Dating Annie the last two months has been delightful, to say the least. I met a woman who’s self-empowered, intelligent, caring, considerate and incredibly funny. I believe when it comes to finding a connection when dating, there’s a subconscious bias towards individuals who are on similar train tracks as we are in life. We are drawn to those who have similar experiences as us.
When I got into my past relationships, there’s been a similar pattern of impulsiveness. I’ve felt the rush of infatuation, and decided each time to sprint along with it. By doing that, I failed to truly know and accept who my partners were. In my mind, I idealized what my girlfriends should be like, when in reality they were someone different. I didn’t learn to appreciate them as individuals. Is that truly love when I subconsciously needed a girlfriend to fill the gaps in my life?
Thus, I used to be afraid of the other person in a relationship; afraid they’d leave me, afraid they’d find flaws in me and afraid they’d think I’m not good enough. However, today I’m fully aware that the person I need to fear most is myself.
If I give the power away to someone else to make me feel safe and secure, I’ll constantly be pining for something I’ll never find. I’ve realized the person I need to focus on most is myself. I don’t need a girlfriend. I want a girlfriend. Someone whom I can appreciate, learn from, accept, grow together with. Someone who can add to my already fulfilling life.
Okay, these are just words right now, right? It’s no different than someone just posting a bunch of memes about self-love, being kind to yourself and all those other fluffy words.
So what does this look like in actual practice?
- Counseling. I’ve been going to counseling for the last 5 years. Admittedly, I’m a late starter, but I’m proud to say that it’s helped me tremendously. Sometimes I have a ton of things on my mind to talk about with Natasha. Other times, not so much. The idea behind counseling for me is to release thoughts about myself and where I’d like this relationship to go. In return, Natasha provides me with thought provoking questions to challenge any negative thought patterns. This allows me to reflect on my belief system and alter them if they’re unhealthy.
- Going to a Men’s Retreat. In May, I’m going to my first Men’s Retreat. No, we’re not all stripping down to our underwear, flexing our biceps in front of mirrors to post on our Insta feeds. Instead, we’ll be flexing our emotions, demonstrating to ourselves that real men talk about their feelings. We can open up and be vulnerable and talk about our fears. We can talk about the expectations society places on us (like how men have to be the bread winner, be able to fix cabinet doors and drive muscle cars) which can put a lot of pressure on guys. This guy here, anway. The retreat will be hosted by experienced counselors who’s going to help us dig deeper into our insecurities and tackle things that’s buried in us (deeply wounded trauma and possibly past life regressions?).
- Talking. When I first met Annie, we connected on several different things, but personal development wasn’t one of them. In fact, it wasn’t until maybe our third or fourth date where I discovered how much she’s into personal development. (But then again, of course she would be! She’s incredibly intelligent and has a natural affinity to learn more just about anything and everything, especially when it comes to human psychology.) I’m so relieved that she is, and because our conversations are deeper and more meaningful to me, this increases my feelings of intimacy towards her.
- Reading. I admit, I’m not a terribly strong reader. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading very much partly because it’s a great way to practice being present when I’m immersed in a good whodunnit or personal development book. I recently re-read the book the 5 Languages of Love by Gary Chapman and re-validated that my love language is Words of Affirmation, followed by Physical Touch. Reading helps me understand myself more. It helps to educate me about where many of my fears come from. When I understand, I can forgive my past a lot easier, which in turn leads to self-acceptance and develop a healthier self-esteem which is where many of our fears stem from.
“I used to be afraid of the other person in a relationship; afraid they’d leave me, afraid they’d find flaws in me and afraid they’d think I’m not good enough.
However, today I’m fully aware that the person I need to fear most is myself.”
Today, I’m heading out to try my first hypnotherapy session. Again, this is because I want to proactively tackle any areas of my fears that I may have missed. What I hope to gain by doing all the front end work is to provide a healthier relationship between Annie and I. My approach to dating this time is entirely new and liberating. I feel a sense of self, whereas before I’d get immersed and lost in a daydream of ideals. I’ve not acted on any of my impulses this time around, and in return, I’m learning more about Annie as an individual. I truly adore her because I’m able to see her for who she is. This approach does feel very unfamiliar compared to dating in the past. I like to believe it’s because a lot of personal growth has taken place, which leaves me feeling optimistic about myself.
In addition, my goal is to demonstrate to my 18 year old son that a healthy relationship begins with yourself. I’m no expert in dating and I’ve not had a very good track record in the past to back any of this up, but I’m hoping this time around, with someone as special as Annie, I can bring a different ending to my story.