Keeping My Own Identity and Keeping a Relationship Strong
Keeping my own identity and keeping a relationship strong
I have finally entered what I would consider a healthy relationship. We fight. We love. We confuse each other. Yet, we are still together after a year and realize in each other, that we are far from perfect. It’s a good start though. Imperfection, that is. I have felt my ugliest in front of him and have behaved just as badly, yet he gives me another chance each time. I do the same for him but most importantly, I give myself another chance. We are best friends and I don’t say that lightly. I feel like we are old souls together. Cut from the same cloth even though our lives didn’t follow the same path until we met. I am thankful for him and love him more each day. His strength and faith in me pushes me to look at my demons and try to eradicate them. He doesn’t try to rid them for me. He can’t. Yet, he loves me enough to hold me and help me through those times when I am not myself; rather a possession of my insecurities and failures. His own demons possess him from time to time. I reciprocate the support and painfully, but surely enough, we get through it together.
We began communicating using a messenger tool on the internet. When one meets someone for the first time, looks are often the determining factor in the initial attraction. The internet increases your chances of flaunting your attractiveness immensely. Within seconds, your pretty or handsome face is spread across the nation and is available for judging by awaiting predators. His first contact with me scared me. His photo resembled a gangsta wanna be and I couldn’t imagine why he was writing to me. I quickly and politely brushed him off. Months later, a different photo appeared with a message and sparked my interest. It wasn’t until many interactions later that I realized he was the same person. Looks can be deceiving. I know that now. If I had continued to judge him based on his first photo, I would have missed out on more than I can imagine.
Unfortunately, for many people seeking love on the internet, after initial attraction occurs, and time is spent building up a safety zone between the two involved, one of two things will happen. Either they will begin to explore the relationship by maintaining a separation between them, which they break when they get together for dates and time spent together; or they will have sex right away which forgoes any chance for them to get to know each other before intimacy. Sometimes, people feel they can be more open while they are being intimate. It is important to understand the anyone can say you resemble Venus, the goddess of love while they are banging you or after a few too many drinks. It doesn’t take much to arouse the libido. My problem with past relationships occurred right after intimacy. I would become clingy, demanding and form unrealistic views of what our relationship actually was at the moment.
Growing up with the feminist movement, I had formed some definite opinions on a woman’s need for a man. I flaunted a “Self Made Woman” pin that drove my father insane and swore I would never depend on a man for any needs. As I experienced more and more relationships, I began to soften in my demeanor and become dependent on the idea of having a man around. I still performed as the self-sufficient, independent woman; although I had a great inability to see that my mothering behaviors were slowly disintegrating the core of the men that I chose to make mine. I was attracted, to men that needed nurturing. Perhaps because I truly needed so much nurturing myself that I somehow gained that through meeting men that needed empowerment. My physical and emotional need to be loved and to have someone make me the sustenance of their life became a drive that made me blind to the fact that I migrated toward a specific kind of man. If I had only recognized what I had been doing. I suppose that love, or our interpretation of love, is the part of us that wants to keep giving. I was never able to leave anyone suffering. In reality, these men weren’t suffering. They had a woman that put them before herself.
It is because of them however, that I have begun to recognize my own errors in my love relationships. I’ve realized that I don’t love myself as I should. It is much easier to dictate to someone what you believe their needs may be, rather than listen to them and ask yourself what yours truly are. It is a learned pattern that I have to believe I can change. Just as learning how to be an open communicator can be learned. It is very difficult. Relationships are difficult. A girl friend once asked me if I could live with someone that didn’t cower to my demands. Someone that stood and thought on their own, because my partner was that man and I wasn’t going to turn him into the vision that I had for so long created in my mind of what the perfect man was going to be. I thought about it and knew that I wanted that. My happiness doesn’t stem from my controlling behavior, but from the sharing of experiences with someone as strong minded and stubborn as me. My partner stimulates my mind and challenges me. I need that. Not someone that will kiss my ass and cow tow to my every whim. Though I often feel vulnerable and afraid of making decisions for myself and not for him, I am learning to appreciate the strength that he has to have in standing by me when I am crumbling and feeling like a lost, little girl. It must be very difficult to watch me transform into the person that I do when I don’t feel confident in myself. I know he lacks confidence in himself at times as well, but he rarely takes it out on me as I do with him. I do want to continue to live with this man and learn how to be my own entity as well as a life partner. It’s a scary process for me. I’m new at this. Putting myself as a person and not a position that has to be filled.
© 2009 Laura Cole