I think one particular message that was taught to me growing up was the idea that relationships are meant to be forever. My parents and sister. My best friends. My boyfriend. My partner. With opening up our relationship comes new territory about what it means to have a “successful” relationship with someone else. Dan Savage says it’s not about how long you are with someone that dictates whether or not your relationship was successful; it’s about the quality of that relationship, and what the effects of that relationship were for the two of you. Even though I am not friends with everyone I was friends with in junior high or high school doesn’t mean those friendships were “unsuccessful.” Just because I am no longer dating the boyfriends I had in high school doesn’t mean those relationships were “unsuccessful.” They were meaningful and each unique relationship taught me something new about the world and about myself.
Since meeting so many other open and sexy people in the past six months, I have attached myself in various ways to each of them. Letting each unique relationship be what it wants to be has been interesting, liberating, and a little bit painful for me. Interesting and liberating, because I have been accustomed to sort of molding each of my relationships to the particular “type” I thought it should be: the best friend, the close friend, the band friend, the yearbook friend, the go-get-coffee friend, the shopping friend, the rebellious friend, the church friend, the boyfriend, the guy friend. Now, it doesn’t matter who is what: the personalities and the unique desires and expectations of each person tells me what kind of relationship we can have together. Painful, because sometimes, just like with “vanilla” friends, our expectations and desires don’t quite match up, leaving someone feeling unsatisfied or unheard. I am trying to figure out how to be the best communicator I can be so that I do not create these problems, and also learning how to let go of relationships that aren’t matching my desires and letting those relationships be what they can be.
NRE stands for New Relationship Energy, and it can be described as that feeling of exuberance and happiness you feel when you feel connected with a new person (think about dating and that “fly-in-the-sky” feeling from being so giddy with someone you like). It has been so exciting to experience that feeling with new people, and also interesting to see how that energy shifts over time because of new circumstances and situations, and then how that relationship may or may not continue. However, just because a relationship that started with a good dose of NRE may not continue indefinitely into the future doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a “worthwhile” or “successful” relationship.
I also wanted to talk a little bit more about jealousy in this post, since I am focusing on the ability to let go. I want to let go of jealousy and insecurity. I don’t want to feel insecure and little about J’s potential new partners, or when J has separate experiences from me. I want to be rid of jealousy. And I know that part of continuing to create a healthy and dynamic relationship with J that lasts like we both want it to means that I need to continue to work on letting go of these feelings. Relationships change, and part of that feels good, and part of that also means facing uncomfortable feelings so that I can experience the amazing and fun parts of my relationship with J to the fullest. Letting go of jealousy and culturally prescribed relationships means that I can continue to create a meaningful relationship with J, and with other partners, friends, and potential partners.