These past few months I’ve been dating, sharing, making connections and building friendships with men.
I had closed that door for some time, knowing I needed to take care of myself and recognizing that after a long relationship, I needed some time alone.
I finished grad school. I healed after three friends died. I traveled. I moved. I trained to be a yoga teacher. I invested in my career and my passions…
It has been beautiful and I’m grateful to now be in a place of readiness to share my life with others.
During different interactions with men, I started to notice a few frustrating, confusing and disheartening things. Here is what I have to say:
Stop expecting me to have expectations.
Three times now, after a great date or a deep conversation, men brought up concerns that us simply enjoying each other’s company meant I will suddenly want more or expect something different from them.
I find this frustrating and confusing. We just had a great time together, why would I want to change anything?
Experiencing something good doesn’t make me grasp for more, it makes me want to enjoy the moment.
I don’t like keeping in touch every day. Having a good date is not going to change that.
The conversation inevitably turns to an explanation of past relationships in which communication went awry. “I was just worried because a few years ago I started seeing this girl and she…”
Men, when you bring this up, it is clear you aren’t seeing me as I am now, in this moment with you. You aren’t fully present. You are seeing me from behind the clouds of your past relationships. I am not the girl who hurt you.
Which brings me to my second point…
Stop bringing baggage from past relationships into our relationship.
I am amazed by how many people let hurtful patterns or painful memories developed in past relationships inform their thoughts and behaviors with me today. Most amazing and confusing is that men often know they are carrying over a pattern.
Someone in your past didn’t respect your feelings. I am not that person.
Someone in your past didn’t communicate their feelings to you. I am not that person.
Someone in your past was too clingy. I am not that person.
If I become that person, by all means, act accordingly, but until then, let’s see each other as we are right now.
By bringing baggage from past relationships into our relationship (friendship, skypeship, dateship, whatevs), you’re letting go of the beautiful power we both have to create the relationship we want. You are relinquishing your power to choose how you want to treat someone, and how you want to be treated.
Maybe someone stole that power from you in the past, but right now, between you and me, you have a choice.
Choose what you want instead of choosing to hold onto baggage.
All this talk led me to wonder: When did relationships become so limiting?
In past relationships, I willingly gave things up for “us.” All those things I mentioned in the first paragraph became secondary to “us.”
I thought that was what girls do: set aside my life to make a life with a man. Priorities, right? I have had some amazing loves, but maybe this is why I sit here today as a single woman.
I am deeply grateful to have evolved from that pattern. Thank you to all the women and men who led by example and taught me a different way.
My life is on fire right now and I want to be with people who stoke and rival those flames.
A few nights ago I was with a friend. We met and it felt like we had known each other for a long time. We’ve since gone on a few dates and simply enjoyed spending time together. After having dinner, walking through the park, playing guitar and harmonium…the conversation turned to us.
What are we? Do I have expectations (not this again)? We talked about what we want.
We shared about our lives and all the things we are doing, working on, wanting to do. The things we are learning and the passions we are growing. We talked about past relationships in which there were expectations to give things up, to change.
As the conversation came to a close, I said:
“I don’t want to give anything up.”
“Okay, let’s not give anything up, together.”
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Emma Ruffin / Editor: Travis May
Photo: provided by author