Last night, I went out for drinks with a couple of friends who both wound up ending a relationship this weekend.
Over the course of our beverages, they found themselves discussing the effects of feeling heartbreak, and I found myself feeling pretty awkward–Granted, I, the happily-relationshipped female already had two strikes against, me, but what I realized it that I have never had my heart broken.
Which, for some reason, really bothers me.
I haven’t had that many “boyfriends” in my life. Before my current relationship, I dated 3* guys. That’s it, that’s all. Sure, I’ve gone on some casual dates (okay, 4), but for some reason, dating was never really a “thing” for me, and then when it was, things always just seemed to end of their own accord. What’s weird though, is how much I changed because of each person, or, I suppose a better way of saying that is how much I learned from each relationship.
My first “boyfriend” was in high school. I really shouldn’t even count him, but for the sake of argument, we had, for all intents and purposes, a stereotypical dumb-ass high school relationship. We started “dating” because one of my friends was dating HIS best friend and she wanted someone to go on double dates with. Ah, high school. He was a really, really nice guy, but, looking back, we had nothing in common. I remember once I was talking about Catcher in the Rye and I realized he thought I was talking about a book about baseball. He took me to senior prom and we went out a couple of times. Eventually, I realized that there was no way this was going to end well, and we ended it amicably.
Being a “high school” boyfriend, I usually don’t even count him when I count the past people I’ve dated…because we were just so wrong for each other. What he taught me was that if you don’t like cars, you should never, ever date a “car guy”, even if his parents DO own a really sweet old building that makes for awesome nights of hide-and-go-seek. Also, I learned that I cannot be in a relationship with someone who uses “ain’t” in a non-ironic manner, because eventually I will snap. I also learned that I have to be able to be “me” when I’m dating someone. I was never exactly “me” around this guy, because we had absolutely nothing in common, so I would spend hours watching him repair his engine while secretly wishing I could just go read a book. And that just doesn’t work.
My second boyfriend (or I suppose, technically, the first) happened in college and there was….well, there is a lot I could say about that relationship, because it was …. something. I think, at the time, I was so in love with the idea of being in love that I threw myself into the thing without much thought first, and, in the end, it bit me in the ass. Hard.
I think this one taught me the most because I learned the most about myself. I learned that talking every night on the phone or online does not make up for face-to-face communication. I learned that as much as I tried to beat around the bush, honesty is the most important thing in a relationship. I wasn’t honest with him, and I will always regret that. I also realized that I hate being the bad guy. In this case, there was a time when he was the bad guy and there was a time when I was most assuredly the bad guy…but what I regret the most is that I lost a really, really great friend out of the deal. We were much better suited for friends than a relationship anyway, but I kept ignoring it because I liked being a girlfriend. I also learned a lot about trust in that relationship. Things happened that I will never be able to forgive, or forget, but what I lost was the trust I had. And when that was gone, the relationship was over– even though we both kept doggedly trying to revive it before I had to just say “no”. I also learned that you really, really should check before you break up with someone, because you might have forgotten that it is his birthday.
There was, then, what I shall call the *asterisk boyfriend*– we went out for a couple of weeks, I misunderstood signals and signs and the significance of a make-out or two and decided it would be a (famously) good idea to read him a poem that I’d written, without explaining first that when I’m in poet mode, everything is sort of magnified and expanded to be more effective. So I wound up reading him this ridiculously over the top (but awesome) poem about being in love, and well, that ended just about as well as you’d expect. Looking back, it was hilarious, and I still totally cringe when I think about it– and I gotta say, since then, he’s always been really cool about it….but oh, poor, poor asterisk boyfriend. I can’t imagine how awkward he must have felt. That was a valuable lesson in waiting for the right time and not being a creeper. I totally came off like a creeper. Sometimes, that happens, I suppose.
My last boyfriend is an interesting tale. Basically, we dated for a long, long time. I was pretty well in love with him and I was doing a great job of ignoring all of the problems that we were having because I was happy with him. Then he took a job, with literally a weeks’ notice, and moved out of state, very far away. We broke up, because I was still in school and not in a position to move out there, and that, I thought, was that. However, it became very quickly apparent that he did not think our relationship had ended.
That turned into quite the situation, and I learned– the hard way– that relationships need to have concrete and concise terms and conditions, and that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you will end up the asshole.
This relationship is the closest I’ve ever come to actual “heartbreak”, but I very vividly remember getting really, really upset, to the point where I was going to cry, and thinking to myself “wait a minute, you’ve been dating for quite some time, and with a week’s notice, he’s gone? How much did I really mean to him?” …And that….just sort of ended that. So I learned that it’s really easy for me to walk away. I shut down, moved on, and let it go. And it was easy.
I don’t know if I like that about myself or not.
I know it’s weird that I’m bothered that I’ve never gotten to be so miserable, but I guess more than that, it’s weird looking at the relationships I’ve had, and the relationship I have now. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s….it’s easy. I don’t worry about being myself or trying endlessly to please him. I trust him immensely. It’s comfortable and it works.
I think more than anything, I know that it’s hard for me to admit things about myself to myself. I don’t like being reminded that I’m self conscious, I’m an over-achiever, that I desperately seek approval from the people I like, that I can be a liar and a bitch and sometimes be cold and calculating when it suits me. I over think everything and I make huge issues out of nothing.
But now, I’m in a place where I’m not made to ever feel self-conscious, even when I’m twitching all over the floor. And it’s not just with Jake, it’s with everyone I count among my friends in my “circle of trust”. I’m accepted.
I’m allowed to be an idiotic blue-haired Shakespeare nerd. I’m allowed to be an over-achiever and supported for the things that I do, and challenged to do more and better things, with reminders from concerned friends that I can’t do it all myself. People ask me if they can help. That’s still new and strange to me. I still desperately seek approval, but being around people that I respect both as friends and artists has allowed me to gain their approval for the right reasons, not just because I want them to like me. I don’t have to lie about being happy, because I am. Sometimes I’m still a bitch, and I get called out for it when it’s not needed and when I need to rant, I have people who will listen and let me be bitchy for awhile. When I want to be distant, I get asked what’s wrong and I can talk about it. When I want to be calculating…well, then I just read Macbeth. I still over-think, but I get to over-think directing choices and design ideas.
I still make huge issues out of nothing, but it’s because to me, this is still all too perfect. My friends are too wonderful, my life is too amazing and my relationship is way too easy to be in. Clearly, there has to be something wrong with me, or our relationship, because it just…is. We have what we have. It’s not complicated or crowded. It’s…quiet. It’s comforting, really, but sometimes I get so worked up over the smallest things that I have to sit back and realize that not everything has to BE loud and aggressive. Some things can just….be.
It’s a good thing.