At last, it’s February, the month of love, the month where we show our partners and friends how much we care for them by giving flowers, chocolate, and extravagant gifts. We say I love you with cards and dinners in fancy restaurants. This month puts a spotlight on our relationships, or lack of one. I was taught from a young age to seek out a partner in life and
So in the interest of freedom, I have avoided romantic relationships like the plague. I’ve played at love a little, but I always find (or manufacture) a fatal flaw in the other, so I am able to justify destroying any possibility of a relationship lasting longer than a tired yawn.
I just finished watching the movie I Am by Tom Shadyac, who had a reawakening after a brush with death. He realized that happiness comes down to what you believe, and if you try to gain happiness through the rules of your culture, religion, or anyone who claims they know the secret to happiness, you will quickly fail to secure that feeling.
The question then popped into my mind, “How do I define romantic love?” My chest started to hurt, and I felt rising panic when I started to picture what a relationship would be like. I felt that love means I must restrict myself, and I must create rules to restrict someone else. Luckily enough my culture has rules already in place so I don’t have to create too many new limits on a partner.
1. I am the only one you love and behavior I construe as unfaithful gives me the right to encroach on your freedom even more.
2. You must not change because that makes me feel insecure.
3. You need to change because certain things about you don’t serve my needs.
4. You need to go away when I feel like you’re cramping my style.
5. You need to be there for me when I need you, but I won’t communicate my need, you will simply need to know and act appropriately i.e. bring me food, take me on a trip, stand on your head in a myriad of ways until I feel better.
6. You love the people I love. If you forget this remember rule number five.
7. My happiness is dependent on you so don’t screw up.
That’s the logic that keeps me in the loop of believing that there’s one person out there who’s soul mission is to trap me with affection, and then tether me to a life sentence in the prison of love. (See rules above.)
How then to be free and in a relationship? Yes, it is a bit of a conundrum, but I believe there is always an answer to questions. Maybe even new rules are the answer.
1. We are allowed to come together.
2. We are allowed to separate.
3. I am responsible for my happiness.
That’s a tremendous amount of freedom, and our culture teaches that if we give too much freedom, there is chaos, or maybe it’s like that cheesy quote, “If you love someone, let them go, if they don’t come back you never had them anyway.”
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