On Dating: Experienced or Just Plain Damaged?
By G. Ann Wilkerson
Something New. Something Good. Something Real.
Part 4: Experienced or Just Plain Damaged?
He’s been gone a week and all kinds of thoughts are going through my head. We’ve spoken every day - brief conversations via text and by voice, but it’s just not enough for me. I miss him and it's killing me, because I’m not sure I’m being missed in return. Fears of unrequited desire and emotions are the poisons that course through most women’s veins that can ultimately harm them or their relationships.
Memories of lovers past swirl in my head, reminding me that I have been here before and that it has often times ended very badly. Men that were very passionate and attentive Monday–Thursday, then disappeared to whatever place men go when they want to cheat, scheme or just need a break come Friday night.
I’d hate to bring my old tattered baggage into my new relationship, but I refuse to allow myself to get pulled into the same predicaments I have been in before. What’s the definition of insanity, again? On the other hand, he wasn’t the one that hurt me, and I truly believe he’s a different type of man. So, the question ultimately becomes, how do you determine whether or not you are acting from learned experience versus bitterness?
Needing guidance, I sought out help. Seeking relationship advice from family and friends can be extremely risky. Everyone has an opinion, which is ironic considering most of these people have sketchy backgrounds themselves. Just like you, they have their own baggage and dirty laundry to sort, but (unlike you) not one of them has the true or full knowledge of the situation the way you do.
I get mixed advice. Some say, “Drop him.” Others say, “Play games with him,” and the rest say, “Who is this guy and why do you care so much?” I say, I’m exhausted, tired of thinking and talking about him and on top of that on deadline and have no clue what to write my next piece on.
Though in no way a spokeswoman for Black females, I do consider myself an “average Black chick.” Therefore, I know that I’m not the only sister out here with dating/ relationship anxiety. Since the day I met this man, I have been in turmoil trying to predict, navigate and control the growth and pace of the relationship. I’ve enjoyed myself. But, looking back it has been an emotional and tiresome journey. When it comes down to it, it’s only been 3 weeks!! This is supposed to be the period of exploration, of fun, of newness. The only thing I have discovered is that I’ve got some issues with trust. Trust in men and trust in myself. He hasn’t been perfect. But, at least he’s been himself. I, on the other hand, have been someone else. And I don’t like her. What happened to the cool, confident woman that didn’t even want a relationship?
He’s not ole Tom, Dick or Jamal... he’s himself. And, I like him. What this experience has taught me is that I need to learn to re-trust myself and my judgment. I am not the same woman I was back then. I’m smarter and stronger - not because I have this new found understanding of men. But because I have a new found understanding and love for myself.
I’ve been so busy looking for something real, trying to get my groove back, and begging to exhale that I may have psyched myself into a state of paranoia. Gotta go against (sorry to say it) female instincts and just relax. I’ve decided that when he comes home that I won’t even mention my minor breakdown. What’s the point in sharing with him how crazy I am when he’s got plenty of time to find that out? But I will trust him a little more with my emotions. Tell him how I feel and what I expect from a relationship - like daily contact, lingering hugs and his acknowledgement of special occasions.
He’ll be home in few days. Called last night to tell me that he misses me. And I believe him, because why shouldn’t he? I miss him too. At some point, we were bound to run into some challenges; it just happened to happen within the first month of our courtship. Maybe this is something real. Maybe not. But, either way, I’m going to enjoy the scenery as I ride.
How do you distinguish between what experience has taught you and baggage that creates barriers in new relationships? How easy or difficult is it for you to let go of the past and live in the moment? Talk to us!G. Ann Wilkerson is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Indiana University. She is of Jamaican and African American heritage and a native Philadelphian. A youth worker by profession, but, writer by trade, her works include social commentary on urban culture, black women and African American youth. She is currently working on a book about black women amidst a Quarter Life Crisis. Check out her blog Average Black Chick.
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