I’ve been working on how to write this post for two weeks now. I knew what I wanted to say and kicked it around but it never came together. Then, this past weekend, I came to a ridiculous conclusion: Chris Martin is the reason I have unrealistic relationship expectations. (Writers block – cured!) See, I love music with meaningful lyrics (usually following the common theme of people being ‘saved’ by love. Yawn, right?!). How could I not have lofty expectations rife for wrecking after hearing lines like “I’ll carry your world/and all your hurt” or “you’re air that/air that I can breathe/cause you’re my golden opportunity.” I’m the kind of person who is more than happy having my head in the clouds when it comes to interactions with others. I see the best in people (to my detriment) and am more than willing to assume that most everything has a happy ending.
I don’t talk about relationships relationships here for several reasons, the biggest of which being that everyone has something to say about them. It’s gotten to the point where we’re all weighing in (myself included) on the most intimate relations two people can have. Most times without even knowing the people involved. I’ve done this myself recently and I was really surprised at the result.
It all starts off fairly innocuous. About a month ago, it seemed the blog 40 Days of Dating was ubiquitous. All the bloggers were talking about it so I joined in the fun. If you’re unfamiliar with 40 Days of Dating, it’s an incredibly addictive, well designed website/blog made by two designer friends (Jessica and Tim) living in NYC. They were a little tired of the dating scene, struggling with the same outcomes in relationships and decided to date one another for 40 days and write about what developed. The most interesting aspect for me (besides the whole thing) is that they both had complete opposite dating pitfalls: Jessica fell too fast, gave too much and was more-or-less looking to settle down (are all women the same, cause that’s me?!) while Tim would pull the escape hatch when things got too serious and he liked to date around with no thought to settling down. There were rules, like any good experiment, which included sessions with a couples counselor, seeing one another every day and taking one weekend trip. Reading through what almost felt like personal journal entires, I found myself investing emotionally in Jessica and Tim’s story. I read about how they struggled both separately and together; and still as they tried to find footing in their unusual arrangement; and I was impressed with their candor as they fought and made up. I found myself hoping against hope they’d make it but (spoiler alert) they don’t. As I cried like a girl at the end of it, I felt more than a little foolish. I wanted them to work because it would mean that even under the most extreme circumstances, love can prevail; after all, I subscribe to happy endings (see above). The truth is Jessica and Tim were doomed from the start. It could never have been a happy-ending, as most people would have guessed. I even refrained from reading what other people on the web had to say about their relationship because I didn’t want to see it for anything other than what I’d made it.
What I found to be true, when I examined how upset it made me to read the entry on Day 40 (and watch the heart-wrenching video), is that I end up seeking out those things that provide me the most emotional experience and therefore the most emotional growth—from the things I read to the things I listen to (looking at you Coldplay) to more major life decisions. They’re all connected by the same common thread. It’s not something I actively do but looking back over the course of ever, it’s certainly undeniable that I’ve taken the emotionally charged road almost every time.
When I was younger, I thought my over-developed limbic system (the seat of emotions) was something that was more of a curse. I’d try to hide it or dull it cause it felt like an inconvenience. Now I know (as inconvenient as it still is) that the very same thing I tried to hide is what makes me a good partner, a good daughter and sister, and a good employee. Before, I almost didn’t know what to do with it and now, in the spirit of my 30th year, I’ve decided to embrace it and use it for good.
Guys, I’ve floated several ideas here that felt cohesive in my mind and I guess reading back through this, maybe that’s not coming through as clearly. It’s not as much about relationships or song lyrics or pop culture as it is about me continuing to learn about myself. I’m going to put this out there anyway because it’s honest. If I had to sum it up, the bottom line here is: I learned that I invest my heart in other people the way I want them to invest in me.