Living, Loving and Learning... tricks of the trade

I was in a tumultuous and never quite on track relationship for about three years. If I counted up to today's date, we've known each other for five and a half years. That's a long time to know anyone. If you've read my past entries, then you've seen a little bit of my cryptic posting on it all.

The relationship was not healthy. Not ever. As I look back, though we had some really really good times, the relationship, once we actually got into one wasn't healthy. It was always about one of us outdoing, one-upping or generally out-smarting the other. We loved each other, sometimes I think I loved him more than he me, but there was a certain level of competition.

I learned a lot about what it means to be in a relationship from being in a dysfunctional one. And when I say relationship, in this sentence at least, I mean any type. A friendship, a familial relationship, a romantic relationship... whatever. I learned, among other things, that sometimes it is absolutely ok to just show up each day for your relationship and let it take you wherever it may. Titles are not necessary and explanations sometimes only hinder it. Though this particular relationship for me was not a healthy one, I can think back and know that our best times were when we weren't concerned with what our relationship looked like to other people, rather, we just let it be whatever it was and whatever it was was what felt right to us at the time.

Too often, we let others define our friendships and relationships. We let our friends tell us about our boyfriends and girlfriends and we let our boyfriends and girlfriends tell us about our friends. Who they should and should not be, how we should and should not feel about them. It's dangerous to let a friend dictate another one of your relationships, but we do it all the time. When you let someone else step in to your relationship, two things happen. 1) They take on a lead role; that is, they are in charge. This isn't what anyone wants, to allow a third party to be in charge of what is supposed to be a two-person relationship, but when you let someone step in and make decisions for you, allow them to feel entitled to butt in when not invited, they have officially taken charge. 2) The other person in the relationship will begin to resent you. No one wants to date someone who has to have thirty other people make decisions for them. We date one person at a time, because we only want to deal with one person at a time. It's impossible to please a group of people for a long period of time.

This was my fatal mistake, I think. I was young, naive and impressionable. I felt like my friends had my best interest at heart and so I believed a lot of what they said, even when my heart was telling me that though they had the best intentions, they're assessments of the situations were off. On the flip side, I also allowed him to convince me that my friends had it out for him and maybe they did, but it wasn't important for him to like them or them to love him, it was important for me to feel comfortable in all of my relationships.

So while we're currently very much apart and hardly speak -- mostly because for me, us talking is hard for me to do -- I'm still learning from that relationship and hoping that I hold those lessons near so that when the person who is right for me and who is ready to journey with me into a healthy and supportive relationship comes along, I can make much better decisions. What's a relationship you can't learn from?

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