Cristin Explores Five Assumptions About Love & Relationships
What if everything that you thought was true was not?
As strange as this may sound, I have been actively and intentionally asking that question lately. “What if all of the old assumptions I had made about life, love, success, relationships and even myself were simply not true.” What then?
Upon exploring this idea, the first thing I saw was how much of what I thought I knew is really borrowed knowledge. Knowledge, or even simply just assumptions held over from past generations about “the way things are” and “the way things are not”. When I looked, I saw how I’ve limited my life by borrowing that knowledge from the past.
In some ways, it makes a lot of sense to live that way. It is hardly efficient to reinvent all of what I think I know about life. If fact, it can be down right trippy and at times pretty disorienting to question the nature of reality and to ask the question, “What is?” But that is what I am doing. There is one area of life where I have put a lot of time and attention, and it is the area that I am currently questioning the most, and that is the area of love and relationships.
During my exploration into “What is,” I’ve discovered that I’ve been on autopilot in terms of how I approach relationships. I’ve been a single mom for over six years now and I spent most of those six years thinking I either wanted to be, or that I should be, in a relationship. I told myself that my kids want a two-parent home and that a two-parent home is somehow innately better than our already-happy trio. I’ve spent a lot of time imagining that marriage is what other people want for me. I’ve also convinced a lot of people that marriage is a big goal for me. In return I’ve gotten a considerable amount of sympathy from people because I haven’t been in a relationship headed for married bliss.
What I now see though is that I have been single for six years not because I haven’t found Mr. Right, or because there is something not right about me. I have been single mostly because I really like being single. OK, that doesn’t say it. I LOVE BEING SINGLE. I love it. I love the freedom I have as a single woman and I love the trio that is my family. I love that when my kids are with their dad and stepmom that I live alone and that I really don’t have any accountabilities or obligations to anyone. I don’t have to share space at the bathroom sink or room on the coach, unless I want to invite someone into that space.
I love being free to invite into that space whomever I want to be there; and who is there is all based on choice and never obligation or assumption — even if I make that same choice week after week, month after month, or even year after year.
This is about more than living a bachelorette life—though it would be easy to have this conversation devolve down into that. What I am talking about is really the nature of love.
What I have seen is that, not only do I relish independence and freedom I also highly value love and meaningful companionship.
In the last six years I have been lucky enough to have the companionship of men who have meant a great deal to me. However, I was so busy at the time thinking I wanted something else (marriage), that I did not appreciate the considerable amount of love, joy, sensuality, friendship—and yes, even commitment—that they brought into my life.
What I now see is that love has nothing to do with the relationship status that one announces to the world in the old familiar ways with a ring on one’s figure, or in the contemporary cyber way, by changing one’s status on Facebook. What I see is that true love transcends those labels and structures and the expectations that come with them. When I allow love to take the course that love wants to take, beautiful connections with others get created. Connections that transcend anything that I thought was possible when I thought my family, relationships and love were supposed to look a certain way.
Bridge Builders, this is the story about what happened when I let go of my old assumptions about what love is, what a “relationship” is, and even who am I. What would be possible in your life if everything you thought were true was not?
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This essay was created by Dr. Cristin Whiting, Psy.D: Triad Tribe author, clinical psychologist, and adjunct professor at Wake Forest University. In addition to writing for Bridges, Cristin is launching a new website and multimedia blog called The Love Tango: The Extraordinary Dance Between Sex, Love and Intimacy. Cristin also writes monthly on the topic of relationships for Dr. Lara Fernandez.com who’s tag line is “Live the life of your dreams with your soulmate by your side.” She also blogs for Triad Mom’s on Main. Beyond her writing, Cristin is the mother of two children who are the joy of her life. She also volunteers as a leadership coach, empowering others to live lives they love so they can be a contribution to their communities. Cristin currently resides in Winston-Salem and has a private psychotherapy practice.