the purge

In the last few years, I’ve gained a sig­nif­i­cant amount of con­fi­dence in my actions and deci­sions, espe­cial­ly when it comes to rela­tion­ships. It took a lot of grow­ing, and two things helped most:

  1. hav­ing a bet­ter under­stand­ing of oth­er peo­ple’s expe­ri­ences in gen­er­al (i.e. I need­ed to gain more empa­thy)
  2. sur­viv­ing enough crises that con­flicts or dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions — or even my own feel­ings — were no longer debil­i­tat­ing­ly scary

Even though I’m more com­fort­able with my social behav­iour, I still strug­gle with lone­li­ness. Being more social­ly capa­ble means I can pur­sue rela­tion­ships more pur­pose­ful­ly and with­out regrets; it does­n’t mean my world is imme­di­ate­ly filled with lov­ing, stim­u­lat­ing peo­ple and needs are sud­den­ly being met.

As a per­son who tries to be the archi­tect of his world, I’ve always done my best to exer­cise con­trol over my time. That includes the time I spend with peo­ple, which means I tend to be the one to make plans. As a result, I rarely notice when oth­ers don’t make a com­pa­ra­ble effort, or any effort at all.

It’s been years since I’ve seen some “friends” who were once very impor­tant to me. After a cer­tain amount of time, it becomes obvi­ous that I’m not a pri­or­i­ty to them when I’m the one per­form­ing all the emo­tion­al labour (not just the major­i­ty), and we nev­er do any­thing if I don’t ini­ti­ate.

I under­stand that not all rela­tion­ships need to be fair and equal in all aspects to work, but I’ve strug­gled with unre­quit­ed feel­ings long enough, and I’m at a point where I’m a lot more inter­est­ed in spend­ing time with peo­ple who also want to spend time with me. I’m tired of being the one to make all the effort when it costs so much to make space for peo­ple in my life. I’ve spent too many years in unful­fill­ing, dead-end rela­tion­ships, and I’d rather have more time to myself (or Heather) than pur­sue rela­tion­ships with peo­ple who aren’t on the same page1.

Still, it’s a painful and reluc­tant step on my part. Loyalty is in my nature. I’ve always been one to do every­thing in my pow­er to pre­vent any rela­tion­ships from falling apart. Reducing my effort is the last step I want to be tak­ing, but I know I’ll be bet­ter off if I put my ener­gy, time, and expec­ta­tions in the peo­ple who appre­ci­ate these things, even if I’ve yet to meet them.

  1. Being roman­ti­cal­ly sin­gle, yet suf­fer­ing lone­li­ness for so many years, was a sim­i­lar­ly con­scious choice, as I did­n’t want to end up in a rela­tion­ship with a per­son who was ulti­mate­ly wrong for me when the right per­son came along. I cer­tain­ly was­n’t inter­est­ed in hurt­ing any­one (i.e. when an inevitable breakup hap­pens), just for the sake of get­ting cer­tain needs met, and this approach has served me well so far. []

One comment

  1. Empathy, and rec­og­niz­ing that rela­tion­ships are nev­er equal help us main­tain our emo­tion­al sta­bil­i­ty. Interacting with peo­ple who are not on the same page helps us look at our­selves dif­fer­ent­ly, hence grow.

Leave a Reply