I’m so glad I had the opportunity to date so many buttholes. 

Buttholes are such an important part of the self-development process. They highlight all the areas in that we lack. If you have trouble drawing boundaries – no problem! A butthole will come a take advantage of you until you figure it out. 

You struggle with being a constant people-pleaser? You will eventually come across the forever un-pleaseable butthole. 

Doesn’t matter what the goal of your personal journey into self discovery; overcoming your issues with confrontation, temper, drama, perfectionism, your value and/or self worth. There’s a butthole for that. 

Of course I didn’t always see it this way. I went through a stretch of disliking, and in some cases, loathing these people for a period of time. I would relive and replay all the ways they had wronged me, hurt me or taken advantage of me. Then that got kind of boring so I decided to reflect on their impact. I was able to take away valuable and insightful lessons that helped me to understand myself and the world a little bit better. And even if in most cases I learned maybe a little too late, I still learned. 

I’m not sure who coined the term serial monogamist, but I think that would describe my dating habits as well as any. I have dated enough to fully emerge myself in the experiences of various nuances of men on the butthole spectrum: 

There was the one that was so sweet and sensitive but turned out that his ‘sensitivity’ was actually a stealthy form of manipulation, and for bonus points, he was also a low-key misogynist racist. NBD. Then there was the passive aggressive who wanted time, love and attention but could not request this directly so he used the silent treatment to get his way and to avoid conversations he didn’t want to have. Then the ‘I-can’t-live-without-you, you’re-my-whole-world’ one that slowly got me to do everything for him because he needed me and I was ‘always so much better at it’ than he was. That was actually super clever. Well done. 

And then there was that one guy that when we broke up he called my home phone number 28 times in the middle of the night. And my cell phone 16 times. (No exaggeration here people. I’ve never seen anything like it.) And he left voicemails and texts that rom-coms base their desperate post-breakup characters off of – calling the first time just sad… the second one was more desperate. Then it was fiercely angry with horrendous name-calling. Then apologetic. Then sad again. And so on. I am absolutely one to indulge in the occasional hyperbole, but this was legit what happened. I suspect there are some deeper issues there. 

Anyway. If you get the chance to reflect on these experiences in an objective manner, you get to pull out all the skillsets that they left you with. In many of my own experiences it came down to me learning to honour my value, draw boundaries, and have more self-respect. 

If you get really keen on being objective, reflective and learning; you can also take away how you, yourself were a butthole. I am fully aware of the level 10 butthole I have been in certain circumstances (none of which will be listed today, because I know you think I’m perfect and I would hate to disillusion you). I also see the miscommunications that happened, and how things sort of got muttled, and therefore people got hurt unnecessarily. But hey, we’re all a little tougher now with a better sense of humour. Right? Or perhaps, the less desirable outcome, in which we’re all a little more jaded with a bitter sense of humour. Either way.

Each of the experiences with these buttholes (and my being the occasional butthole) really helped me to identify the man I chose to marry. They created this metaphorical checklist that I was able to go through. 

Oh, you do that thing where you twist everything up and have no responsibility for anything? … nah. No thanks. 

Ah yes, I am familiar with this technique. This is the avoid-it-until-she-gives-up technique. Nope. Next!

Hm, I am noticing how defensive and mean I get around you. I don’t like this version of me. Peace mofo, I’m out.   

As awful as it sounds, there was a period of time when I was dating the man that became my husband that I was practically waiting for him to do something ignorant. But he just never really did… Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like he’s perfect. It’s more that he’s accountable. He has his moments, and he’s the first to tell me he’s sorry, or that it’s not my fault or that he just needs a bit of time to figure something out. If he’s been a bit insensitive or I have felt hurt, I tell him. He listens to me and he always apologizes. (And he doesn’t say dumb stuff like: “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Or “Calm down it was only two fries!”)

My husband respects the shit out of me. It kills me that his mother has passed away because I always want to thank her for whatever she did to make him the man he is today (I do regularly thank his dad), and I want to take notes so I can one day raise a human to be so considerate and kind. 

He cherishes me. He makes me feel important to him. I feel valued, trusted and loved. 

I once told him about my insanely unreasonable fear of getting locked out of the house. That day (THAT DAY) he went to Home Depot and changed the deadbolt out for a mechanical deadbolt so I didn’t have to worry about losing my key. I didn’t ask him to do that, he just did. ‘Cause he’s awesome. 

He always cleans the kitchen if I cook. And often will help me clean the kitchen if he’s cooked. He does the laundry, he plans dates, and buys my favourite snacks when I’m PMS-y.  He also buys me flowers every time he comes home from a long stint at work. 

But most importantly, I can be all the weirdest versions of myself. He supports me with my experimenting, pushing boundaries and trying new  things. I am allowed to feel all my feelings, and I feel truly safe knowing that he’s not threatened by my experiencing emotions. My favourite part of our relationship is that neither of us holds the other one to blame when we are sad, upset or hurt. Even if it was their doing… we don’t say “You hurt me” … it’s “I’m hurt.” 

I know that we’ve only been together for a short time but this isn’t the first time I’ve been in a relationship for 2 years, and this one is different. At this point in previous relationships I am usually acutely aware of things that are making me feel stifled and uncomfortable, and simultaneously naively optimistic that all that garbage will get sorted out – and then it doesn’t, and maybe it lasts a few months more until it inevitably comes to a strained end. I’m just really grateful to be this far in and there’s no garbage. There’s effort, communication, and the occasional disagreement. But it’s pretty mellow. And I love that.

There’s a Buddhist quote that discusses finding your person, I’m going to paraphrase it because I can’t remember it and Google was NO help. It says something along the lines of: when you meet your life-partner it won’t be all sweaty palms, heart pounding and fireworks, instead, it will be this noticeable sense of calm. AKA it won’t be this dramatic hot/cold soap opera. I think we base our expectations of love on movies, TV and storybooks – which is a distorted adaptation of reality. It’s not to say you won’t get butterflies or nervous – sometimes I still do with Brin! But mostly he makes me feel ease. And it was like that from day one. Easy.

There are many people with a long dating history of failed relationships that will tell you there aren’t many good ones left. They’re the first to tell me that I really lucked out with how awesome Brinley is. Don’t worry all, I am well aware that my husband is straight-up the tits. But I want to get across something I feel is very important. I truly feel that I was able to identify my husband as someone to spend my life with because I reflected and learned from my past relationships. I was willing to look myself in the face and acknowledge where I needed to adjust and shift for my own personal growth; and I was able to very distinctly know what I wanted in the human being that would become my life-partner. I became so clear on this that I had decided I would rather be alone and happy by myself, than to settle for a relationship that only filled me up part way. 

Before I met Brinley I made a list. A list of qualities and traits that were all inspired by the previous relationships that I had experienced. It was a pretty detailed list. When I completed my list, I read through it, and my first thought was: “Wow. If this person exists. He’s a pretty remarkable person.” It made me reflect. If I find this incredible person, then I ought to be the most incredible version of myself that I can be. I ought to be willing to return these same qualities. It’s not terribly fair to ask someone for this level of investment if you’re not willing to come to the table with similar value. So I started doing my best to develop in my own areas, asking myself harder questions: Are you ready for your person? Truly. The person that you know you want. The one that is going to treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Are you taking care of yourself? Are you comfortable being all of yourself? Are you responsible with your money? Are you brave enough to own your feelings and your mistakes? Are you able to stand up for yourself?  All of this inquiry gave me the motivation to invest in myself. To hold myself accountable to rise and expand on who I am. To acknowledge my value and observe my deficits with kindness and patience. 

So thank you, Buttholes. You were the reasons I was able to make that list. The reasons I knew exactly what I appreciated in a long-term relationship and the reasons I knew exactly what I didn’t need. You helped motivate me to step back and evaluate myself and acknowledge my various strengths and the I’m-working-on-them parts. You helped me to understand and appreciate what a truly incredible person Brinley is. Without the contrasting experiences of your Butthole-ism I may never have been able to fully appreciate the gift that my husband is. 

Thanks Buttholes. I only hope I was able to do the same for you.