Aside from the fact that they've all been in relationships with me? NOTHING. I'm in the process of learning a really hard lesson: not all men are the same.
I'm a Leo and a firstborn and a pistol, and I have unbelievable pride (of the once bitten, twice shy variety). Historically, I've sought after men who aren't totally available; I'm sure a therapist would tell me that it's safer that way, less to lose. Perhaps my playing-it-safe technique can be attributed to the sum of the following:
~One of these handsome gents proposed to another woman while we were dating;
~Another of them told me over the phone, two years into the relationship and after I'd literally traveled across the world to be with him: "Claire, I'm not in love with you;"
~Two of them dropped off the face of the earth mid-relationship & out of the blue (both were long-distance). Suddenly, no returned phone calls, emails, texts, anything. In both cases, I feared they were dead/seriously hurt. Turns out they were fine; it was just radio silence, post "I love you."
I've never been a walled-off type of girl, when it comes to love or relationships or friendships or anything else. I'm pretty much willing to go with my gut/heart & plunge into whatever feels the right-est. However, lately I've noticed that I anticipate disappointment like it's sure as sunset. It's like I'm waiting for the ice to crack, preventing me from just purely enjoying what's in front of me and experiencing happiness. Call it PTSD or abandonment issues or just plain ol' jaded cynicism, but it seems I don't know how to be with someone without expecting them to let me down.
A couple months ago, I started (unexpectedly) seeing someone. We've been friends for years, so we know each other pretty well. Still, that doesn't ease my anxiety about ultimately getting hurt. I find myself squinting at him, skeptically, awaiting some sort of bombshell bad news, when often he's just trying to tell me something sweet.
He says my "flight" reaction is intense. He says that I yank away from him any time he says something I find slightly off-putting. He says I overanalyze everything to its death, and that my emotional histrionics can be . . . a bit much. ;)
But last night he said, "When you try to flee, I'm going to chase you." And damned if that's not the most reassuring thing I've ever heard.
Don't get me wrong: this man lives in a house surrounded by approximately 862 red flags. The road to forever-happiness with him is dimly lit at best. But my lesson is to try to live in the right now, cheesy as that sounds. The other day I had a conversation with my dear & wise friend Jessie, who reminded me that now is underrated. Matt or I or any of us could die in a car crash tomorrow, so is it necessarily wise to extinguish whatever's making us happy now, for fear we'll get hurt in the un-guaranteed future?
In the meantime, I'm challenging myself to repeat these mantras:
*Every single person is unimaginably unique.
*It's unreasonable to saddle anyone with the pain that someone else caused.
*History does not necessarily repeat itself; we're constantly evolving.
Humans are biologically changed by what endangers us. Over time, we develop resistance to that which threatens us harm (melanin in our skin, calluses on our feet). I know this to be indisputable, and yet I also know that each new person we encounter deserves the same chance at newness & faith that we gave the first one.
It'll be a balancing act, but here goes.