(Note: Feel free to replace with your gender preferences. I have used mine.)
I want to be in a relationship. I long for intimacy, deep intimacy, a relationship that is molded softly and baked slowly through years of joy and conflict resolution. I want to sleep next to a man who is special to me and I can count on when it’s sunny and when it rains. I want us to share the small and big things of everyday life, to support one another, and let each other grow. I want us to build a warm, respectful, and playful home for our family.
However, several times in my life I have seen myself wanting men who are emotionally unavailable. Talking to my single friends I know I am not alone, which makes it a good reason to reflect upon, though such exposure feels personal and vulnerable.
Fortunately, now I can admit that I am 100% responsible for my choices, I am the one who says yes to a second date even when it is clear that he is not emotionally available.
How do I know? Because he says to me “You are awesome and we have a great connection, but I am not looking for a relationship right now…” or “You are very interesting, and I can see we have potential, but I separated a few months ago. I first need to find the balance with myself…”, or something like that, which is charming enough to keep me going for the next few dates even when my heart knows that this is a huge red flag.
There are many different reasons we choose to ignore a red flag. But, it’s ok. Most of the time, if not always, there are many lessons hidden behind our seemingly unwise decisions; lessons that are essential for our hearts to reach their desires.
In my case, I learned that paradoxically, I do it to "protect" myself. After all, it is easier to want someone who is not available than to open my heart to someone who is. Deep inside of me, I am afraid that being in a committed relationship will restrain my free spirit, and that is far scarier than living my life as a single who enjoys temporary lovers while dreaming for “the unreachable”.
Though I want to be in a loving relationship, at the same time I am afraid I will lose my freedom. So, how do I resolve the dilemma? Simple, it looks like a Bollywood movie: I fall for a cute but unavailable guy and forget for a while my loneliness while I dream with the illusion he may change and see how incredible I am as a woman, and what an amazing life we are able to live together... Until the balloon pops and my heart breaks again, so I convince myself it is better to be single and the cycle can go on and on.
Now I wonder whether this fear of losing my freedom is because I am a woman and I have learned that in a relationship I should
‘obey’- ‘comply’- ‘surrender’- ‘suppress’- ‘restrain’- ‘sacrifice’
my will – desire – pleasure – dreams – power – life
so as to be accepted and loved.
Is that true?
Do men really have more freedom to choose and to move within a relationship?
But then why do they seem also to be unavailable for committed relationships and intimacy?
I guess our difficulties to commitment and intimacy are different, but that’s not my question now.
My question is whether it is possible for my free spirit to be alive, to stay alive and to blossom within a committed AND free relationship?
Let me pause for a moment to clarify something;
When I say free I do not mean, “free” to do whatever I want without taking any consideration of others. That is not being free. That is being immature (if I want to be kind), or being stupid (if I want to be honest). Neither do I say free meaning “sexually free”. This is a topic for another long discussion. By free I mean, free to be myself and speak my truth with respect for others; free to follow my dreams, enjoy my life and create my projects with an appreciation for others.
So, can I still be a free spirit within a loving relationship?
Will, I ever be able to enjoy the beautiful-free-committed relationship I dream of or am I cursed to the-hell-I-do-what-I-want single life? I need to find an answer; is there light at the end of this tunnel? I hope there is, but how can I get to the other side?
Ok, now it is me who needs to have a pause. After many ‘unwise’ decisions, finally, I realized that whenever we open ourselves to admit our truth, even if it is hard to our ego, it is always healing to our soul. So, I make space to cry and let go of the pain of recognition. I breathe, and I look deeper inside to listen to the answer that comes to me slowly as any responsibility is hard to admit.
Actually, NO ONE can really restrain our free spirits. That is impossible. They may restrain our bodies, our rights or our privileges but no one can inhibit our free spirits. No one, except ourselves.
I am the main oppressor of my spirit’s freedom. It may sound like a punishment but actually, it is very empowering to recognize that I am the one who can lock or unlock the chains that keep me from flying. And I know it because I have done it so many times in a relationship. I have chained my free spirit from fear of losing the other and I have squeezed my choices and drained myself in the name of “love”, while at the same time I blamed the other for doing so. But this is not loving, and it is definitely not the other’s responsibility even if it is easier for me to want to say so. This is the fear of abandonment and/or fear of loneliness that makes me a liar to myself, and a fake to others, and that finally makes me run away from a relationship because I cannot stand living in the cage that I created.
Of course, there are reasons to do that. Again, it is a way to "protect" me from getting hurt. In love we are vulnerable, and most of us have been hurt while being in love. But to fall in love we need to be willing to be vulnerable, even if it may be painful.
I am clear now that I do not just want a relationship, rather, I want to be wholeheartedly me in a relationship. I want to be authentic and trust that true love can honor the beauty of a free spirit. For that, I need to risk being myself with no expectations or attempts to control the outcome. If he can’t appreciate my dreams and desires, if he leaves on the first disagreement, then he is not the “appropriate love” for me and “thank God he left”; because "Rejection is God's protection", as they say.
Love can’t be imposed. One is always free to stay or to leave a relationship. Nothing is ever granted, and every day we need to choose to be with each other. The truly “appropriate love” is supportive, is curious and stays to find out, to understand, to resolve if possible a conflict or just embrace it. This means we are also 100% responsible for the choices that we make within a relationship to experience authenticity, to keep our spirits free and alive, and to let true love speak.
It is humane that we all have flaws, quirks, and strengths. I want to respect, appreciate and love a man as who he really is. Similarly, I want to be loved and cherished for being the woman I truly am. Now I can see every ''failed'' attempt as a step closer to my vision; an opportunity that life brings me to reflect on my fears and difficulties and to clarify my desires and values.
I feel grateful for every kind of relationship that I have had and still have with men. Sharing with each one of them teaches me to let go of expectations and open up my heart to appreciate and receive the gifts from each form of love.
And about my longing to be with "my chosen one"... Well, I'd better let him find me and gain slowly my open heart while I find delight in love and my life with or without him.
As the great poet Rumi has expressed:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
So may we keep finding these barriers to experiencing authenticity in relationships, and the love that we are made of and deserve.