Navigating the Currents

After taking a class for a first-time experience with a water sport this weekend, I’m amused by the similarities between relationships and the water itself. On their own, neither are inherently bad, it’s how we interact with them that determines the outcome. Do we jump in feet first, not even knowing how deep it is? Do we know the currents? Do we jump in anyway, for the thrill, despite knowing the danger?

My last, rather brief, relationship I fell hard, and I fell fast for someone I’d known for many, many years. I certainly took the jump, knowing the danger – the lack of emotional maturity, being in different places in life. The currents of our lives drew us close to one another for a brief moment, but now have drawn us further away again.

I’ve promised myself to be completely honest here – both for anyone interested in the journey post Domestic Violence as well as post Divorce.

We had two wonderful first dates, and then he stopped actively pursuing. We talked daily, and he had a lot going on, but in hindsight his feelings were not as strong as mine were becoming. He was kind, still is kind, and respectful of my boundaries. But when we were together there was a lot of the physical and not as much of the emotional connection. Which was odd, because before our first date there was a natural build-up of emotional intimacy. I let down my physical boundaries too soon, and while he was a considerate and fun lover, I had no idea how much that would super-charge my emotions.

The trouble is, he doesn’t know what he wants, and isn’t interested in figuring it out. I have been around the block enough to recognize a defensive mechanism when I see it. He pursues and desires people he can’t have, to avoid ever having to be truly vulnerable. It became quite clear, one early morning, he was still hung up on a friend who was with someone else.

It’s interesting to note that I have my hang-ups too. I fell for someone on the emotionally unstable scale (though he manages it pretty well). I fell for someone who has had a troubled past, and with the allure of being able to ‘fix’ them (though I didn’t act on that). Apparently my bar for relationships is still too low.

Be nice! Don’t threaten to hurt me! Be emotionally unavailable! These are some patterns to work through.

We parted ways amicably, but he is still sending so many mixed signals. Being friends could be great. I just don’t have any friends who actually message me good morning and good night almost every day, who check in constantly. Knowing he is hung up on someone else who is unavailable, helps keep me grounded. His uncertainty doesn’t need to keep me on uneven ground though; one of my best friends is afraid I’m setting myself up to be hurt and strung along. So now comes deciding what boundaries I need, and see if I can continue in our mutually shared activities and maintain a friendship for the future. I am proud of myself for bringing up the tough issues with him as soon as I recognized them, even though the outcome wasn’t what I hoped. Now I just need to navigate those next few steps.

He is a few years younger than I am, which I am sure plays a part. Maybe someday we’ll catch up to each other again. Maybe not. Right now I feel like if we are going to be friends in the future, we need to at least stop messaging each other for a few weeks. It’s hard to find the right words, but I need to remember that it’s not fair for me to be hurt either, even if it is unintentionally on his part.

Though we are not compatible, he has been a good friend over the years, I know he wouldn’t intentionally do anything to hurt me. But he can be a bit thoughtless sometimes. He’s fun and I enjoy his company, but that being said, I don’t want to be his stop-gap while he is waiting for bigger or better things, or his ego-boost. I need to take care of myself and do what is right for me too. He’s had a tough life, and been abandoned a lot. But that doesn’t mean I need to sacrifice my own needs or mental health. Been down that road and it doesn’t end well.

In that effort, I decided to join Match.com for both a distraction, and to get some practice dating. I need to learn better how to evaluate and say no to things that are not good for me. Also – how to keep my pants on, apparently. So far I’ve only had one person with any decent ability for conversation to exchange messages with, but that’s okay. I’ve had 0/2 luck so far in my two dates. The first one was a no-show. The second lied about his height (by about 5 inches), and was two inches shorter than me. Word to the wise: lying about obvious things like that? Just makes people wonder what else you would lie about that aren’t so obvious. I have more respect for people who own their insecurities.

To finish off this ramble, I need to remind myself of some truths. I deserve someone who wants me for me. Someone who is willing to pursue me. Handling important conversations without shutting down and being able to communicate is important. I need to stop reaching down to broken people to find my own worth. I do that because I feel, deep down, that I am broken and don’t deserve a healthy relationship. That’s a lie. I’ve been through my crucible, and I am no longer broken. I may have scars, but I won’t let them define me.

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