Something came up yesterday, as I was completing the final interaction with my ex-husband. I have to admit this much, my fears about his behavior were completely unfounded. He was on his best behavior, and was polite and courteous (and even helped move the last few pieces out of his home). It was not long or drawn out, it was completed and we left. I wasn’t there longer than 15 minutes.
But that doesn’t mean much to that instinctual and habitual part of your brain – something often termed the “lizard brain.” Old habits and instincts to protect myself meant that I was having a panic attack, and controlling it rigidly. My hands were shaking, and my heart was palpitating.
My boyfriend was not there, because we had discussed the option, and we decided that he would just cause an increase in tension and possibly could cause violence, depending on the emotional state of my ex. This was actually a good choice, as my boyfriend also ended up sick as a dog yesterday, running a fever and needing to care for his own health.
And just like every other person in a relationship on this planet, I felt the need to be comforted and held after the interaction with my ex.
But, with my boyfriend being ill – that wasn’t going to happen. Not because he didn’t want to give me that comfort and support, but because with being ill, he needed that energy to take care of himself. I understood that completely.
And it’s something that makes me wonder about some people, and how they could ever have a healthy relationship.
You see, I know far too many people (women and men) who think that no matter what the other person in the relationship has going on, that they – as the significant other – always take priority, even over their partner’s needs.
When I first started thinking about it, I limited the acknowledgement of conflicting needs to solely a consideration in non-monogamous relationships. But, really, it isn’t. It SHOULD be (and sometimes is) part of any healthy relationship, monogamous or not.
The only difference is that the issue comes up more consistently in a non-monogamous relationship. There are times when your significant other may be out on a date with someone else, and your insecurities hit. It is an unreasonable expectation to think that just because you have feelings of insecurity, that that is a good enough reason to interrupt their time with each other.
In a monogamous relationship, sometimes one can have feelings of insecurity or loneliness if your partner is out with a friend, or doing something else without you with them. Perhaps, for example, your significant other is traveling on business. In that case, while you can contact them and discuss the issue, they cannot come running to your side to comfort you. They can and do offer you emotional support, but the physical intimacy just isn’t possible at that time.
Sadly, I see far too many people who seem to think that no matter WHAT their partner is doing or needs to do, their own needs must somehow always come first. They don’t care if their requirement for support causes their partner to lose their job, lose a good relationship with their children (if they have children from a different relationship), or worse, requires their partner to completely ignore his or her own needs.
Sometimes, as an adult human being, you have to stand alone. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t loved, it simply means that there are conflicts of obligation or need. As an adult, you should be able to take the verbal emotional comfort, because that’s all that is possible at that given moment in time.
I’m obviously NOT stating that you should put up with a relationship where you do not receive ANY physically intimate comfort. We as human beings have a need to be touched. Studies looking into the lives of people who are never touched in non-verbal emotional intimacy have proven that humans become ill without some form of touch. Babies deprived of touch can even die from it.
But, people, please – you are in a relationship with another human being. They have needs that are just as important as your own. Don’t deny them their needs, even if it conflicts with your own.