Shouldn’t, Wouldn’t, Couldn’t

A couple of weeks ago, I asked twitter if they’d get into a relationship if they knew it wouldn’t work, but liked the person enough. The majority of people said yes, they would. ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ was the general consensus. The breakdown of the result was interesting though. Men almost unanimously said yes. Women were slightly more hesitant, and some said it would depend on the reasons why you thought it wouldn’t work and whether they could be overcome, the more thoughtful approach. I was in the minority who thought it was best not to go there and avoid the heartache altogether. 

This fitted in with a conversation I had with someone a couple of months ago where I put forward my theory that broadly speaking, men were more likely to get into relationships without overthinking the consequences. Women were more likely to consider whether or not it would work, if he was reliable, trustworthy, would be a  good father, solvent. I would only consider the first two, but most women I know would need the rest. I couldn’t work out if this was limiting or just good sense. As some people rightly pointed out, you don’t know until you’ve tried. This made perfect sense for most people, but not for me. 

I’m often quizzed about why I’m not interested in looking for a relationship. They think it’s a front or I’m closing myself off from any possibility of getting hurt. This is only partly true. The truth is, it’s the only area of my life where I’m completely practical. For all my denials, I do have feelings. Of course I have fallen for people, (very few, admittedly) but my head has overruled my heart and it hasn’t gone any further. They never find out. Most people don’t guess. In fact, I think I’ve been matchmade with just about everyone but the men I have had feelings for. That’s how good I am at hiding it.

The problem isn’t so much that they’re bad boys or unsuitable. I have pretty good taste overall, with one glaring exception. I’m one of the few people who are luckily attracted to good men. Kind men. Arrogance turns me off. Cockiness, meanness, macho willy waving are all offputting to me. That doesn’t mean the men in question are right for me.

People have two sides to them. How they are with people in general and what they’re like in relationships. I’ve seen this all too often both in my own relationships and those of my friends and family. People are different behind closed doors. I’m sure I am too. An extreme example would be those who coercively control their partners. They’re often pillars of society, charismatic, well liked, and you’d never guess they’d be abusive. A more relatable example would be those people who put up a front of being confident and self assured, only to find they’re desperately insecure when the mask drops. It’s easy to be breezy when the going is good. When it’s all fun and games and everything can be laughed off, things are fine. What’s telling is how they cope with the bad. What if you need to talk everything through, but they handle problems by clamming up? What if when you need to feel supported, they disappear? What if the first chance you give them to run away, they take it? Those are the little but significant things that stop me from ever wanting to put myself through that again. I’ve convinced myself that getting into a relationship at this stage, with all my baggage, wouldn’t be fair on anyone. It’s a big, huge, ask. I want to escape myself some days, I can’t blame others for wanting to do the same, and strangely enough, I’m fine with this. I don’t feel I’m missing out. I’m happy in my own company. 

No relationship is without its problems. I’ll probably get criticised for this, but I don’t understand couples who never argue. That’s probably a dead giveaway why my relationships don’t last, I’m well aware of that. I just don’t believe you can be both passionate and calm at all times. Feelings get in the way. My dilemma is this. I could be with someone nice, someone I could respect, like, be calm and reasonable with at all times, knowing they didn’t possess the ability to hurt me. I also know I wouldn’t want to be with someone who didn’t have the ability to hurt me, because it’d mean I didn’t care about them enough. I want it all. How unrealistic. 

There has only been one relationship of mine where it all came together perfectly, albeit very briefly. I felt understood, I felt loved, he knew exactly what to say and do when I was upset or angry, and he did it because he wanted to and not because I told him to or due to any sense of obligation. I pushed him away several times, I gave him ‘outs’ all the time, he never took them. I’d never had that before. We told each other our insecurities, we backed each other up, he wanted to spend every waking minute with me and it didn’t feel needy because I wanted the same. It didn’t last. Maybe the passion burned out or he became a different person after his circumstances changed, but it set a benchmark and nothing has come close since. 

What’s funny is, he was far from perfect. In fact, it was one of the worst situations and decisions I’ve ever made. But I knew the negatives and I was prepared for them. Not overnight, but eventually, after a lot of convincing and reassurance on his part. 

After it ended, I found out a lot about him that meant if I had my time again, I wouldn’t go there. Not in a million years. It was a side I hadn’t seen when we were together, so I’d only ever seen what he wanted me to see. But that doesn’t change the fact that when it was right, it was perfect for me. (Not to be confused with the general idea of perfection. Just exactly what I needed at the time.) I’m usually riddled with self doubt and trust and confidence issues. He skillfully put them all to rest, for a while at least. Not an easy feat. But he was also the worst decision I ever made. The glaring error of judgement I mentioned earlier. Knowing that the happiest you’ve ever been in a relationship was with someone who was not only wrong for you, but not even a good person in the end, makes it very difficult to trust your own decisions. I’ve done stupid things, I’ve done terrible, unforgivable things. I’ve experienced the worst heartache, heartbreak and guilt. Doing nothing seems the easiest and wisest decision and I don’t regret it. Not one bit.