I have never been particularly good at romantic relationships. I have been with my current partner for just over one year, and it has already lasted significantly longer than any of my past relationships. It is not that I want to be single; I am just comfortable being alone. It works for me. I know how to do it.
Needless to say, over this past year I have had to learn a lot. How to balance a long-distance relationship. How to communicate my needs with my partner. How to be patient when things do not go exactly how I envisioned them. How to let go of expectations and appreciate the moments for what they are. I learned I am afraid of commitment. Most importantly, I learned why.
At first, I thought I was afraid of getting hurt. I am a sensitive person. When I feel something, I feel it deeply, and it made sense I would want to protect myself from that kind of hurt by keeping people from getting too close. Each step my current partner and I took to grow closer in the past year was immediately followed by my feeling the urge to push him away. In the past, I would have. Instead, I gave myself time to adjust and found I like the closeness.
The first time he came to visit me after we became an official couple, I found something I did not like. Having someone in my space. It was not that I did not want him there. It was that I was not used to him there. My apartment, the sanctuary I created where I was always free to be myself, completely unguarded and uninhibited, was no longer completely my own. It felt foreign to me, like my space was being intruded, like I was losing a piece of myself.
That was when I realized it. The thing I was the most afraid of in a committed relationship was not that I would get hurt, but that I would lose who I am.
Finding who I am and letting myself grow into that person has been a long journey for me. At least once I lost myself along the way, following the path of others instead of finding my own. It led straight into depression. My real fear is going back there. And since I’ve never been in a long-term relationship before this one, I do not know how to exist as myself so intimately with someone else. It is easy to get swept up in the high of falling in love and to not realize you have lost a part of yourself along the way.
I do not know a simple answer to this. I do know that giving myself time to adjust and communicating with my partner eased my anxiety over having him here, and like every other way we’ve grown closer, it felt better than ever before. I also think that being in a long-distance relationship has being oddly helpful with giving me the time and space I need to feel safe in letting someone else in. It has allowed me to see how even in a relationship, I can still remain my own person.
I am comfortable being alone. It works for me. But I do not want to be alone forever. As scary as it is, I am excited to have someone in my life that I trust enough to let in. I have learned so much about myself in just one year because of it, and I am excited to continue learning and growing into a stronger, more loving, and less afraid self. Myself, but with company.