There are times when I close my eyes and envision my ideal partnership. In my dream, I wake up in the morning and they’re already awake, reading a book on the windowsill, and the coffee they brewed is still warm. I walk over to them sitting on the windowsill, I kiss them on the side of the neck and say nothing else to not interrupt their reading. I saunter into the kitchen, pour a cup of coffee, go plop down in my chair and open up my “reading” (my day starts with spinning over CNN updates). My person puts their book down and I feel their eyes on me from across the room. They come close, take the laptop out of my hand, kiss me. Then we have sex for a polite, passionate 45 minutes. We cum together, followed by them saying, “Wanna go get breakfast?”
This vision makes me smile when I’m sitting alone in my tuna can-sized apartment. I look out the window then over at my dog, who’s been casually trying to pretend he doesn’t have to share an apartment with me when I masturbate and I think, “Wow, Alyssa that’s so freaking cute!” That being said, I am in no rush to find romance. Sometimes it shocks me that I don’t care because sometimes I wish I did care. I try to create this care through the chaos of overanalyzing. I do this because I used to care a lot. There were many times in life that I assumed all my issues would be solved if I found love. There are also many times in life where others assume that you are in need of love. I have friends who’ve fallen victim to settling just to pushback on the criticisms of being single. I find myself being unable to talk about my latest crushes without someone filling in the blanks of what I’m feeling or how I should be evaluating the situation.
Sidebar: I’m in a season of change in my life where I’m actively attempting to not talk to any of my friends about people I like. For the reason mentioned and because it’s a tactic I use to not speak on deeper feelings I’m experiencing. Sadly, I think a lot of my friends are realizing I’m just another uninteresting millennial who only cares about memes, shit I can’t afford, rap, and my branding as an “artist”. LOL.WTF. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ALL OF US? Oh well. Still stuntin’.
It plagues me as to why we are like this in our society. Why is our pursuit of romance one of the more accessible points to connect with people? Why do we find so much safety in a concept that throws us into an emotional tailspin? Why are we constantly trying to be someone we’re not to attract people we want to “be with”?
Then it came to me! While growing up, I was told in church: “It’s not about finding the one, it’s about being the one for someone else.” There’s obviously the underlying sexism in this phrase. This was first told to me in a gendered devotional setting. Glaring issue aside, this saying has stuck with me. I used to find this saying profoundly sentimental and the epitome of romance. If I’d been the master reasoner like I am now, I would’ve raised my hand in church that day and said, “So you mean by being our best selves we will attract someone who’s their best self?” And the youth minister would’ve said, “Not exactly. I am just subtly setting all the women in the room up for romantic failure by saying you’re not good enough but if you make some changes some dude will be like “ok, let’s get married” and no one will think you’re a fugly bitch.” In this scenario, the youth minister is brutally honest and Mean Girls is the movie of the time, so he connects with the youths by quoting the movie.
I like to take steps back to evaluate what partnership means to me. I usually conclude that partnership is a genuine understanding of another person through a deep friendship, emotional and intellectual intimacy, and a dynamic sex life. Yet after this introspection, I recognize that I’m tethering myself to someone who I don’t have the connection I described with. OR I’m doing rapid free falls in various directions hoping that something remarkable will happen and out of the cold pavement of our non-relationship, pops up a lotus flower of love. Most significantly, I notice that I’m subconsciously worrying about trying to be that one for someone else because through this I’ll get the keys to unlock that sweet, idyllic, partnership I want.
The best example I can give is from my first serious relationship. He was a volatile person, whose emotions took up the whole room. In arguments, he would gaslight me, twist my words, and be unable to see the situation outside of himself. So I started a new trick where I’d hope for him to start any fights or arguments that had been brewing between us. In my mind, if he pulled the trigger first, I would be able to react first. I would (with any luck) react with my definition of a rational, compassionate response. Then he would know that’s what I expected in return and start to do the same. It never turned out that way. Instead we would fight, I’d react my way, and he’d react his way. The goal would be that eventually these two vastly different reactions would begin to complement each other to allow for some sort of resolve. They never did.
I will be the one to change you. I will be the one to change. I will be the one to make this work. I. Will. Be. The One.
The society we live in fosters this special brand of codependence where not only should we need someone else but we should make sure we trap that person into needing us too.
We’re allowed to have expectations. We are allowed to hope for someone who we’d want to qualify as “the one”. We’re allowed to get into fights with people and when they react to us in a way that doesn’t bring us both resolve, we can walk away. In my opinion, it’s hard to accept this for two reasons: 1. There’s comfort in chaos especially when it comes to partnership. There’s safety in the distraction of trying to constantly find a bae. All our lives we’ve been told to fight for love. The fight for love now looks like trying to take someone we don’t exactly get along with and turning them into someone we could spend our days with. (favorite example: “he’s just not a big texter.”) 2. There’s comfort in being everything for someone else because it takes out personal accountability. When you’re someone for someone else, it’s about living up to their expectations. You make the choice to abandon your expectations or change yours to suit theirs. That’s not fair to anyone because it cripples self-evolution.
I don’t have this all right yet or get it right on a regular basis. I’m striving to acknowledge and honor that being the one for someone will just be me, being me. I’m accepting what I want as my truth. I’ve decided to let in the idea that you can meet someone who has the same ideas of partnership and pursue that unafraid and with vulnerability. I don’t think we all grew up in a church that imparted ignorant love advice on us, but it seems like there’s a vast majority of us who got some rendition of the same shitty advice.
So I think the saying should go,” It is about finding the one where being you makes you their one and vice versa because partnership is about emotional reciprocity.” It’s not as concise or flowery but maybe more fair to all hearts involved.
Being a romantic, I have hopes to find someone who sees that shares my same morning fantasy. However, being a realist, I know that free falling in various directions while abandoning my sense of self isn’t going to get me that. The process of becoming your best self is a slow and arduous and so is the process of finding genuine love.
Imagine with me, you’re walking down the road of life and you find yourself at an intersection of self-discovery and self-love. You look up, you see the signs and you’re like “I’m doing really good.” You are startled by a sound, you think it’s an echo because it sounds like someone is saying what you just said. You look across the intersection and see someone standing there. You smile at each other with a knowing look.
WRITTEN BY ALYSSA YEOMAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ASHUNI LUCÍA PÉREZ