One thing I’ve discovered since starting my dating hiatus is that nothing brings guys out of the woodwork like someone who’s not dating.
The other thing I’ve discovered is that I have a very tough time turning down male attention, as I wrote about earlier.
When I first broke up with C., my friend Ryan (who I dated briefly last year but didn’t feel much of a spark with) instructed me to call or text him every time I wanted to call or text C. That felt wrong, but he insisted he wanted me to. And then I realized something else was happening — Ryan had become a de facto provider of the validation I so desperately needed.
I cut the cord on that (it helped when he met someone), but I found that guys kept popping up. Someone I’d dated a couple times this spring who texted out of the blue. A dude I’d gone out with a couple years ago. Online “friends.”
I asked my friend Scott, who’d done a similar dating hiatus years ago, what I should do. I was doing great with not actually dating, I told him, but I was struggling to resist the attention from guys and I knew that succumbing to it was undermining what I was trying to do.
He suggested that I do what he did when he was newly sober and someone offered him a drink: Run like hell.
This is an issue that hits two of my weakest areas — my need for validation and my terror of hurting/rejecting people. Scott suggested that I have probably used that attention as a crutch for a very long time. And the metaphor hit me square between the eyes — I feel exactly like I’m learning to walk again.
What does it feel like to feel content with my life and realized I am cared for by many people without a guy (or multiple guys) fawning over me? What does it feel like to feel confident and secure with the way I look without a man telling me I look hot? What does it look like to be happy to be at home, alone, with an evening to myself to do whatever I want? I don’t know yet — but I’m planning on finding out.
The other tough part is, “I don’t want to make him feeeeel bad.” I am a terminal people pleaser, and doing or saying anything that makes anyone unhappy makes me massively anxious. Although I suspect that the feeling isn’t reciprocal and most of these guys aren’t terribly worried about my feelings. I’m not telling them to fuck off, after all — I’ve explained what I’m trying to do, what I need to do, to be in a healthier and happier place. And the guys who’ve pushed that boundary aren’t doing it because they care about me; they’re doing it because they have their own agenda.