We all remember something like this. When we were young and more adventurous. When we did something just to do it, or out of boredom, or maybe peer pressure. But a motive underneath it all is curiosity. Will I burn as badly as others that have touched it? Will I be able to withstand it better?
And once you’re done with the experience you’re left with a welt and a better understanding of boundaries. Of what your body can and can’t do.
And these boundaries and rules… as much as these words engender thoughts of restriction, it’s these very things that provide structure and reason for some of us.
And, per usual, I’ll bring this to relationships. Do you remember the last time you were with someone and you had the thought “why am I being such a brat right now?” Sometimes it’s just a mood but perhaps it’s a desire to understand the boundaries of your relationship. When dating there are no certainties. No oath was made. No white dress and rice strewn about. Rather it’s a leap of faith. Actually, a leap of faith is perhaps easier – jumping off a cliff into the water below is significantly easier once your foot leaves the rock. In relationships it can be easy to give something a chance but once in mid-air doubt and skepticism can whittle their way in.
When you make a commitment you sign off on a certain amount of risk. I’m going to pledge some amount of dedication to you and you’ll do the same to me. That neither party will head for the hills at the first sign of danger. But… what about the second? Third? And suddenly the once equitable relationship turns into a measurement of affection: are we both committed to the same degree? And when you want to see if someone thinks a certain way there is a thing that is often performed: a test.
And suddenly you find yourself being silent one day. Or you have the TV on ESPN all day even if you are dang tired of the same highlights over and over. And you start to gauge how much leeway you have. What can I get away with? How much crap can I throw out there before it starts getting thrown back at me.
Because you’re not looking for a permanent pass to be a punk… cuz that would mean you’d have to be ever-willing to do the same for them. And who wants to sign up for that? Instead someone wants the other person to rip up the test. Break it with humor or calling the person out for their BS.
And a line is drawn. And a foundation can be laid. And instead of a crumbling sand castle an actual structure of expectations and consideration is slowly built. So the next time you feel yourself clamming up and you’re looking for the other person to have the right answers, maybe you realize that you’re looking for more collaboration and communication between you and someone else. Or pull out that scantron and drill that sucker with a pop-quiz with the reassurance that you’re doing it “for us.”
When it's right, when I find her (I will), I hope to not worry about testing her. And if I can't help it, that I at least do so on a curve. :)