Even though I haven’t been in place in life to look for a relationship since last fall, and I’m not ready to make space for one in my life at this time, a relationship is something I want in the future. As I am trying to be open to all possibilities in my life, I know I will open to the possibility of a relationship somewhere down the road. However, starting something like an intimate relationship can consume a lot of time and energy, so I am telling myself to be cautious when I reach that point on my path. I don’t want to exhaust myself thinking I am swimming along when I am really just treading in circles.
I’ve been careless in my life as to how I’ve entered relationships in the past. They always just happened. I would hang out with a guy for a while and it would just naturally transition into a relationship without any discussion or setting intentions of what we were entering into together.
That was my pattern, and I didn’t really notice it until last summer when someone interrupted my pattern. It was my fourth date with this guy when we went swimming together for the first time. I quickly got out of my clothes and excitedly jumped into the water without testing it first. It was cold; a far cry from the pleasant plunge I thought it would be! I looked back at him on the rocks and he hadn’t even come close to getting in. He hesitated on the rocks, felt the water, then cautiously entered. I took note of this. I have always swam with fellow jumpers, those who like me, leap in without thinking.
He and I kept dating off and on for a number of months afterwards, but he never wanted to jump in. We did everything couples do, so at times I thought it had transitioned into a relationship, but then he would quickly get out every time we started to swim too close. Sometimes it felt like I was drowning in confusion; he would make the water feel so warm and cozy to be in, then it would suddenly feel frigid again.
For most of those months, I was in the water waiting for him to enter and swim with me. He never did. He was happy to dangle his feet in the friendship pond with me, and I enjoyed that for a while, but eventually, that water became too murky for the both of us and we had to get out. We tried to clean it out a few times, but we just had a knack for stagnating the flow.
In the future, I won’t dive in before testing the waters. And when I choose to get in, instead of waiting while the other lingers on the shore, I’ll make sure the other person is swimming alongside with me. If they want to float away, I’ll let them. I don’t want to endure the numbing waters hoping they will warm up. I also won’t dangle my feet in shallow waters if I am able to swim in greater depths elsewhere.
With anything I commit to in life, I want to immerse myself in it to see how deep I can go, but it is important to be able to sink in without the fear of drowning. The same applies to a relationship. The water should feel pleasant and warm, a place that I want to stay in. And I want to be there with someone who is happy to navigate through any turbulent waters that we may encounter, where we help each other stay afloat, instead of pulling each other under.
Photo: Clem Onojeghuo