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Archive for the ‘Dating Realizations’ Category

I’ve had interesting dating experiences – some fun and some scary!  I haven’t experienced that special “spark” people speak about.  (To be honest, I don’t know that it exists.)

Sometimes I wonder if my psyche is screwed up and I’m not able to become deeply involved at an emotional level.  Even now when I think about it, I tense up or cringe because I just don’t believe people stick around – at least not in my experience.

I was hanging out this weekend with someone who is becoming a good friend and he even called me out on this.  He said I don’t open up and tell him when things are bothering me or what I am thinking about – he’s right to a large degree.  I keep a lot of my deep emotions locked away.

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Ever felt strong emotions or a strong attachment to someone you probably shouldn’t?  I’m there.

I’m inexplicably drawn to a man who stirs up emotions I have never felt before.  It sounds wonderful until I say that he is not emotionally available.  I think sometimes he wants to be, but then other times I think it’s a game of cat and mouse that he likes to plays.

It’s the worst game of back and forth with poor communication mixed in.  Riding this ride is a natural wreck for me.  It triggers
feelings of not being good enough and wondering what I did wrong – only I know I didn’t do anything wrong.

I’m not sure how to get this guy out of my head, out of my heart and out of my system.  There’s always this small nagging pull.  It’s even worse when he randomly reaches out.  I can logically tell myself that his random texts asking how I am doing have no substance, but they are enough to cloudy my mind.

So it’s even more important for me to remind myself of my basic must-haves and that a loving relationship should be just that … loving.

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I’ve been emotionally unavailable. I thought I was in a position where I could open up and love a potential life partner, but I wasn’t. I was able to develop deep feelings and perhaps love that person, but I wasn’t able to open up and let go of my defenses. I think I just might be ready now.

I can’t blame the guys I was dating for the relationships not working out – many shouldn’t have worked out! Some were amazing experiences I think I was supposed to have in life. Others were a testament to what I have learned since my divorce about myself … how early experiences shaped my thinking and behaviors; how family dynamics created learned dysfunction; how I created barriers that led to repeated experiences and how I have to take chances in order to live a fulfilling life.

I have the power in my life to create a healthy life with a healthy relationship. The first step is knowing I deserve it! The second step is allowing myself to take chances – emotional chances where I open up and don’t create an invisible safety net. I won’t lose myself in the people I date and I know I can survive if the relationship doesn’t work.

Now I need to make a decision; do I stay in the city I live in now or do I move elsewhere. I can’t open myself up to a relationship before I answer this question. I have a small network of incredible people I call friends and that will be difficult, not impossible, to recreate elsewhere.

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I’m finding myself in a sad place right now. As I have worked to learn new coping skills, I have also worked to purge negative relationships from my life. I haven’t let down my defenses, so I haven’t developed new healthier relationships. This leaves me in a state of loneliness.

I realize that my previous relationships were based upon being needed rather than wanted. This is the enabler role I learned as a child. Now that I don’t want to start a relationship off with a “need”, I am finding that I feel neither needed nor wanted. That’s a pretty lonely place to be in. Ironically, I rediscovered the tidbits below.

  • If there is one thing about which you are not in control, it’s who loves you, stays with you, gets ill, or leaves you.
  • When a heart is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, it holds nothing back. And sometimes it gets broken.
  • If our hearts are closed because we don’t want to suffer, they won’t be open enough to recognize the joy as it flies by.

My heart is broken, for a number of reasons, and I don’t quite know how to put it back together.

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I’m not sure why this thought hit me today, but I am glad it did. I realized that I would tell a friend to move on and end whatever relationship she was in if he/she were experiencing the same “dating woes” I am.

I’m a firm believer that if someone is interested in you they will make the time to see you. Lately, this belief has been over-shadowed by phone calls and text messages. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see someone investing an effort to connect, but there should be a warning bell if that’s all there is. You have to spend time with a person to really get to know them and figure out if you are compatible.

If the person you are getting to know or seeing doesn’t value your time and doesn’t make opportunities to see you, he/she won’t in the future either. The getting-to-know-you phase and honeymoon phases are when people are on their best behaviors, so if your needs are met now they probably never will be.

It’s great to give people the benefit of doubt, but there is a cut-off point where you have to be real with yourself and realize hope is not going to turn into reality.

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I’m not very good with developing healthy relationships with men. Although I think I finally understand the root cause of why my relationships with men are so dysfunctional, it doesn’t make it easy to break patterns and learn new behaviors. Bear with me for this rollercoaster ride – I’m going to divulge more than I ever have before for the sake of being authentic with myself and even perhaps prodding myself to the next level.

On a subconscious level, I never registered that I have power over sexual relationships – at least just as much power as anyone else. Instead, I always felt sex was an obligation. Don’t get me wrong, I do like sex, but there are many emotional land mines for me when it comes to sex. I tend to disconnect, freeze and run away.
I’ve only had one healthy sexual adult relationship and perhaps one healthy sexual relationship when I was 21. Other than that, most of my relationships with men have been unhealthy and dysfunctional. I think this is because of a long history of exposure to negative sexual behaviors and trauma.

I was almost abducted twice when I was young; once in the first grade and another when I was in the third grade. Both attempted abductions were very similar. The first time I was playing with a class friend in the school playground after school and the second time I was walking to the library with my cousin – two young girls alone in both situations. Both men approached in a car, stopped and asked for directions and acted as though they couldn’t hear us so we would move closer to the car.

With the first guy, there was a fence around the playground he wanted us to climb over. We climbed up it so that he could hear us, but we didn’t climb over. That’s when we saw he was naked from the waist down and masturbating. I don’t remember what he said at that point, but I remember him unbuckling his seat belt and moving to the passenger seat and opening the door. We ran to the principal’s office who called the police. The police were great up until I overheard one cop telling my mom the guy I identified had threatened to kill anyone and their family if we testified against him.

The second attempted abduction was similar, only this time I memorized part of the license plate as my cousin and I ran home. (Memorizing the license plate was something I had learned to do after talking with the cops from the first instance.)

I don’t know the odds of one child encountering two possible abduction scenarios, but I do know I am lucky. Unfortunately, those experiences created a further fear of men. I say a further fear because my biological father was mentally unstable after he returned from the Vietnam War. As a baby, I became scared of men because my biological father was always yelling. My mom has told me I would start to cry or even go to hide when I would hear a man’s voice or see a man enter the room.

The exposure to dysfunctional sexual behavior continued through elementary school. A neighbor’s adult son was mentally handicapped and would expose himself through open windows and doors. He never approached us, but if he saw us playing outside, he would stand in the window or door naked and masturbate. I remember thinking it was creepy, but not really understanding why. I do remember everyone telling us to be careful of him and to stay away.

I think these experiences by themselves are enough to make one misunderstand sexuality and sexual relationships, but unfortunately, my story doesn’t end there.

My first and second sexual encounters with men were not consensual. My first experience involved a much older guy who didn’t want to stop when I asked him to. He put his hand around my throat and told me not to make him hurt me, so I was quiet and disconnected. I was scared, ashamed and believed it was my fault so I never told my family. My second encounter was a partial result of the first. I was still hanging around a crowd that was much older than I was and I drank until I passed out. I came conscious to a guy on top of me having sex.

It’s no wonder I learned to disconnect and become an object. I became an object with several boyfriends and even my ex-husband. What’s sad is that I never told any of them this wasn’t okay. I even married my ex and loved him deeply for many, many years – that’s how warped my sense of self and sense of sexual relationships was.

I’ve progressed a lot in my thinking of what a healthy sexual relationship is, but I haven’t progressed as far as I would like when thinking I deserve to be treated with respect, compassion, dignity and affection. I still freak out, get super scared, disconnect and want to disappear. I don’t ever wear turtlenecks and only started wearing scarfs about six years ago because I can’t stand to have anything tight around my neck. I still have a hard time saying no and think it’s easier to disconnect than to endure whatever might happen if I say no.

It’s been a lifetime since those early experiences and they created a foundation I have to break. Outside of a small circle of very close friends, I’ve never discussed these stories or experiences. Perhaps this is my first step in making a healthy change.

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This is a brief post where I rant about flakey behavior. I’m not a needy person and I’m not demanding either, but I do think you should treat people with respect and consideration. I get that things happen and “life” can get in the way sometimes. Sometimes plans have to be changed because you just can’t make them. It isn’t a big deal until there’s a strong recurring pattern of not showing up and making excuses.

I used to accept a string of excuses and explain away flakey behavior. (Notice the past tense there?) No more. We all deserve equal consideration. There is no one out there that is so great that their needs always trump everyone else’s.

So, to the self-absorbed, self-important, self-centered or those who are simply unaware, we’re not a match. I don’t want to waste my time waiting when I could be spending it laughing and making great memories with people I care about and who care about me.

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