Dating has never been my strong suit. My relationship history looks like something off of Jerry Springer. I’ve been cheated on, lied to, and manipulated. If you open up the dictionary to “codependent,” you’ll see a picture of a malnourished, zombie-esque me giving a thumbs up. To say the least, not a great track record.
About three weeks ago, I matched with a young lady on Facebook dating (Yes, it is a thing. I know right?!). We exchanged contact information and just hit it off. It felt natural. I could be my goofy self, and she didn’t judge me. She has a lot of the traits I am looking for in a long-term partner like her intelligence, being able to communicate, and having some understanding of what the counseling/healthcare field is like. We went on a couple dates and spent the entire time laughing. So far, so good.
It’s been closing in on a month now, and there haven’t been any significant issues. No arguments. No deal breakers. No codependent behavior. All is well.
My wonderful cognitive processes pick up on this, and kick my anxiety into overdrive. I am so accustomed to things going wrong by now with dating that I start to find it difficult to simply enjoy the whole “getting to know you” phase. I sit back and start waiting for all of this to go wrong. What is she hiding from me? Why doesn’t she want me around all the time? Why haven’t we argued yet? Irrational thoughts, I know. However, this is what I am used to dating back to seeing my parents’ unhealthy interactions. As how my one friend described my dating life, “You thrive in chaos.”
I brought this feeling up to my therapist this past week. I loathed the fact that I couldn’t just sit back and enjoy myself. I instead kept overthinking and tapping into the “what if” mentality. I was setting myself up for a self-fulfilling prophecy, as I waited for something bad to happen. No shit something bad would eventually happen. It’s a relationship. They aren’t easy and require work.
As a result, I processed this in my weekly session. My therapist emphasized the importance of communicating these feelings to this young lady and how open, transparent communication and boundaries would play a huge part in my dating life moving forward. This also meant holding myself to certain boundaries like when these feelings come up.
Two days later, I am sitting in Starbucks doing some paperwork when I freeze in my seat. She texted me asking what time I would be over the next day. I just froze. My mind latched onto the idea of commitment and long-term “what-ifs” and fucking ran with it. No, no, no sprinted a marathon. I didn’t respond and left it on “read.” A little time passes, and she follows up with one more message that I didn’t even look at. This was followed up by a phone call about an hour later.
I texted her back, “I don’t think I am coming over tomorrow.”
“Oh ok.” I clearly disappointed her. I wanted to curl up in a ball and not respond. I thought about it for a few minutes and remembered what my therapist said a few days prior.
I told myself that this wasn’t fair to her or me. She deserved the respect of a phone call at least. If I was ever going to experience a healthy relationship and overcome this hurdle, communication was key. I called her. Following a heavy sigh, I explained my anxiety and fear around moving forward. She shared the sentiment of fear and gave her perspective. She admitted that she wanted to talk and appreciated that I called instead of shutting down.
It ended up being a productive conversation. I expressed what was on my mind and felt understood by someone. It felt nice to be part of a team rather than riding solo. I will be seeing her tonight.
-The Caring Counselor