I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I guess the most important aspect of my relationships didn’t come to light until fairly recently. See, I have always been the kind of person who went from relationship to relationship. When one would end, I would strike out back into the dating world and look for someone new to fill the void. If you throw enough darts at the wall, one will eventually hit the board and that was what happened. I would comb the internet dating sites and find an amazing woman who had questionable enough taste to want to date a guy like me. This seemed to be a pattern every few years. When one would end, another would inevitably move right into the position. And this has essentially gone on in my life since I was 13.
Six months is the longest I have been single. And probably a month is the longest I have gone without dating, seeing, or hooking up with someone. But it wasn’t my the fact that I seemed to require a woman in my life, as much as it was that I never questioned why I got tired of them and walked away. I have ended almost every relationship I have ever been in and I never really questioned why. And it wasn’t until recently that I realized I left them because they no longer inspired me. But the reason why they no longer inspired me was because I no longer inspired them.
When we enter a romantic relationship with another person, we sign an emotional contract. One that we assume the other understands – to be faithful, honest, expressive, and willing to compromise and communicate. Well, that is what a relationship means to me. Clearly, it never meant that to them. Maybe their definition was different than mine – but I never chose to ask. I slowly lost the desire to know more about their wants, needs, and desires. I simply got comfortable on the couch and turned on the television because they fit the previously vacant slot. But the ugly truth is, I let my relationships whither and die because I neglected my responsibilities.
It’s interesting how we can demand so much from a relationship but rarely do we consciously think about what value WE can add. So many people walk around talking about what they need and demand from a partner but rarely do we hear people talking about how they go out of their way to grow a relationship. Oh, you’ll hear someone begin to list off all the things they do when they’re in a fight but when you do nice things for someone yet use it as ammunition later on, it negates the entire sentiment. You can say how wonderful you are and how anyone should be happy to love you but really, what do you bring to the table? What are you doing to make your relationship stronger? Are you making an active effort to work on your short-comings? Are you apologizing without being prompted? Are you taking notes of the little things that make your partner smile? If so, good for you. Keep it up. But most of us don’t. We sit back, fill the previous position with a good-enough replacement, and go back to business as usual. And when that happens, it’s only a matter of time before that relationship will inevitably fail as well.
So what do we do?
We stay five steps ahead. We don’t get lazy with the faith of another person. We go out of our way to put smiles on their face. We get joy from making them happy. Not for what they can do for us, but what we can do for them. And if you find someone who feels the same, then you know you have found someone with whom you are truly compatible.
When someone holds you and lets out that deep exhale, that is them letting go of the past hurt and letting you in. And sometimes that’s really difficult for most people because a lot of us have been hurt and betrayed. And when we give up that bitterness and believe that you can be the one who will be the change, well, that is a gift. And when you aren’t moving forward, you are no longer nurturing the gift you have been given.
So yes, it is your job to inspire and motivate your partner. Don’t worry about what you receive. It either comes or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, well then at least you know you tried and then you should walk away. But we all need to stop being so childish to wait for the other person to go first. This isn’t the goddamn playground in 4th grade. Go first, go second, go last. Stop keeping track and assault them with kindness and understanding and compromise and your gift.
Then, and only then, do you have a shot at forever.