I was out with my friend Lizzy after seeing a particularly good play tonight, and I was ranting about unequal expectations in relationships.
I was thinking particularly about those between men and women–not to exclude people whose preferences go in another direction, but just because I notice problematic dynamics there more often than I do in LGBT relationships.
After I brought the topic up, Lizzy said, “Do I sense a new blog post coming on?”
You know what? You do.
I’m just tired. I’m tired of accepting how “natural” it seems for attractive, accomplished women to be with men who to all appearances put a lot less effort into every part of their lives than these women do. I’m tired of the idea of finding someone you’re at least moderately attracted to who is willing to be with you, and having that be “enough.” I’m tired of taking infidelity as a given and of easy clemency granted.
At the same time, I’m allowed to believe both in the value of each individual human being and to think, “But is that person adding anything to your life?” Taking on the role of “boyfriend” does not count. It’s not a blank in a crossword that you hastily fill in, not realizing that you only have a pen and can’t easily scratch this out. I’m allowed to be a forgiving individual who believes that context matters and that everyone makes mistakes, and to know that even when I have been tempted, I have never cheated on anyone or led anyone to cheat; that the “well, I was drunk/upset/tired” excuse is frankly B.S. The issue is not that you were impaired. The issue is that, in that moment, you wanted to do this more than you wanted to not hurt the person you’re currently with.
All I’m asking for is a little effort on everyone’s side. I couldn’t care less (right now) if I personally get married. But for you people deciding to get married, just try. Just try to be there for the other person. Try to be a positive force in their life. Offer them something by your being there. Don’t just fill up space.
Still, do fill up space.
I used to be the kind of person who, on the bus or train, would perch on the edge of the seat so as not to inconvenience anyone else there with my presence. I didn’t want to squish or even touch them, didn’t want to make them uncomfortable because I had decided to sit in this vacant seat. Even when the other person was using more space than was their due, I tried to take up as little space as possible.
Now I see people taking up two seats for one person because they want to spread their legs wide and stretch out, and I sit down next to them. I jockey my own legs next to theirs, against theirs, reclaiming the space I should be allowed to take up, the space of one human being in an environment full of other human beings. No more than that. I sit on their outstretched coats if they make no effort to contain them. It is not my job to contract when someone else chooses to expand.
That’s how I’m feeling about relationships lately. I’ve tried too long to negate myself in some way, to go out of my way to change or contort to be what fits in the empty areas left over by the other person. It’s time for me to take up my own space, my own shape, and to let other people work with me until we find ways for each other to fit, or to move on into the third dimension alone but unbowed.