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*Warning: f-bombs dropped below!
Recently, and unexpectedly, I enjoyed a whirlwind love affair.
Yet, here I sit—unclaimed.
Initially, I reached out, through the dating app we were on. We discovered pretty quickly that our flirt game was on point, and despite the COVID-19 induced social distancing protocols, we decided to go on a real, in-person date.
Hearts began to open; many messages were exchanged, intimations of future possibilities were made, favorite songs were shared, and we realized that we communicated exceptionally well, both in and out of the bedroom.
Then we realized we did not rest the same inside ourselves—he, as gracefully as possible, backed away because, to his credit, he realized he could not claim me. He has not, yet, fully claimed himself.
Now that this little tryst has run its course, I want to scream, and shout:
“I did not ask for this! I did not ask to have my heart opened up to remember how much I actually enjoy being in a relationship. I did not ask to imagine what it would be like to be a part of someone else’s world. I did not ask to be flooded with all these feelings—desire, longing, care, and heartbreak. I did not…”
This is precisely what I asked for, and I fucking know it.
The only thing I yearn for, more than to have my heart broken open, is to have my heart met. And for a few weeks, I felt seen and held in a way I have not in years. It reminded me that I want love. No, we were not in love, but there was mutual care. There was also anxiety.
Call it shit timing, or fate—it was not meant to be.
But it made me realize how utterly unsuited I am for modern dating games. I know there is a biological imperative for men to pursue women. I hear this all the time. This makes me think of a lion taking down a gazelle. I’m not your fucking dinner. If you want me in your life, I am going to be your God-blessed equal, which means we better both show mutual interest in what we are creating.
I don’t want to be chased. I want to be fucking claimed.
I am not talking about a caveman clubbing me over the head and dragging me off to his den. No, thank you. I am talking about not sending subtle signals to a man, simply saying, “I am curious about you. Would you like to get to know each other?” No guesswork. No ambiguity. Just honest, adult exploration of each other with no mind games.
No, I do not want to do all the work, nor appear to be the only one interested; that would be the mirror side of this predatory dating model. I want mutual interest, and magnetic draw, as well as respect, passion, and space.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love to play! Flirting is my preferred form of communication in most situations. Granted, it’s not appropriate in everyone, but it is fun, harmless, a good way to banter and get to know each other, and in my opinion—flirting is foreplay to foreplay. That is not all that it’s going to take, to make up a relationship, far from it. I think aside from our compatibility in the intelligence and physical department, it is also how we tend to our hurts, individually and together.
There is simply no way for us to relate to each other without hurting each other, without wading into those murky waters of confusion. How we navigate that territory will determine whether or not we can be together.
Yes, it’s about: can we fight cleanly?
But it is also about: what we do when we cross a line or drop each other? Can we come back to that pain, can we retrace our steps with care?
If we cannot, we are not going to make it.
How a person handles my hurt probably speaks to the way they navigate their own.
People who cannot handle pain cannot genuinely arise in love. It is not that love is hurt, but love does awaken past hurt, and in our humanness, we will inevitably cause present and future hurts. A man who glosses over, or from the mirror side, wallows in his pain, will not be able to hold me, in mine, either. If he cannot rise in gentleness with his own sadness, anger, and confusion, I fear he probably cannot truly rise in courage for himself or his loved ones. That might look like a lot of things, but certainly, it looks like having boundaries.
Without boundaries, we cannot be a container of life for ourselves, let alone for another. We cannot hold each other without the ability to forge our way through the world with accountability and care. And without that, we cannot know who we are, nor claim what belongs to us. And I would like to belong with someone—who knows they deserve me—as they are unquestioning of their own self-worth.
When I say belong to, I do not mean that in a proprietary way—I mean bonded in care. It is a choice and commitment. This is not tying our wounds together with the same stitches—that is trauma bonding. This is realizing we have wounds and taking the time to sit with them, to slowly rub the balm of our sweet presence into each other’s tender places.
In order to tend to another’s pain, we must be familiar with our own—to know our suffering is also to know our value. What? Yeah.
If we know our own pain, we are less likely to let it slide when others hurt us. We are more aware of their wounds and more likely to be able to speak to pain when it arises. The key in this process is knowing that our pain does not define us. It is a part of us, but not our whole, and so we cannot be shamed by pain.
So much of the cat and mouse—come here and go away—games that we see in dating are, in my opinion, attempts to navigate our need for reassurance, validation, comfort, and intimacy.
We are told that we should not put these needs on the opposite sex, that it makes us come off as needy and undesirable, when the truth is we all have these needs. To ignore them and suppress them makes us feel less human, and that makes us behave neurotically.
We belong to each other, but there is no belonging without safety. To feel safe, we must feel cared for, protected, and cherished. These are not feelings that can be chased. They can only be shared and claimed.