Sometimes I hesitate to write about my personal stuff here. I’ve had positive feedback from people in my life, that they appreciate the points of view that I bring. That they can relate to it, and don’t feel so alone. But I’m also being incredibly vulnerable and that’s very hard for me. Most know that I’m pretty honest, but I do pick and choose the time and place, how brutally honest to be, and I don’t expose the softest parts of me. I tend to reserve that for select people in my life. However, there’ve been things on my mind lately, as always. And I think it might be cathartic to me to finally speak on it, as well as it might be of help to someone else.
I was speaking to my Dad last night about how I felt there were traits that I got specifically from him, relationships with our respective parents, things of that nature. We came around to the point where we started talking about our romantic relationships in life. I found out that he had many of the same wishes I did. For instance, I wish that I had been more courageous to leave certain situations sooner. More courage to pursue the situations that might have had a shot. I thought he would be worried that I wasn’t in a relationship by this point in my life. He encouraged me to continue the changes I was making in my life, and he emphasized “Do not settle. Wait for the one that fits. Wait for a teammate. It’s my thought that we should be waiting for the complement to our soul.” We talked at great length. He reminded me that it’s not entirely bad to be just be on my own for a little bit like I have been.
I couldn’t bring myself to be completely honest with him about what I’ve turned into. I mean, how much can I tell my Dad without getting into the messy parts and worrying him unnecessarily? Also, I feel slightly like a bit of a flop in this department. I’m not very good in relationships, so I’ve purposely avoided them, regardless of the thought of “settling”. I “date” people. But for the record, I have not been in a solid committed relationship since I got out of a 10 year, really fucked up, and tumultuous relationship. I have not called anyone my boyfriend since the early aughts, which we can safely say has been, quite literally, years. (I know a lot of people look at me and think otherwise. And that’s ok. I can’t really stop people from projecting stories on me). I’ve gotten really good at pushing away people before they have a chance to leave me, which I’m convinced, is totally inevitable. I also am really good at “dating” people that are not healthy, emotionally available, nor interested in a deep committed relationship with me specifically.
The thing is, deep down, I really do want to change that. I’ve been thinking about this aspect of my life quite a bit. I’ve really been blessed in all areas of my life, but this is my last hurdle, as it were, I guess to conquer the things that have been holding me back in the love department.
After I hung up with with my Dad, I logged into Facebook, and someone had posted an article from a dating coach. The coach suggested a method that a woman shouldn’t commit to any one man until he puts a ring on it. While I can see this from a feminist perspective, I wasn’t feeling completely aligned with that. I noted though, a reader had commented on it, recounting a story about meeting a man through mutual friends who was interested in her and made it very clear – he asked her straight up “Are you single?” and “What are you looking for?” and how it kind of made her stop and think. It made me stop and think too.
There was an instance recently, where I had gotten romantically involved with a person over this past year up to this most recent holiday/Christmas season, and I had started opening myself up to the possibility, but I realized very quickly, that it was a poor decision, and have since closed that chapter. I won’t get into specifics but, what I will mention is that once again, I felt completely frustrated and emotional and left behind. I remember at certain points he would ask me: “What do you want?” And I would be completely at a loss for words.
“What are you looking for?” Valid question. I’ve really had to think on this. We get what we put out – energy begets energy and whatever we put out there, comes back around to us.
What AM I looking for? Why was I struggling in the relationship arena? I had heart to hearts with friends closest to me. One theme came up regularly: Self worth. I have a lot of scripts that I’m re-writing in my head about that. Some of them though, stay in my psyche and surprise me at random moments….insidious little thoughts and insecurities that decide to voice their opinions right when I find a small sliver of happiness with someone. I know where they come from. While I’ve moved on from those circumstances, it’s the subconscious reactions I have that are killing my game. Someone will say something, and I respond with a passive-aggressive, rather self-deprecating phrase, and as it’s coming out of my mouth I regret it immediately. I’ll completely freeze up. I’ll start finding things wrong with the whole situation in order to talk myself out of it. I tell myself it’s just safer to be alone.
What I’ve reminded myself is that I’ve already been alone this whole time! So sure, I guess I got that one figured out!
So how do I figure out when it’s safe to actually BE with someone? (Because that’s the thing that bites me in ass, apparently).
I was journaling today, re-writing those inner scripts. I was reflecting on my life. Money. Job. Education. And of course Love. I reminded myself that everything I need to know is inside of me. My heart. My soul. Those are the things I seek to follow the most. I’ve built myself into a strong and courageous woman. But in matters of love, I still struggle with those feelings of self worth. It’s been an insidious ordeal and a complicated dance. On the flip side though, I do feel, on a lot of fronts, like I’m finally coming out of the shadows of my inner demons for the first time ever. I’ve merged pieces of my soul back together that I thought were long broken. I do things more for me instead of trying to change myself into someone that pleases everyone. (Because that’s impossible by the way).
Then I had a HUGE realization: I realized that ALL of this time, I was looking at things the wrong way. I wasn’t wasting my time. I didn’t go about things the wrong way. I shouldn’t regret anything. I was simply on a life path of learning how to put a relationship with MYSELF first. How can I love anyone if I don’t love myself first? Sounds cliche, but it’s true. I’ve been in situations that have brought me closer and closer to loving myself and pulling myself up by my own bootstraps. I’ve learned that I need to really look at who people are NOW, in THIS moment. Not who they were in the past. Also not live in potential “what-ifs”. It’s so important to be in the moment.
Ok. I’ve established that. Does that mean I’m ready to really look for something healthy for me and really put myself out there?
Oh but wait… there’s more? I’ve also noticed that my tolerance for being “hit on” has been low. Normally I just brush it off. But it’s really been bothering me. Especially with the reputation that seems to accompany the Flight Attendant life style. There are so many assumptions that are so off base. So I’ve been a bit jaded and a bit angry about it. While I appreciate valid and sincere compliments, I just don’t need to hear the superficial sentiments that are only aimed at getting into my pants without any regard to who I am as a person. Believe me, I know the difference between the two. But I have to let go of the emotionality around all of it. Just focus on what I WANT, not what I DON’T want. Don’t pay attention to the situations that don’t serve me and pay attention to the situations that DO.
Now the question is two-fold: “What are you looking for?” and “What kind of an approach from a man WOULD I appreciate?”
Dating has been all kinds of awkward for me, because it moves too fast and has become a crash course in, “Okay, I have to get to know you faster than normal because this is supposed be a bigger deal” kind of thing. Which in retrospect, doesn’t work in today’s dating world. ( I could talk more about today’s dating world, but that’s another entry for another day). I always feel so pressured and I’m tired of feeling that way. Nobody should have to feel pressured that much. Especially when it comes to finding your lifemate.
I really soul-searched on this and I finally came up with five cohesive thoughts. So here they are, in all of their blinding simplicity (blinding on my part because I don’t know what took me so long to really put this into my psyche).
- Be my “friend” first.
Haha. Sounds kind of ironic as I write it. But seriously.
Don’t go through my Facebook page and think you know me. Sure, there are bits and pieces there, but that’s a curated piece of who I am. Spend time with me and actually get to know me. Like actually DATE me. Find ways for us to spend time together without any expectations of me “paying you back” for your “investment” – I can foot the bill for myself. I can get myself where I need to go. So what you are expecting me to “pay back”? I’m not a fucking wind-up doll. Put some time in. Also, don’t expect me to sleep with you until the timing feels right.
2. Show me ways I can trust you. Show me your honour. Be a person of growth. Be serious.
Mostly that means, don’t lie to me. Speak to me respectfully. Live your life with strength and courage. Treat people decently. If you are looking for casual, we are not the right fit.
3. Communicate with me forthrightly.
NEVER leave me wondering where I stand with you. Be authentic. Tell me what you are in this for, so that I can make my own informed decision about what I want. Be honest about how you feel. Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear.
4. When I show you my heart and bare my soul, don’t be a douchebag and ghost out.
You are not responsible for how I handle MYself. But you ARE responsible for how you handle YOURself.
5. Honour my time.
It is a valuable commodity. I’m a busy person. If I make time for you, it’s because I’ve made it important to me. Be respectful of that. If I reach out to you, respond in a timely fashion. Don’t always wait for me to be the one to reach out. It takes two to Tango. I shouldn’t have to do all the work.
So that’s my list. Approach me with those intentions and I’ll be responsive. It’s a new thing for me to be so specific. I’m hoping it changes the dynamic of how I look at relationships and who I grant entry into my life. Also, it holds me accountable for how I treat myself as well as look at the caliber of the person I’m considering spending time with. It helps quiet that voice in my psyche that has been rearing it’s Medusa head trying to get me to doubt myself. I know better. I’m going forward and BEING better about this.
I’ve finally learned to love myself and be courageous in love. I wish you the same.