This is as good a time as any to tell you about The One I Thought Was The One.
I remember the first second I saw her, turned away from me, just a bare shoulder blade in a light blue top. I hadn’t even seen her face yet, but I remember some internal voice telling me, “Yes. This one.”
By our second date, talking about the gender politics of waitressing while getting drunk at an ethnic restaraunt, I was thinking, this is a woman I could fall in love with.
And by our third date, I WAS in love.
We lasted just over six months.
When she left, she took with her everything I thought I needed in a relationship.
Yet I still loved her.
And for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why.
There was no point to me still being in love with her. The relationship was over. She wasn’t giving me anything I needed or receiving anything I wanted to give. Nor did I need anything from her.
And still I loved her.
Some people would call it romantic. Others unhealthy. Personally, I was mostly annoyed. I felt foolish, embarrassed, and on occasion more than a little angry at myself. How could I still be in love with this person?
Eventually the anger went away. The love continued.
In its own way, it still does, although it’s a different kind of love than it used to be.
Here's the point:
Up until The One I Thought Was The One, I never thought much about love. Relationships were about getting needs met. If I got what I wanted, it was good. If she was getting what she wanted from me also, it was better. If we were meeting each other’s needs, then love grew out of that. And if we stopped meeting each other’s needs, then we wished one another the best and went our separate ways.
But she was the first woman I loved independently of the health of our relationship. Which made me realize something.
The ability to give and receive love and having a functioning relationship are two different things. Having a relationship will not necessarily give you love. Loving someone will not fix an unworkable relationship.
None of this matters much if both the love and the relationship are there. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Nor does it matter if both love AND the relationship are floundering. If that’s the case, you’ve got other things to worry about.
However if you have one but not the other, that‘s where confusion sets in.
“We’ve been together twelve years. I must love him.”
“If you really loved me, you would WANT to move in with me.”
“What‘s wrong with me that I‘m in love with someone who treats me so badly?”
If you are in a bad relationship, but still love the other person, nothing is wrong with you. You may need to let the other person go, but there is no rule that says you need to stop loving or caring about them. It is possible to love someone and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
By the same token, if everything is fine in your relationship, but you feel something is missing, there is nothing wrong with you. You may have to look at yourself and make some decisions, but you don’t need to feel guilty for whatever emotions are or are not there.
Loving someone is not medicine for a relationship that isn't working.
Working on the relationship will do nothing for an inability or unwillingness to love.
Being able to love or be loved is a different art than relationship management. Both are important, both are learnable, and ideally, they grow hand-in-hand, but they are still different skill-sets to be applied to different types of problems. Try not to confuse one for the other.
Take some time to consider your attitude towards love and relationships. Think about what is important to you in a successful relationship. What makes it work? How do you know when you love someone? What has to happen for you to feel loved?
Read over your answers.
What do you notice?
-May All Beings Be Sexy
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