Perspectives on The Age of Innocence

I love to read classic books, especially ones written by female authors. I just recently finished reading The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. This book was, not surprisingly, absolutely heart-wrenching like many other classic novels. It seems like none of the great works of literature ever seem to have a happy ending. Yet somehow that makes them all the more poignant and real. It allows you to empathize and relate to the characters in a powerful, emotional way. When you read a good book, it almost feels like you’re making new friends. Which makes it all the more painful when things don’t turn out as you had hoped for them.

This particular book struck me in a way that a book hasn’t in a long time. I was so moved by this great work of literature that I just had to write about my thoughts. So here is your official spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t read it. While I found this book simply heart-breaking, I understand that not everyone may see it the same way. I found myself swaying back and forth between a couple different perspectives.

To me, this book was a tragedy. I desperately hoped that somehow, against all odds, Newland Archer and Ellen Olenska would be together in the end. At the same time, I found myself feeling sorry for Archer’s wife, May. She was not the wicked woman some books may have written her as. She was a perfectly lovely, respectable woman that certainly didn’t deserve to be abandoned by Archer as I, nevertheless, hoped would happen. And in the end she isn’t. Although it could be argued that his love alone for another woman was a betrayal. Still, he remains faithful to her and their family until the end of May’s life.

Some may think this book did have a happy ending. Instead of cheating or leaving his wife, Archer did the “right” thing. He stayed. He did what society expected of him. He honored his commitments. But at what cost? He really had no good options. Either he abandoned his family and his wife to pursue passionate love, or he sacrificed that love for the sake of others and to live his life as a sham. In the end he chose the latter, and honestly, I’m not sure if that was the right decision or not. I can’t say what I would have chosen, myself. Perhaps his love for Ellen was only so passionate because it was forbidden and out of reach. Maybe if he had thrown everything away for her he would have found only disappointment and resentment rather than true love.

The most upsetting part of the story for me was that I saw my own life within it. It sounds wretched and narcissistic to say it out loud, but I saw myself as Ellen and my ex boyfriend as Archer. (Perhaps in a desperate attempt to console myself for not being the one he chose in the end.) My ex chose to stay with his new girlfriend, as I see it, primarily because they had an accidental child together. Even though he had expressed to me just how much less compatible they are than he and I were. Luckily for me, I’ve found someone else to love and be with. I’m not sure if Ellen ever did. However, my heart broke for Archer as it does now and then for my ex. What a wasted life. What a sad, phony existence, to have sacrificed such a love. I foresee him as an old man some day, filled with regrets and “what ifs.” Then again, who am I to say. Perhaps we are both better off this way.

The Age of Innocence | Book by Edith Wharton, Colm Toibin | Official  Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

Hesitation & Uncertainty in Love

I’ve been dating someone now for a couple of months. It’s the first time in years that I’ve had a partner and on paper he’s absolutely perfect. He’s handsome, smart, progressive, atheist, and vegan. He reads, dresses well, lives a healthy lifestyle, and is always trying to make me happy. We agree on practically everything. We’ve never had an argument. We’ve recently even started saying, “I love you.” Everything is picture perfect. We make a very handsome couple.

Yet hesitation still lingers in my heart. This always happens. I get excited, then I worry I’ve rushed in too quickly. I start picking at every little thing. Such as the question of whether or not he’s funny. Being able to have that easy, witty banter with someone is very important to me. And while he checks an unbelievable amount of boxes when it comes to what I want in a partner, he has yet to check that one. It still feels like we’re nervous and awkward around one another. I keep waiting for us to become more comfortable, but we never seem to make much progress. I know that’s partially because he lives so far away and we don’t get to spend that much time with one another. Part of me fears that we may never find that easy companionship with one another though. Is he not funny because he’s nervous or holding back? Or will he genuinely never make me laugh? Is it wrong to continue on feeling this hesitancy? With everything else that is so amazing about him, does he also have to be funny?

If love is supposed to feel the same each time, regardless of who you are in love with, then I may be making a mistake. However, not being well versed in the art of love, I wonder if maybe each love has a different flavor and flow to it. That is what I hope for. Because I desperately want to be in love with him. He does bring me great happiness. He makes me want to be a better person. I enjoy talking with him. I miss him when he’s gone. I’m sad when he is too busy to text me all day. Is it okay to be cautious in love? Does love have layers? These and so many others are the questions I don’t have answers for, that I find myself having to face alone, too fearful to share my doubts with my partner.

In my past love, everything came naturally. It always felt easy, passionate, overwhelming, magical. Is it possible to build those aspects of a relationship over time? Or are they things that are either there or not? Is it okay to continue on being unsure? This is one of the reasons I have always been interested in polyamory. Nate may not be perfect for me in every single way, but he is perfect for me in a lot of very important ways. I don’t want to have to pick and choose what I’m willing to live without from my one and only partner. No one is going to be everything I need. But it’s hard for me to tell which of my needs should outweigh others. I always end up focusing on the areas that aren’t right rather than the ones that are.

If I knew I was free to have other partners to fill my other needs, I wouldn’t be having this difficult conversation with myself at all. I would more easily be able to love and admire him for who he is rather than worry about who he’s not. I could have one partner that is hilarity and passion, and another that is tenderness and safety. It seems unfair and unrealistic to expect one person to be absolutely everything you need. I feel so conflicted. I feel so guilty for feeling conflicted. I genuinely don’t know what the right thing to do is.

How To Get A Guy To Admit He Likes You

Positive Things About Long Distance

Even though it hasn’t been that long since my boyfriend moved out of the area, it’s already starting to weigh on me. It has been a few weeks since I last saw him in person. We talk every once and awhile over the phone or on FaceTime. I still feel my heart beginning to grow colder towards him though. I know that once I go visit him at the end of this month, all of those familiar, nervous, lovey-dovey feelings will come flooding back. My issue is how to get those feelings to remain when we’re apart for long periods of time. That’s why today I decided to make a list of positive things about our long distance relationship to focus on.

One: Romantic

Maybe it’s just me, but I find the whole concept of long distance relationships to be rather romantic. It makes me think about women pining over lovers in the war and soldiers writing love letters home or keeping a picture of their wives in their uniform pocket. Nate and I are already planning on writing letters back and forth to one another which I am very much looking forward to. This air of romance is exciting. Although I don’t know how long it will last.

Two: Space

Even though I miss him so much, it’s still nice to have some space from my boyfriend. I have been alone for a long time and I don’t know if I’d be ready to go full force into a new relationship after that. I have a feeling things would be moving along faster than I’m comfortable with if not for the distance separating us. I don’t want to be single anymore, but I still have a lot of personal baggage to workout before inviting someone else into my life fully. For now I’m still enjoying living on my own and having my own space.

Three: Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

One of the most interesting things I remember learning about while getting my degree in psychology was a strange psychological phenomenon that happens all the time without us even realizing it in our conscious minds. I’m sure that it must have a name, but I can’t remember it at the moment, so I’ll just explain it. Apparently when we agree to do something for someone our subconscious makes a justification for it. So while doing a favor for someone might make that person like you more, it also makes you like them more. Isn’t that strange? I always assumed I’d like someone less if I was constantly having to do things for them, but apparently not. Our brains make the rationalization that if we are helping this person, it must be because we really like them. I feel like this phenomenon has a role to play in the time worn phrase: distance makes the heart grow fonder. I think that the mere act of working on a long distance relationship convinces us that we care for someone even more than we already do. The subconscious thinks, “wow, if I’m going through all of this effort, I must really be in love.” I’m hoping my theory is correct and this distance between us serves to bring our hearts closer together.

Four: Momentous Meetings

Oftentimes we begin to take our partners for granted. When we see one another every week or even every day, it begins to lose the magic it once had. We become accustomed to each other and start to lose that mystery and nervousness that make first dates so exciting. Since Nate hasn’t been able to come over for awhile, it has really made the moments we do get to talk to one another or see each other (even through a screen) that much more special. At the end of this month, I will finally be going up to see his new place and spend a few days with him. Normally seeing your boyfriend wouldn’t be a huge deal, but for me it’s going to be not only a mini road trip, but a vacation as well. I am really looking forward to having a few blissful days just soaking in each other’s company and affection.

Five: Time to Talk

It seems to me that a lot of relationships end up being built on unstable foundation. It’s always important to really take the time to get to know someone mentally and emotionally before committing to them. Physical intimacy can accidentally take the place of emotional intimacy. Then once that initial physical attraction begins to fade, partners start to realize that they were never a good match for each other in the first place. Being a very non-sexual person, this works out for me especially well. I may miss being physically close to Nate and I certainly miss spending quality time with him and going out on dates together, but I don’t have to worry about becoming sexually frustrated. I’m perfectly satisfied just having him emotionally for now. I’m hoping that we can develop an even stronger bond this way. It also helps with my self-esteem issues. I know he isn’t just using me for sex if we can’t even have sex.

Well I feel much better after brainstorming some good aspects of my long term relationship. It’s still quite difficult at times, but I am trying to stay positive overall. It’s easy to focus on the negatives in life, but we cause ourselves so much suffering when we allow ourselves to ignore the silver lining of situations. There is always a different perspective to consider.

8 Best Tips to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work | Time

What a Beautiful Life

It has been such a very long time since I’ve had a time as wonderful as I did yesterday. My boyfriend is too good to be true. My stomach still fills with butterflies whenever I get to call him that. I couldn’t be more grateful to have him in my life. I honestly forgot it was possible to feel this way. I rediscovered a lot of feelings that I had nearly forgotten were possible thanks to him. I still can’t believe how beautiful and alive he’s made my life feel recently. I honestly don’t even know what I’m writing about today. It feels reminiscent of the gushing lovesick diary entries I would write as a preteen. I can’t remember the last time I felt this happy.

Just a few months ago I was fairly certain that I would never find someone else I wanted to share my life with. It seemed like an impossibility at this point in my life. I was becoming too set in my ways, too particular, too picky. I knew it would take someone extremely special for me to divert off of the path of solitude I was beginning to grow quite comfortable with. Never could I have imagined that I’d meet someone so fucking incredible, though. To think we may have never met if I hadn’t messaged him by accident, thinking he might be someone else I met a long time ago. Thank goodness I ended up being wrong. He is far better than that person could have ever been.

I truly feel like we couldn’t be more perfect for one another. We’re both vegan. We’re both extremely progressive politically. We’re both atheists. We both love to read. We both love the same obscure bands. We both love to exercise and be healthy. Plus he’s also just an absolute dreamboat in a lot of other ways. I love his sense of style, his haircut, his tattoos. He’s intelligent and funny with a vocabulary large enough that I don’t have to dumb down the way I speak around him. He’s kind and gentle and considerate. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea by now.

Not only is he all of those amazing things, but he’s also probably someone I’d consider not only my equal, but better than me in a lot of ways. He fills me with passion and inspiration to improve myself and grow alongside him. I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt that way about someone before now. In the beginning I had a lot of doubt about us being able to make this relationship work long distance once he moves for his new job, but now I’m not worried in the least. There is no length I wouldn’t go to be with him. I actually think I may already be in love. I was initially quite concerned about being expected to drive for five hours to go see him every now and then, but now that distance is meaningless to me. I would drive even farther if I had to.

I just had to set aside some time today to really flesh out just how grateful I am for the ways things have fallen into place. I want this insanely fortunate, yet unlikely set of circumstances to serve as a reminder of just how beautiful this life is. Let it be a reminder that I have no need to fear the future or the unknown. The universe will always guide me in the right direction. All of the pain and tears and laughter and growth I’ve experienced up until now have all been necessary steps to bring me to this very moment. I know things won’t always stay this blissfully happy, but I want to remember times like these forever. It’s okay to trust. It’s okay to surrender to the grand mysterious flow of this universe. Our sweet Earth mother provides me with everything I need. My life is full of love and abundance. I am so so grateful.

Photo by Natasha Fernandez on Pexels.com

The Advocate and the Architect

If you’ve never taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test, I would highly recommend it. Although I’ve only been able to take the knock-off version that they have available for free online, it’s still definitely worth checking out. It’s almost terrifying how accurate and detailed the results are. I’ll often ask people if they know what their type is just so that I can read about them and come to understand them a bit better. I finally remembered to do this the other day with my new vegan guy.

I was delighted to see that he had already heard about this and knew his type. Most people I ask have never taken the test or even heard about it. He is an INFJ and I am an INTJ. Looks like we must be pretty similar right? Actually that one little letter apparently makes a lot of difference. I suppose it would, given that they F stands for feeling, while the T stands for thinking. On the bright side we do seem to compliment one another. Although I wasn’t able to sense it myself right away, it does seem like he will be able to help facilitate the emotional side of our connection.

INFJs are called the Advocates. Kind of ironic given that’s actually my job title. They are very sensitive, emotionally aware people. Advocates are always looking out for the best interests and feelings of others. Unfortunately this can often lead them to place their own feelings and needs in the background. I was delighted to read that INFJs are generally very committed to their romantic partners and are looking for serious, long-term relationships. Knowing that has greatly helped to remove any lingering doubt about his intentions.

After reading through the details of an INFJ, I decided to reread my own page to refresh my memory. I was immediately amazed and embarrassed. I had forgotten how incredibly accurate this personality type description was for me. I almost regretted bringing it up. Knowing he would read about me, I felt so exposed. I was horrified at what he might think about me. Especially when it came to the “relationships” section of the webpage. While INFJs were lauded for their affinity for emotional intimacy and commitment to their partners, the INTJ’s corresponding page was not so flattering.

A lot of the things I was considering autistic traits, may actually just be traits of my personality type. One of the things that continued to be emphasized was INTJ’s disregard and cluelessness towards social conventions. We don’t like small talk at all, don’t even really know how to have small talk. We aren’t very in tune with our emotions or the emotions of others. We can even offend or hurt someone without realizing it. In my opinion, the relationship section particularly was almost scathing. Paragraph after paragraph explained just how inept INTJs tend to be when it comes to romance and intimacy. We feel awkward and confused by dating, unable to tap into our emotional selves, preferring to look at the world in an utterly rational and analytical fashion. One particular line that struck me what when it said that INTJs often wonder if dating and social interaction are even worth the trouble. I’ve definitely found myself wondering that on more than one occasion.

Even after reading all about my humiliating shortcomings, my vegan guy still came over and hung out with me yesterday. I felt much more relaxed with him this time. We had a lovely cozy day in, just talking and watching movies. He brought me more flowers like a true gentleman. I showed him some yoga poses. We went and picked up a few groceries and cooked a delicious vegan dinner together while listening to one of our favorite bands. Overall it was an absolutely lovely day. He even opened up to me about the details of his past relationships. Even though I struggled, I did the same. I feel very awkward being vulnerable like that with someone, but I feel as though it was necessary.

Unfortunately he also showed me pictures of the new apartment he’s already signed a one-year lease for. I truly am happy for him about his new job, but it still pains me to know he’ll be living five hours away from me by the end of this month. At least I feel reassured about his commitment to maintaining a relationship with me now. Part of me hopes the distance will be good for us. Perhaps it will allow me the time I need to get more comfortable with him before I feel any more pressure to be physically intimate. We are planning on writing letters to one another once he’s moved. That’s one thing I am actually extremely excited about. He seems to be too. He told me he’s been planning out a few things for our letters. I’m not sure what exactly he means, but I’m so excited to find out.

We’ll probably only be able to hang out one or two more times before he moves. I really want to make an effort to be in the moment with him on those days. I don’t need to worry about what will be said or done. I just have to breathe and enjoy his company and trust that I’ll know the right thing to say or do as the day unfolds. No matter what happens, I am still grateful for the wonderful experiences we’ve already shared.

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Afraid to be Seen

It’s a frustrating thing to desperately want connection, while also fearing the very connection you crave. At this point in my life the fear seems to be much greater than the desire. It’s almost as if I’d rather be alone than risk rejection. My fear is so daunting that it seems easier to just turn away. I give up on myself far too easily.

The event that has spurred this particular introspection happened at work yesterday. Someone my organization works with began trying to set me up with his son. I genuinely like the man, and his son seems very nice. At first I was pretty excited. I find meeting people in these types of ways normally works out better than meeting someone online. I was also quite flattered that he would consider me a good match for his son.

However, once things got real and I actually began messaging back and forth with this new guy, the fear started to set in. What if I don’t like him? I can’t ghost him. I can’t let things end in an awkward or immature way like I usually do. His dad would end up hating me! What if he doesn’t like me? What if he discovers all the weird, gross, irritating stuff about me and tells his father?! I immediately began regretting putting myself in this position. The fear easily overtook any excitement I felt initially. To be frank, I feel like any eventuality besides us falling in love and being together forever will end in complete disaster and immense embarrassment and awkwardness for me at work. And let’s be honest, how likely is it that any relationship of mine will end well? I don’t have a very good track record in that department.

Despite being petrified, I’m trying to find a good spin to put on the situation in my head. Part of me thinks: Okay, this will be a good thing. Either way, I’ll be forced into learning how to behave like an adult. I’ll be forced to be a good, responsible person. I will not have the option of just disappearing this time to avoid confrontation. I’ll have to be honest with this boy and myself. I’ll also be less likely to immediately write him off for trivial things like I normally do with potential partners. I’ll have genuine motivation to make this work out. I mean, it would be amazing to some day be a part of that coworker’s family.

But there I go again, getting WAY too ahead of myself. I can never seem to just relax and let things play out on their own. I immediately start dissecting all the potential problems that could occur years into the future. It’s psychotic. And even after calming my anxiety about all of the reasons I may not like him, I still haven’t gotten to the possibility that I do like him. Perhaps he won’t like me. Who could blame him? I’m the worst.

There are so many things about myself that I would be mortified to expose to anyone else. There are so many aspects of myself that I feel like I need to work on before I could ever ask anyone to consider me as a romantic partner. However, will I ever feel good enough? Maybe this is a good chance to find the motivation to work on those parts of myself. It is always more appealing to me when I feel I am improving myself with someone else in mind.

I suppose it’s too late to turn back now. I’ll just have to do my best and hope it turns out okay in the end. I’m going to have to just forget about all the reasons this could be awful and focus on the reasons it could be fun. I have to learn to believe in myself. I have to believe that I am a good person. That I am worthwhile. That I can do this…

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