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emmy [AT] curious-notions {dot} net
November 2010
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they don’t call them toxic assets

This all started with Dan Savage’s column about singles and established couples. You gotta go read it (just the aside in the first response, although I like Dan Savage’s stuff, so maybe go read all of it?). I must warn you, that what I want you to read does take place in a conversation about a transwoman having qualms about her relationship. But if you read this blog and you can’t handle that… I don’t know what to tell you. I guess email me that you want a summary. I would tell you to put your adult panties on and read it with an open mind, but I try not to tell people how to live their lives anymore.

Longevity is a big question in relationships. Maybe not when we are young. When I was a teenager, I worried about people dying, not running out of time. Maybe that distinction doesn’t really exist, but I promise that I did fear the first and didn’t even realize the second. So if you told me at 16 that I’d be 28 and worried about having (a) child(ren) before I was 35, I wouldn’t have understood. At all. It would have been like you were speaking Greek. But now I’m 28 (almost) and I get how you can think, “Maybe I’m wasting my time on him/this.” or “Maybe I should have a kid now even if I don’t feel ready.”

When I was 16, I had no problem jumping to my relationship with both feet. I had unlimited energy and time and passion. Now that I’m 28, I’m careful and greedy of my energy and time and passion.

I’m pretty sure when my mom was 20 and she was pregnant with me, she never thought that 9 years later she’d be divorced. I’m pretty sure she was still thinking that she could work out all her problems. That with time and energy and passion, things could be fixed. I do know she already knew there was a problem with her marriage.

I know I’ve got friends who are my age (ish) and are questioning their relationships. They aren’t sure that those relationships will last and whether they should keep working at it. They know there aren’t easy answers and we don’t have a crystal ball and yeah, maybe their relationships will fail.

I remember Bear and I having trouble. I remember talking to my bff and my brother and wondering how this relationship would last. I remember the times when our relationship was thin. Except that both of us, even during those times when the relationship was weak, I KNOW we both wanted the relationship. I KNOW we wanted each other. I know these things because Bear and I talked. I know because I asked him and he asked me.

I’ve been questioning lately whether we are guilty of what Dan Savage is so upset about in his column. That people long in relationships tell singles that we “just know” when a relationship is going to work. I think what couples get wrong is that we didn’t “just know” ourselves, but we knew the other person was willing to work. Maybe it’s not about what you know of yourself, but what you know of your partner. Maybe if you are worried about your own dedication, you should check with your partner. If they are dedicated, then that might be the sign you need. That might be the clue that this is something that can grow strong again.

Going back to my mom, I can say with certainty that if she had talked to my father, she would have understood how what he believed completely did not match up with what she believed. If my mother has ever had a failing, it’s her inability to extract information from others and relate it to her own context. If my father has ever had a failing, it’s his inability to see the world in the context of other people’s realities. And if either of them had bothered to figure out what the other’s goals and ambitions were and how determined they were to hold onto the other person, maybe I wouldn’t be here. Or maybe my brother wouldn’t be. It’s hard to wish they hadn’t gotten together, but I do wish they were willing to realize their biggest failings.

So I guess my point is, people always tell me “Bear is so in love with you.” They can see it on his face. He exudes it. Othertimes, I’ll hear “You do so much for Bear.” Bear and I have always known that the OTHER person’s goal was to make US happy and strong. In that context, it’s easier to give to our partner and for us to stay together.

All that said, the realist in me knows nothing is ever for sure.