Simply Solo Spotlight: Center of the Universe
This week’s Simply Solo Spotlight is written by Jamie, who describes herself as just another single girl starting over and trying to figure out relationships and life. I hope you enjoy today’s post and please share your thoughts in the comments.
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Center of the Universe
What is a healthy relationship? I think I finally get it. I’ve found myself in a place where I’ve learned to be comfortable. I like it.
For me, a relationship has always been that all-consuming, latch onto each other like the other person is a life raft and you are sinking type of feeling. When my man wasn’t around, I was waiting for him to come around again. My thoughts were consumed by him. What was he doing? What would we be doing the next time we got together? Does he really like me? Where is he and why isn’t he here with me? A relationship was always a feeling of euphoria when the person was around and a feeling bordering on despair when they weren’t.
I felt this in my first relationship as a teenager and it developed into isolation from friends and family and total dependence on one man for companionship and to define who I was. I didn’t have my own hobbies or friends. That relationship deteriorated into an unhealthy, abusive in every way relationship. But that’s not what this is about. Twenty-four years later, I find myself single and recovering from this lifestyle. I decide it’s time to “get out there,” and “start living.” So, I turn to online dating. I’m obsessive. I review profiles and message men with the proper education and sense of humor. I wait impatiently for responses. If they respond and have proper grammar and something interesting to say, I then try to wait the proper amount of time to send that “I’m too busy to respond to you right away” attitude. After a brief attempt at being cool, it deteriorates to instant replies on my part and languishing while I wait for replies from the man.
Then I meet a guy I really like and I think likes me. We spend a month of emailing, texting and talking on the phone. Some texting sessions lasting hours and even an all-night texting/sexting marathon. I was all in. I was obsessed with this guy. Finally, we meet. He’s still interesting, if a little flabby. We trade some more texts and phone calls where I ignore all the red flags, such as he talks about himself the whole time, shows little interest in me and is arrogant. We meet again and I jump into bed with him. We have a few weeks of sex and not much else. I try to set up a legitimate date with him, but it turns into errands and a pizza after he says, “Oh gosh, did you eat dinner?” Then he disappears, never to be heard from again. I’m crushed. Aside from the red flags, constant talk of hunting and continual complaints about the ex-wife, he seemed perfect. He seemed to be into the clingy life like me. I cry; I try to figure out what is wrong with me; I pick myself up and start over.
Five men later, I’m ready to throw in the towel, shut down my account and forget about dating. Then I spot a cute guy online whose profile makes me laugh out loud. He’s an hour and a half from me, but I send him a message responding to each of his “Message me if you don’t” statements. He replies. So I’m sucked back in. But this one’s different. A message a day maybe. No texting. No phone calls. Finally after a mere week of this, he wants to meet in person. I’m like yeah, now we’re talking. We meet. He’s different, interesting. I’ve never met anyone like him but I’m not totally sure if I’m interested in “that way,” but I send him an email after the date thanking him and telling him I enjoyed myself, which I did. I wait in agony for two days, then he replies simply asking me out again. I say OK and we are set to hike.
We have that date which turns into a story in and of itself. He makes me laugh; he makes me think; I like his gentle manner and kind ways. I’m prepared to throw myself at him and hang on like he’s the last man on earth. But I hold back. I’ve decided my clingy ways drove off the first guy that disappeared. I try to play it cool. We make plans a few days later for date number three. Meanwhile, I limit myself to one email per day. I remind myself that I do not need to reply every time he replies to an email from me.
Date three rolls around and maybe I go a little far. He ends up spending the night. But I don’t regret it. I’m still trying to play it cool, wondering what is he doing, why isn’t he clinging to me when it’s obvious I’m an awesome catch. I match his coolness with my own. He might contact me via email every other day. I don’t send him lengthy emails. I don’t call him and tell him blow-by-blow details of my days. Instead, I stew. What is he doing? Seeing other women probably. Why doesn’t he email me more? Busy living his life I guess. I stalk his profile. Yep online again, but not talking to me. I research. I reverse his phone number; I track it to his address; I check property tax records to see if he owns his place; I Google and Facebook him. He’s left a pretty big foot print for me to follow. I gobble up these details about this stranger as if my life depended on it.
We continue to see each other once on the weekend and once during the week. I have a lot of fun with this man. He wants to do things with me besides eat and have sex. We actually have some things in common, like the love of outdoors and an active lifestyle. When I think about it, I realize this is all new to me. I’m 44 years old and I’ve never had a man who really wanted to spend time with me doing things I’ve chosen. He also offers up things for us to do. There is balance.
Over the next few months, I’m still dissatisfied with the level of contact with this man. The one thing that keeps me in check is that he does live an hour and a half away and I can reason with myself that it’s not practical to see each other more often. We continue to see each other on the weekends and one night a week, but I want to talk to him every day for hours on end. I develop restraint and find other things to do. I begin to realize the only way I know if a man likes me is if he is taking up all my time, clinging to me, taking over my life … But even as I realize this, I am still uncomfortable with this new way of being with a man. I still check his dating profile to see how often he goes online. I’m suspicious about everything he tells me. Is it a cover for a date he had?
I start to realize that this man has built himself a life. He has hobbies, real hobbies like cross-country skiing, hiking, reading, video games and more. He’s not afraid to do things by himself either. He has an important job and works hard at it. He’s busy. That’s why he’s not clinging to me. He has things to occupy his mind and time and has had them for years. I’m welcome to join him in these activities too, I notice. But I will never be the center of his universe. I quietly delete my online dating profile so I can’t spy on him anymore.
This guy never asks me to change my plans to do something with him instead. He actually changes his plans on occasion and joins me on my plans instead. I’m finally getting comfortable with myself and doing things on my own. I go on hikes with a local club; I meet up with girlfriends; I go to my exercise classes; I work late when I need to; I get a “Little Sister;” I invite neighbors over for drinks; I make moves to start a friendship with a woman I’ve known a couple of years and who I think is cool; I start thinking a lot about what I want out of life and my future. Not my future with a man but MY future. I’m building a life for myself for the first time in 44 years.
I start to appreciate this man. He makes time for me. He wants to do things with me, but he can also do things on his own. I learn to be happy that I won’t be the center of his universe. I want to be the center of my own universe. I can be a part of his universe, but I don’t need to be the center. I don’t want to be his center. He has his own life, he doesn’t need to suck mine out of me. I start to trust him. He’s for real. He really has all these things going on in his life and it’s so cool. I can have my own life too. I can also be a part of his life without losing myself.
I feel grateful to have met this person. I hope I’ve learned a lifelong lesson here. I’m enjoying my time with him, but should it come to an end, I hope I can transfer this way to being with a man to the next relationship. This way needs to become a part of me and who I am, just the way it’s a part of him and who he is. I plan to leave that clingy, needy woman behind. I am building my own life here and becoming the center of my own universe. It sounds so selfish, but it’s really a very giving way to live your life. Giving yourself the right to treat yourself with importance gives you the strength and time to do the right thing and give back to others. Otherwise, you are giving yourself to one man. Be the center of your universe.
Copyright 2012. Simply Solo blog by Catherine Gryp. All Rights Reserved.