icon: "artless (a painting of a nude person in sun-dappled shade, unselfconsciously pulling off red stockings. They have a soft round belly and breasts that slope down)"
It has been about 2 years now since I last got my heart broken, and it has been about 3 years since I last fell in love. For a while I would fall every year or two and get my heart absolutely trampled, but I've been cautious for a while now.
I can afford to be cautious because I am fully nourished by my relationship with Topaz and I am more in love with them than I have ever been with anyone. I do want to experience falling in love with someone else again, since I know it will be such a different experience now.
I don't fetishize my relationships anymore which is a completely different experience that allows me to observe them in a much truer way. By fetishize I mean, I elevated the importance of connection far above the practicalities of helping each other get needs met.
In the past I have endured people putting no effort in, trying to push me to give to them in ways that would harm me, not expressing appreciation for who I am and what I do, not expressing encouragement for my growth, not being willing to learn themselves, and/or not trying to understand and fully know me. I did this because I felt an intuitive connection with the person and I wanted to keep experiencing that so badly that I was willing to suffer for 90% of the relationship for the sake of that 10% of connection.
I'm no longer doing this, not because I made a choice to stop doing it, but because I stopped over-valuing "spiritual" connections. It was a leftover fetish from when I was religious, and it was a really damaging one because I put that sensation at higher importance than anything else. I still love feeling an intuitive connection with someone, and it is still magical to me and something I feel super lucky to have with Topaz, but it is NOT more important than being treated with respect, appreciation, consent, and curiosity.
Before I let myself fall in love again, I will need to know that the person can be: appreciative of who I am (not just what I do), more than willing to navigate conflict with me, curious & eager to know me, independently growing, encouraging of my growth, open and honest, willing and able to invest effort in building our relationship, considering my emotions as important in making decisions that affect me, and not yearning for more than I can freely give. All of these things I offer in a relationship and for me to feel fulfilled I need to receive them as well.
If I never find another person like this, that is okay. I already got luckier than I would have ever imagined possible to have all of this and more with Topaz. And I can still build meaningful and nourishing connections without being in love.