I used to be that guy who enthusiastically engaged halfheartedly in intimate relationships.
“Of course I love you!” I would say out loud to my partner as my thoughts weighed her faults and kept watchful eyes on the exit doors.
In fact, I spent five years emotionally torturing a good woman by staying with her enthusiastically halfheartedly—or in other words, choosing her…but not really.
I really wanted to choose her. She was an exquisite woman, brilliant and funny and sexy and sensual. She could make my whole body laugh with her quick, dark wit and regularly short-circuited my brain with her exotic beauty. Waking up every morning with her wrapped tightly in my arms was my slice of Heaven.
I loved her deeply.
Unfortunately, as happens with many young couples, our ignorance of how to do love well quickly created stress in our relationship. Before long, once my early morning blissful reverie gave way to the strained, immature ways of our everyday life together, I would wonder if there was another woman out there easier to love, and who could love me better.
As the months passed and that thought reverberated more and more through my head, I chose her less and less. Everyday, for five years, I chose her a little less.
I stayed with her. I just stopped choosing her. We both suffered.
Choosing her would have meant focusing everyday on the gifts she brought into my life that I could be grateful for: her laughter, beauty, sensuality, playfulness, companionship, and so much more.
Sadly, I would eventually find it nearly impossible to embrace—or even see—what was so wildly wonderful about her.
I became laser-focused on the anger, insecurities, demands, and other aspects of her strong personality that grated on me. The more I focused on her worst behavior, the more I offered my worst behavior back to her, which in turn only inspired more of her worst. It was like everyday pouring Miracle Grow on our ugliness…which made me choose her still even less.
Thus did our nasty death spiral play itself out over five years.
She fought hard to make me choose her. That’s a fool’s task. You can’t make someone choose you, even when they might love you.
To be fair, she didn’t fully choose me, either. The rage-fueled invective she often hurled at me was evidence enough of that.
I realize now, however, that she was often angry because she didn’t feel safe with me. She felt me not choosing her everyday, in my words and my actions, and she was afraid I would abandon her.
Actually, I did abandon her.
By not fully choosing her everyday for five years, by focusing on what bothered me rather than what I adored about her, I deserted her.
Like a precious fragrant flower I brought proudly into my home but then failed to water, I left her alone in countless ways to wither in the dry hot heat of our intimate relationship.
I’ll never not choose another woman I love again.
It’s torture for everyone.
If you’re in relationship, I invite you to ask yourself this question:
“Why am I choosing my partner today?”
If you can’t find it today, ask yourself again tomorrow. We all have disconnected days.
If you still can’t find a satisfying answer, dig deeper and find one. It could be as simple as noticing that in your deepest heart’s truth, “I just do.”
But if too many days go by and you just can’t connect with why you’re choosing your partner, and your relationship is rife with stress, let them go.
Create the opening for another human being to show up and see them with fresh eyes and a yearning heart that will enthusiastically choose them everyday.
Your loved one deserves to be enthusiastically chosen. Everyday.
You do, too.
Author: Bryan Reeves
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Artwork by Robyn Chance (used with permission)