Why I've Always Had A Wandering Eye In My Relationships — Until Now

by Zara Barrie

Today, I'm fueled with an irrepressible desire to get a little ~personal~ because I'm a nasty woman who will express her nasty personal narrative in hopes that another nasty woman might relate.

The year 2016 has been the year of my identity crisis, the latest and greatest of which stems from me not wanting sleep with anyone but the person I'm dating.

This is a new feeling for me, babes. 

I've always had a bit of a wandering eye in relationships... at least if the relationship was healthy and the person wasn't emotionally abusive, codependent or argumentative.

If the relationship was dark and destructive, my eye didn't wander as much mostly because I was too weary from the incessant fighting and didn't have the energy to check someone else out.

But in healthy, happy relationships, I found myself so bored, it was painful. And bored, idle eyes lead to ugly, sinful thoughts.

Bored, idle eyes lead to ugly, sinful thoughts.

I accepted it as my twisted fate. I would either be bored to tears in a healthy relationship with a wandering eye, OR be stuck in a toxic relationship that sucks away at my soul.

For the record, the only person I've ever actually cheated on was a skater boy who cheated on me in 11th grade. (He went down on this pixie, emo chick while he was rolling on ecstasy.)

It was a revenge cheat, and I don't even count it because a) I'm gay AF, so the relationship wasn't even real, and b) I was 16. You can't really hold a sexually confused teenager with an eating disorder accountable for much.

Anyway, growing up, I thought love meant chaos. I thought passion meant dramatic blow-outs where strangers stare at you in sheer horror as you engage in a screaming match with your lover in public. I thought you had to fight for love, and if love came easy, it wasn't love, man.

My mindset probably stems from my childhood, honestly. I was always a dramatic kid who was hyper-fascinated by the toxic, tempestuous couples throughout pop-culture history: Kurt and Courtney, Sid and Nancy, Bonnie and Clyde.

"That's love!" I would think to myself as I watched "Sid and Nancy" for the 10th time. And sometimes, in acting class, I didn't know when the scene ended and where real life began, so I was always trying to artificially amp up my personal life.

It was unhealthy, I know, but I think a lot of us do this. I mean, how can you grow up in the denim-clad 90s and not have a warped perception of what love really is?

Now, as an adult, I realize this perception is directly connected to my lifelong habit of having a wandering eye. I've spent my life mistaking a healthy relationship with boredom, and projecting my fantasy of a tempestuous, real romance onto a stranger.

But earlier this year, my wandering eye centered itself.

It's sort of freaking me out. I don't know if it went to yoga when I was sleeping, but it suddenly feels grounded.  Healthy has become suddenly sexy to me. Clarity is something I fiercely crave, like carbs on my period.

Healthy has become suddenly sexy to me. Clarity is something I fiercely crave, like carbs on my period.

The weirdest thing I've learned is that nothing is about what you think it's about, kittens.

In my case, the wandering eye wasn't about me not being able to keep it in my pants or being perpetually sexually dissatisfied. I was just afraid of anything resembling stability because stability is scary.

And the fear of a stable relationship was really a fear of me showing up for myself.

See, when you have something to lose, like a healthy relationship with an awesome partner who listens to you rant but also knows how to make you come, you are faced with two choices: You can either step up to the plate or you can run.

And sometimes, it's easier to just run. Because healthy relationships force us to confront the painful aspect of ourselves — addiction, shitty self-esteem, our self-sabotaging ways or broken family dynamics — that we'd like to run away from. In healthy relationships, we're not distracted from all of that by chaos or the task rescuing someone (who often can't be rescued).

Healthy relationships remind us of what's real — and that isn't always pretty. And in some cases, we're not sure if we're capable of stepping up to the plate.

Healthy relationships remind us of what's real — and that isn't always pretty.

So my version of running away and avoiding the work I needed to do on myself was forever looking elsewhere, not at myself or my relationship.

My wandering eye was the perfect metaphor for my fear. Not my fear of committing to another person, but my fear of really committing to myself and to the things I want to achieve in my life. I thought, if I distracted myself for long enough, I wouldn't have to focus on my fears.

But now, I want to confront the things that freak me out. I'm tired of calling in sick to life when shit gets rough.

I'm ready to put on my big girl pants and look the future dead in the eye. I'm ready for something tangible.

After all, you can never really hold anything firmly when one eye is staring out the window.