Discovering Grown-Up Relationships

I haven’t blogged about my love life – or any part of my life – in a long time and I think part of the reason is the lack of stability or consistency I’ve felt lately. It seems 23 will be a year of shifts and changes, something I’ve heard many times about being in your 20’s and really discovering who you are.

But there’s a great lesson I’ve learned since I first began mentioning relationships on the blog and it is perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve felt. Better than anything food or fitness has ever taught me.

What you need to know, is that I used to have a deep-seeded need to WIN in relationships. That meant I withheld showing feelings or affection until my partner took the reins first.  I thought by not openly showing my partner that I cared, I stayed in control and kept myself from showing hurt (ie: weakness). I used to say I was forced to act this way because I was perpetually attracted to men who were afraid of commitment or who were such players that they didn’t show they cared. But really, it was my own mentality that doomed me to failure.

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Because before, I thought the only way to feel special was to be the girl who could put up with (sh)it. Who toughed out rough situations and played the “game” better and stronger than many men. I could handle day long gaps of communication because I busied myself up instead. And I could handle pangs of jealousy and lack of commitment because I just tried to mirror the issue. I believed this was worth it because I was occasionally rewarded with a few personal, meaningful moments of affection.

And I thought this was a good thing – I thought I was different from other girls because I could put my own needs aside and be cool. I thought other girls were crazy for being so nit-picky. I thought I was awesome for “winning the game.”

Really, I got hurt a lot because I never spoke up and implied anything was wrong.

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I attribute the significance of LA Boy in my life to the fact that when he came in my life, for the first time I could love the way I wanted to love. I could give love without fear and speak my mind without analysis. His own honesty and realness inspired me to get out of the game and make an effort!

And it worked!

I stopped feeling insecure and nervous and started feeling special. In return, he felt special that I shared myself with him. We grew close in a shorter time span than it’s ever taken me to get to know someone. I stopped daydreaming because the reality was wonderful.

The greatest lesson I learned from my relationship with LA Boy was that relationships are about being yourself and opening up about your thoughts, feelings and problems. 

I almost feel silly how long it’s taken me to realize that no girl can ever be the cool girlfriend forever. I was compromising part of my sanity in order to achieve such status before.

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As I approach further relationships, it is my belief now that relationships happen when two people give. It will not happen when two people withhold.

Moreover, I don’t want to wait for months of the game anymore to figure out if I am with the right person! I’ve made it my goal to put myself out there about my intentions and goals and thoughts. I’m letting a partner and I make honest and realistic decisions about where we could be headed. I’m attempting to own my faults instead of placing the blame on the men – who really only assumed our relationships were fine because I never spoke up.

This challenge is hard on my heart in it’s own way.

The most interesting consequence this change has meant for me is that it makes commitment scarier than before. When I was in these serious, but uncommunicative relationships, commitment felt right because I didn’t have time to think about playing the game with 2 guys at once. Commitment was the ultimate sign that I’d “won!” Oh but now…but now, commitment is scarier than ever! Because if I’m committing myself to someone I’ve learned about and expressed myself to that means shit is real. It means I’m on the adult relationship trajectory. Combining Lives. Thinking about marriage. Etc.

Scary.

But so so exciting!

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My lesson is on the power of letting go of the game. It can only take you so far. You can only really “win” once you realize that winning a relationship only means losing a meaningful one.

And..if you want the real juicy part.. there is someone else who made me realize just how life changing this outlook will be…