Sunday, January 3, 2010

Are you dating yet?

Why do I change the subject, majorly avoid, get all flustered, want to slap you when you bring up the question “are you dating yet?”

I have been giving this question ponder a lot recently. Probably because it has come up a lot recently, being with family and old friends over the holiday. My avoidance has been so complete that I haven’t got an answer for you. But the fact that I am willing to even type that out gives me confidence that maybe I can explore it a little, and in the exercise of trying to explain it to you I might arrive at an answer for myself.

I will admit that, over this holiday season, the longing for a partner has passed shadow over my heart, albeit fleetingly so. It visited during the Christmas Eve service, as I sat alone, surrounded by loving couples. Most in their 70’s and 80’s. And the really annoying couple, I’m guessing in their 30’s that was right in front of me. He had his arm around her or behind her or holding her hand the entire time. And when the Christmas carols were sung they actually looked at each other and sang into each other’s faces. With a smile. Gag me. And slap me because a little part of my soul went “how about me?”

And when I was taking down the Christmas tree I thought “I wouldn’t mind sharing this task with a partner. It would be easier saying goodbye to the holiday if I had a partner by my side.”

And while watching “It’s Complicated” last night and Meryl’s girlfriends are teasing about how they heard a woman’s vagina grows shut after time if it’s not put in use….

So I do have those moments, VERY fleeting moments, of longing for a partner, a good one this time. And then it is gone.

When I boil it down to why, it all comes down to (as most things do): fear.

It is not a fear of being hurt by someone else. I think I’m just too tough now. I’ll hurt them before they hurt me. Hah!

It’s maybe a little fear of rejection in the first place. I don’t want to finally get the nerve to put myself out there only to find that nobody really cares that I’m out there. Or nobody that is except a really nerdy, creepy guy who wants to get into my bank account.

There’s a big fear of eventually having to stand naked in front of someone who can’t remember that once I had a young girl’s body. That’s really scary. Last night’s movie, “It’s Complicated,” said it well, though Meryl Streep has a really good body for a woman of age. Take her fear times a thousand for me. I tell myself I will get in the dating game when I’ve got my body to the shape that would attract the caliber of men who appreciate fine things. I can’t imagine anyone worthwhile would be the least bit attracted to me in the shape I’m in now. I am aware that that’s’ shallow. That I should care about how he feels about my soul, my character, my values and interests. And all those things are top on my list. But honestly, a guy would have to be at least mostly easy on the eyes to get my attention long enough for me to discover those things about him. So I’m assuming the opposite is true for any guy to be interested in me.

But when it comes down to the most basic, biggest, most overwhelming fear around the subject, I’m afraid if I give myself to another I will lose the self I have. Yes, that is what I finally figured out. My experience is that when I have given my heart to another I end up giving more to the extent that I no longer feel I have myself any more. With my father I end up shutting down, feeling hurt, losing my essence to a point where it’s painful. With Mark I ended up shutting down, feeling hurt, losing my essence. Even with my son I meter my words, tone myself down. But only just a little. In a way I think he likes (most of) my quirkiness. And at least he senses and encourages my creative side.

At his point it is my woman friends, my tribe, including my sister, which nurture, encourage, respect and fuel me. It’s taken a lot of work to get me back. To feel I can be myself with my girlfriends, quirks and all. And the thought of losing that again terrifies me. I do not want to live where I have to measure my words. Where being responsible for someone else’s happiness takes second seat to my own. Where I forget who I am. Where I suppress my own opinions to the point that I don’t have any anymore.

I know there are relationships where the things I fear are not a factor. Where two bring out the best in each other, not stifle it. I know a few of these couples. But they are few and far between. Until I believe that such a thing is possible for me I am sure I will continue to avoid, defend, or even want to slap when that question is asked. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a really cool pic of you and he-who-shall-not-be-named. You look so cute and happy. I thought you did an amazing job of analyzing why you aren't 'putting yourself out there.' I totally get it. You are at a good place of understanding yourself and loving your life. Why complicate things? If, perchance, somebody comes along who is worth it, you'll know. Or, if in time you change your mind about dating, you'll know that's OK too. Just be! You are SO loved.