Executive Brief: If I could be healthy for someone, then I might like to share lives and love with a real partner… devoted to one woman.


Things have been unexpectedly rough today.

It is the first Valentine's Day since I got divorced over the summer.

It began as a regular work morning, utterly typical… other than it being the first time in well over a decade that I had forgotten to set my alarm. Triggered by the mild daylight shining past the shades, I bolted out of bed, frenziedly got myself ready to go to work, and was just not terribly aware of the date.

Until I got into the car, that is, when the first song that (auto-)played from my phone was “Stuck” by Imagine Dragons.

Time goes by, and still I’m stuck on you…

You were my one. You were my one.

When all has been said, all has been done.

Dammit and daaamn.

Look, as you well know by now, I deeply appreciate the Coincidence Dynamic that invigorates my life; in this case, however, I quickly dissolved into a messy wreck. Or a wrecky mess… that whole fluid continuum. Practically puddled in every way.

(Super)Naturally, it started raining buckets. Passionately. Cats and dogs and a host of other carnivorous pets. Or pestiferous carns.

I slowly drove surface streets all the way to the main campus, manned up, hauled myself inside, started in on some tasks… and found every little thing to be eliciting tears.

There was nothing for it but to turn myself around and drive home… where I have worked through to the end of the day. So here I am now, writing it all out to foster some sense of calm. And this is the feeling that keeps cropping up:

Moving forward, what am I going to do?

That question is a zealously big package to unwrap.

Why Now?

This has never really come up before.

Beyond my midteens, there was always someone special on this particular day who would receive my romantic attention(s). Well, special enough not to noticeably protest, anyway.

Crucially, it was never a matter of deliberate choice. I had been obliviously compelled to pursue validation of my value from another person, with the result that I serially latched onto anyone who would show me the slightest bit of positive regard.

Which means that up until now, I have never had to seriously scrute this particular aspect of my being.

But now that I have so scritten, I find that the answer didn’t take very long to resolve:

I am designed to be Devoted… to One.

No, not just any One.

Which One matters.

What Later?

For a bit, let’s pretend that this is a choice (over which my volitional control might be sufficient to make a difference in what happens) rather than a compulsion (over which I have not enough); that is to say, let’s suppose that I’m trying to figure out whether I ever want to get involved in a romantic relationship again.

If that were the context, then I could say with some confidence:


At least, I’m not categorically ruling it out; after all, grief is not the best frame within which to say anything decisive. At the moment, I would just like to get the initial pondering out of me so that I can get this day back on an even keel (or I won’t be able to sleep).

I’m also being more careful than I have been in the past because if I pursue this sort of life again, then I want it to be for the last time.

Who Later?

So, if I do decide to find that person (down the road), then I will first need to determine:

  • which prerequisite qualities I would want to ensure in myself (for both our sakes), and
  • what I would most appreciate in her (likewise).

In other words, it is not enough to merely want a relationship. I would need to be healthy enough to be safe and ready for one.

Regardless, I now know to watch out for the impulses driven by Acceptance Sensitive Euphoria, so I would make sure to take plenty of time to decide instead of leaping obliviously into inextricable involvement.

Another consideration is that I might well be moving to Sheridan, WY, when I retire in a couple of years.

Plus I still have some healing to do.

All that said, I might as well prepare for a time when such factors are no longer obstacles.


Part of this preparation has come to involve writing up lists of the qualities mentioned above. It gave me a chance to assess what I have to offer, what the priorities are for the aspects that still need work, and what sort of person I might hope to find (including red flags and deal breakers and such, for the both of us).

I’m not including that information in this essay. This is neither a dating app nor a shopping list.

While working on this project, though, the following realization dawned on me:

In some sense, I’ve been writing all of this from an idealist’s perspective, one in which people get themselves substantially healthy before running risks with someone else’s life; however, I understand that there is some amount of moderation to be expected.

In any relationship, there is a degree to which the manifestation of love is in part the support that people provide to one another; for example, maybe you are helping your partner to deal with trust issues, or maybe you are learning to improve your emotional availability.

But another aspect of love is not abusing people while forcing them to deal with your shit, so if you know about those problems beforehand, then you tell your potential partner so that they can make informed decisions before wading in.

That’s what I am doing here (beyond just getting this all out of me so that I can relax). I am being up front with all of this information precisely because I am all done with being a fixer-upper who has to become someone else, and I don’t want to treat a partner that way either.

But a little bit of polish is okay, I suppose, as long as it is not spit-and-polish. Just some smoothing of rough edges.

Current Outlook

So I’ve got some stuff to work on, and it might be 2-3 years before my life is stable enough to draw someone else into it without inflicting unfair surprises and wrenching choices down the line.

If that were all to work out, and I felt like I could be healthy for someone, then yes, I’d like to share lives and love with a real partner.

But the odds are long… and the evens aren’t looking much better.


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