I FORGOT HOW TO LOVE...
REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE A KID THEY TOLD YOU TO USE YOUR IMAGINATION, OR YOU WILL LOSE IT?
I THINK LOVE MIGHT WORK THE SAME WAY. WHEN I STARTED TO FIXATE ON THE PLEASURE OF SEX...
I FORGOT HOW TO LOVE.
I FORGOT HOW TO ENJOY SEX.
YOU'LL FIND OUT WHY THIS DROVE ME INTO SERIOUS DEPRESSION AND AN IDENTITY CRISIS.
HOW IT STARTS CAN TELL US A LOT...
Brianne was 22 when we started dating and I was 28 (we are now 26 and 32 going strong); this was against my policy; I knew I needed to date someone more on my maturity level, but once again I didn't respect my boundary.
WHY DID I NEED THAT BOUNDARY?
Experience is definitely more important than age, but dating based on age is still a good filter in my opinion. This could be a separate conversation (shoot me a message if you'd like to talk about it).
In short, my experiences in the past (i.e. dating well above my age and dating in the 21-25 age range) gave me experience. I needed someone at similar place in their journey as me.
The questions is was I right or was I wrong then to end up dating Brianne at 22?
Haha. That's a loaded question (sorry, separate post for that too). Ultimately, it was the right choice, but probably not for the reasons you think.
Why and How Did that Boundary Drop?
7 months into meeting Brianne I became her mentor at work. I was excited to help a really genuine soul navigate the rough waters of making a career in personal training.
One of the first long conversations I had with her happened while on her "floor shift," at Equinox. Her responsibility -- to build rapport with members, generate leads, answer questions and keep the gym organized. During our conversation about her work performance she started to cry. Water Works City. Brianne is a big cryer -- it's one of her super powers. I absolutely love this about her. Her ability to emotionally regulate through allowing her emotion to flow is so difficult for many of us. At one point she saw this as a negative -- she's just beginning to see it as strength.
I started to become charmed by her the more time we spent together. WALLS DROPPING. As we moved toward the early dating stage the whole situation started to check a lot of familiar boxes for me...
- Looking for control -- I was older, felt "wiser", financially secure.
-Small taboo factor -- I was her mentor at work.
- She looked up to me and respected me -- I can't get hurt.
- There was an easy sexual chemistry that became to hard to ignore -- I saw an opportunity to explore fantasy.
CONNECTING THE DOTS TO AN ADDICTION
I had not realized it then, but a couple of years later I would connect the dots to how my early addiction to pornography (in my mid teens), and soon after addiction to sex, had a vice grip on my decision making on partners I chose.
Don't misunderstand...the paragraph above about being charmed by Brianne was real. I saw this raw emotion I loved that made her different. This came from a good place, but was clouded by some judgements that came from dark places.
Being addicted means these two things (pornography and sex) very were important and in my late teens I adopted a narcissistic personality as a means to obtain sex. It became clear to me that this personality trait meant confidence, which I noticed in the real world was the antidote to my desires. When you're addicted it is difficult to catch the manipulations you play on your mind. You may catch some, or even most, but not all.
The next thing needed to compliment my narcissism was money. You see, these things became so powerful over me that when I was just out of college I spent more time trying to satisfy my addiction than continuing my career in broadcast journalism.
Working late nights as a bartender was the perfect scene for a growing obsession -- I was on 3-4 dating apps. This is all pre personal training ( I started training at age 23/24).
I'll have to fill you in on that part of my life another time..But the takeaway is that it created completely selfish patterns. I lost the ability to care deeply for others and listen to them.
FAST FOWARD BACK TO BRIANNE AND I
By 28 I had already begun to recognize the error of my ways. Several unhealthy relationships before Brianne helped identify that I did have some intimacy issues physically and emotionally.
I was great at playing a role, I was terrible at being myself. I was stuck in a character who was just trying to figure out the next step, satisfy the next requirement and trying not to fail. I think Brianne and I both felt this way for different reasons.
I WAS AVOIDING CONFLICT! WITH MY SELF AND WITH BRIANNE. BUT DID NOT HAVE FULL AWARENESS OF IT.
-- I cared about Brianne as a person. Loved helping her succeed as a trainer.
-- I saw raw beautiful emotion in her that was different than anyone else.
-- I was lit up by this and could not ignore it.
-- Past patterns of not connecting intimately with someone past a physical level did not allow me to cultivate a deeper love.
-- Brianne has incredible intuition -- she could sense that something was missing in me. She would not drop her walls completely for me until almost 2 years into our relationship.
-- This girl would not settle for less.
Thanks for Reading.
I Had Relationship Exhaustion...
BRIANNE WANTED ME TO FAIL IN OUR RELATIONSHIP....
Sit and think about the domino effect that could have on my life and hers?
Don’t read ahead….just think for like 30 seconds. See how much you think you know (instead of reading and nodding “yep I knew that"). Drives me nuts when people pretend to know what you’re saying simply because it makes sense — which is not the same thing as it being present and ACTIVE information in your mindset.
I clearly have some insecurities and I’m happy to let you see all of them. : )
THE EFFECT IT HAD ON ME WAS HUGE:
IS THIS SOUNDING FAMILIAR???
I totally was ready to throw in the towel. Maybe I just need to accept it because...
1.This is just the way it goes.
2. I'll just live alone and date.
3. whatever you can think of...
WHAT DID WE LEARN?:
It's not all about me, there are plenty of things I’ve had to work on to make our relationship better, but I’m keeping this tight — next post we can get into that. SO WHAT DID WE LEARN...
1. Brianne and I were not being honest with ourselves, which meant we couldn’t be honest with each other.
2. We had created THREE REALITIES: MINE, HERS AND THE ONE TOGETHER. You might believe there are things you just don't tell each other...FOR US THAT DOESN'T WORK.
3. Relationships are work in my opinion. And they’re incredibly rewarding. When you do the work you will have PERIODS OF effortless kind love.
4. It’s kind of like practicing a sport. The game is fun and you play well when you practice hard.
Thanks for reading. Keep going for more?
OPTIONAL CHALLENGE FOR GROWTH:
I challenge you, before reading any of this (BELOW), to write down what “relationship,” means to you. Journal about it. Open ended. Then read below some information I’ve given you to consider.
WHY DO I FEEL SO STRONGLY ABOUT THIS?
It is my belief, as an individual, a coach and a guide that I challenge you to find a place inside your mind that is untouched from any text book, any person and any opinions that are not your own.
Practice. Practice explaining what anything truly means to you and ask yourself “WHY,” at least three times.
It takes time to find this place inside yourself. It takes hours of isolation and practice.
An Indian Philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti talks about relationships as being one with another. There are no secrets, or walls between you. Communication flows in way where the reality of the relationship is the reality of both individuals.
IS THIS REALLY POSSIBLE THOUGH?
Thats for you to decide.
Eric is an advocate of mental healthy, especially for children. He's part of the initiative at Physiology First, a Non-Profit online University focusing on reeducating the youth all around the world.