Saturday, February 8, 2014

Let's Talk Love. Or try to.

I am NOT a love expert AT ALL.  I have been heart broken a few times in my short life though and my dear girlfriends have been through their love and heartbreak too.  From these experiences I'd like to share some insights with you on love that I've come to learn over the course of years and relationships and a lot of eff ups.  About fighting and different personalities and why people want to be with people who don't always agree with them.

But let's back up a bit...

I had a few flings in middle school and high school, but I was so uncertain of everything. Then I was in a serious relationship for about 5 years, but our life goals simply were not aligned.  We were fantastic friends and hardly ever disagreed on things, it just wasn't meant to be.  I can see both sides of the coin years later, was hard at the time.  I went from my only serious relationship outside of high school to a seriously awful experience, to guys in law school approaching me and me being total awkward, to trying to date a bit, to a brief but serious tryst, to hating dating, to trying online dating for awhile, to wanting to be single forever, to having the smallest spark of hope and inviting a then friend (P) to visit me.  And now we live together and things are normal.  Not in the boring way, in the good way!!!

P is the first guy that I've had several significant fights with.  He has a strong personality AND so do I so guess what?  FIGHTS.  Not all the time.  But it happens.  We are also more vocal about things that matter to us.  And it has given me a greater understanding of what "love" really is, at least insofar as I've experienced it. So here are my insights on love for what it's worth.

Love is Difficult

Love is so complex, so dynamic, and so organic; it is just this insane crazy creature and it's like we're constantly trying to tame this crazy ass thing by being with someone who will stoke the flames without causing a boil over OR causing the flames and the creature to die; it's such a balancing act.
From my experiences, I think you should try to find someone that balances you, and that doesn't mean being total opposites, it means complementing each other.  For instance, I have a weird obsession with expiration dates, which P doesn't really care about, but he has his own "weird things" that work with my expiration date fixation.

Reconciling a "Planner" with a "Free Spirit"

I am a planner.  I have friends who are also planners.  We feel most comfortable with a general idea of our month with specifics for the next 4-7 days.  But our other halves are sometimes "free spirits."  They want to "go with the flow" and figure things out as events unfold.  This is hell on planners.  And this is also a source of a lot of fights in relationships that involve planners and free spirits.  I am a huge planner.  This is at least in part due to the fact that control makes me feel safe and secure.  My anxiety spikes a crazy amount when there aren't plans.  P is a free spirit.  He wants to change plans as events unfold and he gets really frustrated when I question things or want him to tell me what's going on - he feels it's me trying to be controlling.  

Us planners do NOT want to control everyone's life minutiae.  We do want to at least know generally what the heck is going on, as it does in fact impact us.  When about you might show up for instance.  It causes us intense distress without these details.  And it's hard to be with us when you just want to go with the flow.  I think the answer is that we have to accept SOME discomfort while free spirits need to have just a bit of accountability.  Not a "I will be home at exactly X time" but a "hey, staying out later than expected, be home around 10 or 11."  Or as another example, say P wants to have friends over, tell me a day or so in advance "hey, thinking about having the guys over on Saturday" - this puts me on notice that something is likely to occur this weekend and I should prepare.  There has to be a compromise, but I think before a compromise can occur, we need to acknowledge our preferences and work on finding a middle ground.

Fights and Friends Who Want You to End Things

As I mentioned previously, in my current relationship, we definitely argue and fight.  I have friends in a similar situation.  It sucks (nobody WANTS to get in a fight!) but we are always arguing in an effort to get along better and create a better relationship.  Over time we definitely fight less and we are becoming better at articulating our frustrations.

Unfortunately, our society tends to focus on negative qualities it seems like (gossip magazines and tv shows exist for a reason, amiright???).  This means your friends may have a shitty opinion of your significant other if you've vented to them about some annoyance, and so when you fight, they are like "BREAK UP!!!"  Friends who think this, please think a little deeper.  Look at the length of the relationship and ask your upset friend to provide a list of pros to go with the cons.  You may have NO CLUE what all the good things their significant other is doing, because your friend counts on you as their "venting to" friend.  It's important to brag about those positives my friends, or your crew is going to have a false opinion of your significant other.  So it's not fair to get mad at them for saying "break up" if you've been venting.  You need to have an honest conversation. 

Then you might explain to your friend that they need to understand that with fights in serious relationships (I'm not talking about a chick who met a dude 2 weeks ago and they want to live together but dude hates chick's cat or something), serious relationships have a foundation.  It's well-built, it's solid.  There is a NEED for these two people to be together.  They will not accept substitutions.  

"But Cassidy, why are you guys fighting then?  Doesn't fighting mean you aren't meant to be together and should break up???"  Remember!!!  There's this ground work, this foundation, and it's solid.  We're fighting over curtains and counter tops.  We just have different opinions over whether we should use granite or wood or some nouveau recycled material.  We don't have a disagreement over the foundation and the house we want to be in.  PLEASE understand the difference!

So here are some random insights by yours truly.  I am always learning things and trying to understand relationships and working together because guess what?  Your soul-mate might not be this person who is in total alignment with you!  That's really wonderful but it doesn't always happen, and that's ok too.  Sometimes the differences are what keep us interested.  Either way, we love who we love.

I think my overarching point of this all is that we really need to stop thinking about ourselves 24//7 and try to consider what the people we care about are thinking too.  And maybe somewhere in this mess we call life, we'll find a happy content medium.

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