Vulnerability

Being Vulnerable

So I finally heard back from my ever so hot date that apparently he ‘wasn’t feeling it’ ..which somewhat stopped me in my tracks. Not because I was surprised (I hadn’t heard from him since his ‘yay second date’ text a week ago), but because of how much the pinprick of disappointment hurt.

It was fleeting and over in a minute, but wow.. rejection doesn’t feel nice no matter how expected it is. He was cute, smart, witty and checked a lot of boxes, and I thought we had good chemistry. But apparently it was all one sided or he met someone else in the week since we met.

Ouch.

So, even though it wasn’t a shock and I have a date planned tonight with a delicious guy, my brain immediately went into analysis mode;

– Was I too honest? Too open?
– Did I talk about dating other people too much?
– Should we not have talked about being married?
– Should I not have told him he was cute?
– When he said he was’ really comfortable talking to me’ was that I sign I should have read?
– Should I have left after the second drink?
– Was I not engaging enough? Too old?
– Were my tattoos a turn off?
– Did he read my blog and get freaked out?
– Should I not have kissed him?
– Should I, could I, did I, was I…? The list was loooonng and I couldn’t help myself.I had to figure out which bit of me had turned him off and therefore was the bit I probably needed to change the next time around.

 A friend of mine recently send me a link to a Ted talk which really expounds on the the theme of vulnerability, which got me thinking about being single, dating, and the ability to actually ‘be yourself’ during the process.

After 7 years of ‘dating’, I thought my skin was pretty thick. I’ve been dumped by silence, email, phone, post it note and text. I’ve been called ‘boorish’ and ‘a slut’, ‘a prude’ and ‘mentally ill’ (I’m not, my therapist had me tested).
I was dumped by the guy I was planning to marry – just 2 weeks after he met my parents- and yes, I’ve done my fair share of dumping too.

Over the years I’ve experienced a lot of embarrassing and painful situations  and I’ve learned how to manage the inevitable pain, regret, remorse, anger and shame.. but I’ve never actually managed the holy grail of  ‘not feeling’. Whether I’m leaving or they are, it always hurts. Which is why I need to not date for half of every year. A person can only stand up to so many ‘feelings’. 

As anyone who’s dated, loved or married anyone will know.. to connect with someone you experience intense vulnerability. And in order to let yourself be vulnerable, you have to ‘be yourself’… warts and all. Tattoos and bad decisions. Cusswords and kinks. Probably not all on a first date (note to self), but over time, if you’re going to really connect with someone and achieve a degree of intimacy, you have to have the confidence to be – well – you.  And one of the risks of ‘being you’ is that someone might not actually find that attractive..in the words of my date.. ‘just not feel it’. Which hurts no matter how fleeting the encounter. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable – putting your authentic self out there – is risky, but its the only way to really enable a meaningful connection with another person.

And when the inevitable rejection occurs, you hurt no matter the circumstances.

There seems to be two paths you can take the next time around. You can hide who you are, (hide your blog) mask the characteristics that you know aren’t that pleasant and hope that eventually you can breath out and wear your big lady pants.. or you can keep being yourself, and know that when you eventually make a connection, its based on who you actually are, not who you’ve allowed yourself to be seen as. And if your blog freaks them out.. well… they’d probably run at a whole lot of other things too.

So, even as I ponder what happened between that  ‘can’t wait for our second date’ text and the ‘not feeling it’ text a week later , I know that at least I was my imperfect, honest (though slightly drunk) self on the date.. and while he saw more of me that he probably needed for a first date.. well… I probably just short cut the process. I was vulnerable by putting my self out there without hiding.. and hey, he didn’t like it.

Like Marmite and coffee flavored ice-cream, I have to trust that while I’m not to everyone’s flavor ..some people out there really really like Marmite or coffee ice cream. I just haven’t met that guy yet.

And meanwhile, I’m not going to pretend to be vanilla or Nutella, because I like my flavor just fine. 

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