I don’t want you to be my everything. I just want you to be enough.

in response to being implicitly told that my love is inferior

What a girl wants

I have a friend who wants a handsome, intelligent and passionate boyfriend who will make her feel wanted and special. She wants to be his whole world. She wants him to be her whole world. She wants him to text her during the working day, call her in his lunch break and hang out with her in the evening. She wants him to want these things, too.

Occasionally, she finds such a man. He is easily identifiable by the way he sweeps her off her feet with promises of bright futures and sparkling presents. He is The One. They are meant to be together, forever, etc., to the exclusion of all others.

I hear from her, every so often. She tells me how wonderful he is, how perfect he is. How happy she is.

Never mind the fact that he’s a morning person and she’s an evening person. Never mind the fact that he wants adventures and she wants security. Never mind the fact that he wants to travel and she wants to stay at home with ten pet dogs. (No, it’s not me, I swear. They’re not even greyhounds. Pffft.)

Never mind that the cracks start to show. Never mind that he stops treating her like a princess. Never mind that she stops feeling excited by his presence. Never mind that she has trouble dragging his attention away from the screen, and he might as well not be there at all.

‘I tried what you said,’ she tells me. ‘I tried to date guys for their personalities and then I had to try to convince myself that I found them attractive and it just didn’t work.’

‘That’s not what I said.’

‘Yes, you did. And it didn’t work. And I went back to dating handsome guys and now I’m trying to convince myself I like their personalities.’

I chuckle, but that’s not what I had said at all. It was more like this:

You’ll find the right guy attractive regardless of how he actually looks. That’s how attraction works. You’ll see a guy and think he’s pretty average-looking, and then you’ll have the most magical conversation that has you laughing and thinking and suddenly you will see a totally different person, the person you most want to be looking at and laughing with and thinking about, all the time.

My friend recognises her approach is flawed. She knows she has a bunch of made-up rules in her head that dictate how she’s allowed to behave, rules that don’t mean a thing, rules that prevent her from taking actions that will make her happy.

She’s trying, and I think she’s brave. And I know she’ll get there, given time.

What most girls want

That girlfriend I was just talking about? She’s actually the only woman I know who approaches dating like that. But she knows deep down what she wants, and she acknowledges it, even when she can’t articulate it herself.

She wants intimate human connection.
She wants passion, trust and respect.

And all my other girlfriends want exactly the same thing.

The difference is that my other girlfriends have come to learn that this is a process, not some magical product that’s inherently linked to a mythical creature known as The One.

So they find someone with whom they can work on this process, together creating a trusting, respectful and passionate relationship…

Or they choose to be alone.

What most guys want

That girlfriend? She’s also the only person I know who approaches dating that way.

The men I know are also seeking intimate human connection that is passionate, trusting and respectful.

Sure, I hear stories of men who are only interested in getting laid. I think I’ve even met them. But I suspect it’s their short-term goal. It’s a high-risk, low-return investment, really, and I think most men know that.

So where does this trope come from?

Is it tied to commitment phobia, perhaps?

If so, what is commitment phobia?

Commitment phobia is what logically results when popular culture insists that a relationship isn’t really a relationship unless you’re together every minute of the day.

Healthy relationships need space

My partner and I aren’t together every minute of the day. We’re not together every day. Hell, we don’t even live together!

And yet the word partner applies better to our relationship than to any I’ve been in before.

A person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or firm with shared risks and profits. ~ Oxford English Dictionary

We work on this relationship together. We look after each other. We talk about how our actions affect each other, because we don’t want to hurt each other, even by accident.

We enjoy doing things together, by ourselves or with our friends. We also enjoy doing things apart, by ourselves or with our friends.

There are things I enjoy doing that he does not — he supports me by giving me space to do these things independently, and vice versa. Sometimes that takes us away from each other for weeks at a time. We are always eager to see each other again.

I could say so, so much more on this. But Esther Perel says it so much better:

This psychotherapist knows her stuff.

That’s not real love, then

Yep, someone said that to me. Someone told me that if I didn’t feel a real physical need, an agony, then it wasn’t real love.

I’ve felt that need.

I’ve felt that agony.

I’ve felt it plenty of times and it felt good because it was overwhelming. It made the little things in life fall away. It made me feel like I was fighting for something worthwhile.

It made me feel like there was this flame burning in me so brightly and fiercely that it’d consume me whole because my love was so powerful, so strong. Stronger than anything this world had previously known.

It consumed me, alright. Burned me right up.

I’m sorry, naïve young Tamyka: you were wrong.

Love is not a raging wildfire that consumes everything in its path and leaves destruction and devastation in its wake.
Love is a slow, lasting burn that radiates warmth and encourages growth.
Love is the sun, shining on Earth.

I’m sorry, naïve young Tamyka: you chose to burn. And choosing to burn doesn’t make you special. It makes you stupid. And choosing to do it over and over again when all you need to do is allow a little space is really stupid.

And claiming it’s because you love better than everyone else? That’s your ego talking.

But I am different

I have a friend who recognises when her depression is becoming a problem and yet refuses to go to a psychologist, because no psychologist can help her (she claims).

‘You mean you haven’t found one that works for you, yet.’

‘No. They can’t help me.’

‘Well, they help other people who suffer depression. Why can’t they help you?’

‘I’m just different.’

Yep, after all those years psychologists have spent studying depression, after all the progress they continue to make in helping people cope with their illness, they’ve missed a trick: my friend is the one who is different.

What did Tyler Durden have to say about that?

Chuck Palahniuk is one smart dude (image source)

No, really, I am different

Well, maybe I am.

If so, the only thing that makes me different is that I’ve recognised and accepted this:

What makes us the same is far more significant than what makes us different, and it takes wilful ignorance (or one hell of a big ego) to believe otherwise.