A number of friends have been recently reaching out to me for advice more often than usual. My phone is going off constantly and I find myself nodding and asking questions in calls that go on for at least a couple of hours. I know to be prepared now — sometimes a glass of wine, some others tea, and when it get’s intense I’ll make sure to have a snack ready. I pace around the living room, sit on my porch, walk to my bedroom, back to pacing outside. I truly don’t mind because they all return the favor when I need it. We have become each other’s back bone, playing therapist and supportive parent. Each conversation brings it’s own “Aha! Moment” like Oprah says, and we all need a pillar of support now more than ever. What I have found peculiar though, is that most of our concerns are related to a potential or current significant other. “Does he like me?,” “Will she be upset if I say this,?” “What are we even doing?!” We are crushing numbers and the frequency of text messaging. We are measuring the intensity of our words, and how they must have come out. We fixate in their patterns and obsess over how long they take to reply or wether they’ll even reply at all.
To say that some of us are unemployed it’s a lie, because this is a full time task — except we can’t pay rent with it. Moreover, such is purely a strain in our self esteem — a mere exhausting way to live to be honest. Yet we do it anyway because we like the person that much and we all want to be liked back. We believe that the relationship is special, and since anything worth having takes some effort, we sacrifice our peace of mind and elaborate indefinite scenarios in which our win could be potentially endangered.
I’m no relationship expert, but what has caught my curiosity is that we are all far too perturbed about doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, we are all walking on eggshells; too distressed to lose whatever it is that we may have. We spend night and day wondering if we did or said that last thing right, or beating ourselves up for messing up…again — “Ugh, if only I could have kissed him back more passionately, he wouldn’t think that I don’t like him.. I was just so nervous!.. I’m so stupid, he’s definitely lost interest.” We play the moment or the conversation on repeat in our head until it hurts, and when we don’t see our phone bring up their name in a notification we get bummed out. Now, feeling this to an extent is a normal experience, but too much of it isn’t healthy. After many hours of reading and soul searching, the one advice I’ve found to ring truest is this:
“You absolutely cannot do or act in the wrong way with the right person.”
Sure, calling someone too much and not allowing them to breathe are not encourgaed. A good partnership after all is giving each other the space to be individuals. But at any stage of a relationship, we should be able to be ourselves and not be afraid to express and communicate in fear of the other’s reaction. There must be room for confiding in one another, and room to be excited, sad, silly and even awkward. Without such window, we are always fixated in our next best strategy or bumping our heads against the wall if something didn’t work out the way we hoped.
In Sara Eckel’s book “It’s not you: 27 (wrong) reasons you’re single” she emphasizes how oftentimes we are told is us to blame for our romantic failures — we are pointed as the common denominator that’s at fault. Howbeit, Sara reassures us we won’t be a problem to the right man or woman. “Dating is an act of vulnerability” Eckel says, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m personally very clumsy when it comes to dating. There are so many rules and regulations to the “game” that I just find it hard to play. But let me tell you, playing is the thing we don’t want to do — Love isn’t a poker round. Besides, a genuine interest won’t drift away the moment that you forget to “play your cards right”.
People can be easily misread and the signs that magazines tell us to be vigilant of are usually too vague. Humans are complex! We think one thing but do another, and things we say and hear are all perceived differently. Most situations aren’t entirely in black and white, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be simple — it all comes down to communication. If anything has helped me manage my dating anxieties and slowly outgrow my old impulsive attachment patterns (thanks to my many wonderful and wise friends), is grasping the concept that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes down to relationships, and at the end of the day, a good one is such in which I don’t feel ashamed for being myself.
Authenticity and spontaneity are what really make two people bond. We want to feel lightheartedness and ease when being with someone, and ties that cultivate trust and safety to just be are those that prosper. Something that may have been a deal breaker for a person from your past could be the one thing to direct you to the right partner. Is not about being perfect, it’s about being whole. Obsessing over every little move won’t make anybody like you more or less, and a person who truly cherishes you will put the effort in. Furthermore, there’s no fun in “winning him/her over” if that means suppressing who we really are. It will be like a dating a mannequin. If you can’t laugh when you want to laugh, where is the joy in that?
If you have been too eager towards someone and they walked away, let them. If you want to make things exclusive with a person you are enjoying spending time with, tell them. If you are in a relationship and find yourself in a small array of jealousy, express it. This is all with the idea that when doing so we are acknowledging the emotion but not comprising control. Most importantly, we are doing it because being honest is a true foundation for a meaningful and happy relationship. If he or she is the right person for you, they will be happy you opened up. Be confident that you are enough and that your feelings are valid. Always come from a place of compassion and good intention, the rest will take care of itself. Be mindful of your own patterns and take accountability, but do not feel sorry for being excited about someone or for wanting to be wanted or for being a little extra sometimes.The right person will hear you, will see you, and will want you. No need to convice them to do so.
Ultimately, by presenting ourselves transparently, insecurities and all, is all we really need to find a person worth spending our time with. Rejection is inevitable of course, but it’s part of the whole journey. The key is living with fulfillment and from the heart, and that in itself will attract the meaningful and lucky people whom deserve to be part of your life. Be humble to accept when somebody chooses not to stay, but remember to “Not let another person determine your worth” as Sara says. Keep aiming to be the best version of yourself, FOR yourself. Continue learning, growing, and loving. Keep making mistakes, lots of them! and make sure you see the lesson in each one. At last, this is what will organically lead you to truly enjoying the love of your life — All you have to do is be yourself.