Monday, May 8, 2017
Quite a while back, after Trooper* and I broke up, a friend asked what I would do with this blog if I found a relationship. My thought was that if I ever did find one, I would use this blog to talk about how one transitions her life from single to couple.
There are a ton of hiccups, obstacles, milestones, and funny moments that make up a couple's journey
The truth is, they do. I'm just not paying as close attention, and I'm letting good posts slip right on by.
I suck at relationships. Not because I'm not able to be faithful, but because I'm especially bad at looking out for myself. I look out for the other person first, sometimes at my own expense. I am more concerned with what he wants and needs, and I tend to put my own wants and needs on the back-burner. It's a problem, not only because we all have to look out for ourselves, but also because if I'm not paying attention to what I want - how can he?
Not only do I put myself on the back-burner - I tend to make myself responsible for his happiness as well. I let myself take on the burden of planning, worrying, researching... and for being the bad guy. In my mind, if there's conflict, somehow it's my fault.
That all leads to a lot of anxiety, a little depression, and that means even the best blog posts get away from me. It also is why I think I'm bad at relationships.
It's been over two years since Toyfriend and I met, and almost two years that we've been dating. It's been the most exciting, happy, fun, joy and laughter-filled time in my life.
So why can't I just be confident and enjoy how it feels, and not worry about where it's going (or not going)? I tell myself every day that's how I should be. I tell myself everyday I need to focus on the good, remember he loves me, and remind myself of all the wonderful times we've had and the future plans we've made. I tell myself that is enough...
..and it is. More than enough, actually.
But in the back of my mind, there is this little voice that always tells me that while it may be enough and he may be enough, I never will be. At the end of the day, I am right back where I started, feeling like any minute Toyfriend will figure out he could do so much better, and he will be out the door.
I can navigate all the toothpaste debates, remote control quarrels, and even family scheduling. But my own anxiety and self-doubt... that's proven to be the biggest challenge of all.
*Remember him? He's doing well. He's got a great girlfriend and a good job, and seems really happy.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Friday, September 30, 2016
I have learned that might not be totally accurate.
First - people care in different ways. Not everyone is wired to worry. It certainly doesn't mean that the relationship isn't important, or that they are not invested. Honestly, just because you don't notice the worry doesn't even mean it isn't there - some people are just calm, even-tempered, and don't show concern.
Second - worry (especially my sort of worry) isn't always rational or healthy. It has more to do with my own past and my own need to control things than it does my feelings for my person. It may feel like it's because I love him - which I do - but the worry is not a sign of that love.
I have come to realize that my anxiety and insecurity play tricks with my head and heart. They convince me I have a reason to be scared. They make me believe I am about to lose something or someone, or am about to be left behind. They tell me I'm not good enough, not smart enough, not successful enough, not thin enough. Over and over, they repeat, "You're not enough," until I finally believe.
I'm learning to fight back. I'm learning to coach myself; to remember all the ways I am good enough - even better than good enough in a lot of ways.
It's not easy. It's a fight every single day. Combating negative thoughts with positive reminders takes a lot of energy. Sometimes all the energy I have. But it's worth it; the alternative is to give up the thing that is the most important to me.
I learned as a little kid I wasn't worthy of being loved. The lesson was reinforced as a young adult when I started dating. As I got older, and even when I was married, I didn't realize that those lessons had settled in my brain and taken up permanent residence. I thought I was over it after my divorce - but then I realized I wasn't.
I knew getting back into a relationship would bring back all the insecurities and worry. I also knew the only way to avoid them was to avoid the relationship. Which means the anxiety and insecurities win. That is unacceptable.
So I fight. So far, I'm winning.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
As a teenager, I thought all boys had cooties and I was little miss independent.
As a young woman in her twenties, I believed finding love would make me happy and confident and content. To be fair, this was after meeting a guy who convinced me I was only worth what he said... so finding a guy who thought I was worth a lot really did make me feel happy and confident and content. But only temporarily.
As a divorced woman in her thirties, I (secretly) believed (and feared) that maybe we only get one chance at real love and I had blown my shot. But I pressed on because I was also starting to believe that God wouldn't have put the desire in my heart if I wasn't meant to find love.
As a woman in her forties who has (I believe) found the guy, I have learned a few more things to believe.
Perfect is a myth. If you have a long list of requirements, you will never meet that guy. Which, is probably by design - what better way to avoid the responsibility or possibility of heartache than by convincing yourself no one is good enough?
Compromise is not the same as settling. Settling means you give up something that you really want
Communication is key. It may be easier to avoid that tough conversation, or not talk about what's bothering you - but that won't fix the problem. Sharing is part of a relationship. Everyone is happy when they're sharing the good stuff. When you find someone with whom you can share the bad stuff - that's when it's a relationship.
You don't have to agree on everything. I always thought agreeing on social or political issues was a deal-breaker. Turns out, it's not. Being respectful and open-minded, and being able to talk and laugh - those are the deal-breakers. If you have to agree on everything in order to avoid an argument, maybe it isn't working as well as you think.
I still have a lot to learn. I've even returned to counseling. I know that my baggage created a lot of walls and barriers for me, which I used to keep myself out of relationships, out of fear of being hurt. I decided it was more important to push through that fear rather than letting it rule me anymore. That is not always easy - but I believe it will be worth the work.
Turns out fairy tales are much more ordinary than I expected - and much happier than I imagined.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Some of this is a side-effect of my new job, and the added work it creates. It has really gotten in the way of my work-day goof-off time, which was also prime blogging time.
Some of this is a side-effect of spending time with Toyfriend - which should probably be a post in itself, about finding balance between relationship time and time for myself. Just so you know, I have plenty of self time - I just spend it doing other stuff.
I'll work on it.
Today, though, I have stuff reasonably under control at work, so I've decided to take the time to write about something that has really been bothering me.
The side-effect on my friendships.
Between the fact that I spend a lot of time with Toyfriend, and the fact that my work is taking over a lot of my time, I have had less time to spend with friends. Not no time - I will always have time for my friends. Not only because it's what I want, but also because Toyfriend is very supportive and would always want me to take that time.
Mostly, I think my friends get it. They know I'm busier and trying to find time in my schedule for everything. Plus, most of my friends are in relationships - it's not like they had a ton of time for me before, and they understand wanting to be with my person. Especially since it's new, and Toyfriend and I still actually like each other.
But some friends seem miffed that I have less time. Which, I could probably understand, if not for the fact that these same friends have cancelled plans on me in the past because something better (read: a guy) came along (actually most of these friends have cancelled on and/or excluded me altogether for better offers that came from a variety of places, not just guys).
If you're single, don't spend too much time with your friends. You're setting the bar too high.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
So, it's been a while... I'm sorry about the absence. Between a promotion at work (Go me!), holidays, Toyfriend, family, volunteer stuff - time just got away. Before I knew it, we were turning the page on 2015. Happy New Year!
When we last chatted, I was dealing with some anxiety. I'd actually gotten a pretty good handle on it by the end of the year. I started journaling again, and spent a lot of time working on dealing with the present, rather than worrying about what might happen in the future. I also started coloring - I highly recommend that as a stress-reducing hobby that has the benefit of being fun and portable.
But that's the trouble with anxiety - it's irrational, unpredictable, and comes and goes as it pleases. This was a huge problem for me before I knew what anxiety was, how it behaves, and its effect on me. Part of learning to manage my worries is learning their causes, how to identify if they are really as bad as they seem or if they are being exaggerated by my anxiety, and most importantly, what calms them down.
Recently, I've noticed a little worry creeping back in. At first I couldn't figure out what my problem was. It started as an innocent conversation about something going on with someone in Toyfriend's family. It had nothing to do with me, him, or us. Zero. But somehow, it morphed into a conversation about our relationship, where it's headed (Spoiler Alert: Nowhere fast.), and what we both want.
Let me be clear: Toyfriend and I are on the same page. We're both happy with the way things are and in no rush to change anything. It's super-important for me to say that because I was losing site of it fast, and I need the reminder.
While we were talking, Toyfriend said he has "no interest" in taking the next step. Given that we are together 5-6 nights a week and most of the weekend, have keys to each other's homes, keep toiletries and clothes at each, have met family and friends, and are planning a big vacation, we agreed the "next step" would be living together.
The truth is, I'm not interested in moving in together any time soon, either... but I would like to know that the option might be available in the future. Toyfriend's "no interest" sounded like a formal declaration that he will never want more than what we have right now. Even though I'm happy in this moment, thinking the door had just been slammed on anything more scared the hell out of me.
Is this a dead end? Does he want an exit strategy? Does he love me as much as I love him? Am I settling? Am I giving up too much? These thoughts started swirling through my head fast and furious - and it was overwhelming.
When I came up for air, we talked a little more. Toyfriend isn't slamming the door - but he is also not ready to open it just yet. He can't say for sure if he ever will be. He did say he "can't see us being in this place forever."
When I thought about it, I remembered that I need to focus on the present. We're both happy, on the same page, and able to talk things through. Toyfriend doesn't shut me out, nor does he shut me down. He listens to my worries, no matter how irrational they may seem. He never judges me or minimizes my feelings.
I also remembered that this is what it means to focus on the present and not the future. Neither of us can predict what will happen, nor should we rush into something before the time is right for us both.
I can't guarantee that I will never feel like I need that next step... and I can't guarantee that I will. Toyfriend is the same boat. He may never want to take the next step - or maybe he will.
I can't force it or try to change him. I can't rush into something just to "lock him in." It would be foolish to judge the relationship based on something that may or may not happen, when it's something neither of us even wants right now.
All I can do is check in with myself, focus on what I want in the present, and make sure my needs are met. I can check in with him and make sure we're on the same page. Mostly, I can enjoy the happy, healthy, honest relationship I'm in - and be grateful for every day I get to be this happy.
Sunday, January 3, 2016
I've been a little quiet around here - something I hope to change now that the page has turned to 2016.
If your resolution for 2016 includes finding love, today is the perfect day to start!
According to Match.com, the world's largest dating website, National Online Dating Day is the proven busiest day for online dating. Happening every year on the first Sunday in January, the exact time down to the minute this year is 8:52pm ET on Sunday, January 3th.
This heavy influx of traffic falls within Match’s “Peak Season,” which spans from December 25th to February 14th annually. During this time, Match will see a 60% spike in new members!
Online dating is largely about numbers - the more people you meet, the more likely you are to meet the right one.
Grab that great holiday selfie, put together a few words about yourself, and start meeting fun people!