I’ve been accused of being scared of commitment on more than one occasion. I’ve also, on a similar vein, been accused of putting career before family or being a heartless bitch, but that’s just part of the joy of being a women in a world that pretends to be gender equal, but really isn’t.
We had barely talked for the last 10 days. Gavin was traveling in Europe on a boys’ trip, and I’d been getting killed at work. We’d spoken on the phone for maybe 30 minutes total over the last week, so we weren’t exactly feeling super connected, but it didn’t matter. It was a great week for our relationship. I feel like I’d had a week full of all the other people in my life acting like idiots. At work, my boss asked me why I did something…that he told me to do. My other boss asked me why I had billed so few hours…when it was a holiday week and he knew I’d been out with a hemiplegic migraine (yes, that’s the kind where you lose muscle control in your face like you’re having a fucking stroke). Hayden had started being wildly uncommunicative about his plans. I stopped by his office late Friday afternoon only to find out that he was about to leave for Long Island in about ten minutes, but had just sort of forgotten to tell me. I tried to get Seth’s best guy friend to come to NYC for Seth’s birthday this summer, but he just whined about not having money or time (both of which he has plenty of). I went to a friend’s birthday party with girlfriend from work last night, and the whole time all she kept saying was things like “Oh, I didn’t know there was going to be food here,” “Why am I so hungry?” “I’m going to eat an almond,” “I changed my mind,” “Should I eat a piece of cheese?” and other fucking nonsense, while proceeding to eat nothing and starve herself and drink wine. My sister lost her virginity at 32, and it turned out to be pretty uneventful for her, which really threw me for a loop. I’ve been working my ass off, having crazy long days at the office, and struggling to find balance in life generally, and meanwhile all the people in my life are just acting a fool. Ok, not all of them, but they’re all either acting a fool or doing things that are just really hard for me to process.
And then there’s Gavin. My sister said it best: the thing about Gavin that has impressed me the most is not just that he’s so great, but it’s the consistency of his excellence. He is so consistent, it’s almost infuriating. Don’t get me wrong. Gavin fucks up. Oh, he fucks up regularly, but it doesn’t matter and isn’t memorable because of how he acknowledges it, quickly works through it, and immediately comes around to just continuing with excellence. He is never defined by his mistakes, and that is solely because he doesn’t believe those to be part of who he is. He knows who he is, so when he messes up, it’s like he just thinks to himself, that’s not who I am, lets it go, and moves on to be who he knows he is. It’s unreal. He is, to date, the greatest gift in life I’ve been given.
During weeks like this, when Hayden and friends and coworkers and bosses are messing up hard and either not at all recognizing it or recognizing it and letting it define them, I am more appreciative than ever of the abundance of care and love that Gavin brings to my life and the consistency of his excellence as an individual. He astounds me.
Meanwhile, he has been traveling the world going out and meeting tons of girls every day and sort of realized that, well, they all suck. He was texting me the other day just telling me out of the blue how much he loved me and I asked why he was feeling that way. He said he didn’t know, so I pried.
“Is it because you’ve seen the likes of women around the world and realized what a special snowflake I am?”
“You know, I hadn’t thought it in that exact way, but now that you put it that way, yes.”
And yes, Gavin is currently my primary partner. But that’s the thing about relationships, and it’s actually the thing about a lot of things in life – people want to make it last forever. That’s why they want commitment, because they think it means forever. People want to live forever, be in love forever, be best friends forever. But why? I guess it’s because we are scared of death and heartbreak and loss, and evolutionarily speaking, we are pain-averse. But I don’t want to be pain-averse to my own detriment. I’ve ended so many friendships with friends who were truly close to me because we were heading very different directions and no longer built each other up in the way we once did, and I didn’t think that our history was any reason in and of itself to continue hanging out. I feel the same way about romantic relationships. Breakups are fucking hard, especially the ones where you choose it because you know it’s the right thing, but emotionally you don’t want to do it. Death is a whole other category, but I’m not scared of it in the way a lot of people are. In a very real way, I want to die – not in a suicidal way, but I sort of look forward to the intrigue of entering the only experience in life that you have to do completely alone. I know I have no control over that, and I feel a weird peace about it. I don’t feel the need to live forever, and if I died today, that would be fine by me.
Good things, including life itself, do not have to last forever. The sooner you realize that nothing good lasts forever, the more you can savor it in the moment and appreciate it and not criticize it or overanalyze it (which may arguably make it last longer…law of attraction, anyone?). And that’s the thing about Gavin – he’s the shit, but it doesn’t have to last forever. Of course, I sort of hope it does, but that’s more because I would love to have the experience of truly growing older with someone. Right now, I don’t really have anyone in my life other than my siblings who has been there for more than a couple years, and I think I’d like that. Of course I don’t want to experience heartbreak over Gavin or lose him – how could I want that? All I’m saying is that, if one day, we aren’t right for each other anymore, that’s ok, and I’ll let him go. I’ll cry a lot of tears, but I’ll let him go, because making our connection last is not a goal for me. My goal is just to do what’s right for both of us and to savor every ounce of time we have thriving and growing together.
So, when I realize that this is the way I think about things, I sort of wonder if I’ll ever really have a primary partner. Gavin and I had such a great week because we realized how great we both are for each other, and we re-realized how much we love and respect each other, but I am also 100% open to the idea that I might meet someone who I love and respect more or who will be more right for me than Gavin is. That’s hard for me to even conceptualize right now, but the reality is that Gavin and I will both keep changing, and we may not always be right for each other, and that’s ok.
Knowing that, will I ever be ready, either with Gavin or in any relationship, to take the traditional leaps? Like moving in together or getting a dog or planning a vacation together 6 months in advance? Like commitment? I promise I’m not as terrified of commitment as I sound. I’m really not. But I just sort of wonder if I’ll ever be able to really do those things with someone. The reality is that I want those things, and that’s why this thought scares me so much. I want to be close with someone and spend holidays with someone’s family and go on vacations together and move in together. I also always want to have a nonmonogamous relationship, and I’ll never deny the fact that I might meet someone who will be better for me. That’s true of every relationship – there’s always the possibility you’ll meet someone better for you, but most people wouldn’t act on it. I would. And that’s never going to change.
But if, in some way, that’s going to leave me always feeling a little bit alone because I can’t have the type of experiences I want, like living with a partner, then is it worth it? There’s only one thing that comforts me in this mental and emotional struggle:
These are questions I just don’t have to answer right now. Thank god.