My dear friend Jack, who a several months ago met a wonderful woman who is the absolute sparkle in his eyes sat across from me at lunch recently with a thoughtful speech prepared. After he and his girlfriend heard me rant across a glass or three of whiskey one weekend after a bad dating experience, he bestowed upon me his words. I wish I could have recorded it. He was very right in a lot of ways. More on that in a second.
I am a mega fan of Brene Brown’s work and was wishing last week she had some sort of help with staying Wholehearted through the dating life. I know I can apply those principles on my own but to have specific anecdotes would be tremendous. As a person who spent the last year or two on a quest for wholeheartedness, presence and the reclaiming of my Self, this territory of dating is difficult.
Jack knows I believe most people are good and sees me give people the benefit of the doubt when at all possible, over and over and over. He worries it leaves me too vulnerable. Personally, I believe that if I’m going to have a successful go at this phase of my life that I have to approach it as true to my Self as possible, which must leave me vulnerable. It isn’t easy to strike the balance of vulnerability and boundaries. I never want to shroud myself in armor, but I also don’t want some guy to get his sharp knife into my tender, pink heart. It is tricky.
The last 6 months of dating have gifted me a hell of a lot of experiences. So many first dates. So many friend zones (both where it happened to me and where I did the reclassification). So many first kisses and bad kisses and holymotherofpearlmyfacejustmelted kisses. A few skin on skin thoughtful or funny or provocative conversations while daylight streamed through the mini blinds. Several late night bad decisions that were so. much. fun. y’all. And a few moments of such extreme and throat-closing awkwardness I thought I would absolutely die. But I didn’t. And neither did he. Or him. Or that other guy.
I’ve tried lots of dating approaches and really thought I had stumbled upon genius a few months ago. Multi-dating! This is the term I use to describe where I am technically dating two or more men at once (with full disclosure). You see, Guy A and I only see each other every other week or so but then Guy B and I might have happy hour or catch dinner once a week. But when either or both of them are occupied there’s a Guy C who I just met but, “Sure! Let’s get coffee,” because you just never know. One must kiss a lot of frogs, I’m told.
The downside is that the approach is really, really consuming of both time and mental resources. While all the joys of dating are amplified, so are all the frustrations. My most recent Guy C was a man I met on Tinder who was only in the US for a short while. He asked about my American dating life and as I proudly explained the logistics he responded, “So… you don’t want to get close to anyone?”
So much for Wholehearted.
This guy who barely knew me was dead right. I am tuckered out from trying to date without letting anyone close to me. Or dating guys who I know won’t get close to me. (I need a nickname for emotionally unavailable. Any thoughts on that, kind reader?) I can’t say that all the guys have fallen into the “don’t get close” category, but more have than haven’t.
Everything prior to this paragraph was essentially written a couple of weeks ago. Tonight as I settled in to play catch up on some computer things, I checked my email. A fresh post was waiting for me from Danielle LaPorte, a new-to-me life coach who is the perfect blend of sassy and softie. The title of the post read, “Open, gentle heart. Big fucking fence.” The advice I give on Love that took the longest time to learn. I began to read…
“being loving” meant: letting everyone in the door … ignoring the mismatch between people’s words and their actions … and generally taking more shit than anyone should. While I professed to suffer no fools, I was, you know, suffering some serious fools.
Well, now. That got my attention. Then she said,
Closing my heart would be certain soul death. Not an option. Shutting my heart half-way would be like shallow breathing for eternity, and I’m here to breathe life in fully wholly holy. So semi-openness was not an option either.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Then she told a story she tells her son,
“Keep your heart open, as wide open as you possibly can. Keep it so soft. Let it be tender. FEEL EVERYTHING. Feel your feelings, share your feelings. Keep your heart gentle, gentle, open, open.
And then… put a big fucking fence around it. Make it tall and make it strong. Ask your angels to guard the gate for you at all times. Do not let anybody past your gate unless their own heart is open and gentle. Only let in people who are respectful, kind, interested and loving. Emphasis on respectful, kind, interested and loving.”
Do not let anyone past your gate unless their own heart is open and gentle.
Only let in people who are respectful, kind, interested and loving.
I have not done this. I’ve let everyone in all willy nilly and then get pissed when they aren’t interested or respectful or loving or kind. Or any combination thereof.
Dear Universe, please grant me patience and compassion.
I’m putting my fence up now.