Friday, 24 August 2012

Lessons in Love

I have been single for over a year now and when I look back, it’s been nearly eight years since I entered into my first exclusive relationship. Since then, I’ve dated a variety of men – different shapes, sizes and backgrounds - and I've had many ups and downs. But I take each experience as a learning curb because each relationship or romance has taught me something which I feel will better prepare me when I’m ready to enter into something a little more long-term.


I was sixteen going on seventeen when I entered into my first relationship. I look back and realise that it was probably one of the best that I had been in and I still say to this day that had both of us been older when we’d met, I probably would have married him. Nevertheless, we were kids. We lived at home (note: I still live at home) and we were broke. This seriously limited the kinds of things we could do so most of our time was spent at each others’ houses or going to see a movie. The ending was mutual. We were young. It wasn’t going to be forever. And while I can’t speak for him, I strongly desired a little ‘excitement’ because our relationship was fun, but very routine. I, therefore, think that a little spontaneity is necessary every once in a while.


My second excursion with the opposite sex wasn’t a relationship, but showed me just how naïve I was. The guy I got myself involved with described himself as ‘damaged goods’ which really was the first red flag. I would also, ask him ‘What is this?” and he could never answer. Enter the second. But I went along with it any way thinking for some stupid reason that I could help to change him. Instead, I came out of it emotionally distraught when he didn’t want to be with me anymore and it led me to realise that you really need to be on the same page. You need to want the same thing in order for whatever it is to work. Because if one person’s looking for a good time and the other is looking for something more serious, somebody’s gonna get burned.


For all those not in the know, the Rebound Guy or Girl is the person who’s just come out of a long-term relationship and is looking for someone else to compensate for that loss. The likelihood is they may be physically into you, but emotionally, their head and their heart are still with that ex-partner, whether they still love them or not. Ultimately, Rebound Folk shouldn’t be looking to be in a relationship, nor should they be dating. They should be spending time with themselves in order to heal and to grieve properly for the lost relationship and/or partner. Needless to say, my relationship with the Rebound Guy didn’t last very long as I realised that once again, we were not on the same page.


So before you double-take, triple-blink and what have you, I have heard of many instances where it has worked and more power to them, but after dating a devout Muslim, I have made the decision that I will never date another Muslim again. Now I’m a huge advocate of interracial and intercultural relationships (note: this doesn’t mean I hate black men) so when I got involved with him, I made it a priority to understand his faith better as it was clearly important to him. I did some research online and would feed him back my questions, but ultimately, whenever we would discuss an aspect of his faith, it would nearly always lapse into an argument. Perhaps it wasn’t just an interfaith thing, nonetheless but also, too large a cultural disparity because while his family were quite male-centric, mine are more female-specific. Ultimately, it was his faith and his ideologies – some of which I didn’t agree with – which drew it to an end eventually, and I look back on it now and realise that it was probably a bad idea to get involved with him in the first place.


And rightfully so. I met the Long-Distance Guy in my home country initially but then he went back home. We had gotten quite attached to each other and I even flew out there to see him. But when I came back, things were just really difficult, emotionally draining and in the end, we called it quits. The irony is that both of us had done this before – albeit under different circumstances – and had seen it crash and burn, so to try it again was pretty foolish. I feel that they generally do not work, but I know of some cases where it has worked, which is why I feel that in order for them to go the long haul, both partners will a) need to have know each other for a great deal of time before the distance occurs and b) ensure the distance isn’t permanent (or as good as). Either Long Distance Guy or Girl will be coming back some day soon or you intend to join them at some point down the line. What I am most certain of, however, is that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to endure a long-distance relationship again.


The pattern in all these relationships, if you will, is that they were all short term; none saw a year. And while I know that it may be a product of living in the west where the values are a lot more relaxed, it may have also, been because of my limited knowledge of what constitutes a relationship and not knowing precisely what would work for me and how much I could tolerate. I’ve actually repeated some of the mistakes I’ve made so I guess lessons aren’t always learnt, but as I am now, if I was searching for a relationship, I think I’d be able to look at this as an evaluation of where I, myself, might have gone wrong.

I foresee myself being single for a lot longer, however, as I intend to travel abroad and as you know, long-distance relationships just don’t seem to cut it for me. For anyone who may have found themselves unlucky in love, however, I’d say take the opportunity to search for patterns in your relationship history. They may be more obvious than you realise and as with me, certain things may not be working for you. Take every relationship – romantic or otherwise – as a lesson. Life is full of them.

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