My grandparents have a love story worthy of the fairybooks. They met in London after WWII. My grandfather was looking for a pianist to accompany him when he played a Brahms piece on the violin. A mutual friend introduced them, and they went on their first date less than two weeks after their first rehearsal together, and the rest is history. They had 5 boys, emigrated from England to America, adopted another boy and 2 girls at the age of 50, and continue, in their late 80s, to fawn over one another. "Isn't she beautiful!?" "Aren't we lucky!?" "Another day postponing the demise with my darling at my side. 'Tis wonderful." This example of true love serves as a bastion for me.
I have often thought a long-lasting love story like theirs is a human experience that few are lucky enough to include in their lives, and really the only sort that makes sense to want to emulate. Knowing, of course, that any relationship will have its own particular quibbles, foibles, and antics, I am not interested in exploring deep love relationships with many people for the sake of exploring deep love relationships with many people. I feel like that's sort of antithetical. The depth comes largely in part from the time that you spend with a person. We are only given a brief stay on this earth, and it is my belief that practicing loving the same person for the majority of it is one of the most likely ways to ensure that your life will be imbued with deep, true love. A worthy endeavor.
I have only had relationships with a handful of men. I have slept with fewer. My (limited) experience has taught me that my neuro-chemical pathways function healthily--that oxytocin kicks in strong. For me, Sex=Being In Love. Not just "I love that person" as in I care a great deal for them, but full-on deeply in love. Sex is absolutely fun. But I am apparently incapable of having sex "just for fun," or casually, or even without a sense of serious commitment. My heart gets broken if sex is involved and we don't stay together. Because I'm currently single, that means that in my life, 100% of the time, sex leads to a broken heart. I know this correlation is likely not strictly causal, but that's how it feels.
I live my life openly. My private domain is almost non-existant. I generally don't speak about the ins and outs of my relationships, not because I mind if people know my business, but because I know that my partner might mind. Sex is the only intimate part of my life that I don't share with the world at large. It is truly intimate for me, and I feel like that holding that space sacred is important. I expect that my partner will share this opinion/ideal. It is soul crushing that the few lucky men who have been with me have known this about me, have tried to fit the bill, and decided that it's not what worked for them after all. Firstly, I'm sad that they weren't self-confident or self-aware enough to know about themselves that they were not built that way. Secondly, and related, it is pitiful that they craved vulnerability and intimacy so much that they were willing to betray their true natures. Finally, it sucks (*understatement*) that they got to enjoy vulnerability and intimacy with me at my cost.
Disclaimer section: (My blog contains my personal thought process, so forgive me if I indulge a bit in heart-broken-victimization here. This is where not stating the perspectives of my previous partners is a convenient respecting of their privacy. Should they wish to set the record straight or offer their side of the story, they are welcome to do so. When talking about these issues, I find myself asking, "What's wrong with me!?" and my best friends say, "Nothing is wrong with you. Those boys just want to fuck sluts and you're not a slut."...so by writing from the perspective of how I feel, I'm empowering myself and honoring that nothing is wrong with me for feeling the way I do. And by "slut" I assume my friends mean "person who is capable of and enjoys non-committal sex". Yay for the sexual revolution allowing women to join the slutty ranks of men in this world. If I don't judge you for being a slut, please don't judge me for being a prude. Obviously, I'm speaking tongue in cheek.)
In the past year or so, a guiding question that I ask myself is, "Does this feel healthy?". If I ask, instead, "Does this feel right?" or "Does this feel wrong?", I often get conflicted answers as my heart and mind and gut contradict each other or even themselves. The question "Does this feel healthy?" may have a muddy answer, but generally the answer is more clear, and feels holistic to my entire being (mind, body, soul). A friend recently said they wanted to see me "Strong and happy and healthy." This was a comment that followed seeing me very upset and crying (very upset and sobbing, really, for an extended period of time). One thought I had about that is that I am strong, and my upset did not represent weakness (opposite of strong), but, rather, vulnerability. Being vulnerable feels healthy, if not peachy. I am not interested in avoiding real moments just because they're not hunky-dory. It feels healthy to confront them head-on, and move through the unsavory expressions of emotion that wash through me. It does feel unhealthy, however, to remain in a situation where unsavory emotions tend to be the norm, which is partially why I am not in a relationship currently.
Upon reflection, much of the unsavory emotions related to my relationships stem from my somewhat obsessive analysis of what each aspect of our interactions mean. I want to know where we both stand at all times, and it's difficult to just "live in the moment" without some assurance that the moment is being invested into a longer-term cache of memories for the two of us. Having a "...to be continued..." feeling is really unsettling/stressful for me. It's not so much that I want(ed) to be married, but that I want(ed) that unsettled feeling to dissipate. Maybe that's what some people mean when they refer to marriage as "settling down"? I had always thought of it as meaning living in a single place, but I suppose it could be more abstract too. In any case, it seems to me that intimate, "living in the moment" and "lighthearted" relationships may be really fun in the short term, but they are also shallow, superficial, ultimately unfulfilling. I love wholeheartedly--you get the lightheartedness (yay!) and the heavyheartedness (sometimes) with me, but it is balanced, real, deep. When it is unbalanced, it takes work to correct, but I believe the work is worth it because the love proves to be deep and fulfilling. I am not interested in investing the best parts of myself in something that will ultimately prove unfulfilling. If I have a partner, I want to share the best parts of life with that partner, someone who reciprocates and also sees every moment, good and bad, as an investment.
I am single. In general, I'm content and happy about that. I have a lot of love and passion to share, but I am not willing or able to compromise my ideals and constitutional make up in order to be generous in that department. I would rather be single than compromise on this: I only want a partner to enjoy the lightheartedness and fun of a relationship who is also willing to put in the work to get through the frustrations of living with another person. I see my grandparents and know it's worth it.