So I guess I kind of buried the lede there a few posts back. My girlfriend is moving in. It’s my first time moving in with a partner and it’s one of the more serious considerations I’ve made in my life. In none of my previous relationships did I feel like it was on the cards. Somewhere inside I knew that the notion of playing house was just that, a game or fantasy. It wasn’t gonna work and so we never tried. Sure, there were hints dropped from past partners, but I wasn’t willing. Something about it never fit. This time however, I’m ready and willing. Enthusiastic, even. I’m actively looking forward to sharing my living space (and coincidentally even more of my life) with my beloved girlfriend.
At this point you’re thinking one of two things. Either it’s a) oh how mature and wise he is. He’s finally reached that point in his life where he’s ready to take it to the next step and he’s grabbing it with both hands. Or b) this naive poindexter has no idea what he’s in for. Sorry for being a dick, but the trick answer is the same as Hannah Montana‘s limited theatrical release concert film: The Best of Both Worlds.
Don’t think for one nanosecond that it’s all been smooth sailing. It’s been a choppy process from start to this here moment of typing. Late last year my girlfriend floated the idea of possibly moving in together over the summer. My first reaction was that of a malfunctioning robot. I froze while the gears ticked over in my head. I said I’d think about it. Oh, did I ever.
[Let’s take an aside here to note how I deal with challenging future situations. I start drafting simulations in my head. My first step is to think about every possible way it could go wrong. I work out challenges, threats, issues and problems. I run these simulations again and again until I can’t think of anything positive at all. Then I convince myself these things will never work. Then I get frustrated, withdraw and close off. The steam leaking out of my cracks begin to show as bolts fall out one by one. There’s a breaking point where someone notices enough to inquire and everything comes out in a torrent. Then that person proceeds to point out a gap in my logic and everything changes. I re-run the simulations with the new information I hadn’t considered and start to notice positives emerge. It opens me up to talk more and the more I talk about it, the better I’m able to see all those blind spots. Problem solving in conjunction with teamwork makes a brighter future visible.]
So when my flatmate announced that she was moving out with her girlfriend, those gears started turning at high velocity. My girlfriend was excited, while all my processing power went into threat analysis mode. We started with hypotheticals while internally all I could think of were objections. I pulled away until I realised what I was doing. I was searching for reasons it would fail. I didn’t want to consider how it could work and consequently all I saw was ruin.
It was then I chose to talk and even better, chose to listen. I started up sessions with my therapist and discussed my issues. I thought of how to constructively structure conversations with my girlfriend while being open to suggestions. I considered my instinctive reactions and broke apart why I would feel that way.
I didn’t want to have to think about when I came and went. I didn’t want to alter how my life was structured. I wanted the freedom to be alone when I wanted. I sought the ability to do things my way and always my way. How would I deal with feeling like I couldn’t take time to follow my interests? Some nights I wouldn’t even want to hang out, how would she handle that? What would my life be like if I had to consider someone else’s feelings before my own actions? I didn’t want to compromise on my own space, because how would that allow me feel at home? It was control I desired, the control over my own life. How could I remain me if I ceded that to someone else?
Then a thought came to me: I was afraid of change. Change is hard, change involves facing things that are alien, different and often scary. Change involves walking into scenarios you may not have faced. Change means being willing to face the concept of being wrong, being fallible. The easiest thing in the world is to never change. To accept facing the unknown is a challenge, but without embracing that challenge growth is not possible.
It occurred to me that I was afraid of losing my independence and this was the crux of every issue I had. I’ve always maintained that a relationship is two individuals working on creating something together. I’ve always feared creating something that absorbs both partners, leaving individuality as thing of the past. Independence has always been a dominant value in my life, so much so that I’ve been afraid of letting others in enough to threaten it. Part of maturity, however, is knowing the difference in ceding independence and accepting compromise. Knowing that you’re willing to let your your guard down sometimes. Letting your partner take the reins because you trust them. Because love is trust and faith that you’re letting someone change you. Because none of us are perfect, but we can all be better.
I know already that I’ve become a better person since knowing my girlfriend. I’ve learned what it is to communicate openly, honestly. I’ve grown into accepting and admitting my shortcomings, owning my fallibility. I’ve opened up to understanding and accommodating different views to my own. Now I’m ready to open my life to her in a whole new way.
I know it’s gonna be hard. I know I’ll have to change and compromise. I know that we’ll have to find our own ways of maintaining independence or carving out our own space within one house. I know that some nights we might not like each other, but we’ll still love one another. I know that I’ll be wrong and she’ll be wrong and sometimes we’ll each have to go against our instincts and hear one another out regardless. I know that we’ll have a metric fuckton of problems, but that together we’ll find solutions. I know that despite past protestations about it not being the right time or person, there’s never been a better time or person than her. Lastly, now that my worries have shifted, I’m finally excited.
Because it’s not just my life any more. It’s ours.