I used to love long distance relationships. I couldn’t stand to be too close to someone for too long. I was in two consecutive 1 year+ long domestic partnership-style relationships, and I found myself always looking forward to the times when those partners were out of town. I liked talking on the phone. Even Skype. I liked being friends. Especially when there was sex involved. I wasn’t afraid of commitment; I jumped into committed relationships all the time, fearlessly. I wasn’t afraid of marriage; I suggested it all the time: Let’s get hitched in Vegas. Let’s go down to the courthouse. Let’s have a Hawaiian beach wedding, while we’re here. I didn’t care to plan an elaborate wedding for a marriage that I only expected to last five minutes anyway; it just seemed like a fun, spontaneous thing to do.
And with the end of every relationship, I was this guy. I even had a break-up song that my friends got accustomed to — it went kinda like this. Sometimes I went back, and it was never because I missed them; it was always because I got tired of being alone.
My problem with relationships has always been that I’ve never seen the value or benefit of compromising my individuality, my time, and my freedom for someone else. My problem with relationships is that I’m philosophically opposed to the concept of sacrifice. My problem with relationships is that I’m selfish, and I have no interest in changing.
My problem with relationships is that I’ve never been in love. Because, if I had been in love, it wouldn’t have been a sacrifice.
I say this now because I love my son. For the first time in my life, I really love someone, and going out of my way to do things just to make him smile doesn’t seem so outrageous. It’s just what you do. I’d happily go out of my way to do things that might seem extreme, exhausting, or ridiculous just because I want him to be happy. I know that there have been people who have felt this way about me because I’ve seen people do some extreme and ridiculous things just to make me happy.
Someone once stole my keys and broke into my home to fix the needle on my record player. Someone once bought me all the Britney Spears CDs and listened without complaint when I played every song every day over and over and over and over again. Someone once sent me Edible Arrangements on Valentine’s Day even though I hadn’t returned any of his calls in weeks. Someone once slipped post-it notes in every nook and cranny of my wallet with sweet reminders like “You are loved,” “You are important,” and “You are beautiful.” Someone once hopped on a plane and moved to California for me. Someone else once hopped in a car and moved to California for me…and then moved to DC three months later because I got into a cool academic program here. Someone once called the History department at UCLA, bought my cap and gown, and flew me out to my graduation, so he could watch me walk and cheer for me…on his birthday.
I could go on and on and on with examples, and while it’s slightly weird because two of those people turned out to be very abusive, I know that they all loved me so much. I have had no lack of love in my life.
And for my part? Maybe I bought a shirt here and there. Maybe I sat through a meal at a restaurant I didn’t really like that much (though nothing that I absolutely hated, I’d only compromise so much). I once bought a guy an organizer. I was in therapy at the time learning how to be nicer and show people that I cared, so buying him an organizer seemed like a thoughtful thing to do because he was always really busy with auditions and stuff, so once I said to him, “You should have an organizer,” and he said, “You’re probably right,” but I knew he wasn’t going to get an organizer, so I bought him the stupid thing, and I don’t even know if he ever used it because then I dropped off the face of the earth and started dating someone else.
I never did it because I wanted to see them happy. It was always about me. It was always, “Well, I want him to see how caring I can be,” and “I want to be someone who does nice things, the way that other people do.”
And when I had my son, I took two trips to a Babies ‘R Us just about one million miles away while I was still recovering from childbirth because I knew that this $120 swing would put a smile on his face. And I just wanted to see him happy.
Now that I know how that feels, I know I couldn’t have ever loved someone before. Because love is selfish. Love is the special privilege you feel to make someone else happy. Love isn’t a sacrifice; it’s not a compromise. It’s the ability to derive happiness from someone else’s joy. It’s so fucking beautiful.
And the romantic kind isn’t for everybody.
All my life, I’ve tried to cure my relationship problem like it was an illness. I tried dating women. I had the same problem. They’d say the same things to me that any man ever did: “I feel like I’m being used,” and “You only like me when you’re drunk,” and “You don’t even care.” It was all true; I did what I thought I was supposed to do: pretend to care. For some reason, when we’d cross the line from friends into lovers, they’d immediately become less important to me. I don’t know why I’ve always felt that way, but I also don’t know for sure that it’s something I need to change or cure.
I’m the person that people go to for relationship advice, and I give good advice. I can tell you how to make a relationship work. I’ve just never actually made one work myself. Is it completely unfathomable that it’s because I don’t want to?
I always knew I wanted to have a baby — maybe even two. Hell, if they’re all like Max then gimme aaaallllll the babies. I never saw myself as someone’s wife.
And no, this doesn’t mean that Max is, or ever will be, “the man of the house.” He will always be the child, and I will always be the parent. If I have another child, he won’t be the one who “helps” me parent; he’ll be a sibling.
I’m just suggesting that what works for one family might not work for another.
I’ve gone off on a few tangents now, and so I think I’ll just summarize my points here:
- Committed, romantic relationships are not for everyone.
- Love is selfish.
- Families come in all shapes and sizes.
- But kids are still kids.
Last, my baby is the happiest baby on the block, he’s adorable, and also he looks exactly like me: