On Love & Identity

After suffering through a day of stomach flu and what my son calls The Pukies, I woke up feeling like I knew exactly what would make me feel better, and for once it wasn’t a sandwich. No. I wanted to blog. I just didn’t have the energy to come up with a topic, so I asked some Facebook friends for topics. Two hit home.

My old roomie (as in a prior roomie, she’s actually quite youthful and lovely) asked the question “When a woman finds love, does it change her identity” and then my boyfriend’s mom asked that I write about our four cats and the power structure. I think these two questions might be related some how, but my brain isn’t quite functioning fully. So I thought I’d tackle the first one, and once Kealoha takes pictures of all of our cats, then I’ll blog about that.

So…when a woman finds love, does it change her identity? My first impulse is to say “No! It shouldn’t!” but, of course, it does. I was out for a walk around Reed’s Lake with my friend L. She’s going through all the same kind of dating drama I’d experienced: falling for the wrong guy, not meeting the right guy, trouble meeting guys at all, horrible first dates, angst, etc. And I realized that I wasn’t the quirky-single-girl anymore who needed dating advice. No. I was the friend-in-a-healthy-and-loving-relationship GIVING the advice. This astounded me, because I’ve always been the quirky-single-girl needing advice. And when I was married, I was the quirky-married-girl needing advice. Suddenly, I don’t feel like I need advice at all anymore.

What’s happened to me? And the deeper question is, am I still the same person now that I’ve found love?

It’s a yes and a no. I think it’s ridiculous to say that we aren’t changed when we’re in a relationship. We are. I think in the healthy ones, though, you’re still fundamentally the same person and you still have time with your friends and still time to do things that feed your soul. So I guess in that sense your identity remains and should remain the same. But when you find love, when you’re part of a couple, there are fundamental things that change. For me, I guess that I stop being so self-focused. I have to think not just of my wants and needs, but of Kealoha’s. (And of course the kids’.) I like having Kealoha as part of my life. He’s a balance. I like that if I’m invited somewhere, it’s sort of a given that he’ll go with me.

We’re now partners in our lives. I know that sounds hokey and almost like I’m saying we have a civic union. I mean it literally though. We’re sharing a life together and the choices I used to make on my own, I now talk over with him. Not because I need to or feel pressured to, but because I want to. So I guess my single-girl identity has shifted to being part of a couple. I’m now taken-girl.

I used to feel smothered in relationships, but I think it was because I was making the wrong choices. It’s not that the men I dated were bad people or my marriage was bad, it’s just that we weren’t good together. We didn’t bring out the best in each other. I feel like the opposite is true of Kealoha. He brings out the best in me…in no small part because he loves me just as I am.

I guess when you’re in a loving relationship you lose parts of yourself. You lose loneliness. You lose a sense of longing. You shouldn’t lose who you are. With Kealoha, I haven’t. I think I’m still quirky, I’m just not single anymore…and I’m trying to get comfortable with the new role of offering advice instead of needing it.

I think it’s a good thing. I used to think that people don’t change. Now I realize that’s not true at all. Well, maybe we don’t change, exactly. We evolve. We get smarter and our edges smooth. This is a good thing. So if finding love hasn’t exactly altered my identity, it has changed the way I look at life and love in general, and that’s got to be progress.

What do you think?