“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will...
“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you really need relationship advice I tend to think that’s probably a sign that you’re in the wrong relationship.
Says the woman who spends about a third of her blog pontificating about ways to have better relationships.
But most of the relationship advice I’ve ever received or read hasn’t been even remotely relevent to my life. Heck, most of it barely even makes sense.
Like how there seems to be this received wisdom that if you’re dating a man you need to ‘take control of the situation’, ‘make him work for it’ and ‘make him come to you’.
I don’t understand how ‘making him come to me’, leaving the ball in his court and the whole situation festering in the background is ‘taking control of the situation’. I couldn’t do that if I tried. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a terrible control freak, the waiting to see if I was actually waiting for anything would just about drive me out of my mind.
In terms of how much it annoys me this is closely followed by ‘you need space’.
If one or both of you needs to calm down then sure, take the time to do that, but beyond that space is the enemy of intimacy.
Absence seldom makes the heart grow fonder, it more often hardens the heart due to the fear of getting hurt that stems from not having a frikkin clue what’s going on. So your partner removes themselves from the situation entirely and leaves you deal with the mess by yourself.
And what’s with the umpteen articles I see on a daily basis telling me ‘how to get my partner to do x, y and z’?
Why is anybody reading those things?
I’m not interested in emotionally manipulating anyone. I want to create a connection that’s real. I want to know that I really see my partner and that they see me. That we’re both present in the relationship and that we’re doing the things that we do because that’s us and that’s how we want it. Not because we’re playing by someone else’s lousy rules; doing an impression of a real relationship.
You need to treat him this way because he’s ‘A Man’. You need to treat her this way because she’s ‘A Woman’.
They’re also individual human beings.
And I’m going to find a way to treat my partner that works for them. And for me. And if that doesn’t work out and I end up getting hurt then so be it, because that’s so much better than getting into that box all this so called advice is trying to fit us into. It’s just too cold and detached in there for me.
I think part of my aversion to relationship advice is that control freak thing kicking in again. If something is really important to me I don’t want other people who don’t truly understand it barging in and messing it up for me. If I’m going to screw it up I at least want to know that I did it on my own terms.
Partly it’s because the picture the advice is based on of what a relationship is supposed to look like just isn’t something I aspire to. It assumes that all successful relationships look the same, based on the assumption that everyone defines success in terms of their relationship in the same way. It also tends to assign either party a role within the relationship and then expects them to proceed within the confines of that role.
I know who I am; and I know what I need from a partner and want out of a relationship. I don’t need to play a part; and I don’t feel like my relationship needs to look like everyone else’s in order to be healthy.
But mostly it’s because I really think that if anyone else knows more about your relationship, or has a better idea how best for you to negotiate, improve, or mend it than you, you probably shouldn’t be in it.
Honestly, if you can’t ask the person you’re with “why did you do this?”; or say to them “you hurt me”, or “I don’t understand why you are doing this”, or “I need blah blah”. You probably shouldn’t be with them. You’d be better of just ending it and finding someone who you feel like you can be yourself with.
Communication is the only way to build a relationship and to create and sustain any level of intimacy. If you have intimacy you shouldn’t really need to seek guidance from anyone but your partner on what’s best for you relationship.
If you don’t have intimacy I don’t really see the point of being a relationship.
“Yeah, I think garlic bread would have to be my favourite all-time food. I could eat it for every meal. Or just constantly, without stopping.” ~ Scott Pilgrim v. The World
For want of anything better to do at four in the morning I decided to have a go at making my own tomato garlic bread. Because I love tomato garlic bread and yet they don’t sell it in any of the shops near my house. It turned out surprisingly well.
- a packet of mini tortillas
- a carton of passata
- a bulb of garlic
- some fresh, chopped basil
Step 1. Spread some passata over the tortilla leaving a little gap around the edges – I used about a dozen teaspoons full on each but it really depends on how tomatoey you want to your bread to be.
Step 2. Crush a clove of garlic and spread that on to the torilla as well. I originally tried making them with a teaspoon of garlic salt, that worked just fine but the garlic taste was VERY strong, I prefer the ones I made with actual garlic.
Step 3. Spread a teaspoon full of chopped basil over each tortilla. Or more, or less, or none at all – depending on how much you like basil.
Step 4. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 200C for about five minutes.
Step 5. Leave to cool for long enough that they don’t incinerate your tongue and the roof of your mouth before eating.
“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Everyone you ever love will hurt you.
And you have to decide that you’re going to be okay with that.
A good friend recently asked me how he was supposed to get over his fear of falling in love again. His last relationship ended very painfully and he wanted me to tell him how to stop believing that he would get hurt if he let someone else in.
While it’s perfectly natural and understandable that he’s scared, the truth is that if you decide you’re going to love someone you have to accept that at some point that love is going to be a source of pain. Because anyone you get close to, however much they mean to avoid it, is going to hurt you at some point.
They’re going to screw up. They’re going to let you down. They’re going to do things that you don’t like.
They’re going to say something hurtful in the heat of an argument. They’re going to happen upon a raw nerve. There’s going to be an unfortunate misunderstanding. There will be issues with conflicting loyalties – maybe between you and their family. They’re going to forget something important. There will be times when they aren’t there for you or they make you feel neglected. They’ll get scared and lash out. They’ll do or say things that will make you feel scared and insecure.
They might leave you.
You might leave them.
And even if by some miracle they manage to avoid all those things eventually they’re going to die.
And, y’know what, you’re going to be responsible for a few of these things as well and you’re going to hurt them in your turn.
This isn’t just true of romantic relationships. The same goes for family, friends, neighbours, co-workers – anyone who plays any significant role in your life is going to be in a position to hurt you. And they will.
Whether they mean to or not.
And you must accept it because it is the price you must pay for having those relationships.
Now I’m not suggesting that you should let people walk all over you. Or that you should tolerate people who hurt you maliciously or behave inexcusably.
But emotional pain stems from intimacy.
The things that people say and do hurt us because we care deeply about them, and they for us, and this makes us vulnerable. And so when someone hurts you, you must consider whether the pain and the damage that has been done to your relationship negates all the positive feelings and experiences that led to you becoming close enough to hurt one another in the first place.
Because the pain will pass. Almost always. No matter how much it hurts in the moment, and however much that scares you, it will get better. But in that moment when we’re hurt and scared it’s easy to lose sight of that, and to make decisions – either to end relationships or to avoid new ones – based on our pain and fear.
And as someone wise one said, a life lived in fear is a life half lived. We need to have relationships, we need intimacy, we need to feel connected to other people. Isolation and detachment are, in the long-term, far more painful and damaging than any pain that we can expect to be caused by our caring but fallible loved ones.
So you will forgive people. You will accept that their clumsy humanity is a part and parcel of their love. Or you will find that you can’t forgive them and you will move on. You will take solace in the rest of the people in your life who you have previously managed to forgive until you feel brave enough to forge a new relationship with the attendant risk of new hurt.
But the only way to inure yourself to the pain is to accept that it is an inevitable part of life and of love, to know that you will survive it when it happens, and to decide to be okay with it.
Once you have achieved acceptance you won’t be so afraid; you can put the risk of getting hurt into its proper perspective against how much you stand to gain through loving someone and allowing them to love you in return.
And that’s how you find the courage to fall in love again.