A Lifestyle blog based in Sonoma County, in the heart of Wine Country. Amber is an outspoken voice for local activism, local wine tourism, and more.

The Relationship Essay

Amber wearing a red floral dress, wearing purple lipstick and yellow sunglasses

I have realized that from the beginning of my dating "career" I have entered into every relationship with a timestamp; with every new boyfriend or dating relationship I have started my own mental countdown for how long I expected the relationship to last.

When I started dating my first boyfriend, Bob, at eighteen, I wrote in my journal "Amber, this fling won't last. Have fun, but remember this." Two years later we broke up (of course). In the relationships that have followed, I have struggled with the idea of one that just....continues. I see an ending in sight, and I use it as a sort of "darkly re-imagined security blanket" that I hold on to. When the relationship doesn't work out, I am able to fall back on what I had told myself from the beginning: that it was never meant to last.

Growing up in a religious household, I was taught that there was “no room” for traditional dating in Christianity. I was only to "date" the man God intended for me to marry; any other form of romantic relationship was a distraction sent from the devil who would only distract me from my path as a righteous woman of Christ (I'm paraphrasing here). Poor Bobby never stood a chance: he wasn't from my church, or even religious, which immediately translated to me that this wasn't who I was supposed to enter into "holy matrimony" with. I sure did love him, though.

Leaving home and heading off to college, meeting new people, and eventually deciding for myself my own personal beliefs and morals, I shed most of the religious dogmas with which I was raised. But what I am learning now is that the damage of those beliefs (and the strange psychological reasoning as a result) is still manifesting itself in unhealthy ways: such as placing a timestamp on my relationships.

I have come to a place in my life where I have outgrown the fear of being alone; the fear of being in my thirties and being unmarried. Instead I find myself being hyper-protective of my solitude. I want, no, I crave the time to myself where I read, jot down creative ideas, and develop my friendships. I often find myself feeling trapped by the men that I date due to their showing love and affection through constant contact. I don't understand how to handle it. It's suffocating. And so I let them go. I am very much in love with the life I have built and fought for. My independence hasn't come easy, and I am not willing to let it go.

I am always the one who leaves. And it is through my self-induced heartbreak that I tell myself that I just haven't met 'him' yet. And that when I do meet this mysterious elusive character, I will somehow know. But now I am beginning to ask how - how exactly, will I know? Because I have no desire to fight for a relationship. Instead I prefer to let the relationship coast along until I've spotted my perfect time to break away with as clean of an exit as possible.

I have treated relationships like a Bingo! game, quietly collecting the odds and ends to my tally sheet of "why we must break up". When confronted with "why?" I am left scrambling for reasons that sound more like excuses. Instead of looking at why the relationship is good, or why it should be fought for, I am instead always curating reasons and ideas of why it will never work. And it is in this way of thinking that I create more excuses for myself as to why I should never put 100% of my effort into the relationship. Why plan that international trip if the relationship is going to end within the next twelve months? Why tell someone you love them if the relationship is only going to last a few weeks more? Why go all out for a birthday, or a holiday, or share intimate thoughts if the end is already in sight? Why invest myself at all? Instead, I pace myself through a relationship “tending to its death like a patchy, withered garden”.

In my defense, men bring drama into my life. So. Much. Drama. And medical bills. And the disgusting hormonal influx of birth control. It's the baby mama drama, and the testing of personal boundaries, and picking up another person's dirty socks, and putting down the toilet seat, and the having to open up to someone with the same old stories of childhood traumas and the re-hashing of relationships past in order to forge intimacy...it gets old. Am I to coddle with and console other people's insecurities forever? I have my own demons that I'm dealing with. It's all very exhausting.

This has been a difficult reality for me to settle into: Am I, the woman who once thought herself undaunted, and un-jaded by loves lost, a commitment-phobe? Why isn't "I just have this feeling" no longer an acceptable answer that men are willing to accept when I try to end relationships? (Which by the way, one person wanting to end a relationship shouldn't be seen as a negotiation. If one person wants to end it, it's over, okay?) Why can't some people understand that sometimes things just don't work out?

I am not lonely. I have things like this website, my content creation, French Chat, my career(s), and friends to keep me happy, busy, and engaged. I am perfectly content alone, at home, watching Netflix, uninterrupted. I very much enjoy my personal space, and adhere to my own schedule. I am particular about toilet paper: I have learned that a tp purchase from Costco should last me exactly 12 months. Having a refrigerator too full and cluttered stresses me out. And, under no circumstances (ever) should someone ever attempt to lie on my bed sweaty, fresh from the barbers, or in their “outside” clothes. I also really appreciate it when the person I’m dating regularly brushes their teeth, and keeps up simple, basic hygiene.

Mentally, I haven't quite worked these two thought processes out. Is the loss of a relationship truly self-induced heartbreak - or is it simply remaining true to myself and acknowledging what I've known all along: which is that the relationship was never meant to last. Just how much am I supposed to mourn the loss of a relationship that I wasn't fully invested in, but simultaneously pretended to be content to be a part of? Surely...at this point, it isn't them, but me? And, am I declaring "It's not you, it's me"? If so, how cheesy. And surely, it can’t all be me: because (as an example) I would never just randomly voluntarily put myself through the hormonal hell that is birth control. I didn’t ask for the baby mama drama. I didn’t ask for the insecure male to demand I accept his Friend Request (which, surely is just another way to have me explain away every male acquaintance of mine, starting with their sexual orientation). There are so many things that come with romantic relationships that I simply didn’t ask for.

Relationships (of all kinds) take work. They require consistency, communication, and compromise. I know this. But does it have to mean spending four nights a week together? Calling every day? Does being in a relationship mean having to place aspects of my Self and Core Being on a shelf? And if so, for how long? Because I miss very specific parts of myself:

I miss waking up well rested because the blankets on the bed are as they should be: still tucked under the mattress. I miss not having to explain the sexual orientation of every male friend I have. I miss not being able to share fun or pleasant memories simply because they involve an ex. I miss eating fresh, healthy food - or really anything that isn’t smothered in cheese or sauce. I miss my clothing fitting the way it used to, and I miss being able to finish an actual sentence before I’m spoken over or interrupted. I miss reading biographies, and being able to discuss what I learned. I miss being able to go a span of time without checking my phone, in the off chance I may have missed a call or a notification. I’m over it. I want my life back. How do I maintain a healthy relationship with both myself and someone else? I am asking honestly, because I'm not sure I know how.

Photography: Sosatography

Dress: Asos // Sunglasses: Free People // Lip color: NYX 

amber looking off to the left side of the frame. we don't see what she is looking at, but see details of her dress, hair, and makeup

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