About a decade ago, I took a leap of faith. After a stressful childhood and adolescence with loads of upheaval, I craved stability. As luck would have it, I was set up with someone on a blind date (by friends) who hadn’t really done much, hadn’t taken many risks, and had had a more normal upbringing. We hit it off anyway, finding enough in common despite these differences to build a relationship. And I found myself in my first long-term partnership.
I was actually really excited to settle down. I was tired of stress and chaos. Didn’t really crave excitement — I’d had plenty as I moved from home to home due to housing instability and family issues. (And I can entertain myself anywhere, can have fun by myself all alone in an empty room.)
A latchkey kid, I had plenty of opportunity to get up to some shit. It was fun for a bit. Got boring.
But as it turned out, my partner — who would eventually become my first husband — hadn’t enjoyed his stable upbringing. He sort of took it for granted. And he wanted adventure and excitement.
The friends group I found myself in was all similar. They’d had normal childhoods (very sheltered seeming to me – they often remarked I seemed older than my age because of what I’d been through) and wanted to experiment. Let loose.
I’ve written about what happened next at great length many times, so here’s a short version: I went wild and free and unfettered again. My partner discovered instability had a dark side (and not just via through me, also through his other adventures, which are more his story to tell).
And I discovered that perhaps my partner was right. Perhaps I’d settled down prematurely. And as I realized this, I realized he wasn’t very good to me. (And I wasn’t great for him, either.)
We’d both settled — and not in good ways. We weren’t right for each other. And we were worse for being together.
The moment this came into focus, I had to end that relationship. It was difficult at first, but after some time he thanked me and agreed it was the right move (so mutual but only after time and reflection).
Stable But Not Settled
Interestingly, as I write this piece, it’s over a decade later. And I’m very stable. Even more stable than I was back then.
But settled? No.
It’s true I’m in an excellent long-term relationship — but my life is full of adventures. Of new pursuits and interests. (Not even primarily romantically/sexually — but occasionally those, too, sure.)
I’ve achieved stability that doesn’t require settling.
But even so, I’m glad I didn’t know back then what changing would cost me. When the time came to pay up, I did so willingly.
But I don’t know that I could have made the same decision back then, when considering challenging myself.
Frankly, I’m glad I didn’t know, however. This way I learned a lesson that would have terrified me if I’d had too much warning.