What keeps us from having romantic partners? Our childhood histories, genetics, life circumstances, trauma or abuse? These factors do play a part in reaching this goal, but most of all, we have our fears to thank for holding us back. I was so moved by a client’s blog on how she’s facing her fears of being a higher weight woman managing the dating scene, that I wanted to share her wisdom with you.
For awhile now, I have been become increasingly aware that, although I have said I don't want to be alone romantically, I have been doing several things to remain that way. Now I could absolutely point my finger at the people who said the painful comments to me growing up and that blame could honestly be justified. However, just like any other situation, after the blame has been cast, you have to find a way to move on. Which on some levels I have found a way to do, and yet there are still several interwoven issues that I have held on to.
If I were honest, I am struggling to let go of these issues, though they have caused me pain and subconsciously have had me living a bit like a desperado. The other day, I was listening to several bands from my youth when I came across The Eagles' classic version of Desperado and it struck a chord with me (no pun intended). When I really slowed down and looked at some the lyrics, I realized that many of them could have been written about how I have hidden behind my fear, my misuse food, and my standoff (snappy) behavior that is keeping me from some really wonderful possibilities. I say these things not to beat myself up, but only to acknowledge them. As Dr. Phil says and I repeat often, "You cannot fix what you do not acknowledge."
This of course lead to me asking myself some really tough personal questions about my dating and relationship experiences. Honestly, many of these questions I have been ignoring for a long time. I tend to behave a bit like an ostrich and hide my head when faced with situations that are new, uncomfortable and/or difficult, which is what I have done in regards to dating. I have never been a girl who went out looking for romance, for a partner.... I guess have been waiting for fate to step in. Then when things have not worked out and/or nothing was happening, I would beat myself up about it.
Basically, it is true that I wasn't looking for love in all the wrong places because I wasn't actively looking for love anywhere. My friends were trying out online dating or anything else to meet men. I would spout that those things just weren't for me and then sit home on the weekends. I wasn't being honest (even to myself) about the reasons why I felt that way. I was so fearful of rejection that I never gave any of these things a try. Even with those rare occasions when things looked like they might be leading somewhere, I analyzed everything for signs of rejection and responded accordingly. Since I was on the lookout for those signs, I could always find some real or perceived ones, which would deepen my feelings that there was indeed something wrong with me. Better yet, that what was said to me as a child was true and that because I was a big girl no one would find me attractive and/or that I was unlovable.
Due to these feeling, I would constantly be armoring up to protect myself from rejection and in many cases I brought about the very event that I was trying to avoid. With the acknowledgement of my armor, I also had a few other realizations, such as:
- If I ever want to be in a real relationship, I am going to have to face my fear and the uncertainty of putting myself out there.
- I am going to have to put down or take off my armor and risk letting myself be known.
- I am going to have to trust that I can handle whatever comes.
So I did some research about online dating, made a six-month commitment to this process, put a profile on a few websites, began communicating with a few men, and even made plans to meet up with one (who did not show) for coffee last week. It has been about a month and I would be lying if I said it has been easy. However, throughout this past month, there are a few things that I have come to realize:
- When I feel uncertain, I am more likely to turn to food (especially sugar). I want to put the fork down and find a better way to deal with those feelings.
- That unlike the stories I had created in my head, just about everyone (men and women) have experienced some sort of rejection and, unfortunately, we all have to learn to deal with it.
- Most importantly, even if I never find a mate, this process needed to be tackled for me. I need to face the uncertainty and learn to trust that I can deal with what comes.
Well, there you have it, a woman who has her head on straight about dating and how she’ll manage its ups and downs. There’s no sugar coating here, no magical thinking, and no guaranteed happy ending; only a work in progress, as we all are. We all have fears of rejection, even people who seem perfectly confident. The idea is to get out there anyway and try to toughen up. It’s the only way to ever find happiness.