There’s a line I love in the song “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine. It’s a simple statement that, in less than twenty words, sums up everything I’ve ever asked for in a relationship.
And I never wanted anything from you
Except everything you had and what was left after that too
Grand gestures. Hollywood endings. Meet cutes (If you don’t know this term, watch The Holiday). I want to be adored. I want to be admired. I want to be respected. I want to be liked. I want to be desired. I want to be wanted. And I want you just to do it, without ever being asked. In short… I don’t want anything except everything and then some.
That said, I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past few years, and even more in the past few months. As I embark upon this blogging adventure and slowly introduce you all to people like Original Crush (OC) and New Crush (NC), I realize you have opinions of your own. Opinions based on the minor tidbits I choose to share, or that I’ve interpreted through my own perception, or that you’ve read between the lines to see. And you’ve taken sides. Several of you have mentioned your allegiance to Team OC or Team NC… most without ever having met either. In fact, other than me, only two of you have met them both.
Will either ever be “good enough” for me? Depends on who you ask. If you’re Team Jean, then the answer is no. Though, I have a sneaking suspicion if you met me through either of them you’d feel the same way about me — that I’m not good enough. Perception and connection play such powerful roles in relationships. We allow other people, other influences to have so much power. I have this theory that really only relates to girls (sorry guys, bear with me) but it’s that our closest girlfriends will never think a partner, no matter how great, is ever quite good enough to us. The reason is simple — we share more of the bad than the good. We all know how we feel about the sweet things, the little gestures, the kindnesses, it’s the things that hurt our feelings and leave our heads spinning that confuse us — therefore those negatives, no matter how minor or infrequent, tend to be the items we focus on when talking to our closest friends about our crush, boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, etc. We bring all these other people into our relationships, expect advice and allegiance, and rarely paint a full picture of our reality.
Every minor grievance gets all this “air time” while the only positives we share tend to be the grand gestures, the big wins, the fairy tale fodder. And those are typically few and far between. And yet, these grand gestures, these big moves are not the things we often think of when we think about what makes us feel loved and wanted. Respected and admired. Liked and desired. The things that make us feel adored are rarely the “big things”, but rather the little ones.
Putting gas in the car, scraping the window on a winter’s morning, bringing us coffee, doing an unexpected chore we typically do ourselves, rushing ahead to open the door, wearing that shirt we love, complimenting our cooking, holding our hand, waking us up with some “business time” (If that’s unfamiliar, click the link– thank me later), buying our favorite drink/snack/movie even when you’re not a fan, texting us good night/good morning/good afternoon/I Love you… just because. These are the things that let us know you not only love, admire, respect, like, adore, want and desire us… but they tell us you know us. You’re thinking of us. We are important to you. We are valued.
It really boils down to feeling valued. We all want to be accepted. It’s human nature. But, we also want to feel valued, important. These little things, they tell us we are. The grand gestures, the big impressive Hollywood-worthy things make us feel good because we share the story and see the envy in others and that envy momentarily gives us a sense of value. But the gesture itself is fleeting. And not often replicated. And frankly, not nearly as endearing and important to us as all the little things. But we never tell you that.
The reason there is an NC is because there are little things that I need, which I don’t get from OC. He doesn’t tell me I’m pretty. He doesn’t tell me I look nice. He doesn’t hold my hand in public. He doesn’t text me as often as I’d like him to. In short, he doesn’t make me feel desirable and wanted. And, as it turns out these are non-negotiables for me in a relationship. As they should be. You take away physical attraction and desire and all you have is friend. Not that a friend is a bad thing, it’s a HUGE part of any relationship… but it’s just a friend without the rest. It’s not a romantic partner. And, that’s the gap that allowed a new crush to sneak in. A man who tells my I’m pretty and makes me feel attractive and desirable.
BUT, that’s not enough either. I’ve shared a lot of the negatives about OC — in this blog, with my friends, to my co-workers, random acquaintances… but I rarely share the little things that make me smile. The things that make me feel valued, if not desired. The fact that he looks at me, right in the eye, and really listens to not only what I’m saying, but also what I’m not. He pays attention to my body language and my eye movement. He’s observant and he remembers little things I say and do.
Any of you who’ve ever gone to a restaurant with me know that I hate ordering. It’s always a process. I have to narrow it down to a few items; I have to see what everyone else is getting; I have to ask the waiter for his opinion… I worry about order envy and let down and any manner of things. Basically, I hate ordering. I like to go to the same places and order the same things not because I’m picky or unadventurous, but because my awkwardness really shines in any ordering environment. OC knows this and will order for me. We’re talking old-school, thought to be archaic, choose and order my meal for me. And you know what? I love it. He’ll only do it if I ask, he doesn’t just assume, and when he does… he knows me. He knows what I like and he even asks some of the exact questions I would have asked and then decides for me. I love it. It’s a little thing, that means a lot.
And no, he won’t hold my hand in public. But alone, at my house watching a movie he’ll keep his arm around me the whole time and even occasionally kiss my forehead, just because.
He calls me. Not on any regulated pattern, not nearly as often as I’d like, but when he does… it means a lot. Probably because he doesn’t do it as often as I’d like. And as much as I hate talking on the phone, I don’t mind with him. Even when I get quiet and awkward and don’t really know what else to say, he just stays quiet too and patiently waits for me to decide to talk again. Even if that means we’re quiet for a few minutes.
Is it enough? I don’t know. But, I do know that I’m not always the nicest to him. Once, when he met me out at a happy hour with a bunch of people he was uncomfortable around, I started out by being annoyed he was late, then drunkenly telling him I had Googled it and thought he may be an actual psychopath… then went into my reasons why. Another time, I invited him to meet me for lunch and neglected to mention he’d be the only male there, that kids were also present, and then I went into a rant about how I’m 35 years old and my eggs are dying. Yep. In front of him.
Point being… there’s always more than one side to every story. And all these grand gestures and big statements that we claim to need and want and expect… they’re nothing compared to the little things. It’s hard finding a balance between that romance and desire with friendship and comfort. I wish I had some profound epiphany to share. I don’t. I guess if there’s one thing I’ve learned while sitting on the sidelines of relationships it’s that we need to focus on the good things, no matter how small, more often. And more than just recognizing and appreciating the little things, we need to be sure we are reciprocating them. Make sure you know what makes your partner feel valued and do those things. OC doesn’t like being touched in public, so every time I try to hold his hand, I’m disrespecting his comfort zone, I’m devaluing him. And yet, I focus on how that makes me feel rejected and neglected. It’s about compromise. For him to recognize how that makes me feel and to try to step out of his comfort zone a little, and for me to recognize the position I put him in and to respect the space he needs. We all need to figure out our non-negotiables and communicate them. The rest is about compromise and caring. Sometimes I think we just stop being nice to the ones we love the most.
My challenge to you — make a list. List out five little things that make you feel valued and loved. And share it. Share that list. Ask your partner to do the same and then try to make it a point to remember to do those things. We all have different little things that make us feel loved… the ones that make you feel valued, aren’t necessarily the same as the ones that make him feel valued. Every day do one thing to show your partner you value/respect/like/understand/know her AND, do one thing that lets him know he’s desired, lets her know she’s wanted.
Trust me, little is the new big. Unless of course we’re talking about body size… in that case HOLLA!! You gots to love yourself some curves!
XOXO — Awkward Jean