. Intrigue. That is what I am seeking. That is what I need.
I would love for him to initiate reading that couples book we started and never finished (that I have only brought up about 40 times in the past few months). I would love for him to actually be curious as to what is happening in my head and heart throughout the day. I would love for him to be interested in what events occurred in my day and how it colors or influences my worldview and/or perspective. I would love for him to try to understand why I believe the things I believe instead of having an automatic (usually negative) opinion on any beliefs I offer. I would love for him to ask me about me.
I want to feel new and novel. I don’t like feeling like he already knows who I am. I don’t like the feeling I have that he already has uncovered all that is inside me. I detest not being recognized for the very intriguing creature that I am with intricate thoughts and philosophies and interpretations of the world. Because that is how I see all of us. That is how I see him. I am constantly curious by him. I am constantly digging into his persona trying to uncover new beliefs, truths and ideas. In our first month of email exchanges, he even said “Whenever I talk to you about my past, I picture a tiny Ash dressed like Indiana Jones exploring the caves of my mind, kicking over rocks and shining light into the holes of my subconscious.” Yeah, he said that. He’s an incredible writer. [Deep sigh] Yep, just one more thing I adore about him…
It’s not always like this. As I said, when I initiate the conversations, we get into wonderful, connected and great discussions. What is painful on my end is that it’s not natural for him to want to learn me. It’s something that I have to offer. And when you’re the only one doing all the initiating, sometimes you just dry up and allow the familiarity loop to play.
I wonder if it’s my standards getting in my way. I wonder if I should chalk it up to personality differences and that our needs and viewpoints of the world are just… different. Maybe it’s gender differences. It’s hard for me to resolve to any of these conclusions, because I have a deep conviction that what I am seeking from him is somehow correlated to his own level of progress in personal development and self-awareness or self-knowing.
I am a firm believer that once we, as humans, vulnerably dive into our subconscious and “why’s” for how we operate individually, once we begin the terrifying work of really learning ourselves, we naturally gain compassion as a bi-product. And I believe learning the horrors that exist within us, and subsequently how to have the compassion required towards those horrors in order to heal them, creates an overflow of empathy. Vulnerability is required to look deep inside and express to others. Compassion is required to heal. And Empathy creates Connection and sparks meaningful Curiosity.
So why did I go down this rabbit hole? Well, My guy…I left off telling you about all his healing work he has done in counseling. Which he did A LOT. However, he isn’t into the regular practice of self-evaluation and consistently checking in with himself on the emotional front. His counselor moved, so he’s without his every other week guidance (which is okay on the addiction front – as he graduated into a “maintenance” phase). But, he’s not quite mastered the process of identifying and exploring what he’s feeling when he’s feeling it without help, or him making a concerted effort to doing so. Yes, he has made leaps and bounds, but, brothas still gots some work ta do. And in the meantime, I have to try not to take it personal when I feel like he isn’t interested in my being for extended periods of time. I am left trying to give him the space and time he needs to develop these skills and tools more and more, even when I am seeing he’s taken a vacation from practicing it. I have to endure the familiarity loop when I run out of steam to keep the relationship progressing and nurtured. I have to find other ways, separate from him, to engage with the world and share my viewpoints and surround myself with others that are interested in learning them. I mean, Thank God for Aly. Thank you blessed God, Gods, Allah, Universe, Spirit, or whoever is out there, for my person, Aly.
But that’s the reality. Sometimes you’re lonely in a relationship. Sometimes you don’t feel like you’re that important to another. And sometimes it makes you question, man, if too much time passes like this, are we gonna make it?