Monday, March 2, 2009

So Lightly in Their Fingertips

While trolling through the internet searching for quotations and dictionary definitions to try and get the dried up riverbed that is my creative brain to come up with headlines, I read this:

"Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option."

I tried to scan down to the next quote, clearly this one had nothing to do with the snappy automotive headlines I so desperately needed, but failed to do so. My eyes kept leaping back to that line, reading it over and over again while one relationship in particular flashed in my mind like hazard lights.

It also made me think of so many friends and loved ones. How many stories have I heard of men and women who dedicated themselves to a husband, wife or lover who didn't seem to care one way or another about what their actions did to their significant other? Oh, how they held that love so lightly, so carelessly, they let it slip from their fingertips as though it were nothing more than last season's silk scarf.

I read once that the only way to guarantee a happy marriage is to marry someone who loves you just a little bit more than you love them. Never be the one who loves the most, or you'll surely be heartbroken at some point. Certainly I've seen marriages like this, and I've seen a lot of happy women who were worshipped and adored by their loving husbands. How they doted on them! How secure and carefree were the beloved wives in their husband's affection. I marveled at it.

Such confidence. Such self-assured ease.

Women are told that men won't love you if you're too clingy. We all want what we can't have, men love a challenge, and all that pop psychology we've digested in Hungry Man-size portions. "He's Just Not That Into You," is entirely based on this premise. Don't chase after someone who isn't as into you as you are them.

But some of us seem to be chasers. Men and women alike. We think if we just love them enough, or the right way, or change ourselves just so, that they'll come around. It's a humiliating enough experience that it could turn your heart cold if you let it.

Rather than let it turn my heart cold and untrusting, I did develop a hyper-sensitivity to being "optional." If I'm in a relationship, you're the priority. If you aren't the priority, I'm breaking up with you. I'm not going to string either one of us along. If I get the sense I'm being balanced ever-so-lightly on your fingertips, I'm outta there.

I won't ever make that mistake again, and neither will my boyfriend. Perhaps it works for us because we were both there. We both lived life as someone else's option, while they were everything to us. Rather than be embarrassed by this, I often remind myself of my sister's kind words:

"You should never be ashamed that you loved and trusted someone. They should be ashamed for betraying that love and that trust. They are the losers, not you."


  1. So true. I love that line. I've been on both sides and it never makes for a fun relationship.

  2. If everyone waits for someone who loves them just a little bit more, no one will ever get together.

    Maybe that's what we deserve?

  3. Bit of a kick in the gut as I read that quote and realized.....I'm living it a little bit. I think I'm just an option.

  4. Amen, sister, AMEN!

    It's only truly good if you each are a priority to the other.

  5. touche...

    this caused a bit of verklempitude.

    nicely done.

  6. dude - you always find the BEST quotes.

    can i tattoo that on my forehead?


  7. ... and this is why I love you and hold you in my heart.

  8. I love that quote. I read it long ago, but it didn't sink in until 2001. Then my life changed. :)


  9. I wish I'd read that quote early in my marriage. Actually, I wish I'd read it around a year before I married him. It should be told to everyone before they start to date.

    Great blog.


  10. "Jerks Who Don't Matter Anymore"

    Now if only that jerk wasn't the father of my son.

    *le sigh*

    Why does it have to be that way?

    (I just got a flash of my guru smirking, "That would be too easy")

  11. I have always loved and lived that quote.

  12. Your sister has some fine, fine words there.

  13. I think there is often at least some level of imbalance. If you can achieve perfect balance, and if that balance results in each of you being a priority, then you win!

    In our case, it is unfortunately clear that you love me so much more than I love you. (Or was that a dream? Whatever!)

  14. look at me! all google official and whatnot. great post Mama.

  15. Great advice. Like some others, wish I'd heard it before I lived it (long ago).

    Balance is better.

    Great blog.

  16. Oh yes. Be honest to allow the other to make the choice.

  17. Having been out of relationships for longer than I've been in them, I'm quite aware of the flow of attention in the relationship I'm in now. I like this guy; he's strong, on many levels, but he might be strong to the point of not letting anyone else in.

    Since I was someone's option in my last go-round, I've already got one foot ready to go out the door. And as you know you can't build any sort of relationship when both parties are inclined to bolt.

    Let the screwed-up science experiment continue.


  18. I used to be kind of the opposite in my younger, wilder days. I was careless with delicate men and it's one of my only regrets in life, that I wasn't nicer. Or at least more mindful of my actions.

    Of course there's another part of me that thinks, "How meek were YOU, that I was the ogre in the relationship?!!! Grow a set!!!". But that just wouldn't be very nice... No, it wouldn't.

  19. Ahh.
    Well written.
    Excellent blog.

  20. I'm hypersensitive to this too. I worry sometimes that I'm a little too sensitive to it. I don't know...

    I lived a relationship in which we took turns taking each other for granted. My flaw was always in excusing the behavior...I don't know why he allowed it to happen. Perhaps he didn't even notice...

  21. Wow. I love the first quote, I love your sister's quote. Sadly, I think this is a lesson most of us have to learn at some point - most of us are chasers by nature. But things don't work right if there's not equality...I guess you have to be chasing eachother for it to really work.

  22. That is tantra in a nutshell, isn't it? If I am not going to do it wholly, I am going to find something else to do.
    Great post; I love the quote. Trying to love the least in a relationship as a defense against heartbreak is like trying to bail the least in a sinking ship as a defense against getting too tired to swim.

  23. That quotation is the best description of the employer-employee relationship I've ever heard.

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  25. The "anonymous" person who commented 5 comments above this needs to read the quote again before making their lame comment.

    Your sister's quote says, "You should never be ashamed that you loved and trusted someone. They should be ashamed for betraying that love and that trust. They are the losers, not you."

    No where in this quote does it say that someone "owes" you anything. It says they should be ashamed.

  26. I've been lost in the Love that I shared with someone for the past year now. I haven't figured out how to let that go yet, but your post makes alot of sense. Great quote.

  27. To Anonymous at 9:44am: Perhaps this is why you're such an asshole? You get what you give, in the world, and in relationships.

    To YGTBKM: This was a wonderful read. You're sister is right:) ~OM

  28. Dig. I've been disposable many times, and that is not any way to forge a solid relationship.

  29. Well, this is fresh in MY mind. Seventeen years of it. And it helps to know I loved the best I know how. Don't know if I'll be ready ever to do it again, but I'm besting the bitterness beast as I write this. Now, my quote to reach for is, "Living well is the best revenge".

  30. Hi Mandy,

    So true...
    Thank you.


  31. Wow. Some more spicy comments.

    I'm starting to enjoy this.

  32. "Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option." Who is the author of that quote? I remember reading it before. A brief, but powerful message.

    This is a solid blog (as usual). I couldn't agree with you more. This is why I've been single since 30 - I would rather be alone than alone in a relationship.

    Peace & love.

  33. "Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option."

    I'm surprised at you Mandy. This is SO an automotive strapline! And not a use-once-throw-away strapline, but a whole ethos thing. We're into "vorsprung durch technik" and "first man, then machine" and "designed for living. engineered to last." territory.

    You should take this blog down and go pitch this to the agency...

  34. This was my first marriage. Three kids later and I still felt like the option...while killing myself to make him the priority.

    Screw that.

    Levi had the same relationship history. Both of us found each other at the right time. And we're both the priority.

    I like that.