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I have abandonment issues.
I’m pretty sure we all do at this point. It’s rare to find anyone alive who hasn’t lost their sense of security, if they ever had one to begin with.
So I get overly attached to romantic relationships, naturally.
But my last two serious relationships really did a number on me, and now I might be overcorrecting by being completely opposed to “settling down.” Truthfully, I don’t want to settle down at all—for anyone.
If someone can’t meet or match me at my level of enthusiasm for life and lust for exploration, then I have no desire to get even remotely serious about them.
I had a partner ghost me after seven months of us being together. I couldn’t understand how a steady relationship (albeit maybe not the healthiest…but we were committed to the damn thing) could just end so abruptly, for no apparent reason.
I couldn’t eat or sleep, and I screamed into my pillow for a week before I got any sort of explanation as to why he could do that to me. What he told me, essentially, was that he would rather get drunk and forget about me than show up for me. There was a lot to unpack there but it was clearly no longer my baggage, so I released that pain.
I was grateful that I let myself feel it though. And because of that, I was able to move forward knowing that I didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. I had tried.
Pema Chödrön discusses the importance of sitting with the pain we feel in the moment in her book When Things Fall Apart:
“Thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly. The very first noble truth of the Buddha points out that suffering is inevitable for human beings as long as we believe that things last—that they don’t disintegrate, that they can be counted on to satisfy our hunger for security.”
My next partner and I went into our relationship with open communication unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
When we decided to jump in, it was a f*ck yes. Then he left me at a time when I was struggling to make ends meet and was stretched so thin. I’d try to make time for him but either I’d lack the energy to be fully present or our plans would fall through.
After a while of feeling a disconnect, though, I was sure we could make it better and make it work. I’d worked my ass off to allot myself more time and energy to reinvest in our relationship—I just had to get through one more week of hellishly overextending myself. Then he came over on my only day off that week and ended it.
The damage was irreparable on his end, and he didn’t want to work on it. And so I thought, well if even a seemingly perfect set up for a healthy and deeply connected relationship isn’t enough, then why bother putting any effort into something that will ultimately fail?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a hopeless romantic. What’s changed is that I’ve raised my standards for who or what can give me hope.
My plans, goals, and aspirations are centered around me now. I’m no longer putting myself at risk of losing my focus for the sake of a romantic relationship. I’m building the life I want for myself, by myself—and unless someone can build with me in a way that fuels both our fires, I don’t want it.
For the last few months, I have been taking every opportunity to travel and experience new things, never having to worry about whether my decision will affect a relationship. Admittedly, sometimes I can’t necessarily tell if I’m running toward or away from something. If I am running away, though, then it’s from a stale existence. I am running away from feeling stagnant.
I am happiest when I am taking chances and experiencing new things. I am happiest on the go.
What I’ve realized is that, more often than not, when I settle down with a partner, I end up being unhappy because I’ve stopped living in a way that fulfills me. And that’s what we all deserve—a life that makes us happy, and if in our minds that includes a romantic partner, then we deserve someone who can show up for us and also for themselves.
Don’t settle for less.