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Friday, June 13th, 2008

Here be Dragons

(Originally posted in Swampy’s Weblog)

In my previous post I outlined five main characteristics of a mature relationship. Let’s refer to such relationships as MR from now on.

It is my contention that such relationships are essentially off the charts as far as conventional wisdom and societal expectations are concerned. There are no maps, my friends, and trying to shoehorn your particular situation into a pre-defined shape will only lead to heartache and blame. We all have to go our own ways, have the courage to redefine our relationships so they actually fit us in a fulfilling way, and be prepared for all kinds of negative responses from our family and friends. These responses will range from simple bewilderment to outright savage attack. All that these responses do, though, is reveal a lot about the people making the responses. They don’t have anything at all to do with the validity of our choices. Really, nobody but us is even entitled to an opinion.

Most of our expectations about relationships eg sexual fidelity, roles within the relationship, sticking together through thick and thin, have two aims in mind. First, to create a stable, predictable social atom that can be manipulated and controlled by society at large. Second, to provide a safe, secure environment for the raising of children. Both those factors are out the window when dealing with an MR.

If there are no children to be protected then a lot of the responsibility component is no longer necessary. Furthermore, at this stage of life we no longer want to be controlled by society at large. This is our last chance to become the people we wanted to be when we grow up. It’s a time for growth and discovery. The most important question to us now should be Am I being true to myself?
Unfortunately, when a relationship ends or has to be redesigned we tend to beat ourselves up and feel that we have failed in some major way. Most of this pain is caused by the Should Monster, as in ‘this shouldn’t be happening to me’ or ‘things should be different’. One of the results of this is feeling that there must be some action we have overlooked that could resolve the disaster, or if he or she would just change then things could go back to being good. These are all attempts to deny reality.

My mantra in the last while has been What is, is. Whenever things get bad I say that to myself and they get somewhat better. Saying this doesn’t in any way mean that I like the way things are, or that I wouldn’t prefer something else, but it puts me directly face to face with reality ie this is my situation and my feelings have nothing to do with it.

Some aspects of reality are really bitter and others we don’t want to admit at all. For instance, it is quite possible to simply want to do something else instead of continue the relationship in its present form. I’ve felt for a long time that commitments should have a no-fault opt out clause. Unfortunately, most of us can’t even imagine such a thing, so instead we go through all kinds of drama and making the other person wrong (and miserable) simply so that we can justify leaving, when in fact we simply need a change or have something else that really needs doing.

The sad thing about this is that it destroys all the things in the relationship that are actually resources for us. We have to go in and rewrite all our memories. We have to change our perception of our partner so that the things we fell in love with are no longer there or don’t matter. Wouldn’t it be simpler and less painful to say:Look, sweetie, its been a great twenty years. Unfortunately, I really have this need to go herd yaks in Tibet for awhile. My plane leaves in 2 hours.

Reality is what reality is whether it suits us or not. Here is a short list of unfortunate truths that I have deduced/had my nose rubbed in recently.

Glenn’s List of Unfortunate Relationship Truths

  1. It is possible to find that you no longer love someone, regardless of how nice,intelligent, sensitive or deserving they may be.
  2. It is possible to love someone very much, but not want to have sex with them.
  3. It is possible to love someone very much, but not be able to live with them. Maybe you feel stifled, or something about them simply sends you batshit (or vice-versa).
  4. It is possible to love someone very much and still want to do something else more, and if necessary you will sacrifice the love.
  5. It is possible to stop loving someone, refuse to admit it even to yourself, and put yourself and all around you through five or ten years misery because of it.
  6. Same as number 5, but refuse to admit that there is something you really want to have/do/be and this ain’t it.
  7. Sometimes it rains.
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Category: Relationships
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