I Want You to Want Me

asian loveRelationships.  They have been on my mind lately.  I have had several discussions with friends around the world about them, so on them I ruminate.

When I was a little girl, I assumed I would grow up, get married and have kids–after getting my Ph.D. of course.  White picket fence, apple pie, and all that stuff.  I didn’t really think about what it would mean, of course, as that part was never explicitly explained to me.  Still, by what I absorbed from reading tons of books, it seemed like a pretty straight-forward proposition to me.  Go to college, meet my hubby-to-be, get married, have kids and a career. 

Well, reality intruded.  I was never a popular kid, partly because I grew up Asian in a mostly-white area, partly because I was so brainy, and partly because I just didn’t fit in.  I got teased for being fat, Asian, and smart.  It was pretty much a daily occurrence, and it started pretty early.

I didn’t date until high school, and it wasn’t someone from my high school.  Remember, it wasn’t until the last ten years or so that Asian women became hawt and exotic.  Back in the eighties, we were mostly invisible.  I met the boy I dated in summer school for gifted kids, and we were together for two years.  Because I was so thrilled to be dating someone, I didn’t really pay much attention to how I actually felt about him. 

This is a pattern with future partners.  I was more concerned about how that person saw me, fueling endless amount of energy into being the ‘right’ person for my partner, I never stopped to question if I really wanted to be with said person.  It was more about being attractive and desirable and being able to have someone love me than about me finding someone I actually wanted to spend the rest of my life with.  That’s not to say I haven’t been in love.  I have.  It’s just that underneath the love was always the fear that I would lose the person in the end because I just wasn’t good enough.  No, I have no idea what would be good enough.  It was an amorphous value that kept shifting.    In other words, I was giving the reins of my happiness to someone else–which is never a good thing. 

After my last serious relationship, I was devastated and withdrew from dating completely.  I needed time to lick my wounds, and then I just kept withdrawing.  I always picked people with commitment issues, and I didn’t want to go through that same, tired cycle ever again. 

In retrospect, I began to realize that it was my own issues with commitment that was drawing me to the partners I chose.  Recently, when Rizzo asked me if I wanted a partner to commit, I replied, “Yes.  No.  Yes.  No.”  That pretty much sums up the confusion.  You see, I had just assumed that I wanted to get married.  When I examined the assumption more closely, it fell apart.  As I have stated elsewhere in this blog, I have political and personal reasons for not believing in marriage.  The bottom line is, marriage is not for me.  Kids were not even an issue because not having them is the only thing in my life I have ever been certain about–and still am.  Unless a certain Mr. Rickman comes a calling, in which case, all bets are off.

But I digress, as is my wont.

asian-grrl-loveOnce I realized that marriage and kidse were not for me, what was the next assumption I had to examine?  Do I believe in monogamy?  That’s a tougher one.  I think we can, obviously, make a commitment to one person, but is there any particular reason why we should?

Well, for one thing, relationships are time-consuming.  It’s difficult enough dealing with one other person, let alone two or five.  However, I can’t imagine being physically monogamous for the rest of my life.  I see sex as sacred in some instances and a physical release in others.  Plus, there’s a boost from sex that really is hard to beat.  When I say sex, I am including a range of sexual activity from kissing, to touching, to intercourse and beyond.   In addition, I like women, too.  Yes, I hate the stereotype of the bi who wants to have sex with everyone, but I also slightly resemble the stereotype.   What can I say?  I have a high sex drive.

While realizing this preference of mine, I also realized that I didn’t want to live with someone.  Ever.  I like having my own space, and I really chafe having another human being in said space 24/7.  Now, because our society is based on the coupling off of humans, my need for space is seen as some kind of flaw.  I must have been hurt in my past (of course.  Who hasn’t?); I will change my mind once I meet the right person (in which I don’t believe); I am just in denial.  While I can’t totally dismiss the last one because one part of being in denial is often times not knowing one is, I am fairly certain that my desire to live alone is not my way of deluding myself that I’m really unhappy not having a mate.

I think part of the problem for me and relationships is that I have been fed all the same crap everyone else has about what being in a relationship means, and it’s hard to distance myself from that.  I don’t watch Hollywood movies for the most part, but it seems that romance is portrayed (and yes, this is a gross understatement) as girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, girl and boy are kept apart for ridiculous reasons, girl and boy finally hook up sexually, girl and boy fall in love and live happily ever after.

No thanks.  Or, the other portrayal is of a heterosexual couple who settles down and has children, thus becoming an American dream statistic.  Cohabitating, being half of a whole, merging identities and bank accounts–that’s what’s in store?  Um, no thank you.  That is not what I want at all.

However, in speaking with my gal pals about their relationships (the ones who are in relationships), it’s clear that they each have a different way of working out said relationships.  My gal pals are spread across the world with different views on life, love, and liberty.  The two things they have in common are being bright and having impeccable taste (hence, the fact that they chose me as a friend). 

Some are stay-home moms.  Some work outside the house.  Most are Democrats.   All are happier to have Obama rather than W., but that’s a given.  Kiki still feels her heart skip when her hubby comes home from work.  If they have a problem, they argue and yell until they hash it out.  Rizzo takes walks with her hubby and talks about their problems.  Juno doesn’t sweat the small stuff, focusing on the bigger issues.  Natasha tells her hubby what bothers her and invites him to do the same about her. 

I marvel when I talk to my friends about their relationships because they all differ from each other, but they all are working out just fine.  What I realize is that they each have forged out a relationship that works for her.  It may not work for me, but I’m not the one in the relationship, so it doesn’t matter. 

What I’m trying to say (and what Kiki has tried to drive into my stubborn brain for some time now) is that I get to define what a relationship means to me.  I don’t have to follow Hollywood, the rest of society, or even my friends in their definitions.  That heartens me.  Even though being in a relationship is not on my top ten list of things to do in the immediate future, It’s good to know that I might one day cobble something together that suits my needs.  It’s time for me to think about what I want from a relationship so I don’t continue to chase after nothing.

7 Responses to I Want You to Want Me

  1. Yes, what do we want from a relationship? The only advice one of my parents ever gave me was once when I was in college, my dad (who rarely, if ever, talked about personal things) said to me “don’t even think of getting married before you have your PhD and a good job. Be self-reliant. When a woman married before this; she has had it, she becomes dependent on the man, and her life is over.” I was more shocked than anything to hear him put life in these terms. Never ever thought that he thought like this.

    And though I have always been someone who wanted and needed to be taken care of, I turned down several offers of marriage and/or moving in together. Mostly men who could take care of me financially, intellectually and sexually. But no matter how strong the draw, I always said no. There was always something that held me back.

    Until JP. Even before becoming a couple, I knew. How? Why? Mystery. We are very different and very similar. We complement each other, make each other laugh, still thoroughly enjoy each other’s company. It has taken many years to “perfect” what we have, many years and a lot of work. But I know too that I wanted and needed a man who was extremely brilliant, creative, cooked and loved travel, was romantic and fun. We met, and that was it.

    It may be an old, faded cliché, but how true “it comes when you least expect it and from somewhere where you aren’t looking for it.”

  2. Although this may not sound romantic, I also still believe that the relationship book needs to be written about dysfunctions being able to match up. Try as we might, they never go away, so let’s work and live with them baby! For instance, part of the reason the husband and I have been together–lovingly–is I need to feel spoiled and he needs to feel over-appreciated; he has trouble making big decisions and I love to be in control; and so on… 15 years later and we could continue to dig into our childhoods, OR we could accept who we are ( as long as it does not hurt one another) and have our hearts skip a beat when we walk through the kitchen door after work.

  3. Jamie, see, you held out for what would really work for you, though. Even though you knew what you wanted, you had the clarity to know it wasn’t with the ones who pursued you. It wasn’t enough, and you were smart enough to wait for someone who met most of your requirements–not just one.

    Kat, yeah, that’s a book that needs to be written. I think, actually, what you and Jamie say dovetail with each other. It’s not about finding the ‘perfect’ match–it’s about finding who’s perfect for you, baggage and all.

    I need to find the relationship that works for me–in two separate dwellings.

  4. Yeah, the duplex thing has been suggested to me as something that would solve certain issues I have. The point is that once you *cough* get a little older you can see that you can construct pretty much any kind of relationship you want, provided you and your fellow constructor are clear about what you are up to.

  5. Hi, sparky! Waves in your direction. Yeah, the older I get, the more I realize that I don’t *hafta* do what other people want/expect me to do. And, Cheap Trick is a guilty pleasure of mine, so I was glad I could work them into a title.