Love the One You’re With

If you’re down and confused
And you can’t remember who you’re talkin’ to
Concentration slips away
‘Cuz your baby is so far away

About two decades ago, I was emotionally involved with a girl that I call Jewel. She was the first person that I ever fell in love with. She was also the first person to emotionally manipulate me. (Well, first non-relative at any rate.)

I was utterly smitten with her, but I didn’t understand what that meant. I was willing to do anything for her, and she was eager to take full advantage of that. I had some romantic notion that we were meant for each other and destined to be with each other forever, and she encouraged that notion as long as 1) it meant she could coax favors and gifts from me, and 2) she was able to convince me that the time for us to be together was some time in the near future, but not in the actual present (we can’t be together right now, but we will be soon).

Eventually I got the hint. It took one of her friends pulling me aside and telling me to my face that Jewel was just using me and did not actually want to be with me. (She wasn’t gentle about it. She actually screamed it at me in front of a group of their friends. They all laughed at me. They had been in on the joke.)

We avoided each other for a time, and I kind of moved on. But not entirely.

Well there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Honey love the one you’re with

I met another girl, who I refer to as Diamond. She was much more stable, and actually respected me. We got along very well, and started dating.

I was her first love. She was utterly smitten with me, but I don’t think she really understood what that meant. Things went well until an incident where my car broke down on a date and I lost my temper and kicked the car in frustration. Her parents had divorced in part because of her father’s violent nature, and I had scared her. We stopped seeing each other.

Don’t be angry, don’t be sad
Don’t sit cryin’ of about the good times you had
There’s a girl right next to you
And she’s just waiting for something to do

A while later, I reached out to Diamond. I left an unsigned birthday card on her car. She knew it was me, and she called. We started seeing each other again. About the same time, Jewel showed back up, and we started talking again.

I was confused. Jewel had a knack for feeding and taking advantage of my natural insecurities. She fed my doubts. That’s how she kept me in check. Diamond genuinely wanted to be with me, but I couldn’t accept that. I kept wondering what she saw in me, what she wanted from me. Because when you’ve been in manipulative relationships, a person who says they don’t want anything from you makes you nervous.

Ultimately, I was still holding on to my connection with Jewel. And because of that, I wasn’t able to devote my full attention to Diamond (who would have made a far superior mate, and was an excellent choice for a long-term partner). And in the long run, I lost them both.

There’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Honey love the one you’re with

I ended up in a marriage that I felt obligated into. I still felt crushing guilt for the way I screwed Diamond over, disgust and hatred for Jewel, and regret that I hadn’t gone after Pearl instead. And I’m talking about dealing with relationship baggage or processing emotions from old involvements — I mean that I was still putting energy into those old relationships, still maybe hoping that I might be able to revisit and repair some of them.

When I divorced, I tried to look up Pearl. I actually got a hold of Diamond and we talked (and she told me she never wanted to talk to me again — I request I have honored to this day). I’m not sure what I was hoping for — rebuilding a friendship, a relationship, atoning somehow? But I wasn’t able to let those go.

Turn your heartaches run into joy
She’s a girl and you’re a boy
Get it together, make it nice
Ain’t gonna need anymore advice

After a lot of work, I moved on. I got involved in a long term relationship that went very well at first, but soured after about five years. By the time it ended I was relieved more than anything. I hope that it is because I was a bit more mature, but I did not pine after the loss of this relationship, and had no hope to rekindle, repair, or revisit it at all. I had given as much effort as I could have (and more) into that relationship, and I was satisfied it was done.

And then I got involved with Luna. We had tremendous chemistry and passion, and got along fabulously. But I wanted something serious and long term and monogamous, and she wanted none of those things. And tensions flared, and anxiety reared its ugly head, and we ended up deciding that it was not best to continue our involvement. The problem was that we both still wanted very much to be together, and we had to make our agreement not to be involved anymore a couple more times before it stuck.

I still hoped that we would work something out, despite all evidence to the contrary. And that is what became dangerous. Because I wanted a certain kind of relationship, but was still fixated on a person that did not want that kind of relationship. It was a lose-lose scenario.

I considered and courted some other options, but it all came down to the same worry: that if I got involved with someone, I might miss out on the chance that Luna would change her mind and come back to me. But if I didn’t move on, I might miss the chance to be with someone else that was good for me.

There’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Honey love the one you’re with

I had been chatting with an online friend for a while, and we decided to Skype a bit (because fuck Twitter’s 140 character limit applying to direct messages). And she talked about her relationship stuff, and I talked about Luna. And the next morning, I got a DM from her on Twitter. She had done a simple tarot consultation about my situation, and pulled the Two of Cups. She told me this, along with a message she had received:

“Love the one you’re with”

I had never appreciated that song much. I’m a Scorpio, and we like loyalty. To me, the song sounded like a justification for infidelity. I always read it as a tacit endorsement of ignoring a commitment in favor of whomever happened to be around and available. (And for all I know that is exactly how Stills intended the song.) But for some reason, pining over Luna, it really struck me: my problem in the past had been refusing to love the one I was with. I had been afraid to do this, because it meant letting go of the love I had before.

I was afraid that moving on would invalidate the emotion I had felt. For Jewel, for Diamond, for Luna. But what was happening was that I was not allowing myself to fully love the one I was with. And so ultimately, those relationships failed. By living in the past, my present (and future) fell apart.

It was in that moment that I let Luna go. It was that moment that I accepted that I was allowed to cherish the good memories, but still accept and feel anger over the bad ones. And it was that moment when I freed myself up to love someone far more deserving of my attention, and to give that person my full and undivided affection.

The song may very well be about screwing around. But to me it spoke to living in the mindful present. It spoke about closing off past connections that are no longer useful or satisfying, and about creating my own closure when none was given. And it taught me an important lesson in purposeful action.


3 responses to “Love the One You’re With

  1. Pingback: Love the One You’re With | Practical Pagans

  2. ” I had given as much effort as I could have (and more) into that relationship, and I was satisfied it was done.” This is so true of relationships and more. The situations you could be fully present in and give your best to don’t generate regrets like the “if onlies” do.

    I always thought the song was pretty obnoxious, even though I didn’t see it as being about screwing around behind someone’s back as much as being an ad for the upside of “Mr. Right Now” (a sales pitch I may have indulged in once or twice myself 😉

  3. At the time, I was talking about devotion to your gods. But I kind of like the direction you took with it. 🙂

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