This episode compares relationship types to housing. What kind of relationship tenant are you?
I defined relationship tenants into A, B, C and D:
A) Open House – ok, we can call these the Players – these are the individuals that want to walk through everything on the market with no intention to place an offer – they just want to always keep all options open. They want to see all the rooms, touch all the door knobs and taste all the appetizers.
The next two types I put into the same group: Renters
B) Leasing Renters – these tenants prefer long-term relationships but always move around the same time; your serial 1-2 year relationships and then get bored and move on.
C) Month to Month Renters – these tenants take everything one day-month at a time. These tenants are content and love their situation. Things are great…until they aren’t.
And finally, your traditionalists…the ones looking for the ring and the church bells…
D) Investors – these are your traditional contract-seeking lifers. They want to spend time seeking out the best match for them and make the one-time decision and legacy for the good, the bad, the gutting and the rehabbing.
It’s crucial to know which type you are. Here’s a hilarious article describing the poster-child for Type B tenants: Woman Against Meaningless One-Night Stands Prefers Meaningless Tow-Year Relationships.
I’m proud of my type: I’m a C — a “month-to-month!”
Why am I a month-to-month renter? Because after one marriage, two engagements and tens- maybe hundreds of dates – the only consistent thing I’ve learned is that people are unpredictable. The way people behave in seasons – not just seasons of the year, but also seasons of life, varies. You also have to consider their own upbringing, their unique concepts of “normal,” their communication habits and emotional trauma, wounds, mental illness up to and including behavioral disorders. It’s a lot.
I already did the one-time investment and it backfired. We had completely opposing views of what we wanted our family culture to be, assumed what we each clung to in our individual heads as “normal,” unaware of the incompatibility with the other’s “normal,” and that grew into resentment. We were both miserable and there’s no reason to feel imprisoned and undervalued at home.
So here’s what I learned from nearly a decade of miscommunication and frustrating incompatibility: you have to choose someone – emphatically, passionately, eagerly – every day.
I look at month to month commitment kind of like alcoholics anonymous approach sobriety. You don’t jump into an addiction cessation program saying, starting today I’m never going to touch this thing ever again forever and ever amen! No, you take it one day at a time.
You say, ok I’m going to make it one hour without indulging in this vice...
Ok, wow it’s been three hours. Ok, I’m going to make it for the rest of the day.
And then you celebrate that day.
And then the next day.
And the next.
Sometimes you need help – a sponsor, an accountability partner, a counselor or therapist – same thing. It’s work, and it’s a daily choice to put in that work, passionately, emphatically, and eagerly. I want to chose someone every day the way a former-addict chooses sobriety every day.
I found a lovely poem about this in a recovered-addict’s blog:
There are two days in every week
about which we should not worry,
Two days which should be kept free of fear and apprehension.
One of these days is YESTERDAY,
With its mistakes and cares,
Its faults and blunders,
Its aches and pains.
YESTERDAY has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back YESTERDAY.
We cannot undo a single act we performed;
We cannot erase a single word we said.
YESTERDAY is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is TOMORROW
With its possible adversities, its burdens, its larger promise.
TOMORROW is also beyond our immediate control.
TOMORROW, the sun will rise,
Either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds,
But it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in TOMORROW
For it is as yet unborn.
This leaves only one day – TODAY.
Any man can fight the battles of just one day.
It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities
– YESTERDAY and TOMORROW –
That we break down.
It is not the experience of TODAY that drives men mad.
It is remorse or bitterness for something which happened YESTERDAY
And the dread of what TOMORROW may bring.
Let us, therefore, live but ONE day at a time.
This is exactly how I feel about relationships. This is why I say I’m month-to-month. But when I’m with someone, I’m really and truly with them, no matter what. I’m monogamish, too but that’s another conversation.
…Ok, never mind, I’ll touch on it now just to satiate your curiosity – I’m open in the way that Will and Jada talk about being open – the only “cheating” in my opinion is deceit. I’ll never expect a partner to never feel romantic attraction or want to indulge in romantic attraction to anyone else – I’m not insecure or intimidated by it. Just don’t lie to me and don’t deceive me – everything is worth a conversation. And yes, I would require that to go both ways – for me, too – but if nearly all of my needs are met by my partner, I tend to be monogamous and have no desire to act on my attraction to others. So… that’s why I say, monogamISH. Like – unlimited hall-passes if you want to cash them in, but no judgment for considering.
So, here’s the full Octavian picture: I’m a in-the-moment, month-to-month, monogamish, secure attachment-type.
Now with all this independent, secure, one-day-at-a-time talk, I want to emphasize none of this means I’m anti-marriage. In my personal case, it just means I don’t have to have marriage; I don’t need a legal union to feel official or to seal my partnership. I’m also not the kind of person that fixates on a relationship direction or asks the “where is this going?” type of questions.
If we’ve already established that we’re a couple, then we’re a couple. Period. I’m with you, and I’ll be with you until we decide otherwise.
The ceremony or paperwork of matrimony doesn’t stop people from leaving you it doesn’t stop people from changing their mind about you.
It doesn’t force people to love you forever. It’s not some magic wand of instant trust and faithfulness.
People will leave when they’re ready to leave. People will betray you when they’re over you. People will hurt you and the concept of marriage doesn’t prevent that. So for me, I don’t need marriage. I don’t hate it. I think people abuse the idea of marriage — it’s not a fix-all. When the idea of marriage becomes the goal, it can detract from the intentional and deliberate work of passionately choosing your partner every single day.
You can’t change yesterday. You can’t predict tomorrow. Be present. With me. Choose me. Today. One day at a time.
You can’t change yesterday. You can’t predict tomorrow. Be present. With me. Choose me. Today. One day at a time.@roadtorelovery
When I’m with someone, I’m really and truly with them, present and committed in each day. I don’t need a contract for that.
Now, I want to address how the type of tenant you are can cause issues in your relationship:
- If you don’t know what type of tenant you are…
Ok giant red flag. If you don’t know what type of tenant you are, then you’re going to have expectations you don’t understand, which will set both you and your partner up for failure. You won’t know what you want, so you won’t know what to ask for, and you’ll have unmet expectations, which is the perfect recipe for resentment and disappointment – and guess who’s going to get the sharp end of that stick? Yeah, your partner. You’re going to be cranky and irritable and you don’t know why. Or you’ll be unfaithful and disinterested and that will make you both feel like shit.
So what should you do? Figure it out! Take more time alone and studying what type of person you are. Write down a detailed description of your perfect relationship, without worrying about what other people say or think that relationship should be. You and your partner are the co-authors of your own story and the co-designers of your home culture. If you don’t have any shame-free command of yourself, your desires and your fantasies, you need to get some.
You and your partner are the co-authors of your own story and the co-designers of your home culture. If you don’t have any shame-free command of yourself, your desires and your fantasies, you need to get some.@roadtorelovery
- If you are ashamed of what type of tenant you are.
Ok, this ties into the previous one, so I’ll repeat what I just said a minute ago: You and your partner are the co-authors of your own story and the co-designers of your home culture. If you don’t have any shame-free command of yourself, your desires and your fantasies, you need to get some. There’s nothing worse than being in a relationship with someone that is being dishonest with themselves.
And here’s the part where I blame the patriarchy and the western church: so many of us were raised with a set of norms that had been passed down from conservative, restrictive, woman-shaming sex-shaming purity culture dogma that we think there’s a universal right and wrong to what kind of relationship you want to cultivate and maintain. We see it in all kinds of places – people that feel shame in anything pleasurable – naming and accepting their sexual orientation, naming and accepting their kink and level of kink, or even enjoying sex period – dancing, drinking, indulging in anything human that feels good is equated to sinning and therefore bad. Don’t let this make you feel like your true desires are unacceptable. The more true you can be with yourself, the better it is for yourself and those in your close circle – especially your significant other.
- If you changed your mind about what type of tenant you are.
Now this isn’t a problem in itself. I was a D, did some A-ing and now I’m a solid C – but it was quite the journey for me to find the best language that felt like home for me to be able to confidently name the phases I went through. The problem I’m naming here is when you’ve shifted or evolved into a new tenant style but you’re being dishonest with yourself about your change or you’re afraid to have the conversation with your partner about your shift.
That’s why vulnerability is difficult –its risky. Its uncomfortable. But that’s also what its needed to make a good and lasting relationship work.@roadtorelovery
There’s a HUGE amount of risk in being honest – and that one huge risk is rejection. No one wants to feel the stabbing pain of dismissal and heartache and disgust for being vulnerable. That’s why vulnerability is difficult –its risky. Its uncomfortable. But that’s also what its needed to make a good and lasting relationship work. Know yourself. Name your desires and your needs. Don’t settle.