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Dating Reflections

I’m trying to take stock of the dating lessons I have learned over the last year. I can honestly say I am not the same person I was 12 months ago. I have had a lot of positive personal growth and still have more to do. (Personal growth should never stop in my opinion.)

Consistency is a big lesson I have learned. For me consistency builds trust. When behavior and availability is consistent, I trust more and can open up more. Inconsistent behavior and availability makes me think a person is flakey and can’t be depended upon. I don’t go into jealous girlfriend mode and wonder about cheating or who the guy I am dating with is spending his time, but I do wonder about his interest and sincerity.

Not all consistency is good either. There were two guys who would always text late at night. With one it made sense because he worked evenings, but with the other it didn’t make much sense. Instead, I began to wonder about his actual motives and finally decided it was more physical than emotional. (I don’t think I am ready to get married tomorrow, but I know I am not interested in a purely sexual relationship.)

Making excuses is something I don’t always realize I am doing when I am doing it. My awareness is improving, but it remains a challenge. I tend to make excuses for the person I am dating. This ranges from instances when my feelings get hurt to when they are not responsive. My self-appreciation is increasing and I am starting to realize I deserve to be treated with consideration, respect and eventually love.

Passion isn’t an indicator of love or genuine interest. Again, there’s a difference between physical attraction and compatibility and an emotional connection. Just think of how many hook-ups are alcohol induced! These are mostly physical connections with no real depth to them.

I don’t think strong passion is something that is always present in a relationship. Attraction and passion ebbs with high and low periods. That’s where other elements kick-in that make you want to invest the effort to keep the relationship going. This is when it takes both people investing effort to keep the relationship going and alive.

A big lesson learned is that actions should match words. I’m included in this bucket too. If I review my past, there are definite times when I just went with the flow of a relationship because it was easier than breaking up or because I felt guilty. Wrong move! You can’t force emotions.

I recently broke up with a wonderful man. Why, because the timing just wasn’t right and there were some differences that were too great to overlook. I refuse to be a person or part of a couple that breaks ups and gets back together over and over again. That’s drama I am not willing to jump into, but I do wonder if we might get back together in the future. It’s probably not a good idea to entertain these thoughts, but it’s what’s rolling around in my head and my heart.

So, when is it a good idea to get back together with an ex?

I’ve come to realize that after a break-up it seems like the bad memories and reasons for the break-up fade away. (Let me say that these bad memories do not include any violence or cheating. Deep physical and emotional pains take time to heal and I am not dismissing those pains, but they were not a part of this relationship.) I’m trying to remain realistic and remind myself of why we broke up without harping on the past. There weren’t any actions that require us to attempt to forgive the other. Our problems were a combination of communication issues and personal issues we both need to work on. It wasn’t a bad relationship; it just wasn’t the right relationship at the time.

Commitment is something I am scared of and he was pushing hard for a commitment I just couldn’t make. Our communication was also off a bit, but both of these can be improved over time and with effort. We both need to grow a bit as individuals before we should consider coming back together as a couple.

It’s interesting in that neither of us blame the other for the break-up. We both played a part in it and our conversations since have been emotional, but healthy and positive. We are actually sharing more information about our feelings and frustrations.

We’ve both admitted to missing the other and expressed a desire to work on building a friendship in the future. Essentially, emotions are too raw to attempt to be close friends, but we both value the other person. It’s possible we aren’t the right partner for one another, but I do see him as a valuable friend with positive influence.

I miss him and not just the relationship. Don’t get me wrong, it feels wonderful to be held in the arms of a man you care about and to know he cares deeply for you, but I want more than a physical connection. I need to trust the person I am with and trust is difficult for me. I don’t worry about my partner cheating, but I don’t always have faith that they will be there when I need them emotionally. So, yes, I am lonely, but I don’t want to jump into a relationship so that I don’t feel lonely.

Before I can even consider getting back together, I need to know that I have changed; I need to know he has changed. It won’t work if everything is the same.

So, for now, the plan is to take it one day at a time. If, in a few months, we still have feelings for the other we can talk about getting back together. If that happens, we need to move slowly to make sure we are not repeating the past. It may be that we are meant to be friends. If that’s the case, I will be lucky to consider him a friend.

I still have a long way to go in terms of dating, but I am seeing progress and the application of lessons learned!!!

Remember Guy #4 from one of my earlier posts this month?  Yeah, well he is still a flake.

I don’t think a guy has to call, text or IM a girl every day.  In all honesty, while flattering, it’s a bit too much –but that’s a new and separate lessoned learned.  I do think that when you make this a pattern and suddenly become sporadic, the person is distracted or not interested.  Perhaps both.  That’s what has happened here.

Guy #4 randomly IM’d me and we began talking again.  He began IM’ing me every day along with sending texts and calling me.  Again, I was flattered at first and then I wondered what the urgency was.  I just broke up with my boyfriend so I didn’t want to jump into anything right away and wanted to take things slow.  Oddly, given all this “attention”, he never asked me to go out other than an initial invite to go to his place for dinner which he would cook.

I think dinner is an intimate gesture and at the time I didn’t feel comfortable with going to his place.  Dinner leads to drinking a glass of wine which leads to sitting on the couch talking which leads to kissing which leads to …

Anyway, although this guy continued to invest a lot of effort for us to connect online or with phone calls, that was it.  Then he started texting later and later.  This can seem innocent enough if you truly live different schedules, but I think there’s an element of lost respect and expectations when you begin texting someone after midnight asking what they are up to or if they awake.  This was warning flag #1.5.  (The .5 warning flag comes from the high-level of attention he was paying me initially.)

After a pretty intense and personal conversation, where he revealed a lot of past personal hurt, the tone of our texts changed and his calls were non-existent.  I decided it was better to call whatever this was between us off than end with one disliking the other.  After expressing my concerns, he expressed his continued interested in me and said we would connect during the next work day.  There was no IM, text or call.  Warning flag #2.5 … no need to go to #3.

In an earlier conversation I mentioned to him that flakiness is not something I accept and I think it just makes a person appear unreliable and immature.  He agreed and said he knew he can be flakey at times.  So while he is aware he can be flakey, he is either unaware or uses flakey behavior either to avoid awkward situations.  The reason isn’t really important.  The fact that I recognize his flakiness and am saying I deserve better is HUGE!!!!  I’m not into casual relationships or friends with benefits.  I don’t have a crazy biological clock or an urge to get married.  I simply want a real relationship without immature behaviors – mine or his.  I’m not going to compromise myself because I know what I am asking isn’t too much or hard – and I deserve it.

The Dating Game

I recently broke up with my boyfriend and all of a sudden several guys from the past have cropped up. It’s like this cosmic test to see how much I have grown or how lonely I am.

  • Guy #1: I met while on vacation. There was a definite attraction, but there were several red flags that cropped up. He’s very accomplished, but yet insecure; he’s intelligent and manipulative; he’s caring and attentive and then can turn and be purposely hurtful on an emotional level. He’s had some crazy personal experiences in the past few years which he says has changed his personality. I won’t don’t want to break his confidence and relay the details, but they are significant enough to where I have extra compassion for him.
  • Guy #2: I met online about a year ago and went out on an initial coffee date to meet and see if there was an interest to pursue anything further. There wasn’t. The guy was nice, but he had crazy ugly teeth and his thoughts about people and his job were far too different from mine. He worked for the government to collect back-taxes. He didn’t seem to have any compassion for the people he pursued for back-taxes. I’m sure he has run across some jerks in his career, but not everyone who owes back-taxes owe them intentionally or are jerks.
  • Guy #3: I also met online. He’s an attractive, good-hearted man with an amazing soul. There wasn’t a romantic connection when we met and we decided to be friends. Eventually our dinner invites faded and we stopped exchanging emails.
  • Guy #4: I met through work and went out on two dates about three years ago. It never progressed into anything – we didn’t even kiss. I was fresh out of my divorce and he was a bit flakey. I also learned of a nickname of his that led me to believe he was a man-whore. We didn’t end on bad terms … I started dating my lovely hippie, masseuse guy and he started dating another girl. Oddly, we worked less than about 50 feet from one another last year and rarely exchanged hellos. We simply had different lives.

With Guy #1 I have to be careful that I don’t fall back into a role I played with my family. It’s sometimes easier to put others in front of my needs. This is something I have to remind myself of and try to change when I realize I am doing it. I also have to remind myself that my boundaries are most likely more distorted or accepting of unhealthy behaviors than other people because that is what I grew up with.

He lives in Chicago, so I don’t really have to face the reality of dealing with him on a day-to-day basis or really consider a potential romantic relationship with him. (Although he has offered to fly out here or fly me to him.)

Guy #2 IM’d me a few weeks ago asking if I was interested in meeting for coffee. I was out doing something, but forgot to sign out of IM. By the time I got the IM it was several hours later so I never responded. There’s no reason for me to respond. I had told him after the first coffee date that I thought there were too many differences and not a romantic connection.

I don’t think Guy #3 reached out to me for romantic purposes, but it was out of the blue. We hadn’t communicated at all for at least 6 months or more. Then all of a sudden he sent me an email telling me about new things in his life and asking how I was doing. He since made a decision to quit his job and travel through Asia for a while. We have exchanged a few emails and IMs, but haven’t had any significant conversations.

Guy #4 always made me nervous. I’m not the giddy type, but for some reason around this man I get nervous and sometimes tongue-tied. He randomly reached out to me on IM and began flirting. I was confused about his intentions and how bold he was being, but agreed to meet for drinks to talk and ask questions. He said that he didn’t reach out to me randomly or out of the blue and that he has thought about it for a while. We talked about the events we experienced during the past three years. I told him I could offer friendship and see what might develop from there.

He has since invested a lot of energy to IM me and to call or text every day. He’s been very bold in his conversations, but there’s a large element of caution I have. I was honest and told him I am not interested in a casual sexual relationship or sex between friends. Although he said he wasn’t interested in just sex, sometimes his actions indicate otherwise. For example, yesterday we exchanged a few text messages and I told him to call me if he got bored. He texted after midnight to ask if I was asleep. He has also called late at night another evening and asked me to come over. (Keep in mind we have never kissed and since re-establishing contact we have only met in person one time.) This all adds up to a booty call in my head. Perhaps I am reading more into it, but I don’t think you invite a girl over late at night if you are interested in getting to know her outside of a carnal sense.

While I am not ready to jump into another relationship, it is comforting to have hope about a future relationship. I guess I just need to be patient and believe I will meet someone when the time is right.

I broke up with my boyfriend the other week. I feel horrible for breaking up, but I know it was the right decision. He’s an amazing guy, but there are certain differences and behaviors we can’t bridge. I guess it’s more of me not being able to bridge or accept those differences.

I’ve talked about concerns with his drinking and those concerns came to a head one recent weekend. It made me realize that I don’t want to be someone’s caregiver in that way. I most definitely want to be someone’s lover and not a potential lover’s mother.

The break-up was as good as a break could be. There’s sadness on both sides, but I know his heart is broken more than mine is. I don’t think he understood how deep my concerns where when we talked about them before the break-up happened. Now he is running through the what-if scenarios. I HATE hurting people. Too often I compromise myself in order to avoid hurting someone.

What I find interesting is the selective memory that follows a break-up. I find myself remembering only the amazing qualities and fun memories. I guess it makes sense in a way because you aren’t seeing or dealing with the stuff that you don’t like.

I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself and to remember “the basics”. The basics include believing I am worthy of love and learning to trust in order to love authentically again. I often find myself going through the motions I know are expected of me. It’s an odd thing to question your motive and feelings. After a while you simply become disconnected and numb.

Here are a few reminders I am working on:

  • I am worthy of healthy love. Although not perfect, I have a lot to offer a partner including emotional support, humor and loyalty.
  • I can only guard my heart so much before I miss out on life experiences. I have to take a chance if I want to experience something wonderful
  • Others are responsible for protecting their heart. I will move forward with honesty and sincerity, but it’s up to my potential partner to express their needs and wants.
  • I can only control how I react to situations. I’ve learned you only know so much about a person. If they want to hide something they can and the only way for you to find out it to play private detective. I don’t intend to be with anyone I have to spy on. Honesty is too important to me. I also need to appreciate the small day-to-day joys that occur and leave the non-stop worrying behind.
  • I can allow myself to be sad, but I can’t allow myself to wallow in sadness.
  • Sometimes you just have to proceed with life regardless of if you have any control or not over what happens next.
  • The above are struggles for me – some I struggle with more than others. I sometimes wonder how other people make it look so easy and then I remind myself that they were either taught healthy coping skills or learned those skills themselves. I can learn these skills too, but it takes time and practice. I won’t nail everything out of the gate, but as long as I continue to try, acknowledge when I fall short of my goals and forgive myself when I fall short of my goals, I will be just fine.

    Stuck In A Moment

    You’ve got to get yourself together. You’ve got stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it. Don’t say that later will be better. Now you’re stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it. And if the night runs over, and if the day won’t last, and if your way should falter along this stony pass … It’s just a moment. This time will pass.

    The above is an excerpt from U2’s song Stuck In A Moment, and it’s very appropriate for the phase I am in.

    If I look around I see what’s wrong in my life – personal and work. If I look to the future, I see the short-comings of the present or the demands of the present. I don’t want to look to tomorrow for a fix and instead want to know how to change my perspective now … in the moment. I don’t know how to live in the present because I feel I am always preparing for the future.

    I’m stressed out because I am not sure the person I am dating is a long-term partner for me, but I am being pressured to consider moving in together within a few months. I feel trapped in a corner and am shutting down my emotions rather than exploring them.

    There’s no right or wrong to a must-have, but I do believe they evolve as you do. I feel that I have grown in many ways and need to clarify a couple of my must haves that I posted last year. For one, I know I want the person I am dating to appreciate and cherish me. I know I am not perfect, but I want my partner to appreciate me for all that I am and all that I am not. Also, my partner must be authentically interested in me; not my potential.

    • Honest with good character
    • Loves to laugh
    • Mature, but enjoys life
    • Follows through on things started
    • Financially responsible
    • Appreciates/cherishes me as-is
    • He must be authentically interested in me
    • Challenges me in supportive way to be the best person I can be

    What I haven’t stated clearly is my list of deal-breakers. I think my deal-breakers are implied by my list of must-haves, but there shouldn’t be any doubt in this area.

    • A current addiction or substance abuse problem
    • Self-centered or selfish approach to life
    • Doesn’t have a passion for travel
    • Unwilling to communicate and share experiences, thoughts and emotions
    • Financially irresponsible
    • Doesn’t follow through on obligations or promises
    • Bad hygiene

    It Just May Be A Lunatic You’re Looking For

    I started to see a therapist because of concern about how I was thinking about and approaching my relationship. How crazy is it that I think I am being crazy with a relationship in the early stages and go see a therapist to change my behavior and ways of thinking when I don’t even know what this relationship is.

    The therapist is a great sounding board and brings a level of perspective that is very welcome at times and not so welcome at other times. In fact, if I were to assign scores to the sessions we have had, she has ruled against me more than she has ruled for me. She is the voice of reason telling me no to self-sabotage; not to cut-and-run; and to give this guy a break. (It’s not like I am a horror to this guy, but I can be a bit unforgiving with my thoughts at times.)

    She’s the one who pointed out that most of my previous relationships, romantic and platonic, have been filled with chaos in many different ways, and this is the first normal, balanced and healthy relationships I have had. She’s warned me not to create chaos and not to high-tale it outta there.

    Anyway, the other night I went out to karaoke with friends and someone sung Billy Joel’s song, You May Be Right, and the lyrics resonated with me. Here’s an excerpt:

    You may be right
    I may be crazy
    But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for
    It’s too late to fight
    It’s too late to change me
    You may be wrong for all I know
    But you may be right
    You may be right
    I may be crazy
    But it just might be a lunatic you’re looking for
    Turn out the light
    Don’t try to save me
    You may be wrong for all I know
    But you may be right

    I’m learning my relationship fears are not fears that most people share with me, so this one comes as no surprise.

    When do you plan a vacation with the person you are dating? Let me rephrase, is it smart to plan a vacation that will cost a couple thousand dollars per person when you aren’t sure about the future of your relationship? I don’t think we will break up tomorrow, but I don’t know about 4 months from now. I’m not that secure in the relationship or with my judgment to know this relationship will last for whatever time period.

    When I think about planning a vacation together, I begin to think of the vacation as an obligation. (I’m terrible with obligations.) My mind creates these crazy scenarios of us breaking up before the vacation, but having to go together because of the money we invested even though we hate each other. There’s also the anxiety of spending a full week or more together 24 hours a day. I enjoy my space. Yes, I get lonely sometimes, but I also enjoy the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want.

    I know I want to be deeply in love someday. I also know at some point I need to let go of my fears and just run with whatever emotions, hopes and dreams I might have. I’m just not there right now and so I keep building my wall.

    My compromise on the vacation issue is to buy vacation insurance. (Feel free to laugh, I am.) Obviously, the man I am dating isn’t thrilled to hear my fears or my compromise, but it works for me.