We’re all just working it out as we go.
Living this life, hurtling through time and space at an unsustainable pace, we press on. We don’t know where we’re going, and even if we’re in the presence of good company, there’s no denying that our journey is our own. Our search for meaning and for love must be alone, for only we know what we truly want, what we truly need.
At every stage of life, I’ve been surrounded by good people. I still have friends from my youth, but so many friends have been situational. The group has been fluid, subject to change once the semester is over or one of us moves to another locale. There’s been a few fall outs, but ultimately, you realize what you want and don’t want in a friend, and if you aren’t compatible with the other person, there is no way that the friendship will stand the test of time. The same can be said of relationships.
32 years isn’t a long time, but it’s enough to watch the relationships in my life and to observe carefully. I have seen relationships that have gone the distance. I’ve seen people fall in love. I’ve seen people break up that I thought would be together forever. I’ve also seen unlikely couples formed, only to surprise us all by maintaining that relationship. It’s proof that in a lot of ways, we never see it coming, or at least most of us don’t.
I haven’t always had the healthiest perspective on relationships. I showed up to college brainwashed by the movies I’d seen. Despite my mindset, my first relationship was as strong as any I’d ever been in, but it burned out. There was too much fire and too much stubbornness. The honeymoon period brought with it incredible bliss. Once it ended, and it was time to settle into a regular relationship, I panicked. I’d never gone that far before, and I didn’t know how to just be there, day after day, while the relationship deepened. We weren’t together for very long, but we saw each other so much that it was like being in a time warp. Maybe seeing each other so often led to our downfall, or maybe it brought us to the realization that we were both looking for someone else.
As I’ve gone through life, I’ve reevaluated many times what I want in a partner, what we should all want in a partner. You want someone who compliments you, but who also challenges you. You won’t learn anything if your partner doesn’t push you in some way. I’m also of the opinion that you won’t find the right person until you figure yourself out. You may get lucky, but chances are that you’ll regret not embarking on a little self-discovery, to find out who you are, and what you want out of life. If you’re in a relationship, there’s a chance you’ll both arrive at the same conclusion, but you may end up in different places altogether.
Fear has ruled my dating life. I’m afraid of getting too close to the wrong person, and I’m also afraid of the big breakup, the kind that makes someone hate you, or that shatters them completely. I’ve never been shattered like that. I’m always the first one to pull away. I’m constantly losing the game of chicken, realizing that as we speed headlong into the depths, that even if the other person is fully committed, I’m not. It makes me wonder about myself, and if I’ll ever make it work with someone. Most days I’m hopeful, some days I’m not.
We let emotion come into play with dating, and it’s hard not to. That’s often the price of admission. I’ve heard it said that when you know the person is right, you just know, and I wish that governed our dating lives a little more. I wish we all took a closer look at compatibility, and whether or not a relationship makes sense, but it’s difficult when someone starts to imagine their lives with you in it, only to have the picture torn up. Maybe the true measure of a relationship, of progress, is how much of the future you can see with the other person in it. Can you see marriage, a home, a family, and children? Or does the thought of any one of those make you squeamish, ready to jump ship and swim to safety?
The person I’m looking for isn’t who I expected it to be.
I’m not talking about a particular person, but rather, what I would be looking for in a potential mate. In my twenties, I was looking for someone to have a good time with, but as I turn away from the party scene more and more, I’m looking for someone to enjoy life with, try new things with, and maybe we don’t go out at all. I don’t think I’d miss it as much as I once thought. So much of growing up is realizing the changes in yourself and allowing them to continually shape who you are, rather than fighting against the tide. You expend a lot less energy when you allow yourself to become who you’re going to become.
I know I’ve grown. I can see how my perspective has changed on so many things. The girl I’m looking for now is a lot different than she used to be, and that ideal person is a reflection of who I’ve become. If you ever want to see your personal growth, compare the people you’ve wanted to date versus who you want to date, and let the results speak for themselves. Are you going for the superficial, or for substance?
These are difficult questions to wrestle with, but they tell us so much about who we are, and who we could be. I’m of the opinion that we become many different people over the lifetime. Maybe we’ll find one person and grow with them. Maybe we’ll be with several different people, one for each stage. Either way, we continue to grow, and there’s no telling where we’ll be, and who will be there with us. We may think we know who we want, but as always, I’ll urge you to keep an open mind. Thanks for reading.