The first thing I would like to say as I start writing this is I have no idea what this piece/article/essay is supposed to be about. I practically got out of bed and decided to put my thoughts down and I hope whatever this is, makes sense at the end.
I think I realized how much I was obsessed with the idea of romance during my secondary days. I don’t know if I can blame it on the tons of Disney content I consumed as a child or the fact that I spent my childhood listening to R&B music. Whatever the case, by high school, I knew that romance was something I wanted. I wanted to love and be loved passionately as portrayed in the media. I longed for a connection with someone on a deeper and more intimate level. So in 2005 when I met someone who somehow managed to fit into the box I created, I was over the moon. I had finally met someone that I really loved and even though we had a rocky relationship, I can say that they still have the keys to my heart in a weird way.
After that relationship, I started to focus on different things. There was my university education and I was also trying to be a very dedicated Christian. It wasn’t the easiest thing cause the heart wants what it wants but I decided that there were far more important things than being in love and in a relationship. From that phase, it evolved into a space where I was trying to be intentional about who I would end up with. I started to tap into my sexuality and sensuality and I needed someone who could fit in perfectly. I also had my self-esteem issues – this I have talked about countless times – and I need a guarantee that whoever I decide to be with won’t leave me for someone hotter, richer or younger.
Such a weird flex.
It was only in 2015, 10 years after the first relationship that I got into another serious relationship. I would say it was from that point that emotions, feelings and everything that comes with making a decision to be with someone became an actual thing in my life. Since then, the experiences have been bitter-sweet. I have had great times with amazing people who I still care deeply for and I have also struggled to love them in the ways that they deserved to love. I have also felt like in some cases, I didn’t get love to the degree that I wanted or thought I deserved. Whatever the case is, these relationships have left me thinking, not only of the good times but also of the mistakes made.
Through this introspection, I realize that communication is what was missing. It is easy to communicate what you want to eat or how you want to spend Christmas. It is easy to banter on what’s trending on Twitter or the latest Nollywood release. But when it came to the crux of it, there was no actual communication. I never spoke about how I liked to be kissed or how I like to cuddle. Never really talked about my fears and insecurities that might affect the relationship. Never really asked my exes what they wanted from the relationship and how they wanted to be loved.
A whole mess.
In my early to mid-20s, older folk will tell me it was impossible to meet someone who “ticked all your boxes.” They would say “find someone that makes you happy and take it from there.” This might be the reality for some but it is not always the case. I took their advice to heart and told myself I would always have to compromise because that is what relationships are about. Compromise. But what is the point of compromising, when the other party has no clue what you are giving up? No one told me it didn’t make sense to compromise without letting your partner know because ‘what would be the point?’
After all is said and done, it boils down to knowing what you want. What do you want from your partner and what does your partner require from you? I could not answer this question honestly because I never had that conversation. Nobody wants to be the one making demands in the relationship but the truth is, everyone has needs that need to be met and if that’s not happening, then there is no point. There was no time throughout my past relationships where I figured out these needs and communicated it to my partner.
In one of my favourite songs ever, Kehlani said:
Neither of us knew what we wanted,
But all we knew is that we cared…
The song, Footsteps, talks about the issues she dealt with in a failed relationship and how one of the ultimate challenges was the fact that she didn’t know what she wanted. The song that features Musiq Soulchild really goes deep and explores themes that are similar in my failed relationships from esteem issues to walking away before ending the relationship.
What do I want in this relationship? How do I want it to serve me? Do I want it open or monogamous? How often would I need my space? Is sex important to me? Have I communicated my desires to the other person early on or am I deciding to wing it? Why do I want to be in a relationship? Do I want to constantly make plans with the person in mind? Do I see myself with this person long term?
At some point, I have to take responsibility for the past. I have to acknowledge the mistakes made and seek ways to move forward. I also have to go easy on myself with the understanding that although I might not be able to change the past, I have to be expressly vocal about my desires if/when I decide to love again. Exes and love lost remind us of the areas we messed up and shows us how we can do better. For that, I will always be grateful.