“We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
I feel like this must’ve been what the universe (or God) asked my fresh, new soul before it sent me spiraling down to earth.
And until recently, I would say my dumb ass soul must’ve answered ‘the hard way’.
I have often said that this is how I tend to learn things. The hard way. Not everything, but most things. Sometimes this is because while I can read about certain experiences and hear pre-emptive advice, I tend to not retain it unless I’ve gone through the same experience. I learn better through application.
Sometimes, however, learning ‘the hard way’ has been because I am STUBBORN AF and I have a rebel tendency. So even if I have a situation in which I can apply really great advice, I might not. My dumb, hopeful, rebellious heart will try to hold out for a different conclusion. It’s frustrating at times. But for me, once I learn something the hard way, I really do get it. On a soul and core level.
Here are a few truths I’ve learned the hard way.
1) It’s really important to take your car in if it makes some weird crunching noise when you turn … because if not, your tire might fly off.
2) Do NOT try to nudge a couch that is blocking your path with your vehicle … or it might dent your door and make it impossible to open it fully ever again.
3) If you have a messy, heartbreak of a situation with a guy, you shouldn’t continue to show up at his bar with your rabble-rousing friends.
4) DO NOT – I REPEAT – DO NOT DATE A BARTENDER AT YOUR FAVORITE BAR. No man is worth losing your favorite bar. NO. MAN. The bar is forever.
5) If a guy tells you he’s not ready for a relationship, listen to him and don’t try to change his mind.
Ahem. So … most of my ‘hard learned’ lessons clearly tend to deal with love and relationships.
I’ve always said I don’t have a ‘type’ of man. I fall for the person, not how tall he is, thin he is or what he does for a living. I can be attracted to all types and certainly have. It’s been frustrating at times, especially when I’ve met a guy who has his life together and seems to genuinely like me, but there’s no spark. No zsa zsa zsu (little Sex and the City reference for ya).
My best friend recently remarked on this.
“Do you think it might be concerning that you don’t have a ‘type’? And yet you seem to be drawn to situations that hurt you?”
Leave it to Ash to ask the questions I’m probably trying to avoid. But her point was I say I’m open to all things because I believe love doesn’t have a ‘type’, but if I look, not all that closely, my recent history seems to prove I’m actually drawn to a very specific type – unavailable.
I was in an affair, had a short term thing with someone who made it clear it would never be romantic and in general, tend to fall for the men who aren’t ready for a commitment and seem to want to keep me emotionally at a distance.
When did this happen? Why?
If I look back, I haven’t always been this way. My ex-husband wasn’t very sensitive, but he was a good, solid partner and there for me. He was very available, loyal and he took care of me in many ways … he was just kind-of a grumpy jerk emotionally.
After we separated, I fell for a very sweet, completely emotionally available man who treated me incredibly well. Unfortunately … our timing was wrong. I wasn’t in a place to commit long term after having just left an 8 year relationship. His breakup was honestly the hardest. Because I still loved him and he was very much in love with me, I just couldn’t provide what he needed. I knew myself enough to know that my restlessness wasn’t settled yet, and if I committed like he wanted me to then, I would’ve broken his heart in a few years.
Then along came A, the man I fell hard for. He was quite literally taken. We approached this … affair …. not like some heated, passionate, uncontrollable thing. It was slow. It was friendship first. There were a lot of questions and nights just talking. There were love notes before there were kisses. There was something in his story that seemed so very similar to mine, and his heart and soul seemed so genuine. He was emotionally present in ways that were completely unexpected. He was romantic. He was doting and caring.
But he was also very much unavailable.
This dichotomy confused me. To feel so loved and cherished and yet feel hidden and in the dark was a rollercoaster. Add to that the fact that my whole life I thought I didn’t have a type physically and yet here he was. He was MY TYPE. Tall, lanky, bearded, charming, funny, sweet, shy. Our hands fit perfectly together. And yet he was never fully mine. Though he promised me the future, he never called me his girlfriend. Our affair was up and down, passionate and real but also completely unsustainable.
I wonder .. did I become addicted to the chase? To the rollercoaster? To my own stomach flip? Is this where I became attracted to the unavailable and unattainable?
But … I’m proud of myself today.
This weekend, I ran into a guy I have had a serious crush on for a long while. I never admitted it previously because he had a girlfriend and I was never going down that particular road again. I’d had a sneaking suspicion he had a similar crush on me but he never crossed any boundaries and neither did I. When I saw him this past weekend, after having not seen him for nearly a year, he informed me he was now single. We flirted. We kissed. It was exciting. This was the first guy in a while that I felt that little spark of excitement. Maybe this could be something?
Then he said the dreaded words, “I’m not really looking for a relationship.”
I mentally catalogued this and filed it away but kept kissing him. He asked for my number and asked me to dinner. I agreed. It was going to be sushi and I was excited.
But on the way home in my lyft, the fog of excitement and vodka lifted and I realized here it was, the clear flashing sign that he was NOT available.
My achilles heel. My kryptonite.
I debated what to do … and finally decided to call off the date. Our chemistry is undeniable but a man who’s newly out of a relationship and clearly states he’s not looking for another one in the meantime, is telling the truth. And he is likely only looking for temporary, casual comfort. I can completely relate! I was in the same boat with the man I rushed into a relationship with after my divorce.
I said no and I’m proud of that. He asked why and I was honest. I didn’t shy away from being clear about our different intentions. He tried to persuade me with very selective language that conveyed how much he liked me while still never intimating that he might consider dating me for real.
And that’s the thing .. he’s not a bad man for stating how he feels and what he’s looking for (or not looking for). In fact, he is to be commended for being very upfront and honest. But neither am I being ‘too much’ if I clearly define what I’m looking for.
I understand where he is and I’ve been there. But I’m somewhere else now and I know it, and I don’t feel afraid to ask for what I truly want.
I’m not looking to jump into a serious relationship immediately either, but I’m also not remotely interested in something casual. If I’m dating, I’m dating wth intent. It might not work out, but I’m going into it with a clear definition of what I want.
This weekend, instead of falling victim to my typical tendencies of being drawn to someone who’s very clearly unavailable, I walked away because though I liked him, I wasn’t interested in what he had to offer at this time.
I’m not breezy or casual and that’s cool with me. I’m happy single, truly, and I’m so proud I was able to recognize this and not walk down a path that would inevitably lead to disappointment. No matter how cute that disappointment looked or how great he kissed.
This. is. progress. This is taking the lessons I’ve learned and actually applying them. Some things in life aren’t so mysterious. Some things are really clear.
I’m not saying there might not be more slip-ups in the future, no one is perfect, but I’m proud of myself for taking a step in the right direction. A step away from the past patterns of being drawn to what isn’t going to be there for me and a step towards something new.
Maybe, for once, I’m ready to learn the easy way.