So, here I am, post-Love Detox rule change: embracing the grey and wrenching myself out of my past patterns. Which also includes learning how to date.
Before I tell you what happened, and how we came to find ourselves watching the Girls episode in which Hannah has a pelvic exam, two days after our first get-to-know-you drink, I would like for a moment to clarify for you what I mean by “attractive.” I don’t just mean someone I think is handsome—that’s easy to navigate. I’m talking about someone for whom I instantly have that fluttery feeling thing, which is not the same as being hungry, which I pretty much always am.
And do you know what I discovered? Turns out, being friends with someone you find interesting and handsome and all-around dishy isn’t really a thing. We were both game to try and having read this blog, he knew where I stood with the Love Detox. And so, we made an excellent go of it, but it turns out that it’s tremendously difficult to not want to make out with someone whom you have both established a friendship with and find very attractive. Who knew?
This realization coupled with my conversation with Bethany, in which she pointed out that my pattern was not so much falling in love, but living in black and white extremes, led me to alter the rules of the detox, and re-enter the world of dating. But, modified.
I am comfortable doing this with him for a few reasons, the most important being that I have done an excellent job of not going down the normal girl path by making anything of the following:
- We actually met years ago, just once, at a friend’s house and made late-night pancakes together. And for those of you who know me well/how much I love pancakes, you understand how I could very easily view that as a sign if I were wearing my crazy girl hat which I most certainly am not.
- His first name is the name of my ex-fiancé. His middle name is my ex-husband’s name.
- At my Divorce Day Party last year, he was seated at the table next to me and leaned over and complimented me, very sweetly, on my outfit. I remember it well, but didn’t realize at the time that it was him—it had been years since the pancake evening. “I looked at you and thought ‘She’s glowing, and someone should acknowledge it,’” he explained during our drink.
- He loves food as much, if not more than I do, because he’s a chef. Of course.
- A funny and wonderful and kind chef who is so damned handsome it caused my friend (rightly) to nickname him “Captain Handsome of the Starship Pretty.”
But you know, it’s funny. Although I’ve done a really good job of not thinking that any of that means anything (because it doesn’t), in my effort to Just Casually Date someone, I’ve also not allowed myself to really enjoy it. Like, I haven’t allowed myself to like him.
I mean, of course I like him. But, I haven’t allowed myself to enjoy liking him, not really. This is partially because I am convinced I have post relationship traumatic stress disorder, and the idea of being interested in someone is a totally terrifying endeavor, but also because it seemed silly and childlike. How could I suspend my disbelief about the inevitability of the collapse of all relationships to muster any enjoyment out of this?
I thought a lot about that point of view, and two things occurred to me:
- Holy goodness, I am a morbid little bunny sometimes;
- That’s no way to live.
So much of this project has been necessarily focused on exploring and redefining my relationship to relationships, and in doing so it’s become abundantly clear that I have lost a whole lot of faith. That I have essentially created a deeply held belief that liking someone equals being in pain later.
And that’s a problem, because if we carry our past into our present, we are guaranteeing more of the same—if I insist that relationships all play out in the same way and that all men are untrustworthy, how am I ever going to see anything different, even if it’s standing right in front of me?
I struggle with that, however—how can you tell the difference between your pattern of projecting the past into the present and real intuition? That was a challenge for me in the relationship with my ex-boyfriend. There was one situation in particular, in which I beat myself up for days for having a funny feeling about something that seemed fishy and I berated myself for not “believing it could be different.” I was sure that it was my projection and I worked my tush off to not say anything, to breathe through it, to learn to trust. But it turns out: I was right. He wasn’t being above-board.
So, then: how does one differentiate between intuition and past projections? Maybe we can’t. Maybe the trick is working to simultaneously eliminate past projections while ultimately knowing, deep deep (way deep) down that no matter what happens, you’ll be safe.
I came across the transcript today of a g-chat that I had about a month ago, with my Very Smart Friend Eva, in which she provides an excellent blueprint for how to go about such a thing. Here’s what she said:
“You are doing something brave and bold and you need to be ready to be brave and bold in ways you hadn’t expected. Like the ways you meet and incorporate people into your life.
You should think about being ready to spend more and more time in the realm of the new, where each moment is being created fresh, and where the possibility of something untried or untested or unknown for you or him or both of you is possible and is not predicated on the complexities of past associations, which have nothing to do with now anyway.
I’m just saying—open it all up.”
And so: nothing may come of this at all, and that’s OK. I have had hours of laughter and he’s made me many grilled cheese sandwiches and I have forced myself to be open and vulnerable and nakedly honest about who I am, and how I feel. That alone has been an enormous gift, because it’s a new experience, and not something I do easily with men. And so, if it stops there? That’s OK—I’m better for having known him, and maybe that’s what it’s all really about, at the end of the day.
In the meantime, I’m taking Eva’s advice, and I’m opening it all up. Because that’s the purpose of this whole project, anyhow—learning how to live with courage in all areas of my life and allowing myself to grow and blossom and change into whatever wild, wonderful shape is authentic and true.