(I’ve been up since like 8 am, partially on the phone but also I was very inspired to write this post.)
Relationships are one of the most simple yet complex concepts on the face of this Earth. Simple, in the sense that love is natural and whether or not you run from it or stand open armed on the train tracks waiting for impact, you will find yourself in one. But complex because of all our expectations, our desires, our standards. We expect relationships to be a certain way and close other people off when they don’t meet our standards. We take away the natural.
It’s funny because before I even knew much about romantic relationships I had developed this idea in my head about what it should be like. I had grown up seeing enough of bad relationships, so I put all this energy into finding someone who would be the complete opposite of my mother’s partner, my sister’s partner, my father’s partner, etc. But in reality, I found myself making the same mistakes. Now, some will say “Oh you were just a teenager, that doesn’t count!” but it was those high school sweetheart moments that taught me the most. (You’re never to young to learn from a relationship)
I learned that 1. I was looking for a replacement which took my relationships out of natural. What’s even crazier is that I didn’t even know I was! When it came to dating, I had this intense need to have this hole filled, to be smothered and deep fried in my partner’s attention, and most of all to be in control. I needed a replacement for all the bad gunk left behind by my past experiences, someone who could right all those wrongs and make up for years of whatever neglect I was feeling. I had all these standards and negative energy choosing my relationships for me. And I was always the “I don’t have a type, I’m open to everyone” kind of person, yet secretly my need for replacement was working against me the whole time. It’s amazing how quickly the universe will give back to you exactly what you put in. (more on that in a bit)
2. Because I was so interested in replacement love, I forgot about nutritious love. It’s like picking fast food over a healthy meal. The fast food fills you up quicker, takes less effort, immediate satisfaction, but slowly kills you. And the nutritious food costs more, takes longer to make, requires some brain power, way too much effort half the time, but 10 times out of 10 you walk away with something you didn’t have before you came to the table. Sure replacement love was quick and fun, but I found myself feeling drained emotionally and physically. Replacement love didn’t challenge me, didn’t understand my interests, didn’t make me do the work. But nutritious love? that’s the love that naturally belongs to you. The love that’s waiting when we stop looking for artificial replacements. The love that was made to completely understand each and every part of you. Nutritious love isn’t about just your nice body, your bank account, and maybe a secret or two. It’s literally about a nourishment of your mind, body, and soul. You constantly walk away from the table with something more.
3. I just wanted someone to be there. I had this need to be heard at all times, just to be in constant communication with someone who would always listen…. I gave way too much credit to the guys that were capable of doing that. Honestly, it doesn’t take much to listen to someone. Just because he’s quiet for thirty minutes while you relive all your frustrations doesn’t mean he is the end all be all. I had all this love around me in friendships that I was completely overlooking because I had my heart and mind set on replacement romantic love. There were friends literally begging for me to let them in, to lean on them when I was having a hard time, to just call them and let them know I needed them, but I couldn’t. I wanted that type of love from one person only… the person I was dating. So I created all these unrealistic, and unnatural expectations which led me to believe he would always be there and that only added to my cycle of hurt when he couldn’t.
4. I was a frequent traveler in the cycle of hurt. The signs are there, they are always there, but I chose to ignore them. Constant arguments that never go away, that deep-rooted anger that seems to resurface at the drop of a hat, me literally analyzing the many ways we do not fit or why the relationship was unhealthy, I pushed all of that under the rug. I couldn’t even identify what I was getting out of the relationship, if I had grown any or changed for the better, nothing. Still all of that went under the rug. And I had the nerve to ask myself “Why does this keep happening to me? Why do I keep hurting this way? What’s not working?” I was clearly ignoring the natural right in front of me. If you find yourself asking the same questions, and going through the same cycle, you’re not crazy. That’s your body’s response to all the artificial love you’re swallowing, and eventually you’ll get sick enough to let it go for something better.
5. (And this is the most important) I needed to fix myself. They say relationships are a reflection of you, and you’ll choose a partner based on your perception of your own self-worth. My self-worth was crap, and again I didn’t even realize how bad it was. I convinced myself that there were certain things I would never put up with in a relationship, for example cheating, physical abuse, etc. And that I would never be with someone who made me feel even worse about myself. I thought I was better than that. But once again my inner self was putting a completely different message into The Universe. Because I didn’t love myself as much, didn’t understand the woman I had potential to be, didn’t value all the beauty that is me, it was easy to allow someone else to mold me into someone I didn’t recognize. Someone who didn’t even have the same beliefs and morals as I did, almost a complete stranger. Because I was internally weak, I was susceptible to all kinds of bacterial relationships, the ones that were never naturally for me.
I had to seriously take a moment to learn these lessons on my own. And I mean seriously take a moment. We are so quick to say “Oh I’m not dating, I’m taking time for me.” and before you can take time for self reflection you’re booed up with someone new! Really cherish the time you have alone with yourself. Identify what went wrong in those past, replacement relationships because no matter how horrible your partner was to you, there was something inside that told you This is what you’re worth, stay. There were some pieces of you that were calling out for replacement for how your parents mistreated you or some other story, you need to find that piece and put some effort into nourishing it. You have to be secure in yourself before you can be secure in someone else. And I’m not saying you have to be brand spanking new in order to find the right one, but when you are really giving to yourself graciously The Universe recognizes it. The nutritional love that then comes your way takes the reigns from your hands and helps build you because now you’re ready for some hard work.
These lessons are not restricted to a certain age group or gender or anything else. I’m only 20 but find myself in a better understanding about relationships than people twice my age. It doesn’t matter when you learn it, it’s only important that you do.
I’m forever grateful for the nutritious love I now have in my life, and I won’t get into details yet (that’s for another blog post) but I can feel myself growing, I can literally name the things I’m walking away from the table with, I know that no matter what happens we are truly better people than when we first started. And that’s what matters. I no longer need a replacement, just simply a partner to hold my hand in the trenches. For me, that’s all relationships are about.