Monday, November 21, 2011

my shady past...with dating. part 3.

If you've read the two posts from last week about my unfortunate past with dating, then you know about the pitiful lack of experience I had with boys by the time I turned 18, you've seen me do some annoying number crunching that went nowhere, and you've also maybe read about the fact that in college and beyond I rocked at finding men to date. I mean, they were the wrong men. But still, they were there, dating me.

At 18 I dove headfirst into the waters of the college dating feeding frenzy instead of considering what I was comfortable with, what I was looking for in a guy, and what I expected a good relationship to be.  I went ahead and just let whoever was giving me attention sort out all that stuff. * After all, they probably knew more about it than I did. Right?

Settling into a pattern like that is easy-peasy and also totally unhealthy because it's a hard cycle to break and sometimes it hits you one day that you're 24 years old, a shitty partner, and you have no idea what you actually want.

Thankfully, I did 'wake up' so to speak. And once I was up, there were reminders of my passive journey through Relationshipland everywhere.

For instance, one morning I had just set off on an all-day drive. I popped in the first cd I found whilst digging around in the center console without looking and Social Distortion started rocking through the speakers. I could have slid on my sunglasses and sung along but instead I fixated for hours on the fact that I had no idea if I actually liked this band or if I just knew all of the words because a former flame loved this band and I thought I could make him love me by liking the music he liked.

What the hell? I've always been a strong, self-confident, outspoken female in nearly every other facet of my life, but when it came to men I was reduced to some malleable substance vaguely resembling play dough- That is, so long as they didn't try to label what we had as a 'serious relationship.'

Granted, I do think we pick up a lot of things from the people we date. After all, we (usually) like them, we spend a lot of time with them, and we ideally learn a lot about them when we're together. I still run my toothbrush under the sink before and after I put toothpaste on it due to a former beaux. It's just a habit I picked up that I ended up liking. I don't often think of him, but he's the source of said habit and oh well, I like a wet toothbrush.

But I think a large part of my problem was that I spent a lot of energy trying to become the perfect girl for every guy I was dating rather than considering if they had any potential to be my perfect guy. Or even a guy I was compatible with.

I know it seems strange that I say I never intentionally entered into a relationship or really wanted one- and then I go on to talk about how much I lost myself in the guys I was seeing. It doesn't really make all that much sense to me either, and it didn't happen overnight, but rather gradually, which is probably why I didn't notice it at the time. Basically, I think I lied to myself.

Because of the guy I am dating, I've been full-on country western, punk rock, a total hipster, and extremely preppy. You should see my closet, it STILL looks like an overflowing costume trunk. Slowly, like a chameleon, I did what I thought I had do to, and then time and again I was surprised when I found myself totally unhappy, unfulfilled, and trapped in a situation that I couldn't stay in. The lesson? Forcing myself to fit better with whoever I was dating didn't help me fit any better in my own skin. It didn't make our relationship any more likely to succeed or make me want to consider it in a serious light.

It was exhausting.

And I did it to myself.

By the time I realized what I'd been doing, I'd been single for a year. After a particularly volatile end, I built a wall and reinforced it with rage. And realizing I'd been losing myself to the guys I was dating only increased my resolve. But then, something good happened. I started healing. I started  to learn about myself again, to take the time to consider why I liked or didn't like something. I started to actually like myself again.

Which takes us quite neatly to tomorrow's post about my current relationship, and how it started.

See you then.


*(Except sex. I hung onto that V-card like a sacred flower waaay longer than most of the girls I knew.)

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