My Relationship’s Hind-insight

Danica came home for the night for the first time in half a week. She brought me two things. She called them Valentine’s Day gifts.

  • The first thing she gave me was a container of eggplant salad from a favorite restaurant of our’s in the area where we used to live. I had been talking about how I missed their eggplant salad after I purchased a container of the stuff from the local supermarket. I had remarked on how much better the dish from downtown was.

  • The second gift she gave me, which I’m still not sure I’m keeping, is the DVD to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie we had seen together some time ago with my brother one night. When we left the theatre that night I was the only one of the three of us who liked the movie. They both felt that its ending was weak. I remarked that I thought the ending fit the rest of the movie rather elegantly.

    She bought it because, originally, she had wanted to take me to see it again at the Pioneer Theatre after she finished work today. She had said that it seemed fitting for our situation and that she thought she might appreciate it more this time around.

    Unfortunately, the movie was starting at the theatre a half hour before she finished work, so it was not possible to go see it there tonight. Instead, she called me on her lunch break and told me she’d get the DVD so we could watch it at home tonight.

In the end we didn’t end up watching the movie. Instead, we just talked in the kitchen for a bit. While there, she asked if we could cuddle for a while before starting the movie. (That’s when I knew there would be no movie.) I accepted and we went to lay down in bed, where the conversation continued.

I’m writing this as she’s sleeping in the middle of the bed. I suppose I’ll have to move her slightly if I want to sleep there tonight. In the morning when she returned from Randy’s today she told me she had only gotten about three hours of sleep, and had been thinking of me all through the night. Since she had to work today, I’m not surprised that she’s so tired. I hope she sleeps well.

During our conversation, we each shared some of the insights we had had recently regarding our relationship and ourselves during the time we spent together. What follows is an attempt to capture as many of these insights as I can at this late hour. Note that my eyes are heavy and my fingers slow, and I may not be completely accurate in my recollection as a result of this. (No worries, I’ll edit—and timestamp the edits—later.)

  • During the course of our relationship, one of the things I kept telling her about her other relationships was that I would feel far more at ease if one of these other relationships was a deeply committed one. That is, rather than finding other guys to have “non-relationships” I would have preferred that she find someone she loved and had a long-lasting (concurrent) relationship with that person.

    She was always puzzled by this, and despite my many attempts to explain in many different ways, I always fell short of a specific answer. This frustrated me to no end, as I was clearly unable to reach her by reason of not having a definitive awareness of exactly why I felt this way. To her, a relationship that invovled “just sex and nothing more” should have been extremely easy for me to accept because it was “meaningless [and] not important” to her.

    Today I finally realized—and finally communicated to her articulately—that the reason I was so much more troubled by all her so-called flings was because, to me, these actions were proof-positive that she was incapable of committing to a partner (any partner(s)) at this time.

    In other words, if she had found another partner to lovingly commit to, I would have gleaned the hope I wanted for our own relationship. I would have seen that, yes, it was possible for her to be committed and to be considerate and respectful to a partner. Even if that partner wasn’t me at that time, it would have shown that it was at least possible and thus I would have believed that it was possible between the two of us. We would just have to keep working at it until we got it right.

    Similarly, all her frivolous and impulsive decision making was providing proof of the very opposite of this and further reinforcing my fears that she would not be able to maintain a long-term relationship with me. Every time she told me that some new or ongoing relationship was insignificant, it told me only one thing: that our relationship was beyond her capacity right now. (On a somewhat more philosophical level, I think this insight is one of the best explanations I have of why the whole monogamy versus polyamory debate is off the mark.)

    I’m a little saddened that it’s taken these horrificly painful events to finally enable me to articulate this one thought clearly. I liked to think of myself as more perceptive than that. Nevertheless, thanks to these experiences, it is a lesson learned that I will not ever forget.

  • Danica has been writing a lot lately, just like I have been. She writes songs though, songs and poems. For the past two days, but especially earlier tonight, she shared many of the songs and snippets of lyrics she’s been jotting down.

    One of the things that struck me (and now that I think about it, something that probably struck her too guessing by the time when she paused and said “Wow…yeah…” at one of her angrier songs) was how extreme and varied the emotional weight and message of each song was. In a few cases, the same day’s lyrics had both angry and longing tones, both of which were directed at the same event or person.

    The “Wow…yeah…” song was actually the oldest one she shared. She wrote it on January 1st, 2005. The start of the new year was rough on us both; we fought quite a bit over the course of the holiday season. She told me before she read it that it was directed at me. Unfortunately, I can’t recall a specific lyric right now (and I actually don’t want to write them here because I never asked her permission to republish her work).

    Afterwards, she set it down on the table in front of us and looked at me. Her expression said “I’m sorry,” but her lips curled in on themselves into an inward frown. Then she said, “Yeah, communication would have been…” and trailed off. I finished her thought for her: “…helpful.” She nodded slowly.

  • I have long known that I am not especially fond of anyone who does not actively go after what they want or what they know to be good for them, including myself. I have never encountered a single good thing that has ever come out of passively watching things go by and not once engaging myself actively. This is not just related to relationships, but is a globally relevant observation on life in general: you can’t sit out of your life. It’s your game. You must play in it.

    The reason I was so upset with myself when Danica and I had sex the other night was because I did exactly what I try so hard to avoid all the time: passively letting things happen to me instead of actively embracing or rejecting them. Again, the point isn’t to accept or reject things, the point is to make choices. When I gave in to her sexual advances that night, when I let my body get the better of my mind, I was taking myself to the sidelines and letting the pieces fall where they may.

    When I do that, the pieces never fall exactly where I want, and I always have to pick at least a few of them up. In every case where I’ve done that, I could have arranged said pieces better if I didn’t let them fall on their own in the first place. And I knew that as I was letting myself go.

    I felt like I had just let myself float in the wind like a stray leaf, not unlike the very description I used for Danica’s lack of awareness only a few days prior. To have committed this act I myself is embarassing, to say the least. I hold myself to very high standards, much higher than I hold most other people. I have to do that because if I don’t I’ll be just like every other average person out there, and I can’t let myself believe that I’m average.

    When I told this to Danica she started crying a little. I can understand why, too: she was sure, at the time, that what she was doing was helpful. And if I were her, I might have thought the same thing.

All in all, today was great. I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked, but that means I have a strong motivation to do them tomorrow. The point is, things are getting better. They’re even getting better at an incredibly fast pace.

As I lay on the bed with Danica holding me tightly, telling me how we will be great together in the future, I felt two distinctly conflicting emotions. I was sad and I was happy. But I was okay.

12 replies on “My Relationship’s Hind-insight”

  1. So, let me see if I got this right:
    If your “partner” shows you sufficient proof that he/she is capable of commitment, then you are OK, even if your own relationship haven’t yet been completely established as “committed” under the same definition. (As you said: You will be working at it until you get it right.) Personally, I see a major flaw here, logically as well as “morally” (and the use of the word “morally” reffers to the not-logical aspects of the issue, and NOT to any specific morall value-set.)

    While approving of one’s worth to you based on her/his capacities makes perfect sense, “working at it until you get it right” assumes MUTUAL motivation to achieve “getting it right.” Motivation, especially in matters of love and attraction, has little, if any, to do with logic, which is linear. Considering the inherently non-logical/linear properties of MUTUAL attraction, leads to inherent constant doubt about your partners capacity for commitment to YOU…

    which is, in fact, a good thing, leading to being motivated to “work at it” CONSTANTLY, for the rest of the life of the relationship (as opposed to “until you get it right.”) In a way, you are NOT SUPPOSED to “get it right.” That is the essence of growth, learning, and keeping the freedom to choose.

    A person’s LOYALTY, as it is expressed in COMMITMENT to a certain relationship, assumes a degree of greater VALUE of said certain relationship, that is not shared and cannot be equal to other relationships, hence leaving the “other relationships” short of being fully committed (Just to make this clear: If you end up being in the “lesser” relationship – you will, basically, have no perception of your partner’s capacity for commitment – leading to inferior motivation to “work at it.” I believe that is true even in the realm of “family” where the bonds are (supposed to be) unconditional.

    Having said that, and with deep respect to a. opposing views, b. to my own lack of total comprehension, I vote for the old fashioned, romantic values of monogamy. I am looking forward to become more enlightened. (and that was not said with cynicism.)
    I love you.

  2. My insights were related to my own relationship with Danica, and were not formulated as general arguments for one lifestyle or another. Not to appear rude, but I haven’t any interest in arguing for or against lifestyle choices anymore.

    Suffice it to say that “lesser” relationships are still relationships, and the assumption you make about their supposed value seems to be coming from your experiences of being given “limited love.” You really don’t know how much your unconditional love benefited me. (Thank you.)

    I think you might find it informative to read Thriving in a Poly Relationship as a Secondary, especially the Proposed Secondary’s Bill of Rights in the second half.

  3. 1. I do not argue. Definitely not with you.
    2. I did not make assumptions about the value of a relationship – rather compared a supposed degree of value – I was less clear than I thought I was, it seems.
    3. the comment about my unconditional love tou may come across as cynical. I don’t want to believe it is, because that would mock the foundation of my feelings. If it isn’t cynical, then you may be right about me not really knowing how much you benefitted from it, as I NEVER, sadly enough, felt unconditionally loved. But hey, who’s counting.

  4. I don’t know many people I would consider average. I don’t know if that is a reflection on myself or the state of the universe. :-)

  5. I might be way out in left field here, but is it possible that your fear of being seen as average, combined with a bipolar tendency toward extremes, has let you keep your mind open to relationships that are not mutual (ads Nick described very well) but step outside the norm AND are unbalanced in terms of exchange of effort and commitment? Meaning, you would be afraid of turning away a relationship that is “different” (polyamory applies) because to do so might open the door to the possibility that you are more like “everyone else” than you are comfortable admitting? I am not against polyamory. Believe me. I think (I don’t remember) I wrote you an email detailing some of the more “unusual” relationships my husband and I have been involved in. But your sense of the “I want to be seen as not average” is familiar to me, very. I hate being seen as the same as the person beside me: I’m smarter, I’m more together etc. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all non-standard relationships are healthy for me. I’m rambling a bit here, but I hope some sense of what I’m trying to convey comes through.

  6. You are not at all that far off, Blondzila. Plenty of that exists in me, but I would be hard pressed to believe that any of that is bad. Certainly, my choice of partners has not been exemplary, but show me one twenty year old whose choices have consistently been perfect.

    Also, I think my resolve at not getting back together with Danica shows that I am not unwilling to turn away non-traditional relationships for the sake of non-tradition. Indeed, Danica was the first (and so far the only) girl with whom I could have seen myself be completely monogamous with, and that is something I told her long ago, way before she began taking advantage of my flexibility in this regard.

    Still, I know that the nature of bipolar disorder deludes one’s own mind, so I may be making no sense and simply not be aware of it. That is why I have been seeking support from others more experieced than I am, and asking questions of them, etc.

    What do you think?

  7. It is hard (for me) to remain on the side line when such things are discussed so honestly. More than may thing, it is experience and hence perspective (as in somewhat opposite to innocense) that enables one’s mind to settle on personal values, yet, keeping an innocent, fresh, curios and open mind is definitely a virtue.
    Many times I find myself having to shift whole paradigms of perceptions, when I realize that earlier percetions and behaviors were inappropriate after all (as in “what was I thinking?” – even when it relates to situations in which I was utterly convinced that I was right, had all the information I needed to form an opinion, and had all the capacity to carry out appropriate behavior) – When this happens, it is both hard and rewarding, painful and relieving, Now, being old enough to inevitably relate my own experiences (all of which have the properties of being in the past, therefore un-changeable), I also find myself hindered, at times, by my set values, mired by mostly semi-automatic responses to situations, lack of flexibilty of perception, and mostly: judgement (however un-intended). The real difficulty is in the awareness that I have to carry on based on the best I have, knowing from experience that my present convictions may prove inadequate later. I am yet to find a way to make this work smoothly, (The right word eludes me – make things work together… Help, anyone?) –
    Thank you for allowing me to blog here.

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