I’ve started writing this post three times. With all different approaches.
I’ve been trying to write about my experiences in dating over the last 6+ months. And every time I think I have figured out in my head what I want to write, it just doesn’t seem to come out right. And I think I finally realized that it’s because it’s intensely more personal than everything else I’ve written about over the last few years. You’re probably going “duh!!” But there was a part of me that thought if I just approached dating as I did marathon training and applying for a new job, that in the same amount of time, I could find myself a happy, healthy, loving relationship. Yes, I think at times I am that naive. I mean, I think I knew that was really the case, but there was this hope I had that if I put in the patient effort, it would pay off.
But, obviously, what I’ve found is that dating can be an emotionally draining and painful process. It leaves us vulnerable and open to disappointment. It leaves us feeling stupid at times for taking that chance or that risk. It leaves us in tears and in frustration and in confusion. It leaves us asking what we could have done differently or better or smarter. It leaves us trying to desperately manage our expectations and to hope against hope to not get our hopes up.
But what I never expected to get out of this process [I've been dating for years but this last 6+ months are probably the first extensive period of "putting myself out there", at least in my 30s], I never realized how I much I would learn about myself. How much I would learn about what I am really looking for in a relationship and in a partner. How much I would learn about the incredible support system I have in my closest friends and family. How much I would learn I have to offer in a relationship. And how much I want a partner who will appreciate all of that. At times I wonder if I’m getting a better understanding of what I’m looking for vs getting way too picky. But regardless, it has been really incredible to have those honest conversations with myself about what matters to me and what I’m looking for in life.
It’s been hard to not let dating take over my life emotionally and physically. And I know I have not been 100% successful at that. But I’m human. And we all are. And all I can do is continue to feel amazed that not only have I not lost hope in meeting that “special someone” (if that even exists) but that I can use these experiences to grow and learn and to understand that I don’t have to change myself, that I can be me, and as cliche as it may be, I don’t want to settle for anyone who won’t appreciate that. Because what I’ve also realized is that I already have tons of people in my life who embrace 100% of me. So maybe “patience” isn’t what I need to have more of. Maybe it’s more about “acceptance” and “understanding” and “appreciation.” And that may be the most valuable take away from the whole experience…
P.S. I realize a lot of this may seem obvious or simple or cliche, but I was feeling a need to get all of this out and to explain what I’ve been doing with myself once I stopped running so much and found a job I love. :)