Is there a place in your life where you’re standing still or looking back because of regretful dwelling or your past failures and mistakes?
Yes. Duh. Of course. I’m human and I don’t do well in remembering my worth. If you’re not full of self-doubt, congratulations. I applaud your superhuman ability to forgive yourself and accept yourself for every aspect of you. Usually, it’s a particular person that we allow to hold us back from growing. Much of our time is spent resenting exes, or never getting over them, maybe trying to win them back. Meanwhile, said exes are moving on and growing up. They’ve chosen to let the past be in the past. It’s not necessarily “not caring” as much as they have outgrown the relationships from their past. Ideally, this doesn’t mean cutting all ties, but that is now all too often the case.
In the last several months, I’ve chosen to not date. After two relationships abruptly ending back to back, I realized I needed some me time. As a wise friend put it, “Concentrate on you, girl. In a correct, positive, nourishing sense. Not the silly, modern selfish sense.” And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Part of the creation of this blog, as well as all of this self-improvement, has been getting over more than any ex or bad job experience. It’s mostly been getting over myself. I’m obstacle number one in my life. No one can hold me back as well as myself; the same goes for you, too.
I spoke to my mom last night about growing up and the general difficulty of it all. As she accurately put it, “You’ve been in a holding pattern ever since you got out of college and came home.” There’s no disagreeing with her. Even now, I’m in another holding pattern, but this one happens to be semi-productive. When you’ve stuck yourself somewhere, it’s usually next to impossible to see just how stuck you are. Whether it be a dead-end career choice, living situation, friendship or other type of relationship, you’re usually blind to it.
The beauty of this current holding pattern is that I have the space and desire to grow. When I graduated from college, I was so set on forcing the things I wanted to happen. Instead of preparing myself for what I wanted, I waited impatiently. There’s a significant difference between patient and impatient waiting. The most important distinction is one of choice. Impatience means choosing reaction; patience means choosing proactivity and intention. One comes with clear, targeted goals, the other with muddled feelings of frustration and resentment. It requires significantly more strength to choose what feels like doing nothing (e.g. waiting) instead of keeping busy or, worse still, forcing change.
I speak of strength for I am a willful woman. Too often have I attempted to force fate’s hand. It began in my eighteenth year, before one of my bigger life changes. I was in a two year relationship and all I could think of was its end. I feared what parting ways meant or what a burden another year of long distance dating would be without any declared intent. I was selfish and afraid, so I forced change. This began a series of forced changes; some in the ending of relationships or in trying to initiate them. I’ve learned since that turning the wrong way down a one-way street puts you in a world of hurt. At best, you’re in for an awkward turn around. At worst, you get wrecked.
Why are you experiencing a desire to date?
This is an important question to ask yourself, man or woman. Dating isn’t just about fun. That’s the primary aspect, to be fair. It’s mostly about getting to know another human being and determining if he or she is good for your future. After sifting through the last bit of emotional wreckage, I began to consider some new rules for myself. Considering my past willfulness and frustration in the realms of romance, these rules have become necessary in many parts of my life, but particularly in dating.
Rule #1: Don’t initiate.
Men are supposed to take the lead for a reason. I am not going to go through every single anecdotal explanation as to why. It’s only natural for men to be the one to seek our attention. Every other mating species on this planet has some sort of ritual. The males prance, dance, engineer, or coerce (yikes) their to seduce a mate. Of course, their mating is 9.5/10 about a genetic propagation. In higher functioning mammals, I’m unsure of how this applies. So why are human males any different? Despite cultural adjustments or gender revolutions, men are still proposing marriage. What’s the difference with a man asking a woman out on a date?
So much of modern dating involves inorganic interaction. The removal of that face-to-face pressure also removes any impetus for men to be men. In other words, the onus for initiation becomes a question when it’s not supposed to be. If you match, swipe, select, et cetera on someone, who’s supposed to message first? Some dating sites and apps are engineered to give women a first choice. As much as I’ve appreciated this in the past, it’s entirely uncharted territory. Too often, forward women have a higher agenda than men lacking initiative or in need of organic encouragement (i.e. higher stakes with other men around, potential friends serving as wing men).
That’s why I’m not dating, or at least, not like I used to. I’m letting men do their thing, as they’re supposed to. Despite any mutual feelings I may share with some, it’s not on me to have the cajones and initiate. Too long have I been the one deciding how things should be and it’s exhausting. I’m still on the prowl, but I’ve got a pack to hunt with until a prospective partner is brave or smart enough to make a move.
Rule #2: Be patient.
This is my whole new world. It’s going to certainly take some getting used to. Impatience has been my holding pattern for so long. I’ve finally realized that patience really just requires clarity of purpose, firm intent, and a cultivated willpower. I’ll get there eventually, and when I do, it’ll be life changing.