It’s a common problem. High school boys sometimes get hit with huge testosterone bursts as they suddenly grow. It comes with painful femurs and easy tempers. It’s when boys who are insecure about love will be inclined toward jealous worry.
Today’s blog is a letter from their partner, urging a different kind of relationship. If someone’s printed this off and left it for you somewhere, then they’re trying to tell you that they think your relationship behaviour is inappropriate and/or childish, and that it is leading toward disaster.
Real relationships need real commitment. And the commitment isn’t to each other. It’s to ourselves. Because that’s how you make a healthy relationship work. We focus on making ourselves the most helpful, enjoyable person to be around and the rest just takes care of itself.
So, for those people who feel trapped by their relationships, I offer you this:
Dear Jealous Boyfriend,
Let me begin by saying that despite what you often choose to think, I am with you by choice because I wanted to be. I was naturally attracted by qualities you naturally have. This isn’t something I really decide—you know that. You didn’t decide to like me either, you just realized that you did.
If people are truly attracted to each other, they don’t have to do anything to stay attracted other than continue to be the person who was attractive in the first place. Magnets don’t try to attract each other. They simply are what they are so they do what they do.
The only thing that threatens that otherwise natural attraction is when you’re angry and upset about things you’ve been thinking about. For me that’s like seeing a restaurant window that looks really good, and outside it smells awesome, but when you get inside the food’s terrible half the time and the waiters are super rude and mean because they’re worried and upset that I might not come back.
It’s not just me. No matter who that happens to, because it all looks and smells so good, we can keep going back even though we have less and less reason to. If it’s going to be bad food and bad service more and more of the time, we’ll start to feel like we’re stupid for continuing to go to that restaurant. That’s just a healthy reaction to negativity.
Look, the important thing here is that your thoughts are very obviously not my actions. And surely you can understand that no quality person is going to want to be in a relationship where they are always yelled at, are accused of things, or are generally treated poorly just because they either did some innocent thing—like talk to someone of the opposite sex, or because you thought a bunch of scary thoughts that I have absolutely nothing to do with. I would not expect you to stay with me if it was me doing that to you.
None of this is to say that I can’t be responsive. I know what it’s like to feel insecure. It sucks. So if I can recognize you’re worried I will try to act in ways that can help you feel more secure. But as much as I may care about you, it’s simply it’s not me or anyone else’s responsibility to surrender our lives just so you can stop worrying. The worrying happens inside your brain, not mine, so you’re the only one who can deal with that.
If you don’t deal with your own fears, the only other choice would be for some other person to be your slave, and then hope for kindness. But even when I try walking on eggshells you still often get mad. Being blamed for things is not a real relationship. That’s an old fashioned club her over the head and drag her to your cave strategy that won’t work today.
I need you to think about this carefully. Obviously no person is going to want to date someone who controls their life. I’m sorry that your life has lead you to believe that real relationships work by force, but I can tell you I didn’t want to date you for anyone else’s reasons but my own, and if I choose to leave it’ll be for the same reasons—mine.
I can’t force you to love me any more than you can force me to love you. That’s obviously not how love works. So we really only have one route to being in a relationship: we both volunteer for it, and we do that because we want to, and we want to because it’s enjoyable.
If you want to make sure I stay with you, rather than grabbing me by the arm and threatening me and accusing me, you would do a much better job by acting in ways that are enjoyable. No one makes me spend time with my friends. I volunteer because they make me feel good. That’s important and worth remembering because it all applies to every kind of relationship. We go where it’s warm.
I’m sorry that events in your life lead you towards insecure thinking when it comes to relationships. I don’t take that personally. I know you don’t mean to do it and that it’s no fun for you to go through either. But I still can’t be a slave to your fears. That will feel like being dead after a while, and even you won’t want us like that. So let’s really work on this, because otherwise we’re just delaying our relationship’s demise.
Your thoughts are your thoughts and while it might be challenging at first, they are obviously entirely your thoughts, meaning they are ultimately in your control. If you feel yourself knotting up in a rage, use the rage to remind you about the thoughts. And then remind yourself that, just because your childhood urged you to think that way, it’s still unproductive to us, and to our relationship.
When you feel that way, think of something else instead—something that makes it more enjoyable for us to be around each other. Let’s glue ourselves together with joy. With fun. Let’s live with the least amount of anger and fear, and the most amount of laughing and support. I would never leave a situation like that. So let’s quiet our minds and do that as much as possible.
I love you darling. And I love me too. So let’s build something that leaves room enough for both of us to be happy.
All the best,
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.