It was over the weekend, whilst writing a blog post, that I realised I have pretty much stopped dating. This isn’t a decision I’ve made, but something that has just happened. Or, rather, stopped happening. I was writing an article about the things I look for in a potential partner, considering the deal-breakers versus the bonus points, when I stopped for a moment and stepped back; I counted on my fingers and figured out that the last time I went on a first date with someone I thought could possibly become a primary partner was mid January.
This whole realisation made me halt for a little longer. Not because I’m unhappy, but because for the past few months I’ve felt – no – been almost certain that I was actively looking for what I referred to as a “central relationship”; a primary partner. I’ve spent a good five months working from this assumption; longer really, since I may not have identified as non-monogamous before 2013, but I’ve been looking for someone since the end of 2011. Or, so I thought. But apparently not.
I was never the kind of person who had a date every weekend. Even when I’ve been in relationships, I’ve remained fairly independent, and I like to have my own time and my own space. But even for me, five months with no dates is a little excessive; particularly at a time when I often find myself talking about how much I want a primary relationship.
But as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
And with this realisation still washing over me, I stared blankly at the screen of my laptop for a few minutes and tried to figure out if I was happy with this state of affairs. Had I stopped wanting a central relationship, or had I tricked myself into thinking I didn’t want it because the pain of not having one was too upsetting? I thought about my life, the ways in which I spend my time, and the people I give it to, and truth be told, I’m not at all unhappy. I don’t think I’ve changed my mind about what I want; but nor do I feel I am denying my true desires.
A few days after this revelation, I found myself thinking about what, for all intents and purposes, is currently my most central relationship. It is the one I give the most amount of time to, and it is the one in which I have the greatest emotional investment. And we are very happy. Quietly content, (and utterly depraved; but that’s a story for another day). However, his life is such that he cannot commit himself to a primary relationship with me. Three years ago, when I was in a similar position, I really struggled with the fact that I couldn’t spend more time with my then-boyfriend. I longed for that kind of partnership; the closeness, the intimacy, the shared life. By comparison, in my current relationship, I am far more in love than I was with the other man, three years ago; and yet my needs have changed. I don’t long to have him around all the time. There are moments, sometimes days, when I’d like to curl up with him, but generally speaking I have found myself to be very content with our separate, yet linked existences. As I commented to him last night, our relationship is wonderful and if I could change one thing, we would spend a little more time in each others’ arms. But that is my ideal and we are currently standing only one little step down from that ideal. The present situation is so close to perfection that I would happily commit myself to this; because I am extremely happy.
But I digress. As concerns the path I thought I was on – the one that leads to a committed, full-time, primary relationship? Well… I won’t say no to it if it appears, but I think my head and my heart are telling me, pretty decisively, that I don’t need it right now. And the conclusion my revelation really brought me to was something like this: it doesn’t really matter whether I’m looking for something or not; but it’s nice, every now and then, to check in and see where I am, and at this moment I am content, and happy, and satisfied, and my actions are telling me, pretty loudly, that there are podcasts to record, and books to read; shows to watch, and articles to write, and people to spend time with; there are plenty of other things I would rather be doing than going on dates, seeking my next great love. And that suits me just fine. For now.
Harper, I think what’s happened is you’ve become secure with the idea that really the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with YOU. When you get to that place where you are secure and COMFORTABLE being alone with yourself, your own projects, your own thoughts, your own “you-ness”, the need for others shifts. Then all other partnerships, romantic or otherwise, become a choice, something you’d LIKE to have, rather than NEED to have. In other words, relationships with others become the whipped cream, nuts and cherry on top of the yummy life you have already created for yourself. And isn’t that where we all want to be, where every facet of our lives is our CHOICE and not something we fall into because of all the “shoulds” society puts on us?
Relish it, your new found freedom to choose reading a book over the “should” of looking for a mate, or spending time with one. In fact, an awesome perk of this type of security is that you’ll start to notice that you will attract only people who actually CAN be the awesome toppings to your life because they are CHOOSING too. You’ll stop being able to tolerate, and so eventually even attract people who NEED to make your their bowl, let alone their ice cream. Desperation tends to attract desperation, balance attracts balance.
That’s not to say we can’t all falter sometimes, letting choice become want, which can become need. However when you find balance, and can sink into it awhile, it becomes much much easier to recognize when a relationship is destabilizing for you, and therefore much much easier to quickly find the problem, and right yourself. So sink into this feeling, remember it. Welcome to balance doll
I think you make a really good point, and it’s one that seems obvious, but I rarely consider consciously. The only point I’d make here, is that I think the balanced place you’re talking about, the good self-relationship is actually my default. I think I’m incredibly lucky in that I’ve always had a good relationship with myself… However, having said that, it had been destabilised by a couple of really rough years; so this isn’t my first moment with balance, but it’s really nice to be back.
Oh, and non-monogamy helps with this too. To me, relationships seems less scary when I can have several.