After a series of painful relationships, when did you know you were ready to date again? Alternately, how do you tell the difference between "not ready" and "making up excuses to not date due to being scared silly of the opposite sex" and "anxiety problems" ?
posted by anonymous to human relations (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Long, Non-Obligatory Background: Up until I was 24, my dating life was smooth sailing but co-dependant: I was a serial monogamist, never ever single, scared witless of not having a boyfriend. I had a couple tricky break-ups in college, but we all remained friends and I never treated anyone with less than the utmost respect, and vice versa.
Then I moved to a big city met "Adam," whom I dated for four months. We were ludicrously happy, he took me to meet his parents, told me he loved me, said he'd never been happier, and then cheated on me out of the blue. I forgave him once because he was blackout drunk and apologized so much I could barely get a word in edgewise. Then he cheated again weeks later. So we broke up. Then I met "Zed," who was brilliant, handsome, and, in his words, an emotional robot who couldn't really care about people. I was head over heels crazy for Zed (and probably somersaulting from a rebound, no less) even though he was clearly just interested in long conversations and sex once a week at the most. So I spent a good four months of sleeping with both guys, using Adam as a confidence buffer while ignoring his pleas to take him back, hoping Zed would finally realize he wanted to date me seriously. This messed me up A Lot, lead me to question my ethics and my taste in men, and my self-esteem hit bedrock. I felt like the two of them had drop-kicked my heart into a windy vortex and the worst part was that I let them.
Short story: I had a rough year. This lead to a near nervous breakdown after a few months of subjecting my emotional welfare to two pretty self-absorbed men, so I swore off dating for a year. My bedroom became a no-fly zone. I learned how to be single, focused on my friends and my career, and enjoyed the silence of coming home to an empty room. Except for the celibate part, I was really pleased with being single and valued my independence.
But it's been a year since I've met someone who caught my attention like Adam and Zed did, and no one seems remotely interesting to me. I've met objectively awesome people who ask me out on dates, but I freeze up and bail every single time. I could write pages on what I find wrong with them, and every little thing turns me off. The idea of sleeping with a new person squicks me out. In theory, I don't want a boyfriend, couldn't really fathom trusting someone else with any part of my happiness, loathe the notion of depending on anyone else, would opt to spend all my nights alone rather than suffer the emotional jeopardy of admitting someone new into my life. But I can't tell if this is okay or neurotic.
I've assumed this aversion to intimacy is part of the process of healing and learning (again) how to be single. But after blowing off lots of awesome guys who have asked me out for drinks because the idea of "just drinks" gives me the hives, I wonder if I'm writing myself a pass when I should soldier up. I know there's the adage of "being ready when you feel ready," but my fears are intensifying rather than lessening over time. So what is this? Should I respect my hibernation phase to its fullest extent, or should I suck it up and make myself go on dates with a guy who isn't manipulative Adam or bloodless Zed? And is my fear of sex and intimacy a sign of something worth shelling out money for therapy? I can barely afford my rent at the moment, so before everyone starts shouting "THERAPY," keep in mind I don't have an easy $100 lying around each week.
Wow, this is so long and self-involved. Thanks to anyone who read it in full, I'm practically going cross-eyed at the length.