I have already mentioned that I hated dating. Back in my twenties when dating was supposed to be fun, I hated it. So, at thirty-nine being divorced, a baby momma, and totally out of touch with the world of dating, I was lost. Sad part is at the time I thought I was good. I was initially excited to get back out there! I have to admit I have watched waaaay too many movies, music videos and whatnot. I imagined walking into a room, and it would be like in that Klymaxx video, the men would all pause! I was so silly!! I really thought that when I entered a room good and decent guys would recognize that I was also good and decent and as such would be interested in talking to me. No, I didn’t think they would all ultimately want to be with me (I’m a tad weird and not for everyone) but I did think they would want to talk to get to know me to SEE if they wanted to be with me. The thing I didn’t prepare myself for was the games and shenanigans of dating.
All of the relationships that I had in my life were instant. What I mean is I met them they liked me I liked them and so that was it. I had no concept of dating and getting to know someone to make sure that I really actually liked them. Sounds crazy now as I type this, but it was true. This was how it worked with my high school boy friend and kind of the same with Adrian. I would instantly be in a relationship and would be deeply emotionally invested before I had an opportunity to really know if I liked this person. This style of dating is destined for failure because it doesn’t give you an opportunity to get past the representative and actually meet the real person before you are emotionally invested.
There is a quote from Chris rock in his show Bigger and Blacker (1999) that explains what dating is like:
“Relationships: easy to get into, hard to maintain. Why are they so hard to maintain? Because it’s hard to keep up the lie. ‘Cause you can’t get nobody being you. You got to lie to get somebody. You can’t get nobody looking like you look, acting like you act… sounding like you sound. When you meet somebody for the first time, you’re not meeting them. You’re meeting their representative.”
I decided that I didn’t want to live like that. I wanted to be as authentically myself as possible and to take the time to really get to know someone and understand them. I wanted to get past the representative and only fall for the actual person. It all sounds so good, simple even. It is not. I would fail at this again and again and again.
One reason I failed was because I really shouldn’t have been dating right away. I hadn’t actually taken the time to understand myself; my wants, needs, desires. I hadn’t taken the time to figure out what or who I was or wanted to be. I just knew I wanted to be in a relationship. I had been used to being in a relationship. I had done it for over fifteen years and just figured it would be dope to just settle down and start anew. I was so worried about moving on that I failed to give myself the time I needed to heal. So, while I was attempting to just be myself, I had not fully figured that out what that meant, and while I wanted to be in a relationship I hadn’t properly healed from my previous one.
Another source of complications in this whole dating situation was the simple fact that almost everyone has bought into the idea that they have to be someone else and not themselves to get someone to like them. I underestimated how difficult getting past the representative could be.
The crazy part is deep down I truly believe that we all truly desire to love and be loved. So many are broken just like me. Many us are afraid. Afraid to be who we really are, afraid to be seen fully, and afraid to be vulnerable. We are so afraid because the thing that we want most of all is connection. What happens when I am who I really am, when they see me fully, I am vulnerable, and they don’t want me? Being rejected is hard yet manageable behind a mask but it can seem world ending when you have bared your soul and given your heart purely.
Opening yourself up and being valuable is the only way to ever have real and meaningful relationships. It will be painful, and it is not easy. But I would rather have my heart broken a hundred times than to find myself in a fake relationship pretending to be someone I’m not just to be with someone I don’t fully know or even like for the rest of my life.
In that same show Chris said:
“Your relationship’s in trouble. That’s right. ‘Cause if you can’t share what you’re like, you’ll have problems. When you love somebody, you got to love everything about them. You got to love the crust of a motherfucker. You can’t just love the white part of the bread. You gotta love the crust, the crumbs, the tiny crumbs at the bottom of the toaster. That’s what the real motherfucker is. Whatever you into, your woman gotta be into, too, and vice versa… or the shit ain’t gonna work.”
While I somewhat disagree with the idea that you have to LOVE everything and be into everything that your mate does and is into, I agree with the spirit of his message. We have to love our partners enough to let them be who they are. And we should be given that same grace.
It sounds so good when I say it or read it but actually doing it is something altogether different. It’s one of those things where I can be so helpful to a friend or give insights to help their situation but still struggle with my own. I received a passing grade in Dating 101, but it was heavily theory based. Coupling was an application and implementation type of lesson based on real world environments. I have yet to pass.
I do have a few tales to share; some made me laugh, others made me cry, and all have helped me grow.