Friday, October 14, 2011

On Dating

What do these men have in common?


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.

(Matt)

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.  

35 comments:

Deviled Megs said...

Such a good post -- I have been guilty of that same thing. early on in dating my now bf, I would get sad thinking about a time in the future when we would break up. So crazy and yet I couldn't stop myself from doing it. When we have been hurt bad, it is so so hard to forget that the people who hurt us have nothing to do with the people we are with now and to enjoy the present in our lives.

Jenny said...

Great post-great read :)

melifaif said...

Loved reading this!!!! The other guys are big douches for "leaving" like they did. But I am glad you are giving a fair chance to Matty boy. Your writing penetrates. Very deep and very sincere. Have a lovely weekend.

erin elder said...

"It's unreasonable to saddle anyone with the pain that someone else caused." -- I am SO guilty of this one with past and current relationships. I related to this post SO SO SO MUCH, i don't even know where to begin.

i am working on that balancing act as we speak... but my struggle is more the "too good to be true" syndrome. I'm getting better, day by day.

You are absolutely right that each man is unbelievably unique and deserves a clean slate... we all do. it's just unbelievably difficult sometimes to forget why we are the way that we are. i am very interested to hear a little more about this Matt boy... he sounds incredibly interesting and sincere.

Thank you for sharing this post... :)

Joyful Sparrow said...

Oh, I loved reading this. It sounds like you have a good man by your side. And yes, stay in the NOW. Drink it in.

J. said...

I LOVE YOU. And I love your sporadic personal posts. :) I'll be cheesey and quite my John Lennon when I say "But tomorrow may rain, so I'll follow the sun." Here's to being happy in the NOW and enjoying your life today, my dear. xoxo

wfayew said...

I love this!!

Micaela said...

i love this post for so many reasons... for sharing your heart and your personal fears but embracing happiness NOW. I like matt but now am smitten with him after what he told you last night. <3

why not enjoy each other and take each day as it happens?

i love you!!! and am thankful that when it comes to matters of the heart, i have you. xo

kimbirdy said...

good for you! i think having this awareness is the key. most people say things to their current partner, but are really still trying to talk to their past partner(s). does that make sense? so many people are not able to understand that each partner is different, and that with each new moment, you have the choice to be vulnerable or hardened. so just keep taking it one moment at a time. it's true that you have absolutely no idea what the future holds, for good or bad, so just keep doing what you're doing, enjoying the now and life will work itself out around you. good luck my dear! it's so scary and hard to open up a heart that has been wounded, but you just have to keep reminding your heart that it's just as bad {maybe more so} to miss out on a beautiful opportunity for your heart to be taken care of. that's what i tell my heart anyway.

KDC Events said...

Love his shirt, and great mantras to live by! Good luck =)

nicoleciomek said...

Well, I can see from the post-hurts why you'd be a little on edge so to speak about jumping into new relationships. Definitely can be scary to keep trying after those hurts.

But, I think it is great you are letting your new guy in and giving it a chance. I love the term "Flight reaction" - I know that well. Ross was totally this type when I met him. His mantra was "I do not want a relationship. I do not want a girlfriend" and when I got through all that I found out it was just because he was scared, he had been badly hurt. (funny enough, I am now becoming good friends w/his ex... I guess time does heal all wounds.) But once Ross let go of the hurt, and saw "Hey this person is different" it opened us up to something wonderful. So, I think it awesome you are able to open yourself up again and continue to try. That, I think, can be part of love - always willing to get back on the horse. Not easy, but I think necessary.

And I totally agree - Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the now. You never know what next week or next month will bring. We can't predict the things that will sideline us out of nowhere.

Very happy for you lady!

AmericanBridget (Jones) said...

If his shirt says tittie and beer, for sure he's a keeper for the mere fact that his sense of humor must be astronomical. and the one thing I find most important in a relationship with someone we are so inclined to date is A SENSE OF HUMOR!!!!!!

Marz said...

Claire, I absolutely adore this honest & personal post. Just today I called Micaela over something I had seen on my Brit's facebook (or rather pictures with his current girl) so upset by how it made me feel. And I shouldn't even be feeling that way!! But just like one of your ex's - he dropped off the face of the earth. I think we can all relate to what you wrote about. I think it's important and have always strived to live in the here and now (which ironically has also got me in trouble - not thinking about consequences of some spontaneous actions I've taken!). But I've never regretted any of it. It is the most amazing feeling to be "chased" especially if in the past it has always seemed like we are the ones doing the "chasing." I am so incredibly happy for you and Matt :) Enjoy it!!! p.s. Love his shirt!!! :) LOVE YOU!!! xoxo

Holly said...

ok i love matt's shirt. you guys are perfect. haha :) but seroiusly though, great post.

Karina said...

Love is scary! And the only way we can really enjoy it is giving our hearts 100% because in the end "Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk." Plus I believe that all past relationships no matter how hurtful they might have been make us better people:)

Matt is a cutie and you both are perfect for each other :) Enjoy today!

Thank you so much for your sweet comment Claire :) and yes it amazes me how I have to sometimes mentally fight with myself to go and workout and once that breeze hits me in my cheek and I finish I feel so awesome :)

Have a great weekend Claire :)

Phoenix Peacock said...

I love this post.
When hubby and I first started dating I had to get in the habit of saying "I'm sorry, that's not what I really meant. What I meant was that I'm tempted to push you away because I'm afraid you are going to leave me and I'd rather it happen now before it will hurt even more" during every uncomfortable disagreement. SHIT.
but seriously it was what I was really trying to say and so I just said it. And then we would stop arguing and he would tell me he wasnt going anywhere - which is all I needed to hear.
Eventually I stopped having to say it because I stopped trying to push him away and was no longer afraid he was going anywhere.

georgia~gigi said...

Happy Weekend Claire :)
I love your old boyfriend collage, lol!
But, yes my Meli Girl said .....what douchebags!
I love that Matt will chase you, he sounds pretty cool!
I too am a hot mess ( as my boyfriend calls me)
must be a leo thing, he he!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
It was so nice of you to come by and see me :)
xo
gi gi

Meghan said...

Claire, I love this post. You are such a strong woman and I admire you more than you know. You have great insight and I know you'll find happiness.

And Matt is super adorable.

Allison said...

This post was so beautiful and honest - I have a lot of respect for you to put it all out there. You have such a strength that I admire so much (and it sounds like Matt is in total agreement with me!).
We've all got our shit that we've gone through that unfortunately defines us and gives us those knee-jerk reactions to certain things. I'm so happy that you found someone that is going to work through those things with you - that's the one worth fighting for! You're so lovely, my dear - seriously, this post resonated so strongly with me, so thank you! (I think an attitude adjustment is definitely necessary for me!). xox

Gracie said...

This was a great post. I haven't really experienced what you have gone through but I think I do understand it to a certain extent. I'm glad that you are trying to live in the now and to give it a chance! x

sheba said...

i hope that every man you've dated realizes how much they lost when they didn't chase you.

matt is a smart man.

and thank you for reminding me about the now. xo

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

I think you've got a really good outlook on all of it! Good luck!

Ocean Dreams said...

What a very candid post love and I think everyone feels much the same way after being hurt before. I was extremely hurt after my ex left me into 5 years or our relationship for another girl and trusting BK was SO SO hard at first. So it will take time but if Matt is such a great guy he will live it out. He sounds like a keeper so far! Don't be hard on yourself though because everything you are feeling is normal. xo.

bananas. said...

damn girl...you put it out there. much respect b/c i know a LOT of females who think the same way (cough, me, cough, cough).

and this question ---> "is it necessarily wise to extinguish whatever's making us happy now, for fear we'll get hurt in the un-guaranteed future?" really makes you think. i must remember to ask myself that in certain situations.

Deals, Steals and Heels said...

i need to remember this same idea with friendships...i think i tend to put unrealistic expectations on others, when i just need to be happy with what's there, not what might be there later, or could be there or whatever.

great post ma'am!!

Gracie said...

P.S. I know we are getting a Lululemon store at my local shopping centre. I will be sure to check it out when it opens. x

Megan said...

I think that it is such a normal reaction to transfer hurt feelings from a similar relationship onto a new relationship completely ignoring that it is a completely different relationship, it is a defence mechanism and one that I know to well. Matt sounds like a great guy and someone who deserves a chance to make you happy, I hope things go well, your such a gorgeous girl you deserve a wonderful love with a wonderful person!

Matthew Snope said...

Interesting no one really caught Claire's contradiction in saying "not all men are the same" and then asserting her astrological beliefs, which posit that all people of a certain sign are basically the same, when she states her Leo-hood. To me, that's the most fascinating part of her post, but it's ok because we all contradict ourselves, and it's not a fatal flaw. And Claire was writing a very sweet, personal post -- not realizing I would come along and apply deconstructive techniques to her argument! :)

Summer Athena said...

i love you with all i am. seriously. you teach me how to be a better person. and i think i love matt and his shirt.

dirty girl said...

wow. what a post! i am so glad you wrote all of this. we have much in common, my friend. much.

i recently told a certain someone that he was pushing me too much and making me want to FLEEEEEEEE. it is tricky. all of it is tricky. and the more relationships and the older you get, the more baggage you have to deal with. ugh. it isn't easy. but a lot of it is fun and it is good to enjoy the NOW and try to hope for the best in the future, without obsessing on it. eek. at least that is what i am thinking right this second. :)

Faiza said...

"When you try to flee, I am going to chase you."

swoon.

now!

Kimberly Seibel said...

The Old Brain, Our Animalistic Brain: "I think it is important to understand the operation, functioning, the activity of the old brain. When the new brain operates, the old brain cannot possibly understand the new brain. It is only when the old brain, which is our conditioned brain, our animalistic brain, the brain that has been cultivated through centuries of time, which is everlastingly seeking its own security, its own comfort--it is only when that old brain is quiet that you will see that there is a different kind of movement altogether, and it is this movement that is going to bring clarity. It is this movement that is clarity itself. To understand, you must understand the old brain, be aware of it, know al its movements, its activities, its demands, its pursuits, and that is why meditation is very important. I do not mean the absurd, systematized cultivation of a certain habit of thought, and the rest of it; that's all too immature and childish. By meditation I mean to understand the operations of the old brain, to watch it, to know how it reacts, what its responses are, its tendencies, its demands, its aggressive pursuits--to know the whole of that, the unconscious as well as the conscious part of it. When you know it, when there is an awareness of it, without controlling it, without directing it, without satying, "This is good; this is bad; I'll keep this; I won't keep that"--when you see the total movement of the old mind, when you see it totally, then it becomes quiet."

I wish you happiness in the moment with your new relationship :)

undomestic chica said...

I have so many things to say: I love that you put your exes on blast. Too funny. Matt's shirt made me laugh out loud in my office - now people are staring. My mom tells me that like attracts like so when you put fear or mistrust out there you're sure to attract bad situations. I NEED to work on this one. With mine and B's past, it's hard to believe he will not leave me. I guess we all have a few warts.

Kristin W said...

I can't wait to hear how this plays out. Sounds like you have a winner so far ;) Thanks for sharing and being open about something like that!

Gabby said...

Claire! Where have I been...wow! Okay, wow. I am happy for you, ladylove! I know so well how you feel. It is incredibly hard to open yourself up to someone and a new relationship. But I do not have to tell you that it is worth it. I have no clue where I am going with B. Things could change tomorrow. But today, I am happy. I am glad to hear you are too!