I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
We had been dating for a few months and had somehow made it past the period of being a simple booty call. Oh sure, our initial interactions were absolutely centered around sex and sexual tension but there was playfulness to her spirit that made me smile and compelled me to keep her around. She was approachable and easy to share space with – two attributes that took me forever to realize their importance. She never walked through my door with heavy expectations. There were no confrontational conversations about “where things were going” or “what are we?” And as a person who had been battered with a constant barrage of questions that made me feel cornered, I appreciated the lightness she brought.
One of the few things the people I had dated had in common was the desire to guilt me into a commitment. In retrospect, I could see they simply wanted answers. An undefined relationship only leads to assumption and stress and it is always better to just be open and upfront with desires and expectations – even if they are set up to fail. But that wasn’t where my head was and it seemed that no matter how many times I said, “I just want to keep things casual,” they never wanted to take it seriously. As if I was just joking, waiting for them to say they magic phrase that would break through and cause me to furiously throw wedding rings at them.
But the truth is, no one likes to feel guilted into anything. And if you have to try to convince someone to commit, odds are you already have your answer. Sure, you might get someone to give up and go along if you bring out big guns like manipulation or bouts of strategically placed crying. I will freely admit, I have been guilted into more relationships than I can count. I have stayed months and years past the expiration date out of fear of breaking someone’s heart and have fallen victim of well-timed tactics. And kudos to those women. They knew what they wanted and you really have to respect that kind of perseverance.
We would lie in bed, night after night, while she traced my oddly shaped body with her skinny fingers. I kept waiting for “the talk” but it never came. Month after month, we would text each other “good morning” and when we weren’t sleeping in each other’s beds, “good night”. And it was nice. Light. Refreshing. But inevitably I found myself asking, wait… why not? I mean, why wasn’t she asking me about our status, where this was headed, or when I was planning on moving in with her. It didn’t make me want a committed relationship any more than before, but it definite planted a seed because I don’t think she knew just how rare of a person she was. Or maybe she did.
She was the first woman that I had dated that didn’t refer to a biological clock or compare her relationship status to the rest of her friends or bring up the guilt she felt from her family over Thanksgiving dinners. But it wasn’t about me as much as it was just seeing a woman confident enough in her own skin to not demand or guilt or use trickery to force someone she liked to commit.
Eventually I actually brought it up out of sheer curiosity and she said that she was in love with me but liked what we had and was fully open to things progressing. And she followed the conversation with, “There’s no need to put heavy expectations on what we have, let’s just see where we end up.” Just this cool confidence that she exuded made me like her that much more. She was so… rational.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to settle down. There is nothing wrong with the urge to want to be committed to a person or get married or have babies. But I guess I had just come across so many people in my life that followed that pattern of, “Well we have been dating for X amount of weeks so we should be committed and we have been dating for X amount of months so we should live together and we have been living together for X amount of years so we should probably get married,” and so on because that is the social and familial expectations of our timeline.
I guess what I’m getting at here is that there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t want what everyone says you should want. And people will attempt to guilt you into their expectations and your grandparents will no-so-subtily shame you over holiday dinners but the truth is, the most successful relationships are ones that aren’t forced. No one should be guilted into loving you. If you have to convince someone to invest more of their time into your love, they’re basically telling you that they don’t have the desire.
And your love deserves more respect than that.