Five years ago today, I wrote the following in a thread on Facebook:
“I’ve done it [online dating], with no expectations at all — just for fun. And it was fun, and I actually met a couple of guys that wound up becoming good friends of mine. I’ve been contemplating doing it again, too… but never with a mindset of looking for a life partner. That’s what turns me off to it; it seems a lot of guys either are looking for a fuck buddy or for an immediate lifelong commitment, and neither of those holds any appeal for me. I’m looking to actually DATE; as in, get to know someone, and THEN decide what role I would like him to play in my life. With online dating (versus meeting and getting to know someone organically), I find that incredibly hard to do.”
Three weeks later, I met the Narcissist on OKCupid. Three weeks after that, we said “I love you” to each other for the first time. We were exclusive right away. We moved in together within three months.
I have no idea what the hell I was thinking. Obviously, I had gone into online dating with a clear understanding of what I wanted and was looking for. How did I get led so far astray?
It shows me the harm love bombing can do if one doesn’t stay firm in one’s desires.
It shows me the harm an empathetic nature can cause if one doesn’t set strong emotional boundaries and stay true to them.
It shows me the harm that can occur when one is over-accomodating to someone else’s desires and emotions.
It shows me how horribly I lost myself in that relationship.
Everything I wanted and knew was right and true flew out the window. I did all the things I knew were wrong, all the things that were completely antithetical to who I was as a human being and partner.
Now I’m starting to date again.
Now I’m a much different, much stronger person, and I know exactly how to avoid making the mistakes of the past.
I’m not trying to accomodate anyone. I have no desire to bend over to make someone happy; particularly not someone I don’t even know well yet.
I’m eager to see what happens when I take care of myself. I’m eager to be selfish.
I want to see how someone reacts when I am true to myself and I refuse to bend when I don’t want to.
I want to make them move on quickly if I’m not what they want. I don’t want to contort myself into their expectations… even when those expectations are reasonable. Not if it doesn’t feel authentic to me.
Nor will I shelter someone from bad feelings. I will not bend over backwards to help them avoid negative emotion. If they do not like how something about me makes them feel, I will trust them to be able to manage those emotions. If they cannot, I will trust them to manage their emotions about not seeing me anymore.
I will not allow a relationship to move faster than I am comfortable with, even if it means disappointing someone. Even if someone is so excited about me that they cannot wait to live with me, or have me meet their parents, or start planning for our future, I will stay true to myself and grounded in the present.
I will remind someone who does this how important it is to not get lost in fantasies of the future and to instead get to know me as I am, here and now.
I will remind them not to look to see if I fit with their ideal of their dream partner, and to instead see me as I am.
I will not allow myself to be pushed into the missing hole in someone’s existence, to be shoved and squashed into this idea of what they’ve always wanted a partner to be.
I will do things differently now, because of the lessons I’ve learned.
I will be stronger. I will express who I am and I will do it with pride. I have earned some stripes, these past few years. I am battle scarred now.
There’s the expression, “Is this the hill you want to die on?”
My answer in my last relationship was always no. I knew there was no point in trying to fight. I knew it was pointless.
My answer now is going to be YES. To everything. Do I want to risk losing someone because they way they wish me to behave feels inauthentic to me? Do I want to risk losing someone because I find I’m feeling anxious about the way the relationship is going? Do I want to let someone go because they want me to be something I’m not?