When I was around thirty-seven years old, I took stock in my set of priorities, and consciously or unconsciously, a viable romantic love partner took a spot near the top for me if not the very top. I took stock in this notion in the midst of a major campaign to quit smoking cigarettes.
The problem for me with making a love relationship partner a top priority for almost all of my adult life up to that point is that, at thirty-seven years old, I still did not have what I wanted. I concluded that making such a goal a top priority was not getting me anywhere.
I must give this caveat to the following list: I still have not found a viable romantic love partner, but, and this is important, I have accomplished pretty much everything that comes before what once took the top spot. So here goes.
List of Priorities
1) Overall health and well-being- I quit smoking two packs of cigarettes a day fifteen years ago. I committed to abstinence from drugs and alcohol eight years ago. I still struggle with diet and exercise and weight, but I've bought myself some time by quitting the cigarettes and drugs and alcohol. My psych med helps with mood, but I give myself a lot of credit for self diagnosing Love Addiction as the cause of my depressive episodes and addressing that issue in a meaningful way. Medications can provide one with the longterm stability to find the causes of my depression, but I had one really bad experience in my relationship with women that demonstrated that even with medication, therapy, an understanding of my illness, and the support of friends and family, it was still possible to totally crash and burn in the romantic love department, and so I did.
2) Relations with friends a family- In lieu of a life partner, these are the people who have been there for me. Not always all of them in all cases, but overall pretty reliable. Getting along with these people is more important than going out and finding a girlfriend.
3) Employment and other means of support- I've struggled with employment a good deal of my adult life. I get paid support from my family for services to family members and I get government disability. Without a viable source of income, not much else is possible.
4) My art and music. Notice that this is not priority one either. Without the above three things, these activities would not be possible. I don't do these activities because I just love doing them so much; I LOVE smoking both cigarettes and dope and drinking heavily and watching rented movies at home, but I had to give that up. I do art and music, and stay at it this long without substantive recognition from the market, because my massive ego tells me that these are worthwhile uses for my time and energy.
5) Managing money and finances in general- I've gotten pretty good at this since I quit drugs and alcohol. So good that the credit card company has not raised my credit limit on my card since I've committed to abstinence, because I have just not flown close enough to the Sun to warrant raising my limit.
6) How I relate to women I am attracted to in my world- Oh dear God. This is so much more important to me that finding a girlfriend. What I mean by this is that there are all kinds of realities about both myself and the attractive women in my world that more or less prevent an easy take of a girlfriend from this source. Those realities include: my disability, their relationship status, what my disability represents to them, the fact that so many of them have no interest in dating me, our age differences ( a BIG one), and that I seem to have to deal with so many dead end flirtations.. Those are ones I can think of right now. Nevertheless, my ability to get along with these women within all these sets of limitations colors my day to day existence to a profound degree. Absolutely.
7) Compiling a history with women where I don't get hurt (much)- Again, way more important than finding a girlfriend. This is something, like everything I've listed so far, that I have managed to accomplish. Between my initial onset of my mental illness and, eight/ nine years later my diagnosis and treatment, it was all hurt in my relationship with woman. All hurt, all the time. Since making this kind of thing a priority, that is, compiling a history with women where I don't get hurt, I gained a modicum of experiences, not the least of which is how to effectively deal with the hurtin' kind of woman.
8) Finding a viable, long-term, romantic love partner. Here it is, I'm fifty-three, and yes, that is a long time since the age of thirty-seven since I've rearranged priorities. But I will say this, I've rejected several women who made their interest in me evident because of things like unresolved substance abuse problems, bad personalities, bad attitudes, etc, and not necessarily because they weren't attractive enough. And since finding love is not priority one, I don't get all racked with guilt over missed opportunities with such women.
So there you have it. Seven things more important to me than finding love. Finding love rates higher than travel to far flung lands for example, and maybe quite a few other things, but it is not priority number one anymore.