What matters to ME in a relationship


I am soooooooo tired of reading all the headlines in my Facebook feed that shout “how to tell if he’s the one” or “he’s NOT the one if he does THIS” or “the three words that will save your relationship” or “If you’re not saying ‘I love you’ after six months move on.”

It’s like I’ve time warped to a Cosmopolitan magazine coverlines meeting in the 1990s.

I hate how simple they make it sound to decide if you’re in the right or wrong relationship. I don’t like the way they play on your insecurities to make you click so you can be sure you’re doing things “right.”

I hoovered up every separation/divorce clickbait headline/story I could find when my marriage ended. I was desperate to find the words that would make me understand.

I still enjoy reading first-person articles written from the relationship front line. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone in your struggles. But I’m over the grand pronouncements about the right and wrong ways to interact.

So I’ve stopped clicking on them. I’d prefer to rely on what my heart tells me rather than some stranger’s words on my iPhone.

Relationships are sooooo much more complicated than those headlines make out. Especially as you get older and more battle scarred.

You shouldn’t be with someone who emotionally or physically abuses you, but aside from that I think there’s a lot of grey.

We all have our “problem areas” after surviving divorces or nasty break-ups or other painful stuff.

We put up protective shields, we’re nervous about exposing our weak spots and fearful of being taken advantage of again.

It can take a looooooong time to heal and even when you do, the scar tissue can cause you to react in less than ideal ways when “triggered.

At the risk of sounding like I’m giving my own lecture on “how to tell you’re in the right relationship” – one thing those headlines have made me think about is what matters to ME in a relationship.

I’ve decided it’s about being built up rather than torn down and treated respectfully.

And that goes for all my relationships, not just the romantic ones.

Mind you, I still go waaaaay to easy on those who hurt me. I’m terrified I’ll be rejected or reviled if I complain (even if I don’t even like the person who might reject/revile me … bizarro).

I simmer with quiet resentment at those people who have no fear of being rejected or reviled – the ones who just stomp around getting their own way, everyone else be damned.

How does life decide you get to be one of those types? AND get away with it.

Generally, however, I believe people are kind and generous and good.

Life is never going to be perfect, it just doesn’t work like that. People are going to make mistakes, but as long as their missteps don’t come from a malicious place, I’m trying to learn to let them go.

Sometimes it’s tough because I am still very messed up by the bad stuff that happened in my marriage and career.

It makes me anxious about subtext and sensitive to slights.

And, as a person who has spent their whole life needing things to be done a certain way – the “right” way – it can be hard to accept them being done differently.

But I am trying to grow.

My ex was angry because he wanted me to be different and share his love of intellectual tomes, live theatre and serious discussion. I told him I was too old too change – the best I could do was strive to be a better version of me.

A better version of me still wasn’t going to be interested in intellectual tomes, live theatre and serious discussion.

I’ve realised I was wrong. I wasn’t too old to change.

I’d just become closed to the idea of evolving with/for him.

My ex would be quite startled by the things I love doing these days.

I’m quite startled by the things I love doing these days.

Change is scary, but it can be awesome – a bit like that feeling you get on a rollercoaster, screaming with terror and excitement at the same time.

What’s the last new thing you tried? Did you like it? 

Song of the day: Tears for Fears “Shout”


One thought on “What matters to ME in a relationship

  1. This post reminded me of the one I wrote about minah birds. I can’t stand people who think they can do what they want and don’t care if people don’t like them. They’re narcissistic bullies. A bit of empathy goes a long way. I don’t think I’ve done anything new for ages Alana. Boring old fart I am. I’m going to have some laser work done in a week. That’s sort of exciting. I might look forty again!

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