June 14, 2011

10 Things I’ve Discovered about Relationships since the Man on the Motorcycle

I don’t understand relationships.

I don’t understand why we have them, why they cause pain, why they cause waves of indescribable joy and elation, and I hardly ever know what the right thing to do is. My relationships are messy. I need control: I hold the pancake spatula, I buy the first date meal (or at least go splitsies), I demand attention and I demand only a certain amount. Don’t go past that amount or I might get cranky.

I’m getting better though. I’m learning every day. You can catch up on my love life here, when I met a man on a motorcycle that gave me an “ah-ha” moment I had been needing.

Because I don’t understand relationships, I loved Waylon Lewis’ article today, and it got me thinking that although I don’t understand relationships, I’ve certainly discovered a few things about them that have helped light the path to “love,” or something like it.

Besides my earlier discovery that I’d like to meet someone that is okay with riding on the back of my motorcycle, here’s ten more discoveries, in no particular order:

1. On yoga

Although it’s not a requirement, it’s awfully nice to date someone willing to come to yoga with me. And to top that, it’s nice to date someone who goes to yoga without me because they genuinely enjoy it.

2. On Johnny Cash/June Carter duets

There’s nothing more fun than singing Johnny Cash love songs with someone every time you’re in the car with them. Especially when the car ride lasts for five hours. Then, when you get a few friends in the car you can really impress them with your duet skills.

3. On being myself

There are two versions of myself – the person I am when I’m with my friends, and the person I am when I’m with my significant other. I’ve realized with confidence, however, that existing in a healthy relationship means that there is actually only one version of myself. And that version is the same when I’m with my friends and when I’m with my SO.

4. On animals

This tends to be an area of contention in my life when it comes to relationships. Some people need reassurance that their SO is going to want marriage someday, or children, or a boathouse, or will be willing to sacrifice a career for their own. I require something else. One of the first things I make very clear on first dates with people is that: Yes, I am a crazy cat lady. I was raised with six dogs, two horses, a rabbit, multiple cats, a variety of hermit crabs, and I use my high beams and drive 10 mph at night if that means I can save a frog that is trying to cross the road.

I’ve discovered the importance of being with someone who respects animals, isn’t allergic to animals, and is okay with my dream of someday having a German Shepherd, an Italian Greyhound, a Welsh Corgi, a Beagle, and three cats all at the same time.

I understand that relationships take compromise. I’m willing to compromise on the Beagle.

5. On being ready

A few weeks ago there was a Facebook post by The Daily Love that really stuck with me:

Affirmation of the day – I attract a mate who is ready to love me.

6. On honoring my needs

I’ve discovered that just because someone else wants something in a relationship, doesn’t mean I have to want the same thing. I’ve learned to listen to my inner voice that whispers about what I need now, not what I wish I were able to give someone. Wanting to be on the same page with someone, and actually being there are two very different things.

7. On “the process”

There is a process to relationships and to love. You meet someone, there is an initial spark, first date, first kiss, meeting friends, meeting family, getting engaged, etc … The process is there for a reason, and I’ve discovered that I shouldn’t try to rush it. Feel each moment, be present, enjoy all of the moments, and don’t look too far ahead into the future, because time will tell where it will lead. Let the process work for itself.

8. On S P A C E

I don’t care how much I like someone, I’ve discovered the need both for “me time” and “our time.” Sometimes, luckily, these two can mix. It can look something like: Two people sitting across from each other at a coffee shop, both on their laptops, with an espresso beside their work papers, playing footsie underneath the table.

9. On encouragement

There is a difference between needing someone to validate who you are, and needing someone to encourage you to be who you already are. I’ve discovered that the best kind of relationship one can be in, is when your SO encourages you to do what you are already doing, and challenges you to stay at task. They don’t try to change you, or convince you of anything different. Instead, they encourage you to be an enhanced version of who you already are.

10. On knowing it all

I don’t, you don’t, my SO certainly won’t either. In relationships with lovers or with friends, we’re all learning and constantly evolving. No one is omnipotent, so don’t try to be!

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