Don’t Fall for Him and Other Useless Advice I Give Myself

Have you ever liked someone but the timing is off? How many times do you give yourself advice and not listen? For me, countless times, and the greatest advice I give myself which I ignore is not to fall for someone. Don’t take down my walls. Don’t let anyone in. Don’t allow anyone else to make me happy other than myself. Don’t, don’t, don’t. Well, this time I’ve nailed the head on all bad advice and fallen for a man at the wrong time. And this morning, as I consider what to write in this post, I’m reminded how useless my little conscience can be once again.

I joined a dating site on the advice of a good friend. She did so and met a nice guy through the site and they are now “officially together” and happy and secure in their adoration for one another. I see her genuine happiness and think to myself, “I want that. I’m ready for that again.”

I wasn’t sure what I was going to find on the site. Or rather, who I was going to find. As fate would have it, I can be quite witty and charming through an online dating site’s profile bio. This is no easy task, friends! In only a day, a number of eligible bachelors attempted to reach out to me through messaging. Most messages lacked any substance and typically were the vague, “hey” or “how r u?” I’m not a snob, but when I’m looking for a suitable partner, grammar and fundamental conversation points are key. So my hunt through the messages continued in a slightly disinterested and unimpressed manner.

Cue the Golfer.

The Golfer’s message was an impressive multi-paragraphed story telling me little details of himself while asking for some on my own part. He was intelligent and had an easy flow to his words that made me curious as to the person behind the “Send” button. So I clicked to his profile. Redheaded, lots of pictures with friends, and a great smile. How could I refuse returning such a great message to such a happy person? So I did. And so began our correspondence.

More than a week later and we slid into our first date. I was a bundle of nerves. Talking to the Golfer all this time had been a whirlwind of emotions; he made me feel beautiful and appreciated and liked. That is something I had been lacking for awhile, even touching into my time with Army. It’s funny how you don’t realize you’re missing something until it comes back into your life.  I was sure the Golfer had to be too good to be true. Yet that first date was amazing. Easy, fun, and dedicated to making me feel like a priority. The Golfer was wonderful.

A few more dates occurred, each one better than the last. The conversations became increasingly longer and more direct in accomplishing a growth in feelings for one another. He was breaking down my walls faster than I have ever let happen in the past. I liked this guy. I liked this guy since that first message. And that is not how dating usually works for me.

As our courting (his verb choice for our relationship status) continued and my walls broke down, I became more complacent in how the Golfer entered my life. I allowed him to meet two of my best friends. I wanted my friends’ honest opinions of this gentleman who was causing this flood of emotion in me. They approved. Tenfold. He was kind, compassionate, social, and just down right perfect.

And so the Golfer was invited to meet my parents. A huge stepping stone in any relationship, but especially in mine. As my parents had once viewed X as their son, they lost something when we broke up. They were extremely hurt at this loss, and I felt the need to protect them and couldn’t allow just anyone to enter their lives. Then there was Army… he met them, of course. But Army never cared what my parents thought about him and sometimes went overboard on swearing in front of them and talking down to them. I knew my parents weren’t a fan of him; a fact which hurt me, as my parents’ opinions matter a great deal to me.

The Golfer excelled, of course. He charmed his way into having my mother even befriend him on Facebook. As soon as he left they both described how great he seemed and how happy I appeared. My heart felt light. I was so exceedingly happy at the prospect of what this wonderful man and I could become that I let my heart get ahead of my head.

This past week the Golfer has been MIA. I was not worried though, our relationship is still  fresh. He’s working on a master’s program on top of working a demanding job. His hours this past week needed to be focused on schmoozing for work, class, and ironing out homework.

The less I heard from him though, the more I began to think. It’s funny how things become less and less clear when you have some time to yourself to think. Thinking is no one’s friend.

And so I was thinking… Thinking how surprising it was that my communication with the Golfer diminished from, say, 90% a day to 1%. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit saddened simply because I enjoy hearing from him and talking to him. Our conversations are just.. easy. However, when you’ve become accustomed to Good Morning, How is your day going?, and Good Night texts daily for an entire month, not receiving anything for three days makes you question things. So I would venture a text here and there to let him know I was thinking of him and receive a short response followed by silence. With me being the only one to begin every conversation, I began to feel like a nuisance. And when I stated as much, his response began to follow the pattern of, “I told you I was busy, I can’t stress about your feelings right now.” Within a few long days, the walls began to rebuild.

Here I was, falling for this guy, and now questioning every motion he ever made in the past. Was he playing a game with me? Were the compliments and “I miss you” texts in the past simply this Casanova’s sweet talking? I’ve had these games happen to me before, I thought I knew all the red flags.

Last night I chose to voice my opinion on his lack of communication this week and how it has upset and hurt me. Not in the respect that I wish to demand his limited time to be directed solely towards me. I do not wish to be a distraction or cause any unwarranted stress in his life. Nonetheless, I need something from him. Anything, really. And asking for knowledge that we’re on the same page in terms of our relationship and our feelings is not too demanding, is it? (Seriously, please give me your opinions!) He responded that I, again, was causing him unnecessary stress.

Okay then.

Truth be told, I’m fine. The Golfer and I have only been courting for the past five weeks. That’s how he views us: we’re courting. Not dating. Words carry strength, and the differences in how the two of us view those words means a lot.

I have enjoyed this courtship. It was exciting, and fun, and different. I felt no need to rush as I viewed our place in one another’s lives as… right. Its been comfortable, and with my busy schedule that’s what I want at this time. Yet perhaps his comfort was a bit more pointed than mine… He doesn’t have much invested in me, other than some sweet words and good memories. And though he was the partner in our relationship to straight-up say he is not interested in dating anyone else (just last weekend he said if I was interested in dating anyone else then we weren’t on the same page), there has been no discussion on a future together.

This is a red flag to me. He said being exclusive with one another was what he wanted, but yet never touched upon actually being official. He’s expressed excitement at meeting some of the most important people in my life, but there’s been no discussion for me to meet those closest to him: his family. His words don’t match his actions, and that is always something to make me turn and walk away.

I’m not playing games anymore; I’ve been through that phase already and I’m done with it. I am a mature, independent woman who holds a steady job, is happy with her life, and is ready to include someone of depth and importance in her routine.

So I’m fine.

Now I’m going to take my own advice (remember when I talked about this topic in Clear Head > Lonely Heart?) and follow my head for a change. It’s not what my heart wants — I like the Golfer. A lot.

However, I don’t like feeling as if I am harming someone by requesting their companionship. I do not need someone to worry and stress over me, or to gaslight my intentions and needs. I want to be with someone who is aiming for a future as well, not simply looking for a confidant when it suits him.

In the same thought, I don’t want to think the worst of the Golfer. My head is telling me this guy is uninterested or unavailable right now. So in the end, my advice to myself is to take three steps back. Reevaluate. Don’t engage. Leave alone.

And in time, maybe things will fall into place. Or else I’ll be okay with the potential of a great relationship simply not having the correct timing.

Either way, I am perfectly fine.

5 Reasons Life is Better Without Your Ex

The county fair was last week and, as is the usual tendency at the fair, my friends and I ate unhealthily while we walked aimlessly around and ran into old classmates and colleagues. One of the groups we happened to run into contained a kid from my high school who was also once one of my campers. (He’s now a sophomore in college! Oh, how quickly he grew up!) As we did our quick five-minute catch-up, he asked me how Army was doing. I was a bit surprised he hadn’t heard of our break up being that it was over three months ago, but I gave my well-rehearsed, polite response, “Actually we aren’t together anymore, so I’m not entirely sure.” To which he gave me the mixed look of sadness and sympathy accustomed to those transitioning through a break up. Then he proceeded to pat me on the back and tell me that I will find someone new and I will get over the heartbreak.

His words, meant to make me feel better about being single, really got me thinking. I have done a lot of reflecting over the past week on my own life and the state I am in at this exact moment. It was not until that exact moment that something struck me: I am over it. I’m over the heartbreak and the sadness and the pain. I’m over him.

A day after the fair, I went on a first date. My date with The Golfer (perhaps I’ll expand on this subject in the future…) just solidified this revelation. Here I was enjoying a great evening with a new person and I could honesty say to myself, “I want to see where this goes.” That means I was considering the future, and not looking back to the past. I’ve moved on and I was/am ready to move forward.

I remember seeing myself in the mirror back in May and being unhappy with what I saw: the girl looking back was sad, angry, and confused. Now, though, looking back it seems surreal that I was so hurt by a person I hardly think about these days. I cannot believe how much stronger and independent I have become since the time with Army. I thought we had a great relationship but I realize now that just because I wanted it to be great didn’t actually mean that was the case. We were good for awhile, but we weren’t meant for the long haul. And I’m happy with this knowledge.

Seeing my life now, I am content. However, I know how difficult it can be to see the bright side of things following a break up. So this post is a big reflection for myself, but is targeted at those who are going through the rough patches right now. Take solace! Life goes on and there are still plenty of reasons to be happy without the person you split from. So for all of you out there who might need the relief, I have constructed this little list of reasons why life is better without having your ex in it:

1.  You become stronger.
I learned this mostly with X’s and my end. Without someone to lean on, you find that you have to pull yourself together and start functioning on your own. This may seem cliche, but it’s true! When I broke up with X, I was broken. It took me months to become strong enough to even consider life without him. However, I finally gained the strength to open my heart again, and that is when I met Army. And though that relationship didn’t work out either, I did not break again, I just cracked a bit. The healing time was quicker, the mindset was clearer, and my future is brighter as I now know I can handle the worst and still find happiness in myself.

2.  You focus on your own self-improvement. 
One thing I’ve noticed not only in my own relationships but also while watching my friends’ is that when you are “with” someone for an extended amount of time, you place your own self-improvement on the back burner. You’re no longer going out and trying new things. No new hobbies, no new skills. Now that you’re single, you have the chance to learn new things and try new experiences. So get out and do them!

3.  You have freedom.
Once you’re no longer in a relationship, you are free. You no longer have someone to answer to or check in on where you’ve been or what you’ve been doing. You can hang out with anyone you like (either gender), watch the movies you enjoy most, and eat the food you enjoy without being concerned about anyone else’s feeling but your own.

4.  You can meet new people.
Sometimes when you’re in a serious relationship, social skills suffer. If you meet someone new, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to actually get to know him or her. I mean, you don’t want this new person to get the wrong impression or for our SO to think something is going on when it isn’t. So it is easier to just say hello, swap niceties, and then forget this new person altogether. Thankfully now you can smile and meet and learn about new people as much as you want without worrying about anyone’s feeling or the time they may take out of your relationship!

5.  You learn to be alone.
I believe this is one of the most crucial lessons a person can learn in his or her life. It was not until I was single that I went to a movie by myself — and the result was so inspiring that I went again the very next day! I no longer had to wait for movies to come to DVD because my SO had no interest in the same things I did. And, more importantly, I no longer cared what others in the theater thought if I sat by myself. I had control over my own life and I reveled in that knowledge. Learning to be alone is the most empowering lesson you can learn, and it makes life a lot less scary.

Now, I want to make something clear: this list is what I have learned during my time being single after relationships that were not meant to work out. I am a BIG believer that all five of these reasons why my life is better without my exes will and should be present in the relationship that will last in my future. In a happy and lasting relationship…

  • … you are never weak. Your partner does not cause you to crack or chip. Troubles will occur but you work together to hold one another up and strengthen each other. You are able to strive to function on your own because you already can, but you have a great support system behind you to help.
  • … you continue to learn every day. No matter how long you and your partner have been together, you’re never bored. You either learn a new hobby together or alone. You’re comfortable enough to have similar interests and to have individual wants and desires… and you’re both okay with simply being happy with the other’s hobbies even if you personally do not have the skill set or passion.
  • … you never feel trapped. This covers both #3 and #4. If you cannot do things on your own every now and again, then the relationship is unhealthy. Trust is a huge part of this; you trust your partner and they trust you. There are never any questions into your faithfulness to one another if a new person enters our life. There is also compromising, which is a huge component to any functional relationship. You give and you take on everything, and you’re willing to do so because you know it’ll make your partner happy.
  • … you never actually are alone. Even if you’re physically alone and doing something by yourself, you have the knowledge that you’re returning home to someone who cares for and loves you. This, in the same way as learning to actually be alone, makes life an easier and less scary place.

Writing this post has been exciting for me. I now look in the mirror and see a girl with potential. She has lost a bit, but that loss has not dimmed her demeanor — it has only forced it to glow brighter. I am proud of where my head is, where my life is heading, and how strong I continue to become. And though the future is still clear obscurity, I’m more than willing to take the plunge knowing full-well I am not only a better person but that I am now unbreakable.