In my late twenties, I met a wonderful man and married him out of love and innocence. We cared for each other tremendously and worked together for 10 years to learn about each other and work through all the joys and difficulties of marriage. Before we could find our stride and settle into each other, he died suddenly in a car accident. The year following was both devastating and liberating. In a nutshell, I had to learn who I was without another person being the motivation behind my actions and feelings. And as a newly single person, I began my journey into life like a newborn child exploring ways to be happy and appreciative for the life around me.
During that time, I dated. I entered every date with the back-story of my husband as a way to explain how I was not ready to invite someone new into my life. I was not interested in a relationship, but in fun and romance. In fact, I did not want anything from anyone other than companionship and at the first sign things were getting serious, I would discontinue the courtship. As a woman in her late 30’s, this looked very odd and suspicious to most of my friends. “Obviously you just haven’t found the right person” they would say. Meanwhile, I couldn’t get anyone to understand how free I felt to have no other person to attach my happiness to but me.
It was during this time I met “G”. We locked eyes at a local pizzeria and began a passionate and lovely affair. He accepted my need to stay single and understood my desire to see other people. I did not expect anything to come of this relationship so I simply enjoyed the time we had together and didn’t look back every time I left his side. People around us were up in arms! One time, we had a disagreement and I shared it with a friend. “This would not happen if you were in a committed relationship” she replied. How silly, I thought, I had more disagreements in committed relationships than I’ve ever had in this one!
Slowly, I started to see what was going on. People need boxes to understand relationships. People need other people to be in boxes so they can better define their own relationships. People need expectations of what a relationship means to them in order to feel safe. And at that time, I had no expectation of G and the concept of safe had left me at the scene of the car accident.
We began discussing this and realized we met and fell in love because we were simply accepting each other for who the other person was, and then got to appreciate each other in the process. I was with him because I liked him when I was with him. I did not see potential or possibility or any future because I did not plan past the date we were on.
A friend recently told me she has trouble finding a partner because she sets very high expectations of what works for her in relationships. Her comment helped me realize how we don’t actually attract the person we want, we attract the person we are. So if we have a lot of high expectations, it will be almost guaranteed that we will never fulfill all the expectations of others.
Being with someone for who they are in the moment you are with them is only attainable if you are comfortable with uncertainty with another person’s actions. Now, after many years, and living in different states, G and I explain to people when they asked how we met, how we simply lowered our expectations… not of each other, but of our own preconceived ideas of what it means to find love.