The Idea Of

I’m unusually fascinated by the idea of relationships today. The marriage culture, without a doubt, is alive and well, especially in the Midwest, where I’ve lived my entire life.

I realize that writing this as an unmarried, near thirty, entrepreneurial woman, may lead some to believe my opinions are skewed. Perhaps they are.

I’m not entirely sure how my path diverged so much from the path of so many of my peers. A psychologist, I’m sure, would be able to unwrap many warning flags that I’ve long since forgotten about.

For instance, I was never popular. I was always a little bit bigger than the other girls my age. Often a little quieter. I didn’t drink or party in high school. I didn’t really participate in those activities in college once I came to discover that I had poor self-control. Wise for a twenty-one year old, I’d thought, even then.

Is that where it started? Should I have cut loose more often? Depended more heavily upon others for my well-being rather than solving everything myself?

There is something to be said for people’s ability to let someone in to their entire life. I’ve never been able to tolerate it much beyond a few months. After all, isn’t the idea of marriage – of forever – hard enough without coming into it with problems?

I wasn’t always like this, of course. There was a time I desperately wanted a relationship. I wanted to feel complete. I wanted to know that there was someone out there who wanted me exactly as I was.

He has never come along. And eventually, it began to sink in, that he might never come along. At first it was hard. Now it’s almost comforting – knowing that if he doesn’t come along, I’m still perfectly capable of living a full life.

In the last few years, I’ve come to understand that relationships – romantic, that is – come in all shapes and sizes. I was so preoccupied in my younger years by the idea of forever that I perhaps forgot or didn’t even know the beauty of the abbreviated love.

Abbreviated love, also known to some as “soul mate” is when you meet a person that you’re only with for a short time, but it changes you in ways that it would take years for another to achieve. Perhaps it is this person’s philosophies or their belief in your abilities. The way they look at you when you’re naked or the way they push you to your brink. In one way or another, they rip you open, the light shines in, and nothing about you is ever the same.

That’s not a way to live, though, some have said to me. Being constantly ripped open, constantly growing and changing. It leaves you breathless, sometimes incapable of living for days, weeks, months at a time, doesn’t it?

On the contrary. I find that I’m forever in and out of these abbreviated loves between which I take months, years to myself before finding the next.

And that’s what got me thinking. Some people find this existence frustrating, painful, and downright illogical. After all, don’t I want to stop being pulled apart only to have to piece myself back together?

Not right now. Maybe not ever.

And just because someone feels it’s wrong, doesn’t make it so.

That’s the beauty of love – its lessons are never complete. And abbreviated love is no less dazzling, no less of an education, than marriage in my opinion.

Perhaps not everything has to be about ending in marriage – in long-term commitment where we are forced to grow and change and love and hurt with the same person day after day. Not that, that way of living is wrong. In fact, it’s beautiful.

It’s just not for everybody.

What do you think?