As I continue with this strange concept of dating in my late 30’s (and my latest month-long attempt at online dating), I feel like so much has changed since I was a teen-aged, hopeless romantic. And yet, the older I get, things actually remain the same. There is certain level of vulnerability that comes with this whole process, and it can be absolutely terrifying at times. We react in a multitude of ways. Some numb the senses with drugs and/or alcohol and welcome the party and bar scene. Some are so frightened, that they completely shut down their libido and convince themselves that sex and dating have no place in their busy lives. Others can take the next step and attempt relationships, but still become so paralyzed by the fear of rejection that they put up a wall and never truly let someone inside. Then there’s the vast majority that get caught up in the unhealthy mesh of entanglement with a partner. This is the place where the games are played; the games that stem from insecurity. Does he like me? Should I text him or wait two days? Should I wait three hours to text back so I don’t seem too available? The world of immediate communication and instant gratification has become a bittersweet curse.
This is where our vulnerability and uncertainty peaks, mostly because of lack of communication by one or both parties.Those relationships are the ones that deep down, we know are not the right fit. However, for some odd reason, we don’t listen to that wise inner voice of wisdom. We rationalize why this should work, and maybe even convince ourselves that there is a bright future ahead. We find it so hard to let go, and possibly make ourselves miserable in the process. Several times this year I have found myself in this situation of knowing deep down that a relationship wouldn’t work, but unconsciously, I waited to see what the other person would do. For whatever reason, I wasn’t quite ready to walk away, and when the guy started showing lack of interest, this hurtful upset covered me in a cloud of pity party-like depression. Wait a minute…why should I care if he isn’t interested, especially if I’ve already made the assessment that I’m not interested? Why am I so attached to his behavior? Why do I need his approval?
The waiting game can feel so painful. It would just be easier if men didn’t just ignore you as a way of showing disinterest like a 16 year old boy. Man-up and just call it off! Why do we still feel vulnerable when a relationship isn’t a good fit? Maybe the vulnerability comes from uncertainty of the fit. Can we be uncertain without being vulnerable? This is when I had the epiphany that we could apply some important life lessons to shoe shopping.
So I pose the question, why can’t we try on guys like a sassy pair of sparkly pumps? Imagine it. You walk into Nordstrom, and there they are; a glimmering sight of beauty and elegance. The perfect pair of shoes catches your attention and draws you in like a moth to the flame. As your heart begins to flutter, you think, God I hope they have these in my size…please, please, please, pleeeeeaaaase! As the shoe sales person emerges with a pleased look and a box, you know the first task has be passed. The shoe is unveiled it all it’s glory. Like Cinderella, a sense of confidence washes over you with the knowledge that they will l fit, and if it doesn’t, then dammit, I will make it fit! You slip your foot in, and at first it feels pretty good. You get up and take them for a little spin around the store, just to make sure. A peak in the mirror displays this shoe as perfection with your complexion. You imagine all the places you and these shoes will go and all the amazing things you will do together.
Then as you strut back to the chair, you start to feel the slightest rub in an odd spot. At first, you ignore the discomfort and tell ourselves that it is just a fluke. But the more you walk, the more the shoe begins to grate on you. You want this perfect shoe to fit so badly, that you try to ignore it. Then as the pain starts to build, you try to convince yourself that you can tolerate the blisters that this shoe might cause, and it will probably break-in and be comfortable eventually. As your sexy strut transforms into an awkward limp, you finally come to the realization that this perfect shoe just isn’t going to work. You are temporarily devastated. You maybe even throw a mini-tantrum, but in the end you understand that the amount of pain caused will not be worth it, especially if these shoes are expensive. And while some may not mind the bunion resulting from tight shoes, many of us are not fashion before comfort kinda gals. So, you put the shoe back in the box, maybe let out a heavy sigh, and go on your way looking for a new pair. You might even decide to take a break from shoe shopping that day altogether.
For some reason this concept is entirely foreign to me when it comes to dating. Some women are fantastic at recognizing when someone isn’t a good fit. They are able to let go and move on without batting an eye. Then there is me. Maybe I just don’t have enough practice at this or maybe it’s a confidence issue. Or maybe it’s just exhaustion of too much shoe shopping. It is so easy to caught up in the lack of responsiveness, that it becomes all consuming. However, a good friend pointed out that how men behave is irrelevant, because the shoe didn’t fit anyway. Yet we find ourselves caught up and emotionally drawn in. Why isn’t he interested in me? Why hasn’t he texted me all weekend? You know what..It really doesn’t fucking matter! You don’t like him anyway!!! This need for constant approval from men only drains us of our strength and power. YOU are the only approval you need. So, move on and find a pair you actually like. Or better yet, go grab a latte and shop for a purse!