It is rare that I meet men who have nothing going for themselves, lack substance, and the like because I wholeheartedly believe that we attract who we are at any given time of our lives. They typically have their lives together – some entrepreneurs, all educated – eclectic, exciting, enriching. In the beginning, everything goes so well. No commitment. We’re chillin'. I have wonderful words to describe them all, but with a few, the end of our situationship still felt like a loss.
Somehow, even though we were never an outwardly exclusive partnership, I have ended up feeling silly and/or hurt at no longer having some of these men in my life anymore. I view relationships as relationships, even if there wasn’t any real commitment involved in the nonexclusive ones I’ve had. I weigh these experiences the same as I have the three exclusive relationships I have been in. And I don’t feel crazy about it anymore.
Here are 5 love lessons I have learned from being in a situationship:
1. Be Clear On Your Intentions
For some, sex is the most vulnerable and intimate act shared with someone else. For me, this is not totally the case because my history with sex tells a very different story. Truth be told, I've been in situations where sex happened upon arrival, where we waited, or where we didn't have sex at all. In the wise words of one of my male cousins, “It doesn’t matter if you gave it up on day 1 or day 100, if that’s all he (or she) wanted, that's all it's going to be.”
I also understand the value behind the why and respect those who do choose to wait. Good for you. It is not a universal truth and it certainly isn't one size fits all. We see many of the happily ever after stories about why it is appropriate to wait, but it is possible to live that same story even if you don’t wait. Do what is true to yourself, what works for the both of you, and where you are or aren't trying to go. Be clear on your intentions.
2. Love Yourself
And by loving yourself, I don't mean placing your worth and value at the mercy of the person you are involved with. What I do mean is that after every separation from that which was never exclusively “mine”, I still have me. I’d spend substantial amounts of quality time with myself and my Higher Power, forgiving myself, and extracting from each experience what was healthy or unhealthy for my growth and sifting through feelings of rejection, shame, guilt, regret, or not being good enough. I emerged from isolation restored, reminding myself of the sweetness and value of each experience, and that I am good enough. There's power in that. I'm thankful for the love I have found in and for myself. Love what you have before you go giving it away.
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3. Needs > Wants
Quite possibly the most valuable lesson I have learned in every situationship, consciously or not, is to be open. I also learned to allow people to be who they are. In doing so, I have come to understand what sets my soul on fire and what pisses me off. I have grown to understand that what I need, both independently and in the context of a relationship, is often the exact opposite of what I thought I wanted. I have ceased trying to change someone into who I want them to be or allowing someone to do the same to me. I have grown to choose substance over surface. I have realized that my needs and wants will be synonymous with whoever I am to spend the rest of my life with.
4. Get Your Power Back
I think often times we can subject ourselves to upset and heartbreak by proceeding without caution, not asking the necessary questions, “going with the flow,” or allowing circumstances, people and opportunities that are not necessarily FOR US to speak on our behalf and dictate where things are or aren't going. Too often, I was the “chill” woman, you know, the “we’ll see what happens” kind of person, never calling out, challenging or pushing back on the dissonance between the words and actions presented to me because I did not want to push any buttons.
Having difficult, uncomfortable, and awkward conversations with yourself and others is necessary and may leave a sting (that sting is fleeting), but not being able to have a say-so in decisions regarding your heart and life will hurt much deeper. We DO have a say. There is power in confirming the clear direction and safe landing that our lives are steered in. You can walk away. You can let go. No one can ever take that power away from you anymore, and vow that no one ever will.
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5. Be Ready For the Man You Will Spend Your Life With
We've heard many times the quote about investing so much love and time into the wrong relationships that we should look forward to the day where we can invest the same and more into the right ones, when that time comes. In hindsight, there is not one man that I've involved myself with that was right or wrong necessarily. I believe that human life is much more valuable than just a right or wrong, good or bad person, and that we should treat everyone with privilege. Everyone and everything is a valuable experience and not a waste of time.
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I have decided that the men of my past were a significant moment in time that was necessary for my growth as an individual and as a partner. Without these experiences, I wouldn't have anything to look forward to. And I look forward to finding love in the future without the expectation that things will go bad or that I'll be hurt again and without the regret of having wasted my time.
Instead, with each encounter, I view them as fleeting glimpses of my eternity. When we meet (and maybe we already have), I already know I'm going to be ready. Whatever “ready” looks like. I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned.