Once upon a time not so long ago, I had a “hooking-up-and-spending-lots-of-time-together” sort of thing with this guy. He had — at some point — confessed that he liked me, as more than a friend. I liked him at least as much as he liked me, and likely quite a lot more. Yet, he was afraid of letting things develop into the point of an actual relationship. It was a lot more than a bit absurd, since all I wished – not waited or demanded, mind – to hear from him, was that he was not going away and/or utterly abandon me. Not a committed relationship, no vows nor obligation. Just that he’d stay in my life because he liked me, wanted to stay, and wished to have – and give – the freedom in the security that we wouldn’t disappear from each other. And not because someone else, including me, wanted or told him to do so. But he was afraid. He was afraid even as I had on more than one occasion said to him, that regardless of what I wish to happen between us, I was not expecting anything from him. Simply because it was not within my rights to expect, let alone demand, anything.
At one point, he told me that he wouldn’t agree into entering another committed relationship ever again, unless he was certain that he would be able to stay in that relationship for the rest of his life. He had got his fingers burnt so badly in his last relationship, that he literally thought he would most probably die if he was to be dumped again. I asked him if it was possible that he’d want our thing to some day be something which we could both rely to continue being there. He smiled and said: “I think that’s not out of the question”. It was, in fact, impossible, it’s clear to me now. I don’t believe he thought he was lying when he said it was possible. And however much it hurt me to learn that, it was ultimately for the best. But the thing on which he based his decision, the fear of another hurtful loss, was so puzzling to me that, after some time, that puzzlement started to tower over my hurt feelings.
Some day, all people must face the fact that to begin any sort of a relationship, be it a friendship or a close companionship of some other kind, is to put oneself in a risk of a loss which will hurt like hell. And you must try to accept that fact and nevertheless keep on living your life. People can disappear from your life because of various reasons, of course. The circumstances change, they could move far away someday, or you could. You fight and decide not to like each other any more, because you are too proud/afraid to apologize. Or , instead of purposely deciding to stop contacting each other, you just prioritize each other low enough to just quietly fade away. Or one of you dies, and so forth.
One of the most important things that I have learned to keep my fear of loss at least somewhat in control, is this: instead of trying to more or less forcibly keep people in my life, I try to enjoy their company without expecting that they owe any of it to me. It is a gift, and a wonderful gift at that, to be given the time and company of a friend. If I would let my fear of loss tell me what to do, I’d end up trying to hold on to people by whatever means. I’d try to make them feel they owe me their time to keep on having them near me. But because of that, I would also inevitably end up wrecking our relationships and hurting them even more. And, well, obviously also myself.
So, the situation being what it is, the chances are that the only promise which we can give to each other (and which we might actually be able to keep, much unlike New Year resolutions) is that we will try to cherish this relationship which we value, and, on our part, uphold it the best we can, to the extent to which its continuity and success is dependent on us. And it is a sufficiently good promise, I think. It’s even worth trying to accept the risk of loss, because your life can not be called a life when you let your fears decide for you. It’s merely surviving, and you will lose the chance to experience some things that might do a lot of good for you, despite of the fact that a great many of those things can and will be hurtful. Maybe it would also help if you tried to be grateful for all those things in your life that have taught you something. I rest assured that some of them have not been pleasant, maybe most of them haven’t, but the thing is: those lessons, however hard they might have been, have taught you important things. Don’t let those teachings go to waste.
And… it IS hard, but you could try to remember that a life ruled by fear is not much of a life. Not really. I wish that you can, little by little, decide for yourself, instead of your fears deciding for you. Because why would you want to limit your chances like that?