I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings

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.”

dc9bd9bd402befdfb84ff533dd9334f8I 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.

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