When I last posted, I’d decided I was going to take a break from dating for a while. Naturally, since then, it’s been raining men.
Shortly after thinking that I needed this latest break, I’d come across a page in a book I’m rereading (Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser), where she compares life to a river and asks herself each day whether she wants to fight the current… or let go and flow with it. When I read that, I realized online dating had felt like I was forcing something–going out of my way to meet people I would most likely never have come across in the natural course of my life (in addition to all the other downsides of online dating). Like fighting against a current. A day or two after reading this, my pastor gave a homily about how sometimes doors are closed to us because we’re trying to open the wrong ones. We have to listen to our own, inner voice, he said, to find the unique path God has set for each of us, and then the right doors will open. Hmmm, I thought, like trying to go against the current, versus letting go and flowing with it. Then, when I put the key in the ignition to drive home from Mass, the song on the radio was “Hold Back the River,” by James Bay. Coincidence, or…!?
I was done fighting the Universe. I resolved to stop trying to slog my way upstream, and to just let go and ride the flow of the river. To that end, during the following week, I cancelled both my Match and Zoosk memberships and “hid” my (free) PoF profile. I was done dating. D-U-N, stick a fork in me, finito.
There were still a few conversations I’d been in the middle of from the dating sites. I extricated myself from most, but agreed to meet one guy who was willing to drive all the way from Evergreen to Aurora one night. (I have friends in a band, and their gig was at a dive bar in Aurora. That’s why I was all the way down there, myself.) The guy showed up. He was cute, charming, intelligent, slightly snarky, taller than me, fit, gainfully employed, plus he’s a writer… and I felt nothing. No spark. Omigosh, what is wrong with me?!!? On the advice of my gf, who was there, I confessed this to him halfway through the evening. Being the unbelievably, cool, charmer that he is, he still wanted to hang out, as friends, and we actually had a nice time talking. (Plus, my friends’ band is pretty decent.) But I was listening to the Universe, going with my own river-currents.
That same night I also randomly ran into a guy I’d previously dated from OkCupid. We said hi, chatted, he said he’d email me, and went on our ways. I thought that was that. But the next day he sent me a nice email, saying he’d like to see me again. Hmmm…. He’s a good-looking writer (who actually makes a living at it), he’s witty, insightful, fun-as-heck to text with, but at this point I was listening to the Universe, bowing to the water-gods. I responded, explaining that I was done dating, but wouldn’t mind hanging out as friends. Then I went to go lay out at my apartment pool.
While I was down at the pool, catching the last tanning rays of the season, a guy I’d never met before, who was the only other person there, started talking to me. We chatted, it was friendly, and he said we should hang out and have a drink some night. Sure, I said. (Um, this is friendly, right? Like, because we’re neighbors, right?) So I gave pool-guy my number. Later that evening he texted me and I began to get the idea that he was thinking more-than-friends. Oh, dear: this is starting to not feel like “floating down the river.”
That same weekend (this was all 2 weekends ago), another guy, who I’d gone out with once a year and a half ago, started texting me out of the blue. And then two other guys I know (one from chatting with him on Match over the summer, but we’d never met, the other one I know from speed-dating, months ago, but I hadn’t heard from him in quite a while) also texted me. I had six guys messaging/texting me that weekend, after I’d decided I no longer wanted to date anyone.I told myself the problems were: (a) I was being too nice. I didn’t want to be mean and say “go away” to other human beings, so while I didn’t encourage them, I also didn’t discourage them; I just maintained nice, neutral, friend-zone conversation, (b) I was trying to not-date, but I was also trying to go-with-the-flow, and it was very confusing, with the Universe now deciding to send me all these men–all of whom were nice guys–all at once, and (c) I felt zip, zilch, nada in the romantic interest category towards any of them. Don’t get me wrong: my libido is alive and well. (I know this, for instance, because I’m reading a romantic suspense right now, and I can totally feel the spark in the characters’ storyline.) So, like I said, I told myself these other things were the problem.
Then the Universe took a break. The following week I had an issue with my ex come to a head, in a bad way. It was so bad I was in tears at times at work that Tuesday, and in PTSD-meltdown status for most of the remainder of the week, though, except for Tuesday, I kept the rest of it contained to the privacy of home. (This never happens this badly; it was an extreme situation.) I felt powerless, worthless, and scared. It was a vicious contrast, courtesy of the reality-check department of my life: I went from having a bunch of nice guys pay positive attention to me one week, to being bullied and treated like dirt by the father of my children the next. Message: they’re only being nice to you because they don’t know you. But when they get to know you, when you let them in, they will kick you and throw you away. The situation is resolved, for now; my ex has eased-off, for the time-being.
This week, the Universe has gone back to its previous games. This week alone, I’ve had 3 “non-dates.” (Because I’m not dating, of course.) But I’m committed to going with the flow, so I had to follow through with these guys who were on my path. Rather than go home from work and hide in my hole, I made myself meet them: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. I tried to be open to receiving each of their unique personalities and getting to know them as human beings. That part of it was pleasant, and something I’ve always tried to do, anyway. I’m good at the “friends” thing. But I realized my defense-walls are up, hard-core. I think I’ve figured it out now, though.
Over the course of the week, I “watched” myself meet with all these nice, good-looking guys. But then the only physical contact I allowed was a friend-zone hug goodnight. It wasn’t even a choice; there was a voice in my head saying “No, no, no!” and the walls went up. I think the reason the Universe has been putting this male-deluge on my path is because I need to address my fear. Of men. Of rejection. Of the very deep-seeded, shame-based idea I have that I don’t deserve to be loved, just for who I am, as a person. I think that’s why I’m stopping myself from feeling any sparks. Interesting, that after all the inner-work I’ve done, and as far as I’ve come, that I still regress to this place so easily. See? This is what happens when fire lands in water. 😛