I spent 34 years of my life being pretty disconnected from the rest of the world.
I always felt like an outsider.
I could make friends, when I played my cards right and was intentional about it, but it was difficult for me, and when I relaxed, they would drift away, because I didn’t have the same instinct that others did to know what to do in social situations.
And it sucked.
But I often didn’t realize that it sucked, because I lived an amazing life. I traveled the US and overseas. I hitchhiked across the country. I joined the carnival. I learned to cook. I explored new computer technology. I trained humans in the corporate world. I wrote my first book and started my own business. I taught fashion design and sewing online.
And in all of this, I met someone, I did the love thing, and I married.
And even then, I felt disconnected.
Like the world outside of me all understood something about being human that I did not — that I could only go through the motions.
And maybe, I thought, everyone else was disconnected, too. And they were just better at pretending than I was.
Most, though, WERE better at connecting than I was. Because the vast majority of humans fall within those norms, and I do not.
I have EDD (Empathy Deficit Disorder), originally diagnosed as ASPD (Anti-Social Personality Disorder).
My brain doesn’t naturally empathize with others, and therefore, I am lacking one of the major senses that people use to create strong connections with others.
Lacking empathy made it difficult for me to understand that others felt differently and actually experienced peoples’ emotions through feeling them in their own mind and body. Because, of course, it takes empathy to do that.
Then, at 34 (in 2007), I was diagnosed.
And I realized that I didn’t just feel different, that I was different. It was a revelation. NOW I had something to research. Something to learn. Something to overcome.
Since I’ve been pretty staunchly against drugs (and I include medicine in that category, because my body tends to process it differently and it goes haywire in ways that doctors don’t expect), I refused the usual treatment for psychopathy, and chose my own path.
And I’ve been on that path for years.
In public, even.
In 2008, I started blogging online. Mostly in Yahoo360. In 2009, I started writing on FetLife and have grown there in front of the world and everyone.
Yesterday in my Throwback Thursday podcast, I shared a piece I wrote in 2015, about need, and how I was changing my mind about needing other humans in my life.
In case you haven’t done the math, that’s 8 years after I started my journey. It’s also about two years after I met His Hotness, my nesting partner.
And I began to realize that while I didn’t need another human to make my way through the world, especially one specific other human, the way love stories always suggested, I did want that partner.
More, I needed that partner and what they brought to the table to be a better version of me. One that I loved a hell of a lot more than I loved the me before who was disconnected and bewildered about it.
I personally needed that partner that I loved and cared deeply about to inspire my efforts to be more than I was.
Because I was FINE.
But he showed me that there was so much more than fine to enjoy. He confirmed my deep suspicions that there was more to life than what I was experiencing, and he convinced me I could have it — just by being who he was, and giving of himself in ways I’d never experienced before.
And as I grew, and learned from him (and yes, he has grown and learned from me as well), I realized, as I said in 2015, that I did need him.
Not to survive.
Not even to thrive, because others could have sparked that in me, as many have over the years, now that I’m open to that.
But to be exactly who he is in my life. To expand my experiences with his particular brand of love and lust for life.
And to be the person who:
- Shows me more pleasure than I ever found on my own before him.
- Brings surprise into my life (sometimes in ways I am NOT happy about).
- Makes me feel special and significant for being EXACTLY who I am — even as I grow and change.
- CONNECTS with me in love and friendship and sexuality.
- Inspires me to grow to always be better for him and for us.
- Allows me to give all of this back to him as well.
Did you know, for example, that I don’t like masturbation?
I am not morally or ethically against it.
In fact, I used to like it quite a lot, because I could get myself off in ways that others could not.
Now, I don’t like it, even though I can still get myself off. Because there is no connection. My brain has been rewired. I always prefer another human getting me off in their weird and wonderful ways.
And not just prefer it, but vastly prefer it, to the point where masturbation for me now is sort of like housekeeping or maintenance. It’s done when I’m alone with a plan to release tension and get some sleep.
And no more.
Like taking a sleeping pill, without the side effects, LOL! (And in my case, the side effects of most sleeping pills is that they keep me wide awake — so not useful!)
I don’t need a partner to get off. I need a partner to get off and feel connected.
The fact of the matter is: I don’t NEED a partner.
Not to survive. Not to live. Not to grow. Not even to be happy. Not to explore the world. Not to make friends. Not to pursue hobbies. Not to do crazy, kinky pervy things.
But I need a partner for that specific feeling of connection that fills me up.
I need a partner to be that mirror that reflects me back to myself honestly and with love.
I need a partner to inspire me in ways that I would never even dream of on my own.
I need a partner to share experiences with and to see through their eyes a different experience that is just as beautiful and valid.
I need a partner to validate me in ways I cannot validate myself — and to be someone I can also validate and lift up.
I need a partner to teach me how to love (at least one) human(s) through all of their flaws, and despite their perfections (yes, I do mean it exactly that way).
I need a partner to practice my empathy with and to understand why it’s important every damn day, as our relationship grows and deepens and thrives.
I have discovered that I also don’t NEED multiple partners.
But I want them.
I enjoy them.
They all bring something to my life I do not experience without them in it. I learn and grow from those experiences. And I have needed every single one of them to become the person I am today. Someone I love dearly, and look forward to spending the rest of my life with.
You don’t NEED a partner, either, I bet.
But I’d guess that you also have that need for connection — whatever it looks like inside you. And I’d also guess that you have your own list of psychological bits and bobs that a partner (or multiple partners) could add to your life.
Furthermore, I’d also bet that you, like me, crave being someone who can offer those things to others in your life. To be the partner that they need in their life at that time to grow and love in ways that they never expected, and could not experience on their own.
Or, maybe not.
After all, we’re all different.
Which is exactly what I have grown to love about finding and exploring connection.
What are your thoughts?
Do you need a partner? What do you need from a partner? What do you need to provide to a partner?
Or perhaps, you are more inclined towards solitude (also very OK, obviously, we are not all born with the same needs and desires)?