Big news, BCP Friends, so gather round. I have an announcement. I, Tailfeather the Neurotic, am taking the plunge. I am throwing caution to the wind, I am running with the metaphorical bulls, I am skydiving into a kiddie pool filled with Kool-Aid. I am allowing the Boy Person to move in with me. I am nervous.
Never a big fan of commitment, this is a big deal for me. It took eight months of dating before I could use the word “boyfriend” – I actually just prefer to call him my “person” or even “partner,” the latter of which is acceptable in the UK and I kind of like because it makes me think of cowboys in tight Wranglers and weathered hats.
Howdy indeed. Anyway, I am nervous for a number of reasons, the principal of which is commitment-phobia and loss of freedom. Smart or not, I think a lot of my adventures (both real and imaginary) have been tied to romantic relationships and travel. I went to France, met a Swedish boy, and fell in love. We were together for over two years, trans-Atlantic. I have dated men from Scotland, Venezuela, Ireland, Honduras; I have dallied with boys from Israel, South Africa, Italy, Colombia, Croatia, Mexico, Germany, Australia, Palestine, Canada, and Queens, New York. I met a Spaniard in Prague and traveled with him. I have a taste for the exotic and the promises of the unfamiliar, and living in such an international city as London makes the skin on the back of my neck prickle with excitment. My life isn’t on a set course yet, and I savor the buzz of possibility I feel here, surrounded by foreigners and the potential for new places, new experiences.
Much of this, of course, is illusory. Despite a rocky start, I’ve maintained a faithful long-distance relationship with my boyfriend for a year now. We would go anywhere from two to five weeks apart from each other, and I would look around the city at these smartly-dressed guys from Paris or handsome African businessmen or tanned Portuguese tourists and wonder wistfully at what I was missing out on. And then everytime I would see the Boy Person, I would remember that what I was really missing out on was being with him more, and so we would go on, and I would just hold my breath visit to visit, and talk to him six times every day. Also, he is Scottish, so there is the kilt factor.
Och, aye. In actual fact, while my relationships and romances have afforded me wonderful opportunities for travel, the major moves I’ve made – from Texas to a summer in France, college in New York, and the big moves to Scotland and London – have been of my own accord, through school and work. I propel my own damn boat, and it really shouldn’t be any other way, however much I might fantasize about meeting a Great Love and being happily whisked to his estate on the Mediterranean coastline.
Future moves will most likely be under my own steam as well, which is good; you can’t rely on someone else to make your life for you. What I remind myself is that, while I may be limiting my options in some ways, I’m opening the door to many other options. I have someone to explore the city with, someone to have dinner with (now that I will have some more disposable income! Huzzah!), and a great friend to come home to at night. Even while I yearn for a change of scenery, I am always scrambling for some toehold and a reason to keep me in one place. The security offered by his presence is not shameful, I remind myself, and not a sacrifice of fundamental independence.
So, finally, the commitment has been made. After a year of back-and-forth, the Boy is selling his flat, resigning from his job, and we rented a van to drive all his possessions down to London. Next week, I will be – for the first time since freshman year of college – a cohabitant. I’ve been lucky thus far to live in places cheap enough that I’ve never had to share an apartment (and in London, stubborn enough to sacrifice 60% of my post-tax income on housing expenses for the privilege of my own kitchen and bathroom, and the freedom to walk around in my underwear).
(Here are some hot firemen as a reward for reading this long-ass post, for those interested in such things).
Mmm, sooty. My question is this: How have you handled this sort of ambivalence about committing to a long-term relationship? Has anyone else felt this way I described above? Don’t get me wrong, I am excited and I think this is a very good move for me. I’m also grateful to my boyfriend for uprooting himself to come here; we’ve talked about it, and he believes it is a positive step forward in his life even putting aside our relationship, so I’m comfortable he’s doing it for the right reasons. But I also think it’s entirely natural to feel nervous about giving up one set up options (and the thrill of the unpredictable) for the other set of options that comes with stability. After all, it’s not just my life, my time, my income, or my home now – these are the things that I will share with another person daily, and we have responsibilities to one another. This is a new adventure for us both, and I think it will be a good one.
Basically, thoughts on this topic would be most welcome. I feel like there’s such a cultural normative of seeking the coupledom state (the happily-ever-after) that I haven’t really spoken with people much about how to cope with the mutual loss of freedom (particularly in terms of sexuality and mobility) that accompanies it. Again, I realize he is making the same sacrifice as I am, but I’m curious about other people’s experiences: What do you think you’ve missed out on as a result of committing to a relationship, and what do you think you’ve gained?