Wednesday, September 2, 2015

On Relationships, and What They're Not

This is going to be a little more personal than usual, which meant I strongly considered not posting, but I've been thinking about this for two days now, and writing about it is one of the best ways I've found to process.  And really, it can't be much worse than me half-naked, flipping off a camera, like my Wreck the Dress post.  So bear with me, or wait for a happier blog (which will, I promise, be coming).

One of the most important things I've learned in the past year is that I do not exist solely to make someone else happy.  This may seem obvious to most of you, and I hope it does.  But to me, it's been a startling revelation, one I still struggle with sometimes.  But I've learned (sometimes slowly) that I do not need to apologize for having fun, or for my needs, or for having a life outside my relationship, or for not being at someone else's beck and call.  I am not an indentured servant.  I (and anyone really) am good for more than taking care of someone when they're sick, contrary to some opinions.

Of course, this doesn't mean that I don't want to take care of those I love and care for, or be concerned for their needs and desires.  I do want to.  Very much so.  Because caring about someone means you want to take care of them, do things for them, make their life better.  Particularly when it's a mutually caring relationship.

But here's the thing.  A relationship is more than what you can get out of it.  Relegating the person you spent years of your life with to little more than a servant with benefits is not only offensive to women but to absolutely everyone.  No one should be devalued that much, or be so appallingly blind to the point and real benefit of a relationship.  If my boyfriend and I were to break up, no matter how jaded I might be, I truly hope that I would never have the self-involved nerve to say that I only missed what he could do for me or that I would only want a boyfriend because of what I could get out of him.  That's missing the point of relationships, romantic or otherwise. 

Moreover, that's not a relationship.  At least, not a healthy one.  But it can entirely sum up the main reason why I'm divorced.  I rarely felt actually loved for who I was before this past year or so.  Instead, I felt used, in pretty much every sense of the word.  I felt bad about myself, felt that no matter how hard I tried I couldn't be the person he wanted.  And worse than that?  Whenever I dared to ask for something in return, there was always a reason why I didn't deserve that.  I was a bitch in the mornings, I was a bitch when I was sick, and it was easier to just let me take care of myself because I was some awful gorgon of a creature.

You know what?  I don't feel used anymore.  I don't feel like I'm crazy or impossible to make happy.  It's nice.  It makes me feel like a person.  It makes me feel loved.

And if my relationship were to end, there would be a lot I would miss.

I would miss the companionship and the inside jokes, the messages and drawings on the bathroom mirror.  I would miss wandering around Wal-Mart or Target together.  I would miss sharing my day with him.  I would miss reading a book next to him.  And yes, I would miss the things he does for me.  But I would miss those things because of what they mean, not because I expect someone else to take care of me.  I can only hope he feels the same.

Similarly, if I were to lose a friendship, I wouldn't miss the fact that my friend gave me rides places or bought me drinks when I needed it.  I would miss texting with them, going out with them, sharing stories and gossip.  In short, I would miss the relationship, not the material or physical gains that come from a relationship.

There's no reason a romantic relationship should be different, aside from the obvious.  We are not here to use each other, or to be used.  

I hope I never have to relearn that lesson.


  1. "But I would miss those things because of what they mean, not because I expect someone else to take care of me." Yes.

    And thank you so much for sharing something so personal. I appreciate your honesty putting it all out there. I think you're wonderful and beautiful and I'm so happy you love the place where you're at now!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting. It means a lot, especially on a piece that was so hard to push the 'publish' button on. I think you're wonderful and beautiful as well!

  2. Being honest is always hard, especially when you are unsure of the response. Thank you, for your honesty and bravery here. Keep it up! Growing and truly understanding yourself is one of the most painful yet life-bringing things we can do. Good to know you are healing and realizing that you deserve to be loved for who and what you are, not just what you can do. You're amazing...just you!

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. You're also amazing!