Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What is this "Relationship" Nonsense You Speak Of?

I realize I've been pretty quiet on the personal front lately. This mostly has to do with the fact that I've spent the last four months hashing out a relationship of the more-than-friendly kind after six years without.

It's weird. See, I'm not one of those people who has to be attached at the hip with somebody else all of the time. I was waiting around for something that felt right. When that failed, I figured I'd spend the summer going on casual dates and getting to know new people, because I realized it was a shame to waste a sex drive like mine.

Then I bumped into B, and things all sort of went upsidedown and backwards. I mean, here was this guy who's mom was the president of the local chapter of NOW for four years, who spoke in feminist language, who kept a sports blog, who followed boxing, who had the entire collection of Doctor Who tapes and DVDs, who was passionately involved in pursuing a career in Counseling Psychology, knew how to bang out a fucking fantastic furl of writing on a wide variety of topics, and loved people watching and history just as much as I did.

It was completely baffling.

The first night we spent in bed together, we spent most of our time just looking at each other.

It was like we were both going, "I can't believe you exist."

But that whole, "Ohhhhh he was so great!!!!" thing doesn't mean everything's been perfect and easy and a fucking cake walk.

No, no. We both bring our own stuff to the relationship, and it's become abundantly clear to me that my ideas about what constitutes a romantic relationship are pretty pessimistic and flawed. I've seen relationships as the enemy, the one thing that'll finally bring me down, halt my life, turn me backward into all the awful things I never want to be. My first time around was fine and normal so far as highschool relationships go at the start, and then it exploded into my worst nightmare at the end, so I didn't exactly have a great template. I've spent most of my life being told that boys were only out for sex, that they never really cared about you, that they were selfish and only wanted one thing and they would fuck you and dump you (and that was something, of course, that you really didn't want, you know, the casual fucking part ha aha ).

I solved that problem by having a lot of guy "friends" who I just didn't sleep with. I enjoyed thinking of my friends as people instead of the Evil Other, and being friends made that a shitload easier.

The more it becomes clear that my current relationship is a keeper, that I really adore this guy and really, truly, he adores me, the scary and wackier it's been for me, because I keep waiting for it to all go to shit, and I start picking it all apart and saying, "Aha! But it's *not perfect*!! That must mean it's doomed! I should end it now before it's too late and I gain 70lbs and have no money!"

Well, no, no relationship is perfect. Nothing is perfect. The question is do you trust and respect and adore each other?

Of course we do.

But you know what, that's damn scary.

That's damn scary because to some extent that's what I feel I've been running from in fear and yet desiring all along: I love having buddies, I enjoy having a great run of people, and having a true partner is the coolest thing ever. Negotiating that partnership is a shitload more work that I could ever imagine, but ultimately incredibly rewarding.

I don't know how long our run will be, but I have high hopes. We both adore each other, and we're stubborn talkers and both very big on compromise without self-sacrifice.

It's a tough road. I'm on it.

We'll see where it goes.

8 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Im so incredibly happy for you! My sister and I went through the same thing - she put it succintly when she called me one night "I don't know how to do this happy thing." Its very scary, especially for a strong woman. It is exilerating though, if just for the knowledge that it can exist. I will wish you all the best! 

Posted by That Girl

Anonymous said...

Yea, it's really fucking scary. I do have a lot of problems trusting that something that'll go long term is a *good* thing, and loving somebody who loves you back is a *good* thing, that I've really gotten myself all turned around and confused.

Who would have guessed I had so many weird Committment-phobic issues? 

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Anonymous said...

I was in the same boat myself; afraid that getting on the happy bus would eliminate my autonomy. Fortunately, I've finally found someone who'd make that worthwhile.

Even without lots of baggage, it's still scary. 

Posted by ScottM

Anonymous said...

There's always great possiblity and reward from accepting the prospect of joy. This also creates a good deal of vulnerability. But as Martha would say, it sounds like a 'good thing'.

So tongue in cheek, we present ways of avoiding weight gain and other disasters in these relationships:

1.) Weight gain? Run him. Then run 'em more.

2.) Worried about going broke? Don't lend out any money you can't afford to lose. (As often as not this means No.)

3.) Take an invetory of the books, & keep up with his readings so you've got an understandable counter for some of his sillier proposals.

4.) Always argue from rationality, it does not have to be perfect rationality, but a good modicum thrown on the question often helps.

5.) Forgive often. Apologize for silly slights and for things said poorly, things not meant to be hurtful when they might sound different to the other person.

6.) Make it clear to anyone that you'll walk at the first sign of abuse.

7.) Communicate early and often. Not overwhelmingly, but it often helps to check if the other has 'gotten' the correct message you wanted to send.

8.) In a real solid relationship, distance can be your friend. This does not work with kids however. There's no use for all this modern communication if you can not express your wishes, desires, hopes, fears and dreams though it. Missing out on physical intimacy? Think of tradition. If you were already married, it could be far worse. With kids, worse still w/o tremendous and often heroic efforts.

9.) You do not have to be all things to one an other. He does not have to appreciate your love of Endo sword play, you do not have to know about all of Maslow's stages. You can have separate lives that come together for a whole.

10.) Respect one another. If we can each treat each loving relationship with the same respect we show our pets, by in large humanity will come out ahead. Keep 'em fed, watered, exercised and appreciated and it'll mostly take care of itself. That's about 90% of the deal, believe it or not.

Good Luck K&B!  

Posted by VJ

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you've found someone that makes you happy, but I'm really rather interested in what you wrote about - the underlying suspicion that guys are simply not to be trusted. You don't even think about that attitude (like you, most of my friends are male) until you run into someone who is kinda...just what you wanted. After years of accepting that you'll never find someone with the aspects you demand in a partner, you're kinda off-balance when you do...

This has become a little tangent-ish, so going back to my original point: is it more common than people realise, this wariness of relationships with guys, because all you see and hear (and, unluckily, experience) is the bad stuff? And how wierded out you are when you do find someone? 

Posted by Random watcher

Anonymous said...

Good luck. Good relationships are scary, especially for those who value their independence. Like you clearly do, like your readers - including me - seem to do.

On a related note to Random Watcher, I find it strange that society spends so much time reinforcing stereotypes that boil down to that neither men nor women can be trusted in a relationship (men b/c they want "only" sex not commitment, women b/c they are manipulative liars who never say what they mean - to pick some examples). To me it seems like a lose-lose situation. And sometimes, to my chagrin, I've found myself concluding that [insert some common stereotype here] is totally unlogical/unrealistic - and in the next moment found myself basing some conclusion on it.

On a totally un related note - I really like the Brtual Women store. And the nice logo. (But could you please, please consider to have something in black...?)  

Posted by Darjeeling

Anonymous said...

A couple of responses:

is it more common than people realise, this wariness of relationships with guys, because all you see and hear (and, unluckily, experience) is the bad stuff? And how wierded out you are when you do find someone?  

It's really difficult, I think, to be a woman who's primarily hetero when it comes to long-term relationships and dating, particularly when you're an intelligent, informed feminist (though B would argue that it's equally as difficult for a feminist-informed guy who likes smart women to find anyone worth dating, too), but on my end, I think there's also a lot of that Fear of Men that all girls and women get bashed in the head with when they're growing up.

Men pose a very real threat to women, rape and death sometimes feel like they're just around the corner, and there's a lot of victim blame of the "You should have used better judgement and not chosen a psycho" thing going on that makes you think you're better off just not dating at all...

For me, loving men and women that I'm not physically intimate with is far easier than engaging in a relationship that includes sex and talk of long-term commitment, because I have such terrible associations with those things (he'll become abusive, he'll take away all of my spirit, he'll try to mold me into something I'm not, I'll lose myself in the relationship, etc). A lot of that is social, some of it is from experience, and a lot of it comes from reading so widely and finding so many women who've been so absolutely screwed over.

And yes, we're given stereotypes that men don't understand emotions and women are very good at expressing themselves emotionally and men are afriad of commitment, but women really want monogamous commitment, and blah blah blah. Which makes it REALLY confusing when you're in a relationship where all of that seems to be reversed!

It makes me a tough woman to love long-term. Or, I should say, makes it tough for me to love other people long-term who I've made a long-term committment with. As I've written about before, it's not that people haven't loved me, it's that I found ways to avoid them, found ways that it wouldn't work, and ran for the hills at the earliest possible moment to avoid what I believed was an impending disaster.

A lot of it is a lack of trust in my own judgement - another "blame" game that's unfair to me and unfair to my partner.

And Darjeeling:

Yea, I wish CafePress had something in black. I may switch to another dealer, or try the non-free store so there's a better selection, depending on how popular things are... I get paid tomorrow, so I'm getting myself a Fucktards shirt.

Oh yea...!


Posted by Kameron Hurley

jiri said...

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Thanks again and keep up the good work.