Tonight. Tonight I'm thinking about love. Tonight I watched a movie in which, as in all movies it seems, two people fell hopelessly in love in some grossly misconstrued recreation of reality that could never happen in this (the real) world. Love is something that I never write about, because I didn't believe in it for a long time (And because I'm not Cory Copland...Sorry I love you dude); at least I didn't believe that it was for everyone. Sure, people find other people that make them happy and start families with them. My parents just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. There are happily married couples all over the world. I've just been in too many unhealthy, failing, and plain bad relationships to not see that there are negative aspects to love. I couldn't list the number of people I've wronged and hurt through relationships. The relate part of the word is what has caused me to stumble. I'm great in a relationship until I get to the moments where things get deep and serious. Insecurities come to the table. Girls find out that I'm an emotional, thoughtful, sensitive guy with who's prone to crying in movies, not talking for days, and general moodiness (I just shattered any chance of meeting my future wife here.) Things end up not working out, and yet I fall for the same type of girl over and over.
Now that I've ranted a bit, I'm going to shift gears. I'm still shooting from the hip, and this will be a very raw post, but I'm going to be a bit more organized. I've wondered so many times why the girls that I fall for, do not fall for the kind of guy that I am. I think I'm relatively good looking, I play guitar in a band, I ride motorcycles, I buy girls nice things, I dress cool, but nothing seems to help (I promise I'm not being conceited, there is a point to this.) A thought sticks out. I have these lists of good and bad points, but in my own experiences, they have not really led to me being broken up with. In fact, I have never been broken up with. I've always ended relationships, or they've ended mutually. I wonder then if girls are my problem or if I am my problem. I say that I'm emotional, sensitive, quiet, and often incredibly hard to read and understand, but I am the one who always bails out of relationships. I say that girls don't fall for me, but maybe I don't let them. This is getting pretty girly pretty fast, and I apologize. I do need to get this all out of my system though, so please bear with me.
Here is my thought: what if the things that we are most insecure about in our own lives are the things that prohibit us from having healthy relationships? I know that there are a few of you perfect couples out there who talk about each other's problems at length while you braid each other's hair and eat grapes (what the heck? I shouldn't write this late at night...) but for the rest of us HUMANS, it's not always that simple. I think one of the main reasons that I don't do well in relationships is that I'm scared of myself. I'm scared to make the same mistakes that I've made in the past; scared of hurting people. But I'm also scared of my own flaws. I'm scared that my emotional tendencies will ruin more relationships; worried that my thoughtfulness could again be seen as condescension; scared to return to unhealthy patterns. Am I insecure? Definitely. Have I ever admitted that? No. Well actually yes, now I have to all of you. I always said this was an honest place, and I will continue to make it so. Because this is hard for me to write about.
So where does that leave those of us who are too scared of ourselves to fully open up to a relationship? I'm not sure to be honest with you. We've all heard that we need to "get to know ourselves" before we date. I believe this with all of my heart, but I think it is easy to know yourself and hard to find the next step. I think and write everyday. I know myself so well that it hurts; too well probably. I'm painfully aware of my every good and bad point, so there must be a step beyond simply knowing yourself. Perhaps it is defining yourself. What I mean might be better explained with a story:
Say you've created a product; a vacuum cleaner (purely arbitrary.) You know this product through and through. You were present at every stage of its development: the initial designing, prototypes, all the way to its completion. You know its every success and failure along the way. The thing is, now you have to market it. You have to take the hundreds of tedious bits of information that you have on this and transform it into something that people can understand. Instead of telling people about the speed that the belt turns or the capacity of the tank in cubic millimeters or how many man hours goes into making ten units, or how many prototypes you went through before arriving at this final product, you would want to tell people something more helpful like, "Hey this machine will clean your carpet. It's stylish and relatively cheap." You don't have to be worried that it will break or fall apart like it did in the developmental stage because those issues have been fixed.
I think the same could be said for our lives. ( Just to clarify, I don't think we should turn ourselves into vacuum cleaners.) Instead we could stop overemphasizing the small flaws that we have. We could be okay with our ineptitudes and not let them throw a wrench into our relationships. You know what ladies? I am emotional, but I'm also a guy who is eligible to date. I love baseball, I love big cities, I love boots. The same can be said for girls. Maybe you've been really used by a guy or you have issues with your father or you think you're too emotional or whatever, but you also love volunteering at a pet shelter and you love to paint and deep down you still love Avril Lavigne. Why can't those things be just important to us as the failures? I don't want anyone to be conceited, but own your strong points. Ladies, be excited to tell that cute guy that you love to paint. Guys, be excited to tell your lovely lady that you love baseball instead of being scared of letting your emotional side shine through and having to end another relationship.
(Just to come off of my rant for a bit and clarify, I don't think you should do anything you feel is wrong. If you have issues that you need to work through, by all means work through them. That is part of the getting to know yourself process I think. Don't skip to the definition stage if your aren't ready. Don't put yourself back in a situation where you could get hurt again. that is counter-productive and will only hold you back. Now back to your regular programming.)
We should not be so scared of getting to know a new person at a deep level that we run from someone who might be good for us. We should not nit pick other people's lives and find small things to justify ending or bailing out of a relationship. Don't date someone who isn't right for you, but don't be so quick to assume that someone isn't right for you. And don't be scared of getting to know someone new.
Why do we have to be so incredibly attentive to the things in the past that ended relationships, when we could instead be excited about future ones? There is always room to grow. I'm still not sure how I feel about love. Some people say you only love once, some say you love many but fall in love with one. Some of us have no idea (that would be me.) But regardless we were all created with the ability to love and be loved. God put inside of us the potential to care for others deeply, and to share a marriage with a person that he created. Have my emotional tendencies ended relationships? Yes. Will they end every relationship I'm ever in? Absolutely not. Some girls will not like it, but one day I will find a girl who does. I'm not broken, and none of you are either. We all have flaws, but that should not and does not disqualify us from being happy. God loves each of us with our flaws and failures, and we should learn to love each other with our flaws. Chances are, we will never find a perfect, suitable significant other, so don't look for one. Look for someone who sees every part of you and loves it. And in turn, see every part of yourself and love it. (There's the Oprah Winfrey ending we were all waiting for.)
Thank you for reading my rambles. You can follow me on Twitter at @matthewhillec