It seems kind of quick eh.
One minute I am blogging about being lonely, and drinking on the bedroom floor on a school night. The next I’ve got a boyfriend [that word still sounds ridiculous coming out of my mouth] and he’s all the things on the list… [you know the list, all single girls know the list].
But it wasn’t really that quick when you think about it.
I’d been single for three years. I spent the first two years trying to remember who I was, and what I stood for – pulling myself together into someone that I recognised in the mirror again. It was a lot of work. And I put the work in.
I finally had most of it figured out. So I decided about 12 months ago that I should probably try dating.
At 29yo, after spending all of my 20s in serious relationships and never having to actually date anyone [they just kind of turned up in those days – early 20s and no Tinder – it was much easier! People actually spoke to you in person!] I was kind of intimidated.
And, I had a lot of relationship issues that I was yet to resolve.
So of course, I attracted a string of guys who reflected my most dominant issue at the time.
I knew where I was heading. I knew what kind of relationship I wanted, and I knew what qualities I wanted that person to have. But I didn’t realise at first that I needed to be a different kind of person in order to be able to sustain and nurture the kind of relationship I wanted.
I needed to learn some stuff and let some stuff go before I would be ready for that.
Guy number 1! He seemed pretty promising. It was quite remarkable. He liked travel. He liked cooking. He was independent. He didn’t try to suffocate me. He was fun… He lasted quite a while. Because I took quite a while to learn this one.
Lesson number 1: emotionally unavailable people attract emotionally unavailable people.
I was in no way open to an actual emotional connection when I met him. I was terrified. I would literally say things like “I don’t need anyone, including you.” Yep. To his face. He was of course fine with this, because he was of course of the same feeling.
So fiercely independent and protective of ourselves. Terrified of being left alone, of needing someone else and them not meeting our expectations. So the easiest way to deal with that..? Just block them out.
So we played that game for a bit. And then eventually I realised I needed to work on that. He held up a mirror, like those that came after him, and I could see my flaws in him. I could see exactly why we’d be drawn together and exactly what it was I needed to change.
So I went to therapy.
Not your normal therapy of course. A woowoo version. There was tapping and revisiting memories of abandonment etc. etc. etc. It was intense. It was bizarre. And it worked.
And I hated it and never went back.
It took me a whole afternoon and a couple of hours sleep to recover from that 20 minutes. I went round to Guy Number 1’s house that night because I needed some affection. I felt a little destabilised. And because he liked being needed [don’t we all to some extent] he agreed to feed me dinner [my favourite thing].
Inevitably we discussed the therapy and then I explained that I wanted a proper relationship, an actual emotional connection, and what that would look like to me. He made all the right noises in response and said all the right things. We went to sleep. And two days later he dumped me via text.
I was only half surprised. But still hurt.
He spent a good few months after that texting and asking for my emotional support for other areas of his life. Me being me, I always gave it to him, because I felt the need to fix everyone.
Lesson number 2: you do not need to fix everyone.
So eventually I learnt that boundaries were very important and if he wasn’t going to respect them, I’d have to enforce them in a way that was non-negotiable. And I blocked him.
Guy Number 2… just kidding, I’m not going to trawl through a list of dating horror stories. You can read those sort of blog posts elsewhere. But I will list the lessons.
Lesson number 3: stop telling yourself you are unlovable, or that you’re ‘too much’.
Lesson number 4: not everyone wants the standard 2.4 kids and a semi in suburbia lifestyle. Some people will believe in your dreams and want to build that life with you.
Lesson number 5: get your dreams out on the table by date 2 or 3. If they react badly, ditch them. They aren’t your people.
Lesson number 6: boys are just as dramatic as girls.
Lesson number 7: some people are genuinely just here [online dating] to score points. That’s sad for them. Let them go.
Lesson number 8: you are pretty fucking awesome, and someone is bound to recognise that eventually. If someone tells you to change any part of who you are in the first few weeks of ‘knowing’ you, ditch them.
Each time I went through the cycle I got a little closer. I could feel it. And that made it more and more frustrating when it didn’t work. But it was easier and easier to identify the lessons, and therefore my bounce back rate was pretty speedy.
And, as progress isn’t linear, the emotionally unavailable lesson came up a few times in different ways, as did the fixing everyone part.
There was a lot of “this is what you asked for” from the Universe. So I was constantly re-evaluating and being more specific. Like “someone who wants to travel” developed into “someone who wants to backpack with me” – the ‘with me’ part was key! As was the backpack – all inclusive resorts for two weeks is not my idea of travelling.
“Enjoys going to the gym and looking after themselves” evolved into “enjoys the gym a sensible amount, and doesn’t spend every waking moment in there. Is not obsessed with protein and how much you can lift, bro. Just with personal goals and progress, in a healthy way.”
“Likes to cook” became “likes to cook for me, things I can eat and like to eat.” Because what use is it if someone just likes baking bread when you’re wheat intolerant?
There was a lot of that.
Eventually I ended up with a list that I wrote on a new moon in October or November [I forget which]. And usually I burn them, just as part of ritual and to let them go and trust the Universe will deliver what I need and what is of the highest good for all… [I just find burning it helps with that – I love a little (safe) fire!]
But this time I forgot.
It just stayed in my notebook. But I’d obviously let it go regardless because I’d forgotten about it.
And then the magic happened.
The work Christmas Party… I’d handed my notice in and I knew I was leaving at the beginning of February. So all my usual rules [do not date at work] went out the window, because it didn’t matter anymore.
I’d clocked AP months ago. And it wasn’t like I’d ever thought anything of it, or that anything would happen. Because we worked together. And because he’s 5 years younger than me [though apparently everyone assumes I’m about 25yo when they meet me anyway – I’m never entirely sure how to take that]. I didn’t really imagine I had anything that he’d particularly want. But after spending so much time learning to tell myself I was lovable and that the right person existed, I thought I’d just give it a go and see what happened.
We spent most of that evening hanging out.
That was the most time we’d spent together in a social capacity. Well, it was the only time we’d spent together socially at all really.
We were all super smashed. [I got a serious knee bruise and graze that no one remembers me getting! It was so pronounced that I must have taken a dramatic fall, but as no one remembers, that’s an indication of how drunk we all were.] But we did remember that we’d had fun, and the endless photos on my camera roll further confirmed it.
So we decided to hang out sober and see how that went…
We’ve moved pretty fast since then. But it hasn’t really felt like that. We just took each day as it was, and most of the time we wanted to hang out together. So we did. And we still somehow managed to see our friends and family… We weren’t entirely sure how we were doing it, but it was working pretty perfectly.
Then I said I was going to Thailand. And he said “that’s exciting, I think it’ll be great for you to do that. You should definitely go.”
He didn’t skip a beat. It was amazing. I was so pleased. He wasn’t trying to stop me! He wanted what was best for me…
Then he said “I will of course miss you. But I will be here when you get back.”
I couldn’t quite believe it to be honest. I could not have hoped for a more perfect response. So I asked him to come with me.
I had to ask him three times, because he kept saying no, and that he didn’t want to hijack my plans or make the trip about him.
He is an absolute dream.
My mate emailed in response to one of my desperate and dating-hating blog posts and told me that I would be ok, that she had spent bloody years trying to find the right one, and then one day out of nowhere he appeared, and it was easy, and everything just worked, and it wasn’t scary and no one was playing games. And after 6 months they moved in together.
And I remember thinking she was nuts. Totally crazy. Who moves in together after 6 months! How can you possibly know someone well enough for that. Bonkers.
Well, SW, it turns out you were right.
When it’s right it is easy, and it does just work, and I’m not terrified [much].
And to be honest, if we can make it through 2 weeks together in Thailand, including synchronised food poisoning and a couple of meltdowns, we can probably do anything.
Team work makes the dream work.
And the dream is definitely working right now.