I am, if you haven't noticed, (and if you haven't noticed then you aren't paying attention) a navel gazer. NOT a Naval gazer, although, seriously, you can call me when you get OUT of the military. In a couple of months. (I'm kidding)
I look at myself, mentally, a lot. It's a bit of an obsession especially in the wake of relationship turmoil. Not just romantic relationships but also friends, family, and work associates. If there was drama, or hint of drama, or QUESTION of maybe some sort of personal discomfort between us, you can bet that I'll be in the shower talking to myself that night about how I behaved, whether I caused the situation through my actions, what I can do to change my behaviors in the future.
This might be crazy, but it's how I deal with life. It's how I realized that there are things that I just can't control. Things about myself, and most especially things about other people. Talking it out helps me tremendously. It's my therapy (along with singing it out, which, I suspect the neighbors can hear, but you know, I can pretend that they don't).
Sometimes, this leads to an apology on my part. Sometimes I just feel better, sometimes I tell myself that I will handle things differently next time, and if I am playing the "what if" scenarios in my head and getting all worked up over something, I remind myself that whatever it is will likely NEVER HAPPEN so I need to mellow out and move on.
This is going somewhere, I promise.
I'll be 35 next month. This means that I have been playing the dating game for a very long time. Statistically longer than most. I've broken a few hearts, and had mine smashed plenty. I've seen the romantic movies, heard the stories, read the books and I've taken the advice. I've tried online dating, meeting guys at work, through friends, in bars. I've been on blind dates, I've been on dates where the guy didn't look like his online picture, and dates where he did. I've had crushes that turned into something more, I've had hope, and I've recoiled.
After a relationship ended I have mourned for too long, not long enough, or just simply didn't find anyone interesting for years at a time. I've gotten into relationships because it was better than being alone (bad idea). I've tried dating more than one person at a time (WORSE idea). I've dated people I wasn't that into (absolutely the worst idea ever), and I have been on the wrong side of that painful situation. I've been casual, serious, a friend with benefits, and, I fear, a bootie call which is something I never intended to be and something I never want to be again.
I've tried looking and not looking.
With the exception of singles clubs (I looked into Sierra Club Singles but it just looked like SO MUCH WORK!! Meetings and outings and dues, OH MY!), speed dating, matchmaking services and attending church (which would be like LYING) I've tried just about every scenario that well meaning folks suggest.
I've stuck to my "list". I have deviated from it (bad idea! no need to settle!!). I've dated much older (well, much for me) and much younger (once again. We're talking like, 8 years in either direction)
Do you know what I learned about dating? I need to play by my own rules.
If I don't think I'm ready get involved someone? I shouldn't go out looking.
I can look or not look, it doesn't matter. The result will be the same.
My list is there for a reason, and it's not absurd, it's not being picky, it's knowing that there are things I am looking for in a partner and that those things are important to me.
Just because a fella meets all the criteria on the list, doesn't make him right for me. (this one is a tough one. REALLY tough. like, I want to cry just typing it out because it was a PAINFUL lesson. A lesson I've been slapped in the face with several times.)
If I am unhappy about something, there's probably a valid reason. And I need to bring it up so we can work it out before it turns ugly. I am NOT a pretty crier.
Bootie call agreements are not for me. Neither is casual. I need both parties to be all in and working at it. I know that dating is the trial period before deciding whether a person is someone you want to spend your life with. But when you find yourself at home more often than not knowing that the person you are seeing isn't as into you as you are into them, it hurts. My Seester once said something to me when I was mourning too long. She asked, "Why do you want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with you?" She was right. I DON'T want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with me. Sometimes, it just takes awhile to realize that's what is going on. If he's not treating me like I matter in his world, I probably don't. As my wife once asked about a different man, "Is this really better than being alone?" No. It isn't. I'd rather be alone than miserable over a man who is treating me like I'm only good for one thing when it is convenient for him. I wouldn't treat someone else like that, why should I allow it for me?
Some might say that it is silly to try so hard to find Mr Right. That I should learn to be happy with who I am. That I need to love myself before I can be loved by someone.
I call Bullshit. I know that I will always have room to improve. I can be happy with myself while still admitting that I have flaws. No one is perfect and if you are trying to love yourself the JUST way you are, then you're giving up on the pursuit of self discovery and improvement. I want to be the best person I can be, alone or with someone. And as far as trying so hard? I realized the other day that there is a biological need to have a partner. There are only so many biological things I can ignore.
Humans weren't meant to be alone. We are community creatures. If we were meant to be alone all the time, we wouldn't have a drive to find a partner. I know how to be alone. I've quite literally spent years without a romantic attachment. I know who I am when I am by myself. I navel gaze enough to know when that person is vastly different than the person I am when I am with someone.
When they are vastly different people, I need to walk away. And go have a long talk with myself in the shower.