As a relationship newbie, I thought it might not be a bad idea to read a bit about other relationship types besides just monogamous relationships. I have several friends who have open or poly relationships and it seems to work quite well for them, and I will admit they intrigue me. Last week, I read a book titled “Eight Things I Wish I’d Known About Polyamory (before I tried it and frakked it up)” by Cunning Minx and one thing I gleaned from this book that can be applied even to monogamous relationships is the importance of communication in a relationship. One of the things the book suggests to aid communication is to write a user manual for yourself. This both requires a lot of self-awareness and examination and gives partners a great idea of how to interact with you. I thought I would try my hand at it and see what I can come up with, as I’m starting to venture into this wonderful and intriguing world of relationships.
Part A: Family Background/History
- I’m the youngest of two children, with an 8 year age gap between me and my brother. Since we were both homeschooled, we grew up together and played together a lot. I don’t get to see him terribly often now, due to our work schedules and such, but we are still fairly close and I feel like I could tell him just about anything.
- My childhood had a lot of good points and a lot of bad points. I was allowed to pursue my passions, including horses and piano, and pursue accelerated learning from an early age to match my learning style and speed. At the same time, I was raised in a home where expressing negative emotions wasn’t allowed. As a result, I struggle with feeling guilty whenever I am angry or upset with a loved one and it’s very difficult for me to put my emotions and reactions into words.
- My family is crazy (mostly in a good way). We know how to joke around, and how to have a good time. Sarcasm and teasing runs in our genes, but we also know how to be serious when needed. Although there are some very dysfunctional aspects of our family, we all care for each other deeply. There is a strong family predisposition towards mental illness on my mother’s side, and that has definitely contributed to some of the dysfunction. It certainly was a contributing factor to my eating disorder (research shows there is a strong genetic component to these) and probably also contributes to my depression.
- I’m supposed to say what word I use most often to describe myself, here, but I can’t find just one word. The two I use most often are intelligent and determined. I don’t say this to be conceited, but learning seems to come easily to me. I’m also extremely determined and, if I set my sights on a goal, nothing will stop me from sacrificing everything to achieve that goal. Some descriptions I’ve heard recently from others are “sweet, smart, and feisty,” as well as “brave, fierce, and sexy.” Oh, and we can’t forget “cheeky monkey of cuteness.”
- I have abandonment issues. My father walked out on our family when I was 15, although he left us emotionally long before that. He accused my mother of emotional abuse, yet left me in her care and never made any attempt to gain custody of me to protect me. He was in and out of my life for the next 13 years (there was more “out” than “in”). One of the lasting effects I have from this is being terrified of being left by those whom I love and trust. It takes a lot in both words and deeds to help me get to a point where I can believe someone won’t leave me.
- Something I value in a relationship is an open, honest and safe environment where I am respected even when our opinions don’t match up or when we are having a hard conversation. This isn’t something that I had at home. The strongest and most lasting relationships I’ve had are the ones where I felt like I could be real, transparent and vulnerable with the other person, without fear of retaliation or of that vulnerability being used against me (I’m going with friendships, here, since I have no dating/romantic experience!).
Part B: How to turn me on
- Do little things to show me you care and you are thinking of me. Send me a text message when you wake up just to say “good morning.” Let me know you wish you were waking up next to me. If a meme or a quote or a song makes you think of me, tell me, even if it seems silly. This makes me feel valued and like you are thinking of me more than just when we are together.
- Show your appreciation for the things that are important to me. I know you may not love horses and you may not know much about them. Take some time to learn a bit about them. Ask me questions about my horse and why I train him a certain way, or use a certain piece of equipment on him. He’s a huge part of my life and the closest thing to a child I will ever have. Learn about classical music and try to find at least some types that you can listen to with me. I want nothing more than for you to take me out for a night at the symphony or the opera and to be able to share my passion for music with you.
- Share in my fandoms with me. I am passionate in my fangirling, let me know that you are enthusiastic, too. Quote my favorite movies to me at random times. Debate with me whether it’s a good thing that Disney bought out LucasFilms and tell me what your hopes and fears are for the new Star Wars movies. Watch an episode of Doctor Who with me as we cuddle on the couch. Tell me you love me in Sindarin or Quenya (or any of the other languages from Lord of the Rings!).
- Take the initiative. If I’m always the one to text/call or if I’m always the one who asks when we can schedule a date, I will eventually assume that you aren’t that into me. An easy way to make me feel valued is to pursue me. Ask when you can see me again. Suggest a place to go, or an activity we could share together. If you’re going through a busy time, communicate that to me so I don’t feel left in the dark and wondering if you are losing interest.
- Be there for me when I’m having mental health issues. Be willing to sit with me in silence, hold me as I cry (please ask for permission to touch me first, I can be very reactive to physical contact in this state), or ask if you can make/pick up my favorite food if I’m struggling to eat. One of the biggest gestures of trust I can make is to allow you to see me when I am at my most broken. In those moments, I’m afraid that I am too unlovable, too broken, too much of a burden. Remind me that you love me, that I am not a burden, and that you aren’t going to vanish into thin air and leave me. Be understanding if I do not feel well enough to fulfill any plans we might have had over the next few days- it can take time for me to recover, depending on the severity of the issue/trigger. Most of all, reassure me that you are there for me and that you aren’t going anywhere, and that I will be okay. These episodes don’t happen often, but when they do, they are a great opportunity to build trust with me.
- Be willing to admit when you are wrong or when you have hurt me. Even if you didn’t mean to hurt me, acknowledge how your actions affected me. No one wants to be with someone who is always right. It’s far easier for me to forgive and move on if you own up to your error and give me a sincere apology. I will do the same for you, because heaven knows that I’m not perfect.
- That leads into my next item – tell me if I’ve done something that hurt or upset you. Do it in a non-confrontational way and give me a concrete example of what I did and how that made you feel. If you can, give me constructive feedback on how I could have handled the situation better. I will be the first to admit that I am not perfect. I screw up. I hurt people. But I can’t fix what I don’t know is broken. Help me see how I can be a better partner for you and better fulfill your needs, because there is nothing I want more than that.
- Tease me. I’ve often joked that I speak horse, music and sarcasm as my primary languages. There are few things that can make me feel more attracted to you than some witty banter and lighthearted teasing.
- Quote my favorite movies/TV shows/books. Throw in subtle references when you can, this is pretty much guaranteed to make me smile.
- Play with my hair. If you run your fingers through my hair just right, I may just melt in your arms.
- Take me to dinner. It doesn’t need to be somewhere fancy, I’m accustomed to cooking for myself and any chance to go out is a treat. You get extra bonus points if we both dress up – as a former concert pianist, I have an entire closet full of dresses and not enough chances to wear them.
- If your budget allows, take me to the opera or symphony. I’ve gone to these performances on my own for years, but I long to have someone to share the experience with. Put your arm around me, whisper in my ear some of the more tender lines from the libretto, and I may just swoon right then and there.
- A few other date ideas: a long walk, coffee shops, a geeky board game, a Doctor Who evening, read a classic romance aloud, or a moonlight trail ride. It doesn’t need to be anything expensive, I really just want to spend time with you!
- Umm, yeah. I’ll have to get back to you on this section. 😛
- I’m not much of one for the “you MUST talk to me in some form every single day” style of communication, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Especially if I get a text or two first, then I get a message on social media or something else. If I’m not answering right away, it’s because I’m busy. Getting repeatedly messaged makes me feel like I’m being hounded and like my time isn’t respected. By the same token, I don’t get offended if it takes you a while to respond to me, or if you send me back a quick message to say that this isn’t a good time to chat.
- Don’t take me too seriously. I tease a lot. For me, this is a sign of affection. This includes the occasional fake pouting or melodramatic attitude. Don’t take it seriously. If I’m truly upset with you over something, I will come straight out and tell you.
- Be aware of the fact that I have a hard time expressing myself at times, particularly when I’m upset. If I’m struggling to find the words to say, you may have to sit and wait for me to put my thoughts into coherence for a few minutes. Don’t press me to hurry up and speak. I will end up feeling like I didn’t have enough time to figure out how to say what I wanted and being frustrated. Let me think it through. It will be a much more productive conversation, if you do!
- I want to hear your constructive feedback on our relationship and on how I react to you, or to how I could be a better partner for you. I want to be the best partner that I can, and, especially as I’m still figuring out this whole dating thing right now, I need some guidance. And, if I know you will be open with me about what you need or want, I will find it easier to not worry constantly about if I’m doing something wrong.