Today, I have a guest blogger. I thought while I was on my dating break, I could pick the brains of friends who are in healthy long term relationships. Today’s guest is a friend of mine, who writes at https://babyschup.wordpress.com/. Her blog is her legacy to her daughter, Emery – the cutest thing ever (second to my own kids, of course). Stacy is an old soul, who I find always has sound advice – she also has a unique point of view. But dating, relationships, and love is universal.
Hello from California. The other morning I woke up with a request to fill-in as a guest blogger for a friend of mine. I was told to answer the following two questions.
Question 1: What was the biggest thing you learned from (yourself or the process of) dating?
Question 2: How did you know your wife was the one?
After responding, “Ok, Where do I send it?” I decided I needed to take the time to think about content and narrative style. Content took a much longer time (I will probably be processing as I am writing), but I decided on narrative style rather quickly. Since my own blogging site already has a specific narrative style, and frames all of my posts as letters to my child, I am going to frame this post in the same context. After all, answering these types of questions relate to all people, just as they relate to those you wish to impart wisdom toward. They are universal. So, you will get your response in a narrative letter.
As for context and content, here is my attempt.
Dear Dating Community,
I arrived to the dating world rather late in life. I am not the sveltest of women, and I am sensitive and quirky in both presentation and person, so I was not pursued to a great measure by anyone until much later in life. This led me to a relatively low sense of self and understanding of self in regard to others. Did I also mention how gay I was? No? Did I mention anything about how deep I was in the closet and hiding in part of the Christian Club? No? Well, yeah. There were those things also. I referred to myself as someone who had “The Class Clown Syndrome.” The syndrome possesses a person to have an innate ability to be front-and-center in everything, but the ability to be invisible personally to everyone. While everyone thinks they know who someone with CCS is, they rarely ever do. People with CCS prefer this, as they are likely terrified of anything resulting in real connection. In some cases, people with CCS are hiding something deeply personal. In other cases, people with CCS have different issues I obviously know nothing about.
In my case, dating arrived late, because I didn’t even come out as gay until I was 21 years old. I had kissed a couple of men prior (nothing interesting there), but nothing else. I stayed celibate in thought, action, and deed. It wasn’t until I met a woman, who got my dating desire pumping, I imagined myself as someone who could date. This first woman backfired on me, in all sense of every single facet of dating possibility, so I waited until someone pursued me. Lessons from the first pursuit: Don’t hold on to someone who doesn’t know what they want. Move on quickly or you could wait forever.
When I was 22 (or 23) I went on my first date. I met a younger woman who said she was interested in me, so I pursued her. My thought was to grab her up quick so she can’t change her mind. Looking back, this is not a great idea. It makes you place unrealistic hope on people and unrealistic expectations on yourself. If you are not on the same page, you leave room for yourself to be put in compromising situations. In terms of this woman, I did not want to pursue a sexual relationship until I knew I saw something permanent, and she wouldn’t move forward with someone until she pursued a sexual relationship. We were highly compatible as friends, but were at different places in our lives and hearts. Lesson from first official girlfriend: Pursuit without a full knowledge of intentions leaves room for doubt and loss of communication. Pursuit is a game. Relationships are not a game. Relationships are a communication of two bodies, minds, and futures. All parts of you have to continue to communicate in order to be healthy. In a pursuit, communication is not necessary. Both of you don’t have to be on the same page. With her, I learned the most. I learned it’s okay to be truthful and to be friends. She still teaches me things. Sometimes these early relationships and toughest relationships on us (cheating, meeting the person who I was cheated on with, etc.) can teach us the biggest lessons. Oh yeah, this one was a doozy. For a while, I referred to her as She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
After the second woman, I went on a lot of first dates. Someone told me I should just go out with whomever, whenever. I should, “play the field.” I said, “Who the hell wants to do that?” I was really in a very low place at this point, so I said I would do it. I went out with various women who I left with just a paid check. I went out with one who accosted me after I followed her drunk a$$ home. I ducked out from a married woman who was in the closet. I kissed a few men, again, to see if I was really gay. This confirmed I was even gayer than I was at the start. I went on a blind date with a woman who was uncomfortable saying the word “gay” out loud. I went one a date with a woman who claimed she had a much more high profile job until “bus driver” finally came out after a few drinks. Lessons from dating: I was AWFUL at dating because I was pursuing instead of just being.
Dating taught me a few things.
- Moving on is not giving up.
- People lie a lot.
- Always leave them wanting more.
- Be up-front with ALL of your desires.
- Relationships are not a competition.
- Put your cards on the table right away.
I believe, and still believe, you should always be truthful to who you are and what you want. If you don’t know those things yet, find them out first before you start involving someone in your life long-term. Dating taught me all of this.
This leads me to Question #2: Question 2: How did you know your wife was the one?
I knew my wife was the one when I wanted to spend more than 48 hours with her. There had only been two other people in my life I wanted to see and talk to all the time. Except, unlike the women prior, she made me feel like I was home wherever I went. I felt like a better person. I knew what I wanted, and I knew how to be better for someone else. I was willing to work at the hard stuff. I was always left wanting more. She knew how to challenge me but love me. She knew how to make me feel like I was the right fit, even when she didn’t know it herself. That’s when I knew. I knew when I knew her (if that makes sense). There’s this point in your metacognition where you realize all you have learned makes sense in order to be able to be there to manage this one thing. My wife was my moment of cognition. I found my partner. I found my fit. I found the person I needed and who needed me. It was my meta-moment.
While that’s the case, everything was easy even though it wasn’t. We are very clear in our truth when we tell people we have both gone down very dark paths and have come out stronger. We were almost divorced. We broke up multiple times. She moved out early on before we married. She’s a runner, so I knew it would happen. We worked hard together to be a unit. We worked hard because we knew, deep down, we were both right. Marriage is not easy. Marriage is a promise to work really hard to fight for each other. We made it very clear, at our ceremony, to ask those in attendance to keep us honest and help us through our marriage. Marriage is a community of people who hold you accountable to each other. While it’s a struggle, you work hard at remembering you still have to learn about the person every day. You have to grow with them. That’s how I knew. I knew I could grow with her.
Dating and marriage are not easy. We are very honest about the struggles we have. I’m not an expert, regardless of my introspection. We need a lens to look at ourselves, challenge us, keep us accountable, and support us. I think that’s dating and marriage. I think that’s life. Sometimes, I think that’s the joy of relationships. They help us process when we can no longer see.
Thank you Fother Schup! (If you want to know what Fother is all about, head over to her bog for explanation). I love that she just KNEW it was right. I love that, and it scares me. But I think that is the feeling that we are really all waiting for while we do this dating thing. I struggle with, how long do I wait for that feeling. That’s when the three month rule comes in, I think. If its good, and you want to see how it goes, you should DEFINITELY know by three months. Keep reading Modern Romance – I think we will give everyone until January before we discuss.