I have been intentionally uninvolved in romantic relationships for about a year. This is the longest I have gone-in adulthood-so it was very new...and strange..and lonely. Very lonely. The idea of being intentionally uninvolved arose after I realized my relationship-jumping was leaving visible marks on the people I was with. I was tornado-ing into their lives, turning things upside down, and then hurricane-ing back out just as quickly. I wasn't being practical, instead I was allowing my "hopeless romantic" side get the best of me, even when there were red flags nearly popping out and punching me in the face!
My self-esteem (which I think we can all agree is fairly critical when dating) has always been somewhere on the scale between low and medium, making it easy to accept things I don't want to accept, later breeding resentment and bitterness. I essentially have the perfect recipe for relationship disaster, if anyone wants it. Pens ready?
- 15 Cups unrealistic expectations
- 5 Cups of "love can conquer all" attitude
- 10 Cups martyrdom
- 9 Cups seething resentment gone unchecked
- 5 Cups of jealousy, insecurity, and anxiety mixture (pre-made from previous relationships)
- 2 Cups of each (optional): financial issues, location issues, living environment differences, and scheduling conflicts.
- Pour into bag, make sure bag is open on one end, and twirl around until everything in your sight is covered.
So, to say I needed some time to reflect and reevaluate is an understatement. I didn't want to do any more harm to myself, or anyone else for that matter. I instituted a year of celibacy. No dates, no hook-ups, no sex, no friends with benefits. Nothing. And it was wonderful...at first.
After a few months of loneliness, the thrill was gone. And I began creating scenarios in my head of a future life with former crushes, high school sweethearts, anybody really. I'm not proud of this, but it deserves its place, because that is what popped the balloon I have carried with me since my first date at age 15: The Fantasy Balloon.
The Fantasy Balloon is something, I believe, we all carry with us. And it doesn't necessarily have to be about romantic relationships. Some might view this balloon as the answers to their problems with parents, siblings, career, addiction, ANYTHING. It's that certain something that keeps us denying the truth about ourselves. Denying there is an quick fix or perfect person to make everything better. For me, my Fantasy Balloon was filled with ideas about "The One."
This harken back to my high school days spent writing pages upon pages of criteria my "dream boyfriend" would fulfill. They would be kind and smart (but not pretentious) and funny (but the right kind of funny) and attractive and compassionate and...the list goes on...literally for-fucking-ever. It's unrealistic, yet I held on tighter with each relationship ending. A few months into my celibacy, it popped and after dragging the remains around for a few more weeks, I let go.
You may be asking: What exactly does this mean? Are you through with dating? Do you no longer believe in "The One"? WHAT IS HAPPENING, MELISSA?! TELL US!!
My answer is I don't know. And I'm okay with that. Uncertainty is becoming my friend and I am embracing her winning charm and his incomparable humor. What I do know is I am no longer bogged down by the idea that I have to search for "The One." I know plenty of people who have "The One" in their lives and are incredibly (if not annoyingly so...kidding!) happy. I also know plenty of people who believe they are with "The One" and face nothing but shit-storms of constant unhappiness. This leads me to believe that it really comes down to individual belief and, therefore, I need to come up with my own definition of love, dating, "The One", marriage, etc. I am not ready to do that.
What I am ready to do is begin dating again and I intend to do that Alanis-style. I recently watched an interview with Alanis Morissette and Oprah on Super Soul Sunday where Alanis discussed her own love addiction and how she finally broke that cycle by taking one year off from dating (check!) and one year to date casually. Well don't mind if I do. I have never dated casually, not even in high school. Everyone I ever went on a date with turned into a relationship. I would love to know what it's like to have dates without expectations. I imagine my Fantasy Balloon will try to re-inflate itself very quickly and I suspect many learning experiences to abound, maybe even some face plants, before I get it right. Thankfully my self-esteem is slowly rising from medium to high-adjacent...stay tuned, as I anticipate this next phase to be quite blog-worthy!