After reading Holly’s post from yesterday, I find myself reflecting on my life and, more specifically, my relationships. In the post, she talks about Doug Hutchinson marrying a 16-year-old, but when I first read the title, “When love is more destructive than sex” I really thought it was about something else. The title by itself evoked a feeling from me that I don’t have nearly enough, a feeling that I deserve more than I think I do. And I thought that the post was going to discuss how hurtful it can be when there’s sex without love, but one of the partners is experiencing it as sex WITH love. I was surprised to find I was wrong, but at the same time realized it’d be a good topic for a blog post of my own, especially since I haven’t been serious in awhile.

I’ve had quite the menagerie of relationships in the past decade or so. Many of those relationships were like this:

… idealized, over-dramatic, volatile, impractical, and often destructive. When two teenagers fall in love, they may do stupid things, but they really didn’t know any better.

And then when I hit 16, they changed to more like this:

When I was a teenager, I thought True Love conquered all. I thought if it was really True maybe it would last forever and we’d get married and have babies and a house of our own. I wanted to be by my True Love’s side all the time, damn the damage to the rest of my life–in fact, I even thought the damage was sort of romantic, because it meant I was sacrificing for Love. I thought that True Love means thinking that your Lover is perfect and worshipping them. And if he asked me to do things I didn’t want to (rarely sexual, more often in terms of disrupting my studies and friendships), saying “no” wouldn’t be very Loving, would it?

But around 19 or so, I started dating older men and it was like this:

… being idealized by someone, having them treat you like you’re Edward Cullen and you’re made of unicorn kisses and it’s so cool that you have a car

Currently, my ideas on love are a mash-up of all three. I like men my age, because we can be irresponsible and have fun together and just go nuts, and we can blame it on alcohol and/or being young. I like throwing myself 100 percent into relationships because I know that if I hold something back, and it fails, I’ll think it was my fault for not opening and giving myself to him completely (emotionally, people, jeez). I like older men because they’re more mature, accomplished, stable, and (sometimes) romantic. They usually have steady jobs that will be lifetime careers, a house or apartment of their own, and their ducks are in a row.

The problem with dating guys my age is that they are immature and financially unstable and totally volatile emotionally. But the problem I’ve discovered with dating older men is that they are usually broken. The reason they’re still single is because something fucked up their heart at some point and they just never recovered. Something huge had to have happened to cause it, yet the man usually won’t tell what it was, so it leaves me in constant fear that I’ll do the same thing to him again and that’d be just terrible.

However, no matter what the age difference between me and a partner, I’ve always had a hard time separating sex, love, and infatuation from each other.

Many times, I’ve mistaken infatuation for love and it usually ends a little painfully, but overall it’s okay. We really liked each other and we burnt it out too quickly. Or I really liked him and he tried but just couldn’t so we got really close but then ended it. Or the reverse, he got really close and I couldn’t so I ended it.

The problem scenario for me is, and has been for years, mistaking sex for love. I tend to jump into relationships entirely too quickly, put my whole heart into it, get completely absorbed by him, and just let him completely permeate my existence. Then I allow it to go too far, too fast, and it results in sex before it really should. The problem here is that I then get so emotionally attached because of the sex, I can no longer figure out if the guy likes ME or only certain parts of me. Nor can I establish if I actually like him and am falling in love with him, or if that’s happening just because we had sex. And the worst part: it can’t be undone. Once you tip the scales to involve sex before there’s love, it’s nigh impossible to make love the influential weight, or even to level them out again.

The hurt I’ve felt because someone didn’t love me the way I loved them, or even LIKED them, has been nothing compared to the pain I’ve felt when I realize there’s no love behind the sex. There may be some sort of affection and caring, but it’s not actually love. Though he may say that he loves me, that doesn’t make it true. (Of course, the reverse is also true: If he doesn’t say he loves me, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel that way, though why a guy wouldn’t just say it… boggles the mind.) And though I’ve continually told myself that if I just hang in there, eventually he’ll really love me, I know that it’s a fallacy and that I’m putting myself through more pain than necessary. Yet, I also know from my past experiences that I will do just that. I will always keep going. I will not give up until it’s simply too much to bear.

I will continue to put myself out there 100 percent. I will continue getting pushed around, and hurt, and taken advantage of, and disrespected. I will continue to not get what I want or deserve. But I also will continue having the good times while they last, and enjoying the feeling of being around someone I care about.

If I don’t try, I’ll never know. So yes I’ve “slept on the floor” just to be near someone, and taken off of work to help them with something trivial, and driven an hour to spend 30 minutes with them, just because he wanted me to. I know it’s destructive. I know it’s ridiculous. And I know it’s a volatile way of life, but I also know this:

If I don’t put my whole self into it, and risk putting my heart in his hands, why should I expect him to do the same?

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