Recently, I almost, very quickly and without much thought, fell in love. He was a man I had met a number of times, and when we crossed paths this last time, something just clicked into place. Suffice it to say I was swept off my feet with his attention; his openness and warmth; his wanting to get to know me; and his heady promises of an awesome future. He seemed so authentic, so genuine, so real and so different from all the fucktards I’d recently had the dubious pleasure of being involved with.
And he was authentic, genuine, real and different until he was faced with the situation* of choosing between his ex-wife and me.
Needless to say I wasn’t the winner.
And this man, who seemed so authentic, so genuine, so real and so different from all the fucktards I’d recently had the dubious pleasure of being involved with, retreated into the distance with nary a word. So much for “I can see a future with you” and “I’m so into you” and “Honesty and trust are everything” and “I really, really, REALLY like you” and “This is the last trip you’ll ever have to do on your own” (I was just about to head off to Japan for three weeks).
I discovered that these words, which I believed, were nothing more than hot air, because when push came to shove and he had to walk the talk, he sagged like a popped balloon. And I fell very quickly out of almost love as the walk failed to materialise, and the talk proved to be empty sounds of breathy nothingness. It was a crash and burn and fade of the quickest kind. I went from that amazing feeling of being wanted and loved up and beautiful and desirable to witnessing something that I thought could have been oh so special, crumble before my eyes. And I had no power to stop it, because it was not of my making.
One of my friends said an ex-wife is nothing, and that I’ve concerned myself over such a small thing. Another said we’ve all got baggage. I agree. I have mine, which is why *this* (not making me – and the care of me – a priority) is such a big deal to me, and no small thing.
But I’ve learned something about myself from this experience and the one before. Actually a few things.
Every rejection is a gift. A chance to learn and to do it better next time. An opportunity to figure out how to bounce, not break. Don’t waste them. ~ Seth Godin
I get swept up in events and let my emotions run things
I have never been insouciant when it comes to romance and romantic encounters. I wish I could be, but I’m not. I have always counted my chickens before they’ve hatched in the relationships department, eager to share my happiness and good fortune with all and sundry. (It’s almost like a public validation of my worth and desirability as a woman: see? someone *does* want me and finds me attractive and worthy of love!) Unfortunately, this also leads to me having to explain either days, or weeks later, that things haven’t panned out quite as I envisaged, and that my solo status has been reinstated. But it seems that blabbing about something before it’s fully formed is the least of my worries.
Did you know that we all have a romantic attachment style? No, me either. Apparently, our attachment style is formed during our childhood and depends largely on how we are parented and ranges from secure to fearful-avoidant. I’ve self-diagnosed and it seems that due to my toxic childhood, my attachment style falls into the anxious-preoccupied category:
These folks are intimacy junkies because they seek high levels of approval from their partners. They… have trouble trusting their partners. They may worry a lot, be drama queens or kings about minor things, and make quick decisions based on emotional reactions. ~ Dr Wendy Walsh
Yep. That sure has a familiar ring to it. Gee, thanks Mum. Just when I thought I was relatively well-adjusted despite being the recipient of poor parenting, I discover that I’m not as together as I thought. And this is clearly manifesting in my attempts at relationships and choice of potential partners. Grrrr!
I need to recalibrate and fine-tune my filtering system
I have always been attracted to Alpha Males. These men are even more attractive to me if they are accompanied by tall, dark and handsome looks. They invariably have a muscular physique even if they don’t tick any of the tall, dark and handsome boxes. I read somewhere once that a lack of a father figure predisposes women to be attracted to this sort of man, but I’ve also read that it’s also a biological imperative. Women tend to prefer Alpha Males because they are better stock to breed with. l’ve always liked the confidence and strength they exude, and (so I’ve since discovered) the anxiety they create as the relationship progresses. Or not, as the case may be. But I’ve also learned recently that Alpha Males are probably not a good match for an Alpha Female like me; it seems that I would have a better chance of a successful relationship with a Beta Man.
Be that as it may, I do know that I need to revisit the type of men I am attracted to as potential partners. I need to update my checklist, and actively tune in to men who are less showy and extroverted and alpha, and more caring and kind and beta. Less firefighter and more poet. Less Jason Momoa and more Ryan Gosling (which begs the tough question: is Tom Hardy alpha or beta? I think he is a little of both, but not definitively either, which still makes him totally ok. Tattoos and muscles scream alpha, but artistic, loving father purrs beta.)
And I need to rely less on my emotions when making a romantic decision, because clearly, *I* can’t be trusted. This is especially true if I make the mistake of falling into bed with him before I’ve had a chance to work out if this man is even a good candidate for a potential partner. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: stupid sexy libido! And excessive alcohol consumption does not help either.
I must honour the Pact I Made With Myself and stick to my game plan
After the emotionally disastrous head fuckery I received from Mr Christmas Shenanigans, I made a Pact With Myself. I didn’t keep it this last time because I “knew” the man. Clearly, I did not. So I’m amending the Pact With Myself to the following:
Regardless and irrespective of the circumstances, including amount of alcohol consumed and good times being had and promises of what could be and how nice a kisser someone is and whatever exotic location I am in, I will not sleep with anyone I haven’t dated for at least two months, even if I know them or think I know them.
This pact protects me from the crazy-arsed shit dance I experienced with Mr I Can See A Future With You (known henceforth as Mr ICSAFWY). The pact makes sure that any man I sleep with earns the right to partake of my awesomeness. This much awesome should not be given out willy-nilly: it must be appreciated, adored, earned, respected. And two months is enough time for any crazy-arsed shit dance “stuff” to surface. Which gives me a choice about whether I take it on, rather than being blind-sided by events that seem to be arbitrary and nonsensical, and aren’t what I intended to sign up for.
Steve Harvey is right when he advises women to impose a probation period on contenders. It sorts out the wheat from the chaff and ensures that only worthy candidates access the benefits package. He’s a wise man, and I need to revisit his fabulous book, because I have found it has been really useful helping me navigate these fraught and choppy relationship waters.
* When Mr ICSAFWY invited me to his birthday get together, he informed me that his ex-wife was going to be there. We needed to be discreet, he said, because he didn’t like flaunting his relationships (even though she has a partner) in front of her. She gets a bit “funny”. But not to worry, he said, she’ll be gone by 7pm. That should have been have been my code red alarm system going off right there. But what I said was, not a problem, I can do discreet. I said this, not knowing the crazy-arsed shit dance I was walking into.
I rocked up to his get together, and while he did kiss me and seemed pleased to see me, straight away he said: “She’s still here.” To cut a long story short, he spent the evening more or less avoiding me so as not to upset her. He would venture over every now and then to inform me: “She’s not happy.” How sad that the man who had promised me all sorts of future can’t get his past and present sorted. And I would suggest that this is not new behaviour. And I don’t want to even guess what weird-arse co-dependent psychological enablers are at play here.
I left after asking myself: what the fuck am I doing here? while at the same time advising him that I’m 50 and awesome and I run and I travel solo in countries that don’t speak English and I just don’t DO this shit. I don’t sit in a bar drinking alone unless I’m in another country, and even then I rarely do it. Call me old-fashioned but I’d rather be home cuddling up to my cat than doing crazy-arsed shit dances not of my making.
Oh, and I had two different women, of different ages and at different times, telling me to run – not walk! – away from this man. That the relationship that he has with his ex-wife is complicated, that I should do myself a favour and just stay away. I’ll only just end up getting the run around because he doesn’t know what he wants…