Dating with Intent

I did not come up with the title of the post. My friend told me about her recent dating experience and the topic of “taking dating more seriously” came up. We didn’t like that “title”, so she suggested “dating with intent”.

So, in regards to my friend, she explained that during her early college years she was partying, dating around, and not very focused on long term relationships/dating. Fast forward 5 years and she is now taking dating more seriously; she’s putting more thought into who she goes out with and she’s looking for someone to spend years with, not one or two nights.

I feel like I experienced a similar shift recently. I haven’t done a lot of short term dating. In fact, I’ve only dated one person for short term: 3 months. All other relationships have been 6 months- 2 years in length. However, I feel like my mindset through all of these was very scattered.

I’ve addressed my commitment issues before. In addition to those, I also had feelings of just not wanting to be in something long term. I just didn’t want it, so why did I keep falling into these things? I don’t have an answer for that.

My point is that even though I was in [mostly happy] long term relationships, I didn’t initially go into them wanting that. And, as the relationship progressed, I often found myself wanting to exit the situation for a variety of reasons. My body and mind is always go, go, go, and on to the next.

I’m not sure when the change in mindset or desires happens for people, but I think my own brain experienced a shift in the last 6 months. What I’m referring to is the “I wanna run around” mindset versus the “I want to settle down” mindset.

All of sudden, following the whirlwind that was my AmeriCorps NCCC experience, starting therapy, moving into a new house, starting a new job, and resuming my studies, I had the sudden and strong craving for stability and security.

I had moved countless times during 2018. After moving back home, I experienced daily anxiety and panic attacks caused by the simplest things. I entered a new work environment and stepped onto a changed university campus. And I kept up with it all, but I was tired. As the weeks went on, I accepted even more tasks and activities into my schedule, but it was exhausting.

Unexpectedly, I longed to slow down. I didn’t know how (that’s something I’m still working on), but I knew I needed to for my own mental and physical well-being. With this new feeling also came a daydream of coming home after work to a cozy house and to an unknown, blurry-faced, long-term partner.

Don’t ask me when, why, or how, but somewhere between May, June, and starting therapy, I was no longer interested running solo or running away.

Of course, those who read my blog know that I have since found a beautiful and amazing partner who is making all of my daydreaming come true. I feel differently within myself when I am with her and I think a large part of my current mindset is thanks to therapy. I also think there’s the natural maturity and growing older that makes people crave security. Whatever it was, I’m happy it happened.

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Having a Life Outside of Your Romantic Relationship

The moment you go from single to taken, you tend to spend ALL of your free time with the new human in your life. This is normal. I think the first 2-3 months are very “honeymoonish” and you forget that you have hobbies, friends, and family. You might also forget that laundry, grocery shopping, and meal prepping were ever a thing you had time for.

Once you get settled in a relationship, both partners might resume their independent interests as well as start to combine them. I think this is SO important.

The topic of pursuing activities and events independently from your romantic partner is an interesting and tricky one for me. I am in full support of having your own friends. I also fully support merging friend groups. I support whatever works for whoever.

The issue that I have run across has been partners who are shocked to learn that I want to do things alone or only with my friends. In the past, its been taken VERY personally and it made me significantly decrease the amount of time I spent with anyone else who was not my partner. I learned later that that was very manipulative of them and that I should feel free to hang out with my friends whenever I please.

Currently, I am dating a lovely human. She and I both have our own friends. We have met most of each other’s friends and have spent time together with them, but we also regularly plan things independently of each other. It’s such a simple thing, but for me to spend time with my friends and not feel guilty about it is a new feeling for me.

So, my message to everyone is to keep living your own life even if you begin sharing it with someone else. If your partner doesn’t support your individual endeavors, then they are not the partner for you.

Easy to Get, Hard to Keep

The title of this post is one of the ways of how I would describe myself in romantic relationships/interactions. I have a long history of being the heartbreaker in relationships even if I was the one who initially sought out the other person.

I don’t know if there is one specific reason as to why I always am the person who ends things. Without insulting the people that I have been with, I think that maybe I got bored. I also know that I oftentimes got annoyed.

I have always felt like I was the more “mentally stable” person in the relationship. The first few people I dated has issues they did not want to address. The last person I dated took an initiative to better themselves for themselves. In both instances, I did feel like I was emotionally supporting both myself and the person I was dating. It was very draining.

This post isn’t meant to diss the people I’ve dated. I think it’s my fault for 1. getting involved and 2. letting things go as far as they did before I ended it. I also don’t wish to erase all the wonderful moments that happened in those previous relationships. While they were very complex, they all had simple moments of joy and love scattered throughout.

The main difference I have noticed within myself now and the me from back then is a willingness to be more vulnerable because it feels safe to do so. Because the woman that I am currently dating is in a mentally secure place, I feel okay to voice even the most minuscule of complaints or concerns. Before, I felt like I couldn’t mention any sort of “hardship” to my partner because it was always so incomparable to what they were experiencing.

I normally feel the urge to end things rather quickly in relationships, but I suppress the action and stay for the sake of being loyal and giving the whole thing a true try. So far, I have not felt this with Chelsea. I don’t want our time to end. I don’t want to run from this.

So, in conclusion, I feel that I have entered a very healthy relationship and I look forward to seeing how it continues on.

What’s the “right amount of time” anyway?

Many articles, people, and even licensed therapists recommend to wait at least 3 months after meeting/dating someone to put a label on the relationship. I, too, have followed this rule in my previous relationships, but this one feels quite different.

After having only known her for 3 weeks, I was ready to call her mine. I’m not normally so bold, but this just felt SO different and so right.

Well, it’s been 6 weeks now, and I have restrained myself from bringing up the conversation. I’ve decided to wait another 2 weeks. Maybe 3. My heart is sure, but my mind is still cautious. I also want to be respectful and cautious of her emotions and feelings towards that.

I had a long conversation with a friend about what I’m currently feeling towards Chelsea and she told me to “jump in”. She knows how cautious and how guarded I normally am, so my enthusiasm and quick attraction/attachment to this person was quite out of the ordinary for me.

As you all know, I have also been in therapy and that has also given me the courage to live my life more vulnerably- especially when it comes to love. I haven’t had the best examples of romantic love (my parents and my own relationships were not ideal exemplifications). When I met Chelsea, everything about her felt so foreign (in only the best of ways), it was like a lightbulb went off, “Oh, THIS is what it’s supposed to feel like!”

So, currently, things are still going really great. I’m so incredibly happy when Chelsea and I spend time together. I feel like I’m being 100% my authentic self and I don’t have to “act” or fake anything. It’s truly fantastic.

I have never been this forward with my feelings.

I decided to take a leap yesterday and tell Chelsea that I felt myself falling for her much quicker than I thought I would. I told her that I normally keep those more intense feelings to myself for at least 2-3 months, but that I couldn’t and just didn’t want to do that with her.

Luckily, her response was not a terrified one.

I met her friends on Saturday. They were great to be around. We went to one of their apartment complexes which had a pool. We floated, we ate, we mingled, and we left. Apparently, one friend referred to me as Chelsea’s girlfriend (a conversation we have not had) and I totally missed it, but Chelsea definitely heard it and internally freaked a little bit because of the fact that it hadn’t been discussed yet.

Chelsea and I spent over 30 hours together this weekend. That’s insane. I haven’t done that with someone since being in AmeriCorps and having to spend every waking hour with 7 other people.

We also had another important conversation. I told her that I was doing my best to see her for who she was presenting herself to be towards me instead of me seeing her through “rose colored lenses”. I have fallen so quickly and I want to be certain that the person I am falling for actually exists and is not this person I’ve created in my mind by ignoring certain parts of her.

I don’t think I’ve failed to see her as she is, but your brain can do some crazy things- especially in the first few months. So, I told her I really like her, but I am also keeping in mind the “honeymoon” phase of new relationships.

That is all.

Spending the night for the first time.

A few nights ago, I spent the night at Chelsea’s house for the first time. My roommate was celebrating her birthday and I was expecting things to get crowded and loud, so I made the decision to spend the night elsewhere, in hopes that maybe I would get some sleep.

Before you all get your hopes up for a dirty story, let me inform you that nothing happened, and I truly did go to her house to spend time with her and SLEEP.

She forewarned me that her mattress was quite firm, but I must say that it was actually very comfortable. I would even say that I am open to transition to a firmer mattress because when you’re sleeping with someone else, you’re less likely to both end up in the sometimes uncomfortable valley of the mattress.

It turns out that I sleep just the same with her as I do when I’m by myself. Waking up is, of course, much more enjoyable because her lovely face is just inches from my own.

Things are going well, ya’ll.

An Important Conversation

Chelsea (the woman I have been dating for a month) came over after work yesterday. The traffic-filled drive from her place of work to my house is absolutely godawful, so I really appreciate her making the trek.

We had a very healthy and vulnerable conversation yesterday. It concerned something along the lines of investing everything into something that might blow up in our faces. In other words, she (and I) are taking personal risks by emotionally investing in each other and the relationship we are building as humans; there is a fear there of it not working out, obviously. Then, all the risk and vulnerability would be “for nothing”.

I don’t think it would be for nothing. I don’t know how she would feel about that. I think that all of my experiences, good and bad, resulted in me becoming somehow wiser, more informed, and a little richer in life experiences. So, at the end of the day (or at the end of a relationship), I don’t think anything was “for nothing”.

Anyway, I could see how difficult some of that conversation was for her, so I’m really grateful that we were able to have it.

After I confessed that I was surprised by how quickly I started to feel attracted towards her, she confessed a similar statement. We talked about how easy it felt to talk to one another.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with her, my own insecurities and fears occasionally crept through my mind: what if I feel like this is it for me, but this is just the beginning of her experiences? I think it’s too soon to think that way, but that’s my brain. You’re welcome.

Falling in Love, Being in Love, and Loving Someone

For some people, the three things mentioned in my title are the same. For others- myself included- each one is different. The following words, sentences, and paragraphs are completely my opinions, nothing more. I’m not here to debate or fight. Feel free to discuss your own thoughts and opinions in the comments.

Falling in love, for me, is the scariest one. It’s new, it’s exciting, and it’s intimidating. Your feelings start doing things you can’t control and you start to think about things that were irrelevant 1 month prior. Again, for me, falling in love is tricky. You overanalyze EVERYTHING about this person, as well as your own behavior when you are with them. There’s a lot of second guessing involved here. Falling in love can border and mingle with infatuation and feelings of lust, so it’s sometimes hard to distinguish what’s actually happening inside your brain and heart.

So, how do you know that you’re in love with someone? The trick here is to not confuse it with the previous statement of being in lust with someone. Are you attracted to who they are or who you want them to be? Are you seeing them entirely as they are or are you filtering out the parts you don’t find desirable? Are you imagining what dating them would be like if only they didn’t do these particular things? Are you excited to introduce them to friends and family? Do you like the things that make them unique and different and quirky? Are you comfortable being yourself around them? Do you feel like you have filter what you say? Can you confide in them without fear of being judged or made fun of? Do you feel like they make you a better version of yourself? Do you get excited to talk with them? Are you just as attracted to them now as you were in the first few weeks/months of you dating?

Now, loving someone can be in a family sense, a platonic sense, or a romantic sense. Obviously, for the sake of this post, I will be focusing predominantly on the romantic sense.

Telling your partner you love them might be the most nerve wracking thing you do other than the initial asking them out ordeal, perhaps. Sometimes, I feel that there is too much weight put on those three words; however, on the other hand, there should be some weight on them. People overuse “I love you” and I think it’s important to only say it when you truly mean it. I try to refrain from saying it to friends and family when I hang up the phone or in text (unless we rarely speak anyway). I don’t always return the words if they are said to me too frequently because then it becomes a habit and loses it’s impact.

“I love you.”

So, what does that even mean? To me, loving someone means wanting joy and happiness for them. It means not always agreeing, but supporting them as people and as “family” anyway. To love someone is to respect them and appreciate the time they spend with you. It means being there for them when shit hits the fan. It means going the extra mile for them. It means that they make your life somehow richer, even if it’s in the form of a different perspective.

How do I know that I love someone? Honestly, there’s no single moment sometimes. Other times, there is. I fall in love quickly. I think I’m pretty good at detecting when I’m in love. I can’t give advice on “how you know”.

Well, these are my $0.02, what’s yours?

Therapy 8.8.19

The duality of myself was the topic of discussion this session. I updated him on my most recent panic attack and how I handled it. He said he was proud of me. We then did an exercise where he acted as the part of me that is more guarded and I acted as the part of me that wants to be more vulnerable. Those two parts of me battle it out daily, so it was nice to get it out of my head.

The whole exercise and conversation was prompted by me explaining how I felt that my feelings towards the new woman I’m seeing were moving too fast for my comfort level; however, maybe it’s not “bad”, just unknown territory for me.

A little backstory: due to how I grew up, how I was raised, and the very long string of bad luck regarding my romantic relationships, my default is to put a very tall and thick wall between myself and potential romantic partners. I thought it was interesting to note that I can’t say the same for platonic friendships.

Anyway when I returned from my federal volunteer program, my anxiety hit me harder than I had experienced it in years and my therapist’s theory is that my suppression tactics were starting to wear off. Since then (May) I have cried more than I have in years, I have been more open with my family and friends, and I have started to not only take down the wall I put up between myself and love, but also the wall between those two parts of me I referenced above.

I understand that I create these boundaries and deadlines in my head to protect myself, my heart, and my emotions; however, I feel like I’m missing out on the love I could be experiencing, and, to be quite frank, it is VERY exhausting to always have that front. I’d much rather just be me.

So, here I am. I am rediscovering who I am and who I want to be. I now know that I am naturally a very loving person. I care about people. I care about my family and my friends. I am loyal to a fault. I will move mountains for those I hold dearest to me. I will run myself down to nothing if it means that the people I love will be okay. I know that this isn’t completely healthy, and luckily it doesn’t happen often because #selfcare. Seriously, though, I think that being more expressive about my love for people should include myself and that means setting new kinds of boundaries.

Instead of setting up boundaries to protect from inevitable pain from situations that haven’t even happened yet, I need to start setting boundaries for the sake of not wearing myself out. I want to continue to be there for people as much as I can, but I can’t be there fully if I’m only half aware/present.

Thanks for reading my rambles. I hope you all are having a lovely day! What are some boundaries that you have to set in order to keep yourself in a healthy mindset?

Overwhelming Thoughts

I don’t know if this post is going to come out making sense. I will do my best, but this could be a doozy.

Some people only fall in love with, date, and marry one person. Other people go through the same process with 20 different people. I haven’t met anyone who’s been married 20 times, but I’ve heard of 5-7 times, so that’s still a jump.

Many married people I know today (both old and young) got married in their mid to late 20s. I am approaching my mid 20s. This post is not about me feeling pressure to get married- that pressure isn’t there for me. What I am getting at is the thought that maybe I’ve met a person who I could be happy with for a long time.

I’ve been on a few dates that never went further than that first meeting. I’ve dated someone short term. I’ve dated several people long term (for me, this range is 8 months to 2 years). I’ve dated someone who was not very kind to me. I’ve dated people and imagined married life with them. There was one person who I considered to be someone I would have children with if we got there. My point is that I have experience. I have experienced enough variety of personality. I know what I want at this point. I also know what I don’t want.

The person I just started seeing 3 weeks ago is many of the things I want in a person. Obviously, there are no perfect people and she is not perfect, but there are so many seemingly great things about her, my body and mind are on edge because “what’s the catch?”

So, like I mentioned before, there are so many people who are married or at least dating the person they’re going to marry by the time they are my age or by the time they’ve experienced what I have. I’ve dated enough for my liking. I would like to just not anymore. The thought in my mind is “could this be it?”

Don’t panic, now, because marriage is something I don’t want for another 8ish years. I just wonder if she could be someone I want to travel with, someone to introduce to my family and friends, someone I want to come home to after work, etc.

Contemplate these things with me. Let’s overanalyze together. Let’s think about all the confusing things in life. I hope you all got through this one alright.