Friday, August 18, 2006

Worth it

What's the point of a relationship nowadays? It's no longer procreation, or survival (although combining expenses is quite helpful in that regard). So what keeps us pairing up and yearning for another to "complete" us?

My theory? It is uniquely human to want someone out there in the world to be on your side and by your side. For someone to think you are worth spending time with, worth sacrificing things for, worth risking heartache and dispair for if you should happen to shuffle off this mortal coil.

I have had two people in the last two days ask me the same question: What was it that was the final straw that broke up your marriage? When they asked me I gave them somewhat long convoluted answers, partly because I hadn't really thought about it that specifically, and partly because the process itself was long and convoluted. Having now had a chance to mull it over in my head, the answer can be distilled down to this: I realized that he didn't think I was worth it.

The actual incident, one of a long string of incidents but the one that really made me see how far we'd fallen away from each other, was my birthday (hence my mini-freak out when I was thought Friendster Guy was going to repeat history). In my X's mind - or at least in his actions - I was not worth taking five minutes and making reservations for. Obviously this little thing was not the end itself but a culmination of a series of events where I realized more and more that I was not only second on his list of priorities, but sometimes even third and fourth. And there were many actions that led me to this conclusion. Most very small but when added up the sum of the parts was greater than the whole. He'd take off a day of work to drive down to NJ to play dungeons & dragons with his buddies but not to spend time with me. He'd call and order pizza when he was hanging out with his friends but if I suggested he pick up the phone and place an order there was no end to the whining. He didn't want me to go to conferences with him because he didn't feel comfortable bringing me (having worked as a conference coordinator I knew that spouses were welcome and even planned for but he didn't seem to get this).

This post was not supposed to be a rant against my X but an affirmation that if you are in a relationship where the other person doesn't make you seem worth it, get out. I have two friends who have recently broken up with their boyfriends. One relationship held a lot of promise but extenuating circumstances and logic brought it to an end (logic, when applied to a relationship, has never been the best idea). The other should have ended long ago but, as we all do, my friend held out hope that it would get better. After all, the longer you're in a relationship the closer you're supposed to get, right?

But how long do you wait? If you're moving at different speeds, as two people in a relationship often are, how do you know when the slower person has caught up, or is never going to? I think that in the interim it's about feeling worth it. If your significant other hasn't caught up with you on relationship milestones (they haven't said I love you, they aren't interested in co-habitation, you see wedding rings and they don't) it's generally ok and you can live with it as long as the rest of the time you feel worth it in their eyes.

When your significant other won't hold your hand or begrudgingly holds it for 5 seconds and then bats it away (as my X did) you don't feel worth it. You can't understand why they don't either want to be seen with you or they don't feel the need to show they care about you. When you never feel like your partner ever thinks about you when you're apart, you wonder, am I not worth caring about?

But you ARE worth caring about. And it's important to be shown, in whatever ways your partner is comfortable, that you're worth it. There are times of course when it's difficult to translate what makes a person feel worth it, even to yourself. It took me awhile to not take it personally when FG signed up for overtime. Lots of overtime. My first thought was, "Am I not worth giving up an OT shift for? Am I not worth spending time with?" But I determined that it wasn't about me at all. And he shows me in more very (very) subtle ways that he is thinking of me and I AM worth it. Instead of just taking the OT he now calls and asks if it is all right. I know that he's already 95% committed to the OT but just knowing that I popped into his head as someone who may have a stake in the situation makes me know he thinks I'm worth it. Him including me in the decision also takes some of the sting away from not seeing him for awhile. Believe me, I'm still disappointed, but I'm not angry, and I move forward and make other plans more quickly - instead of wallowing in self-pity. And I'd like to think I showed him that he is worth it by driving twenty miles out of my way to deliver him and his co-workers homemade ice cream (I've made three batches in my new machine - chocolate, peach gelato, and Cherry Garcia!)

I don't know if this post makes any sense. I have lots of thought floating around in my head as a result of my friends' breakups and people asking me about the end of my marriage. I'm just not sure if it translates here.

If you get one thing out of this post, remember, you're worth it. And if you aren't feeling that from your partner - find someone else.


Justin M said...

It's amazing to see such a fresh look at relationships! :) Since you have been through a lot of different perspectives (single, married, divorced, dating, etc.) it's pretty obvious you have some education in the area!! :) lol Gotta love it. I still think that relaitonships are the best thing in life -- dangerous curves, speed bumps, and potholes included!! You should try going on tour to see what happens with relationships!! :)

NinjaMama said...

Although I agree with you on your points; my personal answer to your questions are as follows

"But how long do you wait?" (to get out)

When you begin to not recognize yourself in the mirror anymore.

By that I mean, When you begin to make choices based on getting approval. Make decisions based on making the other person happy enough to respond to you in a certain way. When you are not putting yourself first...ever, because you don't want to stir things up or make things worse or give them another reason to pull away from you. When thier opinion always counts more than yours because you are trying to prove to them how much you care for them so that they will show you how much they care for you.

Then it is time to get out and get your selfworth back. We all want to be worth it, but we shouldn't need to get someone else to see our worth through manipulation or losing who we are in the process.

(speaking from experience here)