A few years ago I hired a matchmaker. I’d been dating steadily and just wasn’t happy with the quality of dates I was getting and I also wasn’t sure why certain men who I did like seemed to disappear from my life after a few dates. I wanted to see if I was sending the wrong signals or looking for the wrong people.
Matchmaking is expensive, but I did decide to do “date coaching.” This involved a re-do of my online profile and photos, as well as 6 months of sessions with the matchmaker as she helped me assess dates. But it started with a very eye-opening questionnaire which revealed that I was in fact sending the wrong signal. Or rather the wrong signal for the type of men I wanted to attract. Because I’m very strong-willed, confident and secure (masculine qualities) it was deduced that I had a masculine energy. If I wanted a take-charge man, I couldn’t suggest date places or take the lead in courtship, something I was unknowingly doing. I needed to truly make them ‘hunt’ me by not reaching out to them first (excluding an initial email) or suggesting dates. If I wanted a man to take the lead, I needed to let him do so.
This method very quickly whittled down potential suitors as those who weren’t really serious and never asked me on a real date. Those who were serious took the lead and suggested we get together and the locations for those dates. It was hard to sit back and be ‘sought’ but it also took the weight off my shoulders of ‘why didn’t he text back?’ since I never texted first. Was it all a big, stupid game? You bet. Did I have issues with the absurdity of ‘rules’? Yep. But it helped me target the right people FOR ME. One thing this made me realize is you have to know the difference between what you WANT and what you NEED in a partner. And those things are not always the same.
So while I was increasing my quality of dates, and I did have some small relationships in there, it still didn’t yield anything more long term. All the years and all those dates are wearing and over time you build a wall to take the sting out of rejection or just frustration. What I didn’t realize at the time is that if your wall is up, it doesn’t matter if that person is right for you, they won’t be able to get to know you unless you start being vulnerable.
As most of you who know me must realize, vulnerability isn’t exactly my strong suit. I like to toss around heavy barbells. I’m a take-charge Mom with multiple jobs and a NY-er chip on my shoulder. I curse like it’s going out of style. I’m not exactly a softie. But of course, the outer shell is always there to protect the inner one. I used to do this with food, eating my way to safety and comfort, never revealing the real me. Now I do it with sarcasm and strength. One suit of armor simply replaced the other.
But at some point, if you truly want to let someone in and let them see you for who you really are, you need to allow yourself the chance to be vulnerable. The chance to get hurt. And this is fucking scary as Hell.
I started dating someone recently and in a very short period of time my walls came crashing down. This was not a conscious choice. It just seemed to happen because he made me feel comfortable and safe and something inside me felt the need to share things with him, things I haven’t shared with anyone in quite a long time, if at all. And it dawned on me that I haven’t wanted to be open with anyone in recent memory and that I had to do this in order to move forward. For myself and the relationship.
Now, of course, I have no idea what the future holds. But I do know that he has made me extremely happy and I’ve sort of a taken a “sometimes you just gotta say, ‘what the fuck'” attitude about it. Meaning, life is short and happiness is hard to come by and if we aren’t honest with ourselves and the people in our lives, we may never know true happiness or true love. And that would be the real tragedy. So fuck the rules, do what your heart tells you to do, but be prepared for the consequences, whatever they are. You just might surprise yourself with the result.