After serious contemplation at the prodding of Patti Stanger, I realized that all three of my past relationships shared one giant common denominator: ME.
It’s easy to sit here in my apartment and list out characteristics that these men possessed that I hated. But it takes real courage to sit down and think about Relationship Me and what she brought to the table.
So just like Patti suggested for the men in my life, I sat down and took a hard look at the experiences I had in my relationship with my boyfriend, the friend with benefits, and the one who didn’t happen. What did I like about myself? And what did I absolutely hate?
The best quality I bring to a relationship is my thoughtfulness. If I care about someone enough to let them in my life, I want to do things that really WOW them. I enjoy giving truly meaningful gifts on holidays and special surprises for every day. I think that I do these things in order to show my partner how much I think of them. And if we’re in a relationship, I think about you a lot. The best things I’ve done? Engraved pocketwatches, framed photographs taken from our football seats with a special message on the back. Scavenger hunts. Special baskets of candy. Anonymous treats. When I look back on the cute things I’ve done, I’m really proud that I think of such personalized ways to make someone know they are appreciated. I hope I am always so thoughtful to friends, family, and partners.
But then beyond my thoughtfulness, it’s difficult to find something else I really and truly like about Relationship Me. She was a real bitch who wanted her way all the time, enjoyed pouting when she didn’t get it, and did stupid, stupid things for attention. She got bored way too easily, she wasn’t always faithful (and for that I’m truly, truly ashamed). Most of my relationships began out of making someone pity me for a previous relationship that went poorly. Relationship Me fought over petty things like the dishes, bad jokes, and whether or not Humpty Dumpty was *always* portrayed as an egg. I was dishonest to myself and to my partners about a variety of things, big and small. I’ve done a lot of things I look back on and regret…. I will spare you the details of the rotten things I’ve done, but it’s enough to tell you that I don’t ever want to be the girlfriend leaving notes on the fridge that threaten to move out if the garbage isn’t take out by 5:00 p.m. I’m not sure how I got to the point that I was so unpleasant, but it wasn’t a pretty picture.
Once I saw a question that simply said “Would you date yourself?” And at the time I was still with The Ex-Boyfriend. It was toward the end and I was pretty unhappy, but the question still punched me in the gut, mostly because I knew the answer. I would have run screaming in the other direction from Relationship Me. I wouldn’t have made it through the first date with her, actually. And I think my biggest fear is that I haven’t changed. As thoughtful as I could be, the hurtful words and actions that happened between the thoughtful deeds clouded everything.
I have a much happier disposition these days and I’ve worked through many of my issues, but I’ve honestly not had a chance to test drive myself in a relationship situation to know if the changes I’ve made are more than skin deep. It scares me to think that I could slip back into Relationship Me. Nobody deserves to be stuck with her, and its false advertising in a sense because I never start out a relationship coming from a bad place. What if I haven’t changed? What if i don’t fight fair? And how will I ever know until it’s too late?
If Patti had me write a list of pros and cons for men and then visualize what I wanted, maybe I should do the same for myself.
Relationship Me should be:
-Fun, willing to joke and laugh at myself and my partner
-Supportive of my partners goals and dreams
-Understanding and respectful of opinions and feelings
-Faithful and loyal
-Willing to compromise
-An equal partner, willing to do my share for the relationship
Basically I want to be with someone that *I* would want to be with. Why is this such a revelation for me? My mother has been hammering this “golden rule” into my head since I was a child. Do unto boyfriends as you would have boyfriends do unto you. Amazing. No matter what I was in the past, I know deep down I have the ability to be a good, caring girlfriend or wife to someone out there. Having these tough experiences as a teen and young adult aren’t tragic. Indeed, the real tragedy here would be if I didn’t take these experiences, learn from them, and apply this breakthrough knowledge to my next relationship and have a better turn out.
Relationship Me, I forgive you! You were young, you were confused, and you were insecure. You just got in over your head. You can be a better person, and I’m willing to give you a chance to be better. I forgive you.