Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The letyougoness

I have said this before in a variety of ways. I've lived with the letyougoness my entire life.

The letyougoness is second nature.

I grew up moving and moving and letting go and letting go. We would be best friends and then at the end of the year you'd move or I would. And we'd be sad to say goodbye and there would be promises and tears and then we'd both spin off our respective directions into the wide world.

I could love you and I could let go of you. That was just how it went. There was always a lot of Hi! Bye! in my life. Always.

So the letyougoness has always been there. It's just worked in different ways in different circumstances.

In my 20s, I was very insecure, and I needed to constantly be told nice things about myself. And so men - boyfriends, really - were critical. This, as you may imagine, made me a true and utter delight of a girlfriend. I can look back in the stark light of retrospect and say it was a really good thing I was pretty. Because I was a serious pain in the ass. Maude will tell you. She was there through a lot of these. So anyway.

So the letyougoness meant that I wouldn't get so emotionally attached, and then it would really kick in when I got bored dating someone.

Because the thing is, it took me until my 30s to realize that men were whole, entire people. You know, people with whom you could have interactions on many levels. They weren't just for compliments and dating.

I'd love to say that I'm exaggerating, that I was not that limited in my scope. But I was.

During that period of my life the letyougoness was just sort of, I don't know, like the pair of jeans in the back of your closet that you'd eventually reach for when you ran out of clean ones. These guys would adore me and adore me - because what would be the point of dating someone for the adoration if they didn't? And I'd like them back enough, although mostly what I'd like was that they liked me. And gave me compliments and did nice things for me. And made me feel, albeit temporarily, better about myself.

And then, at the 3-6 month point - the point where, if you have nothing but one-directional adoration in common, you have nothing much to say to each other. And at that point the letyougoness would suffocate me in the same way as a tight shirt on a hot, sweaty day.

And all of a sudden it would be time. I'd feel choked. Gotta letyougo. Thanks ever so! Bye!

But now the letyougoness has probably become a defense mechanism more than anything. In case. Because, well, who knows? I can like you. I can love you. And even so? It will always be fine. It'll be OK if it doesn't work out. I can always letyougo.

Getting past the letyougoness? Letting go of the letyougoness? Ooh, I don't know. It's a safety blanket, you know? Even if it's constructed with all the flexibility and softness of, well, I'm not sure exactly. But maybe along the lines of chain link fence.


  1. For once, I cannot say I understand completely. Because I? Cannot let go, until the other person has lapsed so severely that I've been disappointed... beyond.

    I don't recommend this as a method. But when trying to figure out how to actually let someone matter, for real? I usually pick whatever feels scariest and go in that direction.

    Good luck!

  2. You know, I've not been able to do this with everyone. I couldn't let go of my old boyfriend for so long, and it would've been like Christmas if I could have. And there were a couple other guys who really got under my skin. But now I think it's fear-fueled. I don't know that I am able to pick the scariest direction.

  3. I had the same childhood, being a military brat, shuttled off to base after base and perfecting that letyougoness...but i think i have the reverse of your reaction. I hold on til there isn't anything left to hold onto. If something is around for more than six months at a time, I clutch at it like it will never happen again, because generally when I was growing up, it didn't.

    I can't figure out which of our reactions is better.

  4. Like many others, I grew up moving every six months to three years. I know of the letyougoness. I, too, took until my 30s to realize that I could love permanently.

    It's an amazing feeling, this sense of permanence. It's like family. Nuclear family that is. Because in spite of all the changing and new people, missed people, grandparents elsewhere, and what the heck is our address and phone number, there was always the same older brother, younger sister, father and mother.

  5. moosie - That makes a lot of sense to me, actually, and I agree - I don't know which is perferable. Thank you for sharing.

    2x4 - I love the idea of that kind of permanence.

  6. I just wanted to say that this was an amazing post. I don't have the letyougoness in the same way. For me, it comes quickly with people I even really love. When they don't come through for me in a major way or if my they get angry during an argument and yell. The first time, I'm able to overlook but if it happens twice, it's like a light switch goes off and I actually feel myself fall out of love with them. I go completely cold and from that point on, they can't hurt me anymore.

  7. Amanda - I can absolutely see how that could happen, and how it could be exactly on/off like a light switch.

  8. Useless! Useless, I am, on this topic!

    With exactly one exception, I would break up with every person I dated after 1-5 months, even if we got back together again 11 times. (This actually happened. 11 times. I was ahead 8-3 when it finally ended for good.)

    I have dated one person for longer, and we've been together for 14 years. If she ever gave me the boot, I'm not so sure that I wouldn't be the same old Captain Outtahere that I was in the 80's and 90's.

  9. It's just easier when you view every thing as temporary, isn't it?

  10. Few things:

    1) I'm really only commenting because this post is such a stark contrast from the "Just say yes" seems. Having read this post, it doesn't feel like the same person wrote them.

    2) I have other words of so called wisdom but I'd feel too preachy, ehh. I pardon everyone're all getting off light =P

  11. Having grown up the same way you did, I can so, so relate. I've never given it a name like the letyougoness, I think of it in terms of boxes. Each time we moved, I mentally had to put the old people and old place in a box and put it away up on a shelf in the back of my brain, high up where it's hard for me to reach. Because otherwise? It would have been impossible to love so many people in so many places as intensely as I did, only to have to leave them every few years. And of course, the one time I really, really neede d my boxing-up ability -- with my Mr. Big -- it failed me.


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