Do you wonder if you are making up stories for why you’re not in a committed relationship? See if my story gives you some clues.
There’s no special man in my life right now. Do I wish that this summer Mr. Right would gaze adoringly at me across a candlelit table? Yes! Am I miserable that such a picture is only a fantasy? No!
You see, I’m a great rationalizer. So when I’m not half of a couple, I enjoy the anticipation of becoming one. In the meantime, I recount the advantages of being single. I might read a novel or biography all day on Saturday with no thought of a partner’s wishes. I can listen to PBS instead of Monday night football. I can choose my free time pursuits with no compromise. When I’m sitting behind a couple necking shamelessly for all to see, I remember similar moments, and convince myself that their fervor is nothing to what mine has been and will be again.
I can still appreciate all those wonderful male bodies and their expressive eyes. And I needn’t feel disloyal when I sigh wistfully, watching a man playing with a delighted child or talking comfortingly to a distressed adult.
If I’m feeling cynical, I hear myself think, “Well, they look in love now, but just wait. They really think it will last like this.” And I’m willing to grant them their telling glances and possessive hand-holding for as long as it can last. (Of course, when I fall in love, because I’ve learned so many useful lessons from the relationships I’ve been in, our union will last forever.)
Even realistically, with my high energy and love of excitement, I tell myself sensibly, I’m better off in platonic relationships. That way I can take off when I’m able to, as I will in October to China. (Hmm, any guy over 55 want to get to know me and see if we’d like to travel together?)
I have to remember that two friends have pointed out my less than mature tendency to be more committed during the pursuit of mutual affection than afterwards. Agreed, I show an apparent deficiency in constancy, which seems related to my recognition of impending loss of freedom.
Alas, although my mind knows being partners needn’t keep me from being independent, my emotions seem to have built a case against such compatibility. It is possible that considering the unrestricted freedom I have given myself these many years since my 7-year marriage, I balk at shutting out any options that might curtail my having new experiences. This perhaps compulsive tendency to variety I can, however, hand off to my being a 7 according to enneagrams, an ancient system used to classify people in 9 major personality types. Much as I might disparage any system that might cast me in a fixed position, I cannot hesitate to use the system when it makes allowances for my immoderate love of new tastes, sights, sounds, locations, and adventures.
So given my mental-emotional tug of war between desire for the fulfillment of a deep romantic and spiritual union, AND insistence on no loss of personal choice in my activities, what are my chances of being pierced by Cupid's arrow? I’d guess, if my desires for retaining autonomy continue unabated, the chances are very low.
I remember the three men who sought a commitment with me these past decades, and I'm sure their affections would not have hampered my self-governance. If that be so, maybe I am afflicted with an advanced case of unrealistic expectations, the dreaded Cinderella complex. Have I only desired a perfect man on his faultless white horse to sweep me into the flood of bliss that is my destiny? (Have I read too many nineteenth-century novels of late?)
I fear I must admit some inflated sense of my own value as a potential partner. I blush at the judgments this leaves me open to. For I must certainly acknowledge the truth of my often being quite direct—more task-oriented than person-oriented. In addition, my near-addiction at times to the call of New Experience has meant short-lived connections, not only with potential partners, but with potential careers. More than one friend has felt slighted when, in accepting guidance from my heart, I gave inadequate consideration to their friendship’s claim on my time.
As a final deflation of my ego's self-satisfaction, few would deny my unpredictability. As much as I might wish to name that “following my spirit,” if pressed, I would have to agree it looks more like following the moment’s whim. To be sure, I wish that same option open to all, but many appear more willing to follow society’s conventions than I am.
Since I am NOT half of a couple, but profess to desire that state, what am I doing about the disparity? Well, I happen to have unbridled optimism and a sense of openness to life’s buffet table. And I can't deny that many of us are more willing to content ourselves with what we HAVE than to make a concerted commitment toward what we SAY we want. There seem to be few exceptions to the maxim that whatever we want with all our soul, accompanied by unwavering perseverance, we may someday claim. Most of us fall short in the persistence.
I have followed after Freedom, and have much of that. But I do NOT have a committed relationship. I’ve heard “The results you have created show what is important to you.” You might well ponder with me in this second month of summer, what we have created, consciously or not, in the way of commitment, freedom, or satisfying relationships. I can rationalize all I like, but if I'm waiting for some approximation of my Prince to claim me for my his own, I'm not well advised to go on galloping away to Freedom’s quarters.
Moreah Vestan has coached and taught workshops to many people on creating working relationships and dealing with difficult conversations. She offers a complimentary 30-min. coaching session to anyone who calls her at 206-300-1657. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Explore what could be working better for you in your life. More to think about at www.communicationcoaching.net.