While Amelia is beginning her dating sabbatical, I am just putting mine to bed. Well, bed may not be the right word. Last August, I too threw in the towel, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.
I found myself out with the guy I had been seeing on and off for months. He was reciting the same old lines from the proverbial dude script. The one that every guy I dated in the past three years seemed to have been reading from. “I am just not in the right place for a relationship. I am confused by my feelings for you.” Blah, blah, blah. What the hell are these men confused about? Why are they not in the right place? As the guy whined about how busy his job was and how he was “too overwhelmed to get serious,” I hit a wall. If I had to sit and listen to another man express his fear and confusion over a glass of wine, I was going to put my head in the oven. I had a minor epiphany. Instead of waiting for another man to tell me “no,” I would tell myself “yes.” Put me first for real this time. I would be dude free until January 2011. At which point, I would take stock and see if I felt like re-entering the game. If and when I felt like it, I would rejoin. That was my plan. The major epiphanies came later.
For months on the dating scene, that was all I could see. Instead of continuing to stare at them until I went cross-eyed, I needed to figure out where I factored into this painting as the artist. To take a step back and take responsibility for my own role in how utterly bereft my love life had become. Why am I painting this picture and how? I asked myself this question all the time.
The people we attract into our lives are mirrors. It was right around Christmas, nearing the end of my five month sabbatical, that I saw something different. When a friend I hadn’t seen in a while asked me if I was dating anyone, I whined that I was too busy and overwhelmed to have a relationship. “Besides, men confuse me too much,” I started to say, stopping in mid-sentence gob smacked by what was coming out of my mouth. I was the one reciting the unavailable dude script! It’s not them, it’s me! I thought about how my past relationship failures had crippled me so much that I had become too fearful to make myself vulnerable. But that is NOT the person I want to be especially after I’ve experienced firsthand how unattractive it is.
When the clock struck midnight on January 1st, I was ready to change. I pulled out my phone and texted a good friend of mine that I thought I might have feelings for. “Happy New Year, thinking of you.” The next day I emailed the guy who had prompted this dating hiatus in the first place and told him what I never said while we were dating — that I had had real feelings for him. Last week, on the subway, a guy struck up conversation with me. “Be in touch,” he said slipping me his business card. I emailed him a few days later, leaving my usual caution behind. He asked me out on a date. For the first time in months, I am excited to have a glass of wine with a man.