I come from a long history of needy, codependent relationships. My high school boyfriend and I were so dependent on one another that we'd actually go to the bathroom together. As in like, we would take turns peeing and watch one another. Not in a fetishy kind of way, but we'd miss the other SO much in the five minutes it would take to go to the bathroom that we would just... go together instead.
Sick. I know. AND unhealthy.
To be honest, the relationships that followed weren't all that different. I've made guys share their locations with me on their iPhones, boyfriends would show up at my house unexpected, and I'm not really satisfied unless I am in constant communication with my significant other all day every day. To sum it up, the word boundary isn't exactly in my vocabulary.
Now I'm older--30-- and in a "healthy" relationship. It's obviously very different and to be honest-- I'm losing my mind.
My boyfriend doesn't need to text all day. I do.
Sometimes he likes to sleep at home. He tours for work, sometimes a different city every night, and he won't feel the need to tell me where he is. He travels alone, likes doing so, and that's that.
Here's the funny thing: I trust him completely. This isn't a man who is cheating on me. This is a man; however, who doesn't need, or crave, constant communication to feel connected or happy. He's a bit of a nomad. When we're together he showers me with attention and affection, but when he's away he feels very much-- away.
He didn't check in constantly and he lets me do my own thing. He trusts me! It's frustrating! He has his own group of friends who he enjoys spending time with (they all know me, and I like them), but he has a seperate life with them too.
I'm dealing with a grownup-- a man with a real life, big boy emotions, and adult ways of dealing with things. Meanwhile, I'm stuck in my throw a tantrum stage of life...still.
I had to ask myself: is my boyfriend a whole, complete individual person, does he just not like me, or do I need to grow the F up?
It's easy for me to read other people's independence as rejection because I tend to operate at the other end of the spectrum--neediness. But when I look back at the relationships where I associated love with complete codependence (constant talking, hanging out every day, never leaving each other's side) the foundation of those relationships was insecurity. We didn't trust one another- what would happen if the other went away for just 5 minutes, didn't trust that our love was stable.
My boyfriend now had faith that our relationship could stand a week apart. He could go a few hours without talking to me and things would be just fine. And instead of feeling reassured by that... it scared me.
But it turns out the more independent the couple, the stronger the relationship. Writer Patrice Herbst explains that, "there are less insecurities in a relationship that has a foundation of independence and practicality."
What I learned in this: autonomy in a relationship is actually important. It takes two whole people to be in a relationship; not one whole person, and another person who leans on them constantly. Space doesn't mean someone doesn't want to be with you; it means they trust you, and are secure that they're going to see you again, and again, and again. The problem wasn't in my partner, the problem was in me, and my incessant need to cling on to things out of fear that they were going to get away.
Maybe absence did make the heart grow fonder....in moderation.
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