Technically, I’m an only child. Yes, I have half-sisters, and yes, we’ve gotten closer as I’ve stumbled into adulthood. But for all intents and purposes, I grew up a sibling-less soul. The solo offspring in our family of three.
It was a real bummer. My parents often let me bring friends on vacations, thanks to my mother’s employment at American Airlines and the travel benefits that ensued. But holidays? Evenings at home? Trips to the grocery store? Just me and my shadow.
Here I am, a few months into a new relationship, and I’m doing everything I can to make sure my only child side doesn’t rear its ugly head once more.
Mom and dad made up for this in their own ways. Let’s just say I watched a lot of TV. Clarissa Darling and Kelly Kapowski were my makeshift pals, entertaining me, without that pesky clothes-stealing sibling behavior. (At least, I assume that’s what it’s like. See also: noogies.)
Also, I got my way most of the time. Okay, all the time. (Within reason, of course, I wasn’t quite at Veruca Salt levels or anything.)
This didn’t translate well into my school days. Without a sibling to keep me in check, and parents who were too busy to notice their corruption of my sharing practices, I became a little… bossy. In fact, I noticed that most of my friends were middle children. Maybe it’s a weird coincidence, but as they are often designated as “easy to get along with,” I feel it’s worth noting. I also feel like a bad person.
Fast forward to adulthood, and the “me me me” mentality doesn’t exactly translate well to a cohabitation situation. A roommate relationship is one of give-and-take, and sometimes I took more than I gave. Or whatever. So I’ve spent the last few years trying to rid myself of my somewhat selfish ways, and it’s important now more than ever.
I’ve only had a handful of relationships, as you well know. And as I spent my last effort getting through my late teens and early twenties, we were too young to really think things through. But here I am, a few months into a new relationship, and I’m doing everything I can to make sure my only child side doesn’t rear its ugly head once more.
Everybody knows a relationship is about compromise. You do some things you like to do, you do some things he likes to do. You hang out with your friends, you hang out with his friends. It’s just the way that it works. Or the way that it should work, at least.
But I fear that at some point, I might unfairly tip the scales in my direction, and I’m trying to nip things in the bud before I resume my old ways. It’s not about feigning interest, it’s about appreciating the likes and dislikes of a significant other. I’m learning here. Baby steps. You have to crawl before you can walk, you know. (Or some other metaphor about personal growth.)
It may not be the easiest of endeavors for me to undertake, but it’s one that I know I need to accomplish. No one wants to date someone self-centered, and I’m done hanging alone. I’ve had almost 30 years of practice, after all.