Hello Blogosphere! So this month has given me a lot of time to think about romantic relationships and the ways in which I have framed them in my mind up until this point in my life. I thought to myself, self, you’ve gotta sort this out in a blog post. Mostly because you can’t be the only person thinking this way, but also because writing it, helps to flush it out in my own head.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I grew up in a single parent household. Why is that important? Well, where do we learn relationships? At home. I’m not broken or feeling pity for myself at all. The fact of the matter is that I didn’t see conventional relationships growing up so I don’t feel bound by them. Maybe that’s a good thing and maybe it’s not. Maybe it just is. When I got to be a teenager and thought about dating, I was petrified that dating would come with sex which would come with attachments which as a sexual assault survivor, I desperately wanted to avoid. But I also had a weird complex in which my self worth would be tied into how/if/when this other person wanted to date me, wanted to be with me and just me. I took monogamy as what everyone takes it as, the pinnacle. Then I got to college, got cheated on a few times and my thoughts started to change on the matter. If I was the most important person in my romantic world, could I live with people filtering in and out of that if they proved themselves capable?
Ok so backing up, where did this all come from? I recently listened to Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, featuring Cynthia Erivo and Joshua Henry. The musical documents a failed relationship backwards and forwards. Joshua Henry’s character Jamie, sings the show going frontward, from meeting until marriage and divorce. Cynthia Erivo’s character Catherine sings the show backwards to frontwards, starting with Jamie divorcing her back to their first date. In the show is a song called “I Can Do Better Than That.” I’ll post some lyrics to the second half of the song because although Cynthia is absolutely incredible, the point of the matter is the lyrics.
You don’t have to get a haircut,
You don’t have to change your shoes,
You don’t have to like Duran Duran,
Just love me.
You don’t have to put the seat down,
You don’t have to watch the news,
You don’t have to learn to tango,
You don’t have to eat prosciutto,
You don’t have to change a thing,
Just stay with me.
I want you and you and nothing but you,
Miles and piles of you—
Finally I’ll have something worthwhile
To think of each morning–
You and you and nothing but you,
No substitution will do,
Nothing but fresh, undiluted and pure,
Top of the line,
And totally mine!
I don’t need any lifetime commitments, I don’t need to get hitched tonight.
I don’t want you throw up all your walls and defenses.
I don’t mean to put on any pressure, but I know when a thing is right,
And I spend every day reconfiguring my senses.
OKAY! So hopefully that was an enjoyable break/analysis. This song spoke to me for days. I played it on end until I could sing it freely for days. Then I stopped. I realized that society teaches us that monogamy is for everyone and that monogamy is ownership. I want you, nothing but you and I want you to be totally mine. But people aren’t ours. They’re free. Although I still love the song, I’m thinking about it so much differently now.
I’ve always been interested in unconventional relationships. Being with multiple people, not just sexually but romantically as well. I’m not incredibly jealous by nature. Unless it’s thrown in front of my face that the person I’m with is with someone else, I don’t notice. I don’t look for it, I don’t anticipate it and even then the betrayal of not speaking to me about it honestly is what hurts.
I don’t need to be with someone. I realized today how much self-love that is. It wasn’t always this way. I thought that being with someone, being their “girlfriend” validated my existence. Post College and post many failed attempts at relationships, I thought what if I try something different? What if I decide to be completely open and honest upfront about what I want and if that person can’t handle it, then I won’t have wasted my time?
So began the beginning of unconventional relationships. So far, so good right? Well, I’m still learning to love myself, to place myself first. I think society tells women that to put themselves first is selfish, its something that’s frowned upon. The black community tells black women that we must continue to give until we are shells of ourselves, yet in my discovery of putting myself first, everyone around me actually gets more of me because I have more to give. I’m happier, more available, more vibrant and alive when I am my main thought. In a relationship, I tend to push my partner and sometimes my dreams take a back seat. I can’t afford that right now and neither should any young woman. We also don’t have to be sexless. We can have great sex, great friendships, a lil bit of romance, self love and great focus on our careers.
I had a lover say to me once, “I think you love me more than I love you.” That’s the scary part isn’t it? The acknowledgment that you might fall for someone and they won’t fall back? Well, it wasn’t actually true but let’s take it apart as though it was. If I fall for someone, is it the end of the world if it’s not returned? No! Falling in love is beautiful. You can fall in love with friends, family, lifestyles, yourself, etc. and all of it is beautiful because you gained the realization that you have the capacity to love greater than you thought. I’m completely honest about being a loving and mushy person. I come off as having a hard shell and then as soon as you know me, you know that I’m a mush. I love love. I love everything to do with love, thank you Pisces cusp. The biggest thing is being open and honest enough to keep each other clued in.
Don’t be scared to fall front, fall back or not fall at all. We’re human, it’s what we’re made to do. So let’s just live with a lot less judgements, a lot less restrictions and much more openness.