The convoluted world of dating

It’s interesting to admit, at least to myself, that there was some intoxicating, possibly hormonal element and chemistry involved in my last brief relationship. The intensity of that brief time gives me a better understanding of what a flash in the pan, relationally-speaking, might look like.

Things are awkward, moving forward as friends. But I think the friendship is worth working on. It was an emotionally intense time, but I think in a way, it jump-started my emotions and desires and woke up something in me that had lain dormant, even through my first relationship post-divorce. It helped me see that I was ready for something more, and that stepping out into the unknown world of dating might take some bravery for me to get what I want. But I have the tools now. I can say no. I can call people out, kindly. I know more of what I deserve, and want, and am happy enough with my life that I don’t need someone to complete me. There are still moments of loneliness and disconnection. Still moments where I would like having a person. But I know how to fill myself, and who to reach out to for those things in healthier ways.

So the week after we broke off that poorly defined and intense relationship, I joined Match and eHarmony. To be honest, besides a few old creepers liking my profile, easily blocked – my experiences have been fairly low key and pleasant. No unwarranted pictures or uncomfortable interactions. I had one date that stood me up. Met another person for lunch, but didn’t connect with them, though they were nice. Chatted with someone else who seemed nice, but had met someone else and was pursuing one person at a time. Which is very fair!

That first week I connected with someone, whose profile I really enjoyed. A writer, with a bit of tongue in cheek humor, and self-aware enough to just say who he was, and what he liked, and what he wasn’t and was looking for. So I shot him a message, which then began a correspondence that quickly outpaced the allotted size of Match messages. So we moved to e-mails. Last weekend we met up and played some games, and I was a bit pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. We ended up meeting up online to play a video game together last night, and that too was a novel and fun experience. Finding someone who moves at your pace, play-style and conversationally, is frankly unexpected. It’s nice to engage with someone who is self-aware enough for deeper, more meaningful conversations.

It will be fun to explore this, though, I’ve never been involved with anyone with such similar interests as myself. I’m not sure what to expect. But I’m sure it will be a good opportunity for growth, and if there is one thing I’ve gotten good at the past few years – it’s definitely that.

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When he doesn’t know what he wants…

Yesterday I set a boundary. It needed to be said, as He had been messaging me daily (including good morning/good night messages) since we stepped back from dating. Calling once a week. Last Saturday he invited me over to make me dinner, and fool that I was, it really was just as friends.

It’s confusing, when someone acts like your boyfriend, but has clearly said he doesn’t want anything serious. He knows I’m not a Friends with Benefits girl, and he’s dropped all flirtation.

Friendship would be fine – he’s not a bad guy – but not with these mixed messages.

Gaslighting and crazy-making were a part of my life for so long. I don’t want to play relationship games. I don’t want to meet someone else’s needs while burying my own. I don’t compartmentalize or even transition between different relationship stages readily.

But I deserve to be with someone who wants me. I said I wasn’t in a rush, so long as we weren’t dating other people, and that I was interested in possibilities not promises. He seemed pretty certain that he wouldn’t be able to offer even a possibility. I’ve accepted what he told me, and respected that.

I recognize where his actions come from – knowing what little I do of his background. They come from a place of loneliness and insecurity. But I can’t go back to living that life. It triggers too many uncomfortable things for me, especially when the person involved is not a great communicator.

But the honest truth? I felt safe in his arms. I miss that feeling. And I’m lonely.

So to thwart the possibilities of wallowing, I’m having a few friends over for a movie tonight, and I’ve picked up a new hobby. I’ll still see Him at events with mutual friends, but no more one-on-one stuff for a little while, at the least.

 

3 Ways to Move Past or Protect Yourself from Rejection in Relationships and Dating — Must Be This Tall To Ride

“Your mind deserves to be stimulated. It deserves peace.

Your body deserves to be wanted. It deserves satisfaction.

Your spirit deserves to be nurtured. It deserves whatever support you require on your life journey.”

Yes. Yes. Yes.

When I wasn’t crying over my divorce and broken family, I was mostly getting dating wrong. Must Be This Tall To Ride wasn’t about helping anyone. It wasn’t about strengthening relationships, preventing divorce, or improving ourselves. It was simply about me being a trainwreck and amusing myself by sharing stories about it. I had just […]

via 3 Ways to Move Past or Protect Yourself from Rejection in Relationships and Dating — Must Be This Tall To Ride

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.
Continue reading “Navigating the Currents”

Living in the moment

Overthinking. Perhaps it is my nature, or perhaps it is a consequence of history. Either way, my mind is constantly evaluating threads of actions and ideas and words and seeking to interpret the future. Yet while our past informs our future, it cannot always predict it.

Vulnerability terrifies me. Relationships terrify me. Yet I long for the right companionship, someone to laugh with. Someone who doesn’t expect me to shatter with a wrong move. The safety inherent in trusting someone not to go too far.

I have to keep reminding myself to treasure the immediacy of my every moment, to learn and grow and find my peace where I am at now. If I try too hard to examine every little detail I steal tomorrow’s joy too readily.

Dating a friend is certainly different. Our 6 years of history instill a certain level of trust and respect that was missing from my last relationship. I always assumed my edginess regarding physicality was due to my emotionally abusive marriage and the lack of experience with tender, loving touches.

This is the first time I’ve been with someone who both desires me, follows my lead, doesn’t push me past my boundaries… I fell asleep in his arms as we simply cuddled in my living room. No panic aftershocks. A little tenseness that faded into… relaxation. He teased me, mid-way through the night, that I was an aggressive cuddler (having pushed him off a pillow) then rolled over and curled around me, sweet and protective.

Normally I struggle with physical intimacy. Normally I hate being held in such vulnerable positions. When I was still married, my last week before leaving, I had to lay in the arms of someone I thought might kill me if he knew I was planning on leaving. I had to pretend everything was okay.

I wasn’t pretending this week. The danger of catching genuine feelings for this man is suddenly very real and suddenly very intimidating.

Without ignoring anything worth noting, I keep reminding myself one day at a time. Whether this relationship is a season or a lifetime, I know already I will be better for having it.

 

Trusting Myself

Ending a relationship is difficult, and I wish I had listened to my gut and doubts sooner. Guy is a wonderful man, but in the end, he just wasn’t right for me. He helped me heal my most broken places and gave me the gift of being genuinely loved for being myself. I learned a lot about what I am and am not looking for, and learned the dangers of sharing too much history too soon. It put our relationship, I think, into a bit of a rebound category; while he cared so sweetly for me when my self-confidence was low, as I came into myself that care began to feel suffocating.

Healing, for me, sometimes means risking the pain of difficult things. When someone coddles me, or walks on eggshells to avoid distressing me, they take away my opportunities to heal and grow as a person.

So.

New plan. To avoid dealing with getting to know someone as I date, I am only going to date someone who I get to know as a friend first.

So.

Life has a sense of humor.

A long-time friend of five or six years asked me out on a date, and once I got over the surprise (and clarified that he did actually intend this as a date) I accepted. He’s someone I have always found attractive and fun, but as he was a few years younger than me and we had always been involved with other people, nothing ever went anywhere but friendship. He knows some of my past, is one of the people who kept an eye on my ex for me, and has been a good friend without knowing all the details.

Saturday is our second date, and already I know there is something special about this sudden chemistry between us. I’m not sure if this is a relationship that is destined for a season or more, but I know I am going to enjoy the experience and allow myself to have a little fun. As one of my best friends said, maybe this will just be an opportunity to deepen an already good friendship.

My gut? Feels good about this one.

Anxiety Ungeneralized

My heart is pounding. Palms are tingling. My eyes only capable of fleeting connections as I fit my hand carefully around a water glass and sip. Condensation mingles with the salt of nervous palms.

The ice clinks, but even the cool liquid doesn’t dampen the heat of excitement, that sweat of anxious embarrassment. I make a confession of nerves, offering up my Mona Lisa smile as I try to still the subtle shaking of my fingers.

Conversation stops and starts, and awkward words begin to fill the emptiness, or perhaps not so awkward, as his startling observation and grin surprise a laugh from me. Understanding and patience are balanced in his gaze, though uncertainty lurks there as well. We test the waters, one word at a time. One glance. One flash of a curious smile.

Risk feels like a knife blade to the throat, my body filling with all the uncertainties of a harrowing past.

Another sip of ice water.

“So, when did this become a possibility? You asking me out?” There, a subject broached in genuine curiosity. The answer will explain how we find ourselves, carefully dancing out our insecurities as the waitress interrupts at just the right moments to relieve tensions. Fill empty glasses. Take orders.

“Ten minutes before I asked.” He replies, then grins. “What seemed, at the time, a crazy idea fueled by sleeplessness. Though I’ve always liked you.” Our exchanged smiles are shy, for all our thirty something years of life each, this dance between friendship and romance is still new for us both. “So… when did this become a possibility? You saying ‘yes’?”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on dating before having a friendship first. So when you asked…” My water glass becomes impossibly interesting, and bears the weight of my sheepish smile. “Just so happens, I’ve always liked you a bit too.”

 

Life in the Fast Lane

Sometimes everything in my life blurs just beyond my immediate view, like staring out the passenger window during a road trip. Moving so quickly, distinct features fade into hazy generalities. Flash of orange. Rising and falling gray. Fuzzy depths of ambiguous green.

I can guess what those things are… a road sign. A concrete barrier. Trees. But all the details fade with the rush of travelling at 60 mph. Right now my world feels a little like that, emotionally, and I have to consciously ‘pull over’ to stop and examine what is going on.

Continue reading “Life in the Fast Lane”

The road goes ever on and on…

Revelations are curious things, and sometimes the most profound of realizations to some are ones that are so obvious to others. But I suppose, the path to understanding ourselves is more about the journey to the destination than the destination itself.

A recent run-in with my ex, who decided it best to get arrested rather than obey my protection order, left me opening mail from the Domestic Violence Advocate and the Prosecutor’s office. In it, was a request for a Victim’s Impact Statement.

Although the request sent me to my Google Docs and I wrote several pages on several different days, none granted me the words I wished to use. I wanted to achieve a few things:

  1. I wanted to be cognizant that anything I write will go into the public record.
  2. I do not want to be weak, but I want him to understand I will utilize my protection order to the full legal extent I am allowed.

Though I still don’t have anything down I feel comfortable sharing, I discovered some things about myself through this process.

Continue reading “The road goes ever on and on…”

Relational Crossroads

Somewhere in the last year, I met someone who genuinely valued me. Who supported me. Who seemed to enjoy my oddities and find a simple pleasure in my presence. Someone who shared my interests, and who could handle defeat of various kinds with grace and kindness and an odd sort of self-confidence that was dashingly attractive.

Tonight, I realized our relationship was lopsided. That I look at a deepening relationship with as much fear as he does eagerness.

Someone in a group made a comment about his wife, and I felt the brush of Guy’s fingers, and felt as much as saw the warm glance he turned my way.

There is one problem, however.

I am not ready.

Continue reading “Relational Crossroads”

Trigger-feelings

He lifted his hand from the wheel, shaking it, sunshine and shadows filtering through the driver’s side window as his knuckles popped. A rueful smile popped across his lips, and he grinned at me during the course of a conversation I no longer remember.

Then his right hand, the one nearest me… he lifted and shook it too. Nothing happened.

Then, he punched it on his thigh, abruptly, suddenly.

He punched his thigh.

Even as he relaxed and sighed in relief as his knuckles cracked, I found myself taut as a guitar string. Staring straight out the window, I breathed carefully as he continued driving, oblivious.

I am safe.

He’s not angry.

He won’t hurt me.

But these are things I said of my ex, too. So there is some discord in my body, trying to decide to believe the things I am telling it. Or not.

Logically – Guy has never done anything to intentionally make me feel unsafe. Quite the opposite, he tries so hard to make things work and make me comfortable.

I don’t want him to walk on eggshells, like I once had to. I say nothing, but I felt the quiet paralyzing my mind and limiting my words as a part of me shut down.

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Numb. Because life isn’t Complicated Enough.

Most people, when they see rolling hills and wide grassy expanses feel a sense of joy and relief in the beauty of the world. In reality, I can entirely relate to this and even crave the peace and quiet and regenerative qualities of the great outdoors.

Yet, with anxiety, the emotional counterpoint of those rolling green hills takes a darker turn. Beneath that beauty, lies a minefield, and if I’m to function, I have to find a way to cross it.

Fun! (Not.)

Continue reading “Numb. Because life isn’t Complicated Enough.”

Forging my own relational path

Learning to love….? again.

Love is a funny word, when you come to think of it. So many meanings and applications. I know how to love: with my family, with my intimate girlfriends who have kept me sane and supported, with my friends children or my pets. All of those things come easily to me.

When I think of love, I’ve often interpreted it in the past as action. If we love someone, we look for and strive to meet their needs so that they feel valued. A relationship is formed when that person offers the same to us. As a piece of the relational puzzle, it is a really important one. But I’ve come to learn that actions cannot exist in a void, and love itself is too multi-faceted for any strict, single definition. But, to get back to my original train of thought… Continue reading “Forging my own relational path”

Safety lines

“How would you feel about going away for a weekend?”

I froze, sitting in the car, suddenly aware of the thrum of the wheels against the pavement, the fragility of the windows, Guy – relaxed and easy, driving, and unaware of my fight or flight reaction.

“No rush on deciding,” he continued, voice easy and nonchalant, throwing a smile my direction before focusing back on the road. “but I was just thinking it might be something fun for us.” His own uncertainty slipped out then, as he hurried to add, to reassure, “I want you to feel comfortable, though, so don’t let me pressure you if you’re not ready.” He offered two location options, and then a third with more of a ‘surprise’ potential.

As quickly as my anxiety reared it’s protective head, it settled back down, coiling up like a wary, sleeping dragon with tendrils of smoke and steam still sidling from its nostrils. It wouldn’t take much to stir it up again, but for now, it lay somnolent. Continue reading “Safety lines”