Contemplating How I View Relationships

Random post about some scattered thoughts I have about how my views toward all sorts of relationships have changed over the years.

In a conversation I was having with a friend this week, I said something about how I’m pretty much always emotionally prepared for my primary relationship to end because–since it has almost ended multiple times–I’ve had to emotionally disconnect already. (Which doesn’t make my relationship sound great, even though most of the time it is.)

Upon further reflection, I don’t think I was quite on the mark when I said that. 

There have been several big things that almost broke us up since we got married: my being poly and him having ADHD are the biggest ones. When I first disconnected, it was because I felt it wasn’t fair to myself to stay in a monogamous arrangement if I feel that poly is my orientation, nor would it be fair to force my monogamous husband to open our relationship or to cheat on him. The other times terminating the relationship has crossed my mind have been when he says or does something that I feel is unnecessarily cruel–which I’m coming to learn is probably the result of a mixture of ADHD and possibly depression. (And of course I realize that my own depression increases my sensitivity to poorly-thought-out statements.)

Throughout these difficulties, I’ve had to rethink what I want from a relationship and how I want to view my relationships and myself. What is more important: the relationship, or the individuals in it? Do I want to be defined by my marriage, or do I just want to be two individuals who happen to like each other enough to be around one another all the time? What kind of limitations on my behavior am I willing to accept so that I don’t cause my partner emotional stress?

The community of feminists I’ve surrounded myself with have passively helped me with these things. I’ve learned that being poly is a Thing, and that it might even be an orientation for some people. So I know I actually need to be in an open relationship. I’ve learned that the individual needs of each person are more important than maintaining the relationship for the sake of it. And, probably most importantly, I’ve learned that a relationship isn’t a failure just because it ends. (The concept behind that being that you learned something, you had good times [probably], you can remain friends, and so on.)

I’ve developed a lot as a person over the last few years. I’m now at a point that I don’t think being single would be a terrible thing. I don’t think ending an intimate relationship necessitates cutting that person out of your life. I don’t feel obligated to give people my time if I feel they’ve done something to be undeserving of it. It’s okay to have a lot of different kinds of relationships, not just two separate categories of “friends” and “partners.”

So, I’ve ended a lot of relationships with my family members and don’t feel regretful about that. I have friendships that are also emotionally intimate (and would probably be physically intimate if not for distance). I’m no longer distressed by the difference between my libido and my husband’s, because I know I can have sex with other people and that (because asexuality exists), lack of sexual desire doesn’t necessarily imply lack of emotional connection. I’m no longer excessively distressed by the idea of hubby and I breaking up, because I don’t feel like I’m only half myself without him in my life.

I’m a really awesome person. Not trying to be conceited with that, it’s just my opinion. I’m capable of making decisions about who I affiliate with and how. It’s not the end of the world if a relationship ends, or changes status.

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