(Note: This is a follow up to this post.)
I used to be a romantic.
I used to sit in my room & play MASH all by myself, adding boys’ names to the list, rigging my answers so that I could end up with the man, pet, life of my dreams.
I used to pluck up daisies & pull off their petals whispering, “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not.” And when the last petal ended on “He loves me not,” I immediately plucked another flower with the hopes of its last petal ending with, “He loves me.”
I used to glorify the concept of love as a kind of religion. I used to yearn for the day where my body would mesh with someone else’s, creating one flesh.
My feelings on love have since changed.
Not because I became a pessimist or because I grew tired of destructing flowers.
It seems that aside from realizing the absurdity in wishing on daisy petals to be loved & wanting to embody the borderline psychotic tendencies of Juliet, I came to understand love in a deeper way.
Love wasn’t about silly MASH games or wishing on stars. It was a sacred emotion with intense experiences. It required more than just two people falling hopelessly, dangerously in love & staying together because of destiny.
Love was a serious thing, not something to simply keep one amused.
I realized all of this shortly after I met Jonathan, when the passion I felt for him was so beyond me that I really had to stop & think about what it all meant.
It’s easy to get caught up in that blinding, lovedrunk feeling of he-can-do-no-wrongness. I didn’t want my judgment to become clouded with the wonderful enchantment of new love.
I wanted to keep my head steady. I wanted to see through the fog of infatuation.
I also didn’t want to develop such a loathing of relying upon my partner that I became coldly & strongly independent.
I knew there had to be a happy medium, one that quelled this inborn part of me that desired to love uninhibitedly but still managed to allow me to spread my (young) wings & find my place in the world without losing my relationship.
With this awareness, my union with Jonathan began to take on the traits of interdependence.
We’re familiar with the concept of dependency in relationships (a one-sided neediness that borderlines on addiction), of co-dependency (an excessive reliance on a partner that goes both ways), & of independency (a stubbornly self-reliant, self-sufficient mindset that keeps love at a distance).
But interdependence is something we don’t hear people talk about as a way of living a relationship.
In essence, interdependence is a perfect mix of maintained (& urged) individuality with the selflessness & infatuation of a passion-fueled relationship.
It’s a collaborative encouragement, a collective responsibility. With interdependence, we recognize that there is beauty (not disadvantage) in the joining of two likeminded individuals who will help the other grow, further their purpose, & develop into more conscious creatures.
We lose nothing, not our identities, not our minds, not our lasciviousness.
We maintain all the lust & ensorcellment of fervid love, but it’s all very grounded, wholesome, realistic, responsible.
The practice of interdependence is something I’m still getting the hang of. Approaching my relationship/marriage in this way, however, has enlightened me with a better way to view commitment.
Despite the freedom to move within an alternative companionship enriched with interdependence, there was a beautiful period when our union came to an organic state of borrowing from both our identities: my own & my lover’s.
It happened without my control simply because that’s what it means to be in a relationship: the melding of two people, two lives, two ideals, seamlessly.
It wasn’t about changing my partner (or being changed by him); it was about being influenced by the positive traits each of us possessed individually, authentically.
Weaknesses, strengths, ideals, sense of humors, vulnerabilities.
We’ve taken the best little fragments of each other & sprinkled them within our own distinct selves. Not because we forced the similarities, but because it’s rather inevitable. When you live in such close quarters with someone, it’s impossible not to take on & embrace the differences of each other, & therefore make them a part of our spirits.
It helps us relate to each other, keeps us connected, & inspires a deep kind of intimacy, one that only we can understand.
We’ve made peace with this kind of borrowing.
There are many who feel that if they begin to embody the traits & beliefs of their lover that they have compromised little pieces of themselves.
But taking a bit of inspiration from your lover is one of the most joyous parts of joining lives together, whether that be in marriage or in cohabitation.
What this all boils down to is this:
Relationships don’t have to signify the end of your individuality.
People have this misconception that being committed to someone means that you’re done discovering the world & challenging your beliefs; that no more growth needs to take place.
But relationships can be continuation of who you already are — your beliefs, your passions, your habits, your creativity — & who you aspire to be. And it is in the joining of two people that you discover more about yourself with your chosen partner, together.
This is precisely why marriage is still working (albeit, slowing down as a social construct). People have a better understanding that matrimony doesn’t have to trigger the death of your distinctiveness, nor is it some boxed in formula.
Rather, marriage (or any committed relationship) can be an enhancement to the life you already have & the identity you wish to expound on, & it can be defined on your own terms (which is precisely why open, non-monogamous relationships are on the rise).
Commitment itself is comprised of heavy responsibility & sacred compromises.
How heavy those responsibilities & compromises are, however, is solely up to you.
Nothing “has to go” if you don’t want it to. You can still be your self & explore the intricate workings of your being within a committed relationship, especially (especially!) if you have a partner with the same ideals as you do.
There is a better way & it doesn’t have to end with a proverbial knife in the heart.