Submitted by megan on Wed, 09/03/2008 - 16:39
After I posted my blessings yesterday, I realized I was a total liar. Not that I don't feel blessed, because I do; not that I am not, because I am. But I do have something specific that I am very much looking forward to: a visit with CT in October, over Thanksgiving.
It's been a surprise, this thing that he and I got going.
There isn't really a good name for This Thing. A few people have referred to him as my boyfriend, and I rarely correct them. But it's not a word I've ever used myself.
If the subject of he and I comes up, with him or other people, I describe it as dating. "Oh, I was speaking with CT - you know, that boy I'm dating, the Californian?" We are definitely dating, and have an intimate relationship. We skype chat almost every day, generally email as well, and have video dates when we can fit them in. That's the stuff of a long distance bf/gf capital-R relationship.
But for me the word "boyfriend" carries with it an open-endedness, a sense of possible permanancy, that CT and I have purposefully and explicitly built out of our relationship. Our "we" is a time limited offer. He's not moving to cold-wintered Ottawa; I am not moving to spider-infested Northern California.*
And he is looking for a girlfriend, someone to settle down with. While theoretically I'm open to settling down and being someone's girlfriend, I also kind of figure it's not going to happen.
For my entire dating life, I have been happier when I'm single. Until I can find someone with whom I am just as happy as when I'm single, well, then, there just doesn't seem to be much point. Settling is not a good replacement for settling down.
The hard part is that when you first start dating someone, they seem perfect, you seem perfect in their eyes, you both seem perfect together. So I'm way happier in those first few weeks or months than I am when I'm single.
The balance has always shifted back.
It's hard to recognize when the scales have tipped permanently from "happy" to "not so much;" hard to admit that you're working harder and harder for less and less happy.
I've said often that I want a Relationship Red Light, like the ones you would stick on a regular old car to make it a cop car. I think every relationship should come installed with one, so that when it's over, when it's gone past the point of repair, when happy is never going to weigh more, the light starts up, flashing and twirling, and both people look each other in the eyes, smile, maybe exchange bisous, and go their separate, much more satisfied, ways.
It feels like CT and I have that built in, and it gives me a feeling of comfort and safety. There's no wondering where it will go,** or what's going to happen. There's no worrying if he still likes me or not because well, someday he won't like me the way he does now. It's guaranteed. We will break up. It will be sad. It might get messy. We will be kind to each other.
Surprisingly, I've found myself much more relaxed. There's no worrying about the what ifs, because I know what if. That lack of pressure has taught me a lot about where I've been off the mark in my past relationships. It has also made clear what I want my new norm to be: how much I want to be able to enjoy someone's presence in the present of my life.
*"You had a black widow in your recycling box? Is that normal?"
"Normal? I dunno, it happens."
"It happens? It happens?! Horrible! What did you do?"
"Well, nothing. It got away. But normally, I'd just step on it. It's a spider."
"But what if you found one inside!"
"Well, then I'd step on it inside."
**Though perhaps a bit of daydreaming, now and again.