What I Learned from an Audit of My Exes

Yesterday I got to thinking. I was taking a bath and reflecting on all of the men I have dated in my life. I thought about the four year relationship, about the one year, about the months-long ones in college, about the series of Ok Cupid dates I went on before I met my ex…and I had this somewhat troubling realization. In my ex audit, I realized that each relationship I was in, I wanted to be out of; that somehow I lose myself in these relationships and my voice goes with it.

This is relevant because last week someone sent me the name of a man they wanted to set me up with. This has happened several times since the breakup. Each time I have been adamant that I am not ready. And I’m not. But this guy plays the guitar. And I do too. And I was thinking it might be nice to just get together and play. As friends. 

And so, obviously, I googled him. And he’s cute, in a rugged professional gardner (which he is) kind of way. But almost instantaneously I was off, careening down this emotional spiral with a large burly hunk of anxiety as my wingman. And my fears were so objectively irrational. What if he liked me and then we started dating and then I was stuck. Again. What if we started dating and then we had the same issues I had in my last relationship and I had wasted time dating him. What if he was boring or snored or was a vegan. All of these before even communicating with him!

In some ways, I spent the last several years trying to get out of my last relationship…and the one before it…and the one before that. Reading Huffington Post articles and blogs about relationships that are doomed and trying to compensate for the sinking feeling in my gut by burying myself in self help books. My capacity for breaking up goes away after the first or second date (during which time I have a shameless ability to just drop off and not contact the person) and then I just ride it out until it is very near unbearable.

I figure I can view this in one of two ways. The first is that it doesn’t bode well for future relationships if I’ve become afraid of even spending time with men. The second, and more realistic, is that I am in the middle of recalibrating. It’s too soon, maybe even to play guitar with a cute boy. And there’s work to be done on learning how I can reclaim my voice so that I will never again find myself in a relationship where I am not treated well, where I am not getting my needs met, where I feel stuck and where I am unable to initiate a frank discussion and if need be, walk away.

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