In Defense of the Undefined Relationship

You have to be more content in what you have together than the definition of it.
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Tiffany Lowe
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You have to be more content in what you have together than the definition of it.

Let me tell you about us: the undefined.

When I met him, I was just coming off of a summer of mistakes. My husband of two years and I had decided to separate in May, by July I had moved out of the house, and in the next two months I had slept with half a dozen people.

My newfound hookup-culture lifestyle was not something that I functioned rationally in. I have come a long way in my relationship with sex and my belief that all bodies are capable of their own decisions, and each of those decisions are valid and worthy of respect. That said, connections are my oxygen.

Artwork by a close friend.

Artwork by a close friend.

I was clinging onto any human connection with each of these individuals, yet I was incapable of feeling anything substantial. I got myself into sticky situations — failed friends with benefits, pseudo-relationships, and hookups with people I shouldn't have been hooking up with. I lost several friends over my course of sexual so-called bad decisions. I regret some; I don't regret others. But what I took away from it in the end was that sex did not fill holes that betrayal had left. So, I stopped searching to fill anything at all.

Then I met him.

Well, I met him again. He was an old mutual friend that I hadn't seen in over a decade, and we decided to reconnect for an irrelevant reason that I can't even remember now. However, the first moment of seeing him again is seared in my memory. He was waiting at the bar when I walked up, and I was so nervous that I forgot to even say hello. My first words to him were, "How was your day?" 

His answer echoes to me still. "Peachy," he had said.

Peachy.

We talked straight through the evening and connected on a level I had never reached before and, as I said, connections are my oxygen. He funneled so much oxygen into me that I felt my entire existence catch fire, and I'm still burning to this day.

I wasn't interested in a relationship, and neither was he, as he was also fresh off of a painful breakup. Like me, he had poured so much of himself into someone else and ended up in ashes. I wasn't particularly looking for friends with benefits either, or something so insignificant that I couldn't thrive from its core. So, we subconsciously decided to just be.

This seemed, at the time, unprecedented, and as it has developed, I haven't talked to many friends that can grasp it. People just don't seem to simply enjoy each other. They want distinct, pretty lines. People often get into relationships wanting to know what someone else can do for them, what they can fulfill or provide. They always expect something more.

I expected nothing from him from the day that I (re)met him, and that's what changed everything. I never asked anything of him, yet his simple company filled me completely.

Maybe people aren't meant to consist of merely pieces of other humans. Maybe we are all completely free from each other, floating in a space meant only for ourselves.

Once, he left town for a month. The day he drove back into town, I was at his door. We spent so much of December and January together that I now long for winter incessantly when I'm alone. I wrote him poetry and handwritten notes. He bought me a notebook for Christmas, and on the first page, he had handwritten his favorite poem. He took me to a bar where he sang karaoke. We binge-watched television shows while entangled on the couch of the apartment he was staying in. We had the best sex of my life that seemed to only get better every time he touched me. I fell in love.

All the while we remained undefined. I didn't know what he did when I wasn't around, and I didn't ask. I didn't have to be in constant contact with him to feel validated. I didn't have to know all of his private, personal details of his everyday life to be deemed important to him. 

Then he moved in February. I remember the day that he told me, in January, that he was leaving, and I spent hours in my shower sobbing. He has no idea, because I didn't tell him.

What I had gained from him, without wanting anything at all, was that this was the first time I cared about another human being that I romantically loved, selflessly. Because I had never expected anything, because we didn't fit into a box, what had flourished was completely untouched by society's idea of what a relationship should be. And, ultimately, because of this, I loved him completely separately from myself. I didn't need him near me, or a definition of who he was to me, to love him, or to continue to love myself.

I told him that I knew he was bigger than here, and me, and us. I spent several days with him before he left, and that time was one the best times of my life, though I can't recall anything spectacular that happened. Late-night talks, breathing each other in.

One night, I drank too much wine and cried in front of him because it was very real how much I would miss him. This was the first and only time that we have had a talk about "us." He knew I was sad because I was afraid of never seeing him again. This was something I had accepted; I was sad, but I was okay with it. He told me that was not what was happening, and I believed him, and that's all I needed.

Too many times we press for absolutes, and we put pressure on others to cater to how we feel and to change their lives in some way to make us feel more comfortable. I never wanted to do that to him. I didn't care about being comfortable. I wanted him to be limitless, unchained, and to pursue this life for everything it had in store for him.

The day he left, I kissed him goodbye with a smile.

It would be two months before I saw him again. Some days were harder than others. I did cry many times. I dreamed about him almost every night. I missed him so much that I felt the fire he had helped me see I'd always possessed burn so fiercely inside my chest that I couldn't breathe. I still wrote him poetry and handwritten notes. I made art. I sent him pictures. I would tell him little things that I missed about him. For the most part, I just let him live. And I kept writing. And I kept living.

Seeing him again was natural and comforting, and electricity and flames. The evolution of us has been equal parts sweet and sexy. I want the world for him, but I also want to feel his skin on mine as intensely as any addict wants what they crave.

We got lost in each other. Then we took a road trip and enjoyed a beautiful comfortable silence almost the entire three hours. I have never been able to be comfortably silent, but it's a testament to how little I need from him, yet how much he gives to me intangibly. I stored away little moments and memories to think of when I missed him again, like piggyback rides and when he would pretend to bite my entire face after kissing me. And I cherished so much the cracks growing in the walls, the foundation building under our feet.

I won't say that the undefined relationship is easy; it's not. There are days where it feels right, and there are days where that fire changes from passion to pain. You have to be more content in what you have together than the definition of it, satisfied in the moments rather than the classification of them. When I accepted that humans are much more than the sorting and ranking of their relationships, I felt freed.

I find solace in knowing that I will see him again, I will love him again, we actively want to be in each other's lives. The unknown is only frightening if you aren't secure in who you're exploring it with, be it yourself or someone else.

I have developed more of myself, discovered more of my own truth, in my time with him than I have in years of relationships that were strictly defined in neat lines. What blossoms when you're not constantly picking at it is fascinating: two people who grow independently from each other.

We are two separate lives that ignite when they collide.

Not every other person you are attracted to, want to sleep with, want to spend time with, fall in love with, needs to be an extension of yourself. Not all things need to be acutely explained. I still expect nothing from him. We are still "us: the undefined." And I'm still peachy. 

Just peachy.