Faithful readers will recall that I have a habit of falling for emotionally unavailable men (The Ex, Kryptonite, anyone that I have gone out with more than 3 times…). Since the new year, I have had a lot of time to ponder and explore the reasons for this. In Feb/March, it dawned on me that perhaps I am the one who is emotionally unavailable. Those who know me well said, “well, duh!” But to me, this was a revelation. It had never occurred to me that maybe it was me. So, I decided to try an experiment. I rejoined the online dating world (as I do every 3 months or so, with no success). This time I laid it all on the line:
Strong, confident woman with commitment issues seeking friends-with-benefits-type relationship with intelligent, attractive man with a sense of humour. Apply within.
I got a pretty good response, but to my surprise every single one of my dates cancelled at the last minute – there were 6 in one week. I had no idea what was happening. That is what triggered all my abandonment issues and brought my feelings towards my mother to light, but that is a different post.
Now, I see what happened. I wasn’t ready to commit, so I came across as someone easily dismissed. Also, my goal wasn’t to have a bunch of random dudes that I slept with. I wanted one person that I slept with regularly with no pressure to develop things into anything more than a close friendship. It has not been until my most recent bout of online dating that I have finally been able to answer the question of “what do I want?”
What do I want? This is a question that has been plaguing me for quite some time. My friends, family, coworkers and therapist keep asking it, to the point where I get immediately defensive when I hear it. My response has always been “I don’t know!” But, as part of my therapy work (and a relationship with a friend that uses that phrase for every question you ask him), I have made a commitment to remove it from my vocabulary when referring to emotions. At this point in my process, I do know what I want. The words may not come easily, or be easy to say, but I know.
I want a relationship that has the space to develop at the pace I need it to (aka molasses in winter). This is when the tattoos on my wrists came back to haunt me. The longer I have them, the more meaning they seem to hold. I have trust issues. This is why I have to have it permanently etched on my body in a place where I can see it all the time. To remind me that it is okay to trust; people, the universe, life. It takes a long time for me to trust and when I start to feel myself becoming vulnerable to another person (or feel that person allowing themselves to become vulnerable to me), my flight mechanism takes control and I want to run for the hills (and usually do). The best example of this was with the only successful online dating experience I have had. It was with a guy I shall call, Irish. (Side Note: We are still good friends and for two years he has lamented that he has never been mentioned in this blog, so he will be happy to finally have his story told.) Irish and I hit it off like wildfire. Everything was going really well, but he had just moved to the country and didn’t know many people and I could see that he was beginning to invest quickly in our relationship. I was into it, but I had to move slowly. Everything inside was telling me to run, so it took all I had to just stay where we were. This caused “issues”. It all culminated one night at a concert where we got into a big fight which ended in tears and him leaving. Ultimately, I was crying because I couldn’t understand where I took the wrong turn that resulted in being 32 years old and crying over a boy at an emo concert for a band named Issues (I had taken my niece and her friend to the concert). The main “issue” was he wanted to be more involved and I said I needed more time. Not really sure how that resulted in breaking up, but it did. We laugh about it now.
This is, at heart, the same story for all the “nice” boys I’ve dated. They fall fast and I run. Hence, the appeal of the emotionally unavailable man. That is a relationship where I am in control. They don’t fall fast, so I can take as long as I please to become invested. The trouble is that they stay uncommitted. So, what is it I want?
My other tattoo answered my question. I want to be tamed. I’m scared. The idea of a relationship, though, in theory, is appealing, mainly fills me with anxiety. I can feel the stress rising even typing about it. The tattoo on my right wrist is the fox from Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. When the Little Prince meets the fox, the fox asks the Little Prince to tame him. He explains, “You have to be very patient. First you’ll sit down a little ways away from me, over there, in the grass. I’ll watch you out of the corner of my eye, and you won’t say anything. Language is the source of misundestandings. But day by day, you’ll be able to sit a little closer…” That pretty much sums it up. As much as I heal, there is a part of me that will always be that abused little girl, afraid to let anyone close. The only way to overcome that is through quiet patience. Ultimately, it would be nice to find someone who is just as scared as I am, so we can move slowly closer, together. That way we would understand when the other gets a little spooked.
So, that’s that. After 34 years, I am finally able to put words to what I want. It’s not fairy tales, it’s not a prince, it’s not big wild romance. It’s quiet, it’s simple and it is slow. Now, to find my fox… maybe he’ll be silver. *wink*