Tag Archives: love

Till Things Change Enough that We Should Part

Insights from meditation are notorious for being both obvious and profound at the same time.

One of the key insights Buddhism offers is that “everything changes.” Look anywhere, and it’s obvious this is true. Yet every day, we live life as if this is not true, as if there are things we can count on to last forever.

This is one of my (many) beefs about marriage. “Till death do us part” leaves little room for the change and growth two people might go through in their lives. In the examples of long term marriages I’ve seen, too often it appears to be that one or both people make major sacrifices in their happiness and self-fulfillment in order to maintain the relationship. My independent self chafes at the thought.

Yet I’m also unafraid of the kind of commitment to working through hard places that marriage requires. I have been in several long term relationships which required challenging, emotional conversations. I’ve learned to enjoy digging in to these messy places as “the goods” – this is where trust and intimacy and connection are forged.

My initial forays into online dating have been focused on casual connections with people who seem interesting, attractive, and fun to spend an evening with. My profile is playful, focused on meeting new people, detailed about the activities I’d enjoy having a partner for, short on qualities I possess that might be interesting to people seeking a longer term relationship.

My beefs about marriage have had me turning my nose up at the thought of a long term relationship, something even more than the serial monogamy I’ve practiced most of my life. Yet I have other models. Some friends of mine say that their long-term partnership will remain, as long as it’s still better to be together than to be apart.

On my meditation retreat, James Baraz talked about love and lovingkindness. In his book Awakening Joy, he talks about his marriage, and how his commitment with his wife was to use their relationship as a vehicle for growth. In his talk on love, he asked (as I remember it), “What beliefs do you hold about love that might not be true?”

I was able to see instantly a core belief about relationships. My belief that “Marriage = Stagnation of Self” has had me ignoring all the other forms that long term relationships can take. If I stop believing this is true, what forms of relationships might I really want?

I’m not entirely sure of the answer to that question yet, but I think it’s going to require an entire rewrite to my online dating profile!

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Coming Out

I came out to my mother.

In a less conventional way than the normal coming process, of course. I can’t even follow the proper trajectory for a coming out story.

“I don’t think I’m ever going to have a ‘normal’ looking relationship, where I find one person that I want to move in with and have babies with and spend all my time with.” I clarified, “It’s not because I think I can’t have that. I could have had that a hundred times if that’s what I wanted.”

I took another breath before I spoke directly, “I just don’t want a normal long term relationship. It’s not where I want to put most of my energy when I feel like I have so many other things I’m here to do.”

I gauged her body language. The last thing I wanted was to be told, “If you just found the right person, I’m sure you’ll feel differently.” I kept breathing.

She shrugged her shoulders. “You don’t have any of the same pressures that I had growing up, where unmarried women were jeered as spinsters and old maids. You have so much more freedom to choose what you want to do! It’s inspiring that you are doing what you want to do.”

And I know this about my mother, but it still surprises me every time. She revels in the choices I have available to me, and celebrates when I choose the unconventional.

Resting, Laughing, Loving, Settling

With a couple of weeks left before the new year and an intention to restart my regular check-ins, I’m here to find out: What do I want these last two weeks to include?

1. Rest deeply when I get the chance.

There will be a lot of work this upcoming week. I’ve worked too many days in a row already. When it’s time to rest, I want to do it fully. Turn off the work brain. Do things that nourish me: dance, legs up the wall, drink water, read, laugh with friends.

2. Notice the things worth smiling and laughing about.

I’m noticing a pattern where I’m always answering “How are you?” with one of three options: Busy, Frantic, or Working Too Much. I’m not wanting to just turn that off, as much of that is real in my experience right now. But I’m also wanting to notice the OTHER things that are also going on. And try out some different ways of answering that question.

3. Loving on my loved ones.

I get to visit some of my favorite folks next week. I want to make some plans with folks … first I need to tell them I’m coming! I also have a few more holiday gifts to find & send for my nephews.

4. Home office set up & functional.

It’s a little scary to be working from home again. I want my space set up so I can be sure to turn off the work brain when I’m done for the day. It will feel great to come back to my space being in order so I can transition into working from home as smoothly as possible.

—–

These things seem doable. The most concrete things are the home office set up and those presents for my nephews. Everything else is about trying out some new ways of being, or expanding the set of folks I’ll get to hang out with next week.

My shoulders relax a bit seeing that I haven’t made myself a 47 point to do list.

For Your Health: Don’t Say “I Do”

News flash: If you are independent and like to have a lot of control over you life, it might be bad for your health to get married.

“If you look at never marrieds who are high on mastery — they feel like they are in the driver’s seat and in control of their lives — and high on self-sufficiency — they know how to take care of themselves — they actually have better emotional well-being than married people” – Jamila Bookwala, author of a study on people over 40 who never married

Deepen Your Love by Breaking Up. Really.

Love is a state of connectedness, one that includes vulnerability, surrender, self-valuing, steadiness, and a willingness to face, rather than run from, the worst of ourselves. – Geneen Roth

How is it that my connection with someone can deepen when I say, “We don’t belong together”? It runs completely counter to my intuition that breaking up, again, with someone can leave me feeling closer to them.

Yet that closeness, that connectedness comes from facing what is real. It can be the reality of our darker motives, or the reality that two people can love each other but not be a good match to build a life together. Facing reality together deepens the connection. Even when facing reality severs that connection.

My friend Aaron once said, “There’s love, and then there’s logistics.” Some partnerships may be full of love, but if your partner can’t pay his bills while you are investing, or your partner wants to buy a farm while you want to move to the city – the logistics are sometimes too complicated to be overcome. The romantics might say, “But Love conquers All!!!!” I suppose if you are willing to let yourself, your own goals and desires be conquered by Love – then sure, love conquers all. Especially you.

I feel like life throws enough challenges in my way. If I’m ever going to build a partnership with someone to move through life with, I’d like to at least start with most of our foundational pieces being aligned. The question is – is there really anyone out there who aligns perfectly with my values?


Prelude: What If?

What if you were about to meet your perfect lover?

What if you knew this lover better than anyone else in the world, and this lover knew you better than anyone else?

What if you liked the same food, loved the same movies, listened to the same music, rooted for the same teams, enjoyed the same friends, were fascinated by the same books, had the same spiritual beliefs, cared about the same causes, and shared the same goals?

What if you absolutely knew you two could live together comfortably?

What if this lover always had your best interests at heart?

What if you were brought before a large door and told that, behind the door, was the love of your life?

You straighten your hair, pop a Certs, take a deep breath, open the door and find yourself face-to-face . . .

…with a mirror.

– Peter McWilliams in Love 101

Dating My Ex: A Do Over

I’m dating an ex. My friends, who listened to me cry about him for months, have all been rightfully skeptical. All the things that are wrong with our relationship: he dreams of owning a farm, while I want to move to the city and travel; he’s happy just spending time with me every night, while I thrive on interacting with a lot of different friends; he thinks its his role as a partner to suggest changes to my lifestyle, while I chafe at any inkling of challenge to my independence. Worst of all, we spent months not talking about any of these differences.

Normally I know better than to be in a relationship without good communication. But we had a good reason: a language barrier. It was getting better day by day, but I couldn’t find ways to communicate the nuances of difficult conversations. I finally got frustrated enough that I told him we might need to breakup, and he checked himself out of the conversation and wouldn’t communicate at all.

Three months later, we started running into each other regularly. Encounters were friendly, but I refused to make any effort beyond that. I just kept saying, “You need to call me if you want anything more than this.” After a couple of weeks of this, he finally did. And we finally talked about all these differences that made our relationship really challenging. And our mutual feelings that despite all these differences, there was still love and attraction that drew us together. We decided that being “friends” (with benefits) was a better label for us, because as soon as we made it anything more serious we both got trapped back into expectations of each that were never going to work.

In reality, it’s like we are getting a “do over” with this relationship. Now, when the same old situations flare up, I get to actually communicate about it this time. I’m not so worried that it’s going to end the relationship, because it’s already over. I know exactly where not communicating leads, and I know that’s an avenue I don’t want to head down again. So we talk, I get to say the things that were always in my head, but never got out of my mouth. It heals the prior pain and suffering, and gives me good practice for communicating in the next relationship.