Looking back on my relationship history, particularly the intense attractions, the ones where I hit a giant wave of NRE and rode it, I see one commonality: I seem to become very attracted to people that make me feel better about some aspect of myself I’m very insecure about.
It’s not even a conscious thing when it happens. But I can see it in hindsight. I can see it so clearly.
Maybe that isn’t something that’s going to sound healthy to some folks, but it is what it is.
When it comes to my current long-term relationship, I always found him physically attractive. But as far as feeling emotionally connected to him, I can trace that to when I went and read the archives of his online journal, which went back a long way. And in the older entries, he was incredibly emo.
At the time I read these, I was getting constant grief from someone I was seeing about how sensitive I was. And I had been for a very long time. My sensitive nature had become an insecurity, a way that I felt I was defective. I was too dramatic. Too sensitive. Too emotional.
And here was this really handsome guy that I was becoming friends with — and he had been just as intense as me that way (if not worse) in his past. It made me feel safe with him in a way that made it so easy to fall hard.
He made me feel better about myself.
Later, I would fall hard for another writer. She was gorgeous, funny, and a lot more successful than me. And she had come into my life at a time when I was really struggling with my decision to go full time. I felt selfish and foolish. Self-indulgent about my life choices. It became a deep insecurity. But then she showed up. Even though we didn’t work out long term, I think knowing her assuaged those insecurities about myself. Because she had done similar and I could see how wonderful she was.
Another time I got into a long-term relationship with someone who proudly called themselves “lazy.” And that was a relief too. I’d grown up as the child of two perfectionists and in my childhood I was constantly berated for being lazy and not working hard enough, even though I really was doing my best. Not only that but when I met Proud to Be Lazy, I was just coming off a relationship with a boyfriend who was hard-working and motivated to the point of obsession and expected the same of me. One morning I was running a fever and wanted to call off work, but he berated me and told me to stop being a baby. I ended up getting sick in the toilets I was cleaning (at the time I worked as a hotel maid), and by the end of my shift, I could hardly breathe and had to go to the hospital, where I was admitted with a tonsillar abscess.
So being with someone who never judged me or called me names for needing a break, for needing to rest… well, it was a welcome relief.
Now, the trouble is that sometimes you really do need to work on yourself. And while emotional validation is wonderful, sometimes an insecurity isn’t just needless emotional torture; it can also serve as a sign that you need to do something differently.
There’s a balance. And I think, to a certain extent, that figuring out what romantic relationships and close friendships I wanted to have has also involved figuring out what aspects of myself I wanted to feel better about and which ones I wanted to work on.