Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Standards (OR Terms and Conditions to Date Me)

The photograph above is a list that I made about 3 years ago with a few girlfriends of what I wanted in a husband. In case you can't read my scribble, and the fact it was written on a dry erase board that has been in and out of a cabinet I will type it here for you:

  • Christian
  • Bachelor's, Masters preferred
  • OU Fan, no orange allowed!
  • Must understand JL &Tiffany's
  • Christian Grey type talent Ch. 12 & pg 118
  • Job that doesn't move
  • Independent
  • Wants kids
  • Spontaneous
  • Preference: Never married, no kids
  • Positive Personality
  • Romantic
  • Knows wine
  • Likes to travel
  • Respects women & friendships
  • No debt
  • Confident
  • Nice smile
  • Clean cut
  • No tattoos
  • Professional job
  • Rich
  • Older than me
  • Blue eyes
WOW-ZA! (and yes we had all just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey when this was created...)

Let's be honest, this isn't a checklist of all the required prerequisites for me to be attracted/date/marry someone. This is the wish list! These are the things I would pick if I was going into the Build a Boyfriend store...that's a thing right? They just don't have them in Oklahoma, like Ikea? 

I digress, a lot. A few years and a lot of life removed from this list there are some additions and some subtractions that I would make to this list. The specifics aren't particularly important, and the order of importance isn't particularly either, however a few things will be touched upon here.

Let me paint a picture of my life a few years ago, wants, desires, etc.

A few years ago I wanted two things: get married and have kids. That was it. Then that didn't happen like I so meticulously planned. There is this funny thing that I have learned in the last few years: people other than yourself get a say in the plans for their lives. 

Seriously? Who would have thought? CLEARLY I know better what would make a great life than the people affected by it.


What I realized, however, is that I didn't even know what would make a great life for me. I learned that controlling people isn't very fun for the other person and that it's really not all that fun for you because they end up resenting you and not really liking you for who you are, because who you are isn't really all that great.

I had to take a big ol' swallow of the truth about codependency. This might be my favorite word to throw around these days (okay the last 5-6 years), trust me I have a friend or two that probably want to throw me for using it around them! (you know who you are) If you are not familiar with this term it came about around the time alcoholism became a recognized disease. It was found that spouses and children of alcoholics exhibited certain behaviors to deal with their alcoholic loved one. Enabling is a big one. Desiring to change the loved one is another. 

I once cried through an AlAnon meeting because it hit so close to home. I didn't have an alcoholic in my life, however the struggles that these people were facing were my struggles. I was doing the same things. I had been living in unhealthy, emotionally abusive relationships for a long time. There is no need to call out particular individuals in this because it doesn't matter, but it wasn't exclusively in romantic relationships. Throughout my life these toxic relationships were present. I handled things the only way I knew how: by attempting to control the situation to give myself a sense of control when things were very, very clearly out of control.

These are things that are hard to swallow. They aren't fun. They don't give you warm and fuzzy feelings. They hurt. They make you cry. They make you feel guilty when you realize what you put others through without realizing you were doing it. They make you question every little thing about your being and your ability to be in a relationship...even six years later.

As time passed and I took a few counseling classes in grad school, had some incredible friends that I still occasionally send a random text thanking them for putting up with me during that time, and a lot of time and soul searching I think I've got the codependency thing under control.

There's one fundamental problem with that though: I have not been in a relationship since the one where I was so very codependent. 

Want to know why? 

Well for starters (and my most favorite reason (read: excuse) to give) no one is asking. I use this one all the time, and it's true, no one is asking. Does this make me feel sad and depressed and like a loser? No not really. I have an incredibly full life and for someone to be in my life in a romantic way something else would have to give. Until very, very recently I wasn't willing to give anything up to make someone fit. Am I now? Maybe, but I'm still not 100% sure. I think I'd at least give it a shot though.

There's another fundamental reason: I AM SCARED SHITLESS. Like for serious. Have I really grown enough that I won't be codependent again? Is it possible for me to be in a healthy relationship? I mean I know what they're supposed to look like, but will I get completely enveloped with someone and get hurt like that again? I don't know, and that scares me. As previously mentioned, I have some control issues. They are a lot better than they once were, but I can control the situation of dating a lot better if I just don't do it than I can getting someone else involved.

Am I missing out on something?

Maybe. Well, probably. 

Would I be willing to jump off the dock and take the risk?

For the right guy 100% yes. However, in the last few years and with everything I've learned I've come up with some Terms and Conditions, shall we say. These are the standards which I will hold anyone I date to. They are not meant to be an ultimatum or an attempt to change someone. It simply means, if you are not able to live up to these standards then we don't need to be in a relationship, the end. Nothing mean, nothing controlling, just simply for me to be happy with myself in a relationship there are a few things that a suitor (isn't that a lovely word?) needs to be on board with.

The first thing, because I think it's the most important to me, is monogamy. I have done the 'fun, let's hook up and not be serious and just flit around' thing. And yes, it WAS fun. There is a thrill that comes with meeting someone at a party and never seeing them again or having a number you can call at the end of a night out, but I am past that point in my life. If someone was to come along that only wanted that then we're not going to be compatible, and THAT'S OKAY. I swear, I don't want to change anyone, however, for me to be able to look at myself in the mirror, I need that. If that's not who you are then that's not who you are, but we won't work. I would rather be alone than be cheated on again. Period.

Another thing, I need fun and excitement and spontaneity because I'm really, really, really bad at all three of those things. Well, that's not entirely fair, I am a fun person, however I get major tunnel vision and forget that having fun is an important part of life, so having someone in my life constantly making me throw out my calendar or making me do something crazy is not such a bad thing. 

Independence. Pretty much the opposite of codependency. Go, have your own life. That is awesome with me, so long as I get to have my own life and I'm doing it. I have been so wound up in someone else's story that I forgot to continue writing my own and that's a bad, bad deal. This is not to say that cowriting a story won't be awesome, but I need to have my own story independent of you and you need to have your own story independent of me and the way we merge those stories together is where the magic is. I need my own friends. You need your own friends. We need to be away from each other, that is okay. In fact, that's awesome.

(You may have realized I have started typing as if I am talking to potential suitors...didn't really intend to do that, but we'll just go with it)

Kids. Man this is a hard subject. For so many years the desire of kids was a non negotiable, but the older I get the more it is. I waver on this more that I probably admit to most anyone. Can I picture a life without kids? A few years ago I couldn't, but now that picture is getting clearer. I could completely see myself ending up with someone who either already has kids from a previous relationship and doesn't want more or doesn't want kids at all. It's easy to picture what a life of soccer games and dance class looks like, but the idea of not having that is a little fuzzier though it is coming into focus. It would be a life of sleeping in on Saturday mornings, traveling whenever we want, no weekends spent at a ballpark, no sleepless nights, money to spend on what we want. It's not really all that bad of a life, huh? Not dissing all my lovely parent friends, but just saying there is another option to life and frankly there are so many kids that need homes that having kids can have a different look. Ultimately, this rational allows for freedom: freedom to make that choice together instead of forcing an idea on someone (Look at that loss of control! Aren't you proud?!?)

And how am I going to meet this person?

I don't know. I really don't. Maybe I already know him, he's a close friend or someone I've met in passing through a friend. Maybe he's someone I'll meet at a book store in NYC. I don't know. Maybe he doesn't exist. I accept this is a possibility, however I hold out hope that's it's not a very realistic possibility. Hope is pretty much an awesome thing. I could go off on why I don't do the online dating thing, but your eyes are probably tired from reading so I won't go there, but I have my reasons and I'm sure I'll write about them later, just remember just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean I have to (and a lot of times is the easiest way to get me to do the opposite).

I say all of this to get to this, priorities change through the years, months, weeks, and sometimes from day to day. In the end I want to find Mr. Right, not Mr. Right Now, and I want to settle down, but I am never, ever going to settle. Settling is not an option for me. I know, for a fact, I can have a wonderful life if I don't find someone who can live up to what I want, what I need, out of a relationship (the stuff with lots of words, not the stuff on that list, though if you know a guy that fits all those send him my address is on the right). It's really not as complicated as I make it out to be in my mind, when it comes down to it: don't cheat, be fun, be independent, and we'll figure out the kids thing together. (There are a few obvious ones from that list at the top too, but I don't think they need an explanation and we'll let you figure them out on your own :-p)

Pretty simple, huh? I think so...I know I've always wanted to find a unicorn, how about you?

I hope you enjoyed me diving back into writing, from the heart, and hopefully there will be more of this popping up on here, because I really do enjoy it.

Until next time...

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