Cautiously Optimistic

I realized something today as I was hiking with my sister (aka, life coach). I had an epiphany that when it comes to dating, I have been repeating the same pattern for years. I’m like a hamster on a wheel spinning in circles getting nowhere and then when I’m exhausted with the whole dating process I hop off the wheel and go hide in a corner of my cage burying my head in woodchips.

You see, being alone is easy. Lonely at times but easy. Relationships are hard. Relationships are scary. That constant anticipation of whether the other person will text me or ask me out. The fear of rejection and the worry that this will only lead to another disappointment.

The cycle begins with me realizing that I’m tired of being alone and I want to get back out there. It usually starts with some stupid dating sight that leads to a time-sucking wasteland of foolery. Pointless conversations that lead to nowhere, yet I still stay on the wheel praying that the love of my life could possibly be on the other end of one of these countless conversations.

When I finally meet someone and go out on an “actual” date, I find myself cautiously optimistic that this person could have some potential. Even though I may see the red flags and know in my gut that this person is emotional unavailable, I remain open to the possibility that I could be the one to change their minds. Foolish…I know. My ego takes hold and knowing I’m a pretty good catch, I convince myself that they are going to fall madly in love with me and we’re going to ride off into the sunset like they do in the movies.

Instead, they go ghost and disappear into the wasteland of lonely hearts. I’m guilty of doing the same. I’m not proud of it but I’ve ghosted people I knew weren’t the right fit for me. I tell myself that it’s more of a “gradual distancing” but none the less I eventually stop responding. Guilty as charged.

Good friends have told me that I’m “guarded”. While there might be some truth to that, my rebuttal is to defend my fortress of self-preservation with the historical reference to the shit show that is my love life. I mean come on…if you’ve read my blog…enough said. The same friend said that I should turn my stories into a sitcom and write a script detailing the trials and tribulations of a middle-aged woman dating a series of douche bags. I’m not sure if I should take that as a compliment towards my writing or go jump off a bridge and end the misery (kidding of course).

After every failed relationship, (if you can even call it that) I can’t help wondering if there is something wrong with me. Why the hell do I keep attracting the wrong guys? Am I too guarded? Do men really want a strong independent woman or do they want a doormat? Do I need to change my approach?

These are the questions swirling around in my head with the negative self-talk that invades my psyche. This is the point in time when I shut down, get off the hamster wheel and go into hiding. The constant disappointment leads me to go back to my safe place and convince myself I’m better off alone. This isolation usually lasts about 10-months to a year until I find myself desperate for affection and love getting back on the hamster wheel one more time. Each time I tell myself this is it! I’m going to find my person this time…I can just feel it! Only to be disappointed in the first month of searching.

I know…I know I shouldn’t give up so easily and I have to be patient….blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard it all before. I know that with every person and failed attempt I learn something about myself and gain more clarity. That’s all fine and good but I’m sick of learning and growing! I’m sick of getting my hopes up only to have them crushed along with my already fragile ego. Why does it have to be so damn hard?!

The last relationship (again, if you can even call it that) was an unfortunate display of your typical male treating me like a booty call. If there is one thing I know, it’s that I am not a booty call kinda woman. I have far too much pride and self-worth than that. Turns out, he shared his own struggles and apologized for hurting me but nonetheless, it was another disappointment. Yet, another lesson learned and I’m proud of myself for not allowing a man to devalue me in that way.

Last week I went out with a guy I met online years ago. It never turned into anything but he started to follow me on Instagram. We would like each other’s posts occasionally and share some common interests like hiking. The other day he posted a beautiful picture of a vista where he went hiking, so I asked him where it was. This innocent question led to him asking me out “as friends” which led to a date and then another and then another in the same weekend. I can tell he is a really nice guy with a big heart. (Here I go again, getting my hopes up). I’m not sure if we’re the right fit for each other because he’s very “churchy” shall I say and I cuss like a drunken sailor. I told myself to remain open and cautiously optimistic but I fear that we are slowly drifting apart—adding to the pile of dead corpses of emotionally unavailable men in my repertoire.

Normally, this would be the time where I would repeat the same cycle, hop off the hamster wheel and go into hiding, but I’m all about growth and changing old patterns of dysfunction. This time I will remain open to new possibilities and believe that this may be just one more guy that I have to experience to get closer to the one. I just wish I knew how many more corpses are in store for me so that I could mentally prepare myself for the ride around the hamster wheel. Stay tuned to “The Too Old and the Restless” the sitcom of my life. Perhaps…I need to come up with a better title first. 😉

With Faith, Hope, and Love,