We talked online for a few days, but when the time finally came to meet her at a breakfast place in real life, I had reservations. I felt like I had my fill of those who label themselves as “feminist”, and I was unsure what to make of someone whom labels themselves as queer, who was previously married to a cis female who self identified as butch.

Long story short, I needed to be able to feel wanted by a future partner. Hugs, kisses, nights sleeping next to each other with our feet touching, communication, vulnerability, and sexual intimacy; viewed as a further expression of love and connection, instead of some shallow fantasies (which in truth, were nothing more than public displays of sexuality for attention and unhealthy self body image validation). Such is not to “be expected”, but required in what I want, and need to be happy.

I have grown to refuse to believe that I should feel bad, or allow myself to be male shamed for wanting vulnerability and intimacy in a relationship of my own choosing, even if I so happen to identify as a male. This is the core tenant of why my past relationship ended (also, the infidelities) and my only regret is not leaving, much, much sooner. If I had only listened to my therapist.. but hindsight is 20/20.

I was recently out of several poor first date experiences, and didn’t have high expectations. My goals were to finally be brazen enough to be aware of my needs, and turn those down in which I didn’t foresee a healthy relationship in. What a concept! Finding my own self worth, love, and finally knowing that I’d be okay being alone, instead tripping all over myself for the first person who glances my way.

Still, this person named Amanda who went to Ball State for Creative Writing (oh god, another creative AND from Ball State) reeled me in with her tagline of Vulnerability and Connection. I thought to myself, what does that even mean in real life?

But then everything just sort of started flowing, growing. From her first (rather intense) eye contact, to the first poem she shared, to the nights spent driving back and forth to each other’s places, to morning waffles and a coffee mug with a llama on it. It was just organic.

And the thing is, yet here we are living together “only” six months later. Even though we’ve both been very careful, very mindful to ensure we are acting with conviction, that we are genuine in how we feel. That we are being responsible, and logistical. That our drives are healthy, aren’t co-depdendant.

We just work and I don’t find myself saying that she’s the “love of my life” or blowing things out of proportion, or future focusing. We exist in the here and now, and find ourselves content; something that I can genuinely say thats never happened to me, until now.

We casually talk of marriage, and children. We speak of travel, self discovery, meditation. Growth. We encourage each other to grow. And while we talk of such things from time to time, we don’t need those fantasies to be happy right now; like I had, she had in other relationships.

There’s no more desperation to be seen. When she leaves, I don’t cry, because we meet each other’s love languages. I not only fulfill myself, but she makes me glow. I can’t begin to explain how important this is, there’s no greater sadness of feeling absolutely alone when with someone, even while they are there.

I don’t have to deal with depression, anxiety, severe body image issues from my partner. I’m empathetic to those that suffer (I had severe anxiety and agoraphobia for most of my life), but I know now that I simply can’t be with someone whom suffers because I’ll do what I always do and try to fix them, or at least make them feel better; then take it out on myself when I don’t have an impact. I know now that the only person I can fix, can save, is myself.

But there’s more. Six months in and I still haven’t scratched the surface as to the depth of Amanda.

Writer, Ball State, Vegan, Queer. Emotions overflow, sensitive, feeling, vulnerability, tarot and spirituality. A fierce Aries, Type A personality. Doesn’t put up with bullshit. Sets boundaries for herself. Has high expectations of those she loves, but is forgiving.

Money smart, thrifty. Sense of adventure. Absent mental illness. Caretaker, raises children throughout multiple years as a career. Creative, artist. Busy, projects, independence. Trust, vulnerability, empath. INFJ. Shy, but very intense once she lets you in.

Entrepreneur, has been running her own business (and succeeding) for much time now. She feels most at home in the water, some of our favorite memories are carrying each other in the water, floating, weightless.

Excellent parental, and dare I say mother figure to my daughter. Influence to become her best self, absent gender norms that are usually imposed on children. Positive reinforcement, good role model.

My focus is to break down the emotional barriers we are taught to uphold in order to keep our feelings hidden. I have a great amount of respect for boundaries, digging into ourselves for truth, and the duality of life. Andrea Gibson wrote a poem called “Dive” in which they said, “See Life, it doesn’t rhyme/It’s bullets/and wind chimes/It’s lynchings/and birthday parties/It’s the rope that ties the noose/and the rope that hangs the backyard swing.” I want to mesh the beautiful and the dark. I want to remind people that the best night of your life cannot be possible without the worst night, too.

We have big, big hearts. We are here to share them. Here is mine.

The Heart Bomb – Amanda’s Blog https://theheartbomb.com

Our key factors which make us work so well:

  • Vulnerability. We are completely open to each other. Our bodies, minds, habits, and whatever lies beyond.
  • Communication. Difficult topics are sought out and talked about. No sugarcoating to “avoid conflict”. Active listening skills.
  • Teamwork. We actively pursue acts of service to show each other care. We are both tuned in this love language for receiving and providing. Tasks are split to our unique skillsets.
  • Physical touch and intimacy. Touch is a shared love language. There is no pressure, or expectation. Intimacy occurs organically and we both voice when we need more, or less touch.
  • Independence. We both know that we cannot fix each other and such comes from within. We pursue our own projects and time away from each other, and look forward to missing each other.
  • Trust. We speak with conviction. We are friends first, and lovers later. Monogamy is important to us.

The little things:

  • We enjoy sleeping next to each other, often curled up in one another. We both find this enjoyable, restful, and loving.
  • Amanda is always up for an adventure. I can recommend taking a trip in the RV and she’s ready to go.
  • We feel like we can recharge around each other, and know when introvert time is needed.
  • We both seem to be excellent at self-diagnosis and often bounce ideas off each other for greater self understanding.
  • We don’t tell each other what to do, or try to control each other. We are free agents and to ourselves first, but take priority in each other.
  • We’ve never been in a “fight”. When tensions rise, we sit down and talk calmly. Assess the situation, come up with solutions or learning points.
  • We both find ourselves not feeling desperate, like we have with previous partners. We find ourselves content, fulfilled by each other in a gentle warmth.

We just keep growing, in ourselves and with each other. I’ve seemed to loose my train of thought and article structure, but had to write something, anything, to evidence this wonderful creature who is currently sleeping next to me.

But why am I apologizing? This is my space, my writing, thoughts, and I do what the fuck I want.

Go checkout her blog, she could use some readers (and often is a better writer than I).

VULNERABILITY: Why it is important, exhilarating, and a rainbow-hued nightmare.