Sometimes dating feels like that saying, “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” A few weeks ago, I shared that my relationship coach Sheila Paxton wants me to approach dating as if I were collecting data, in an objective and dispassionate way, in order to make an informed decision about the men that I am seeing. This week I told her that the data that I have collected has disappointed me, as I discovered that the men that I have had a date or two with do not have all of the qualities that I need to make a relationship work. In other words, I felt like I went from a few exciting possibilities to seemingly nothing. A bummer, no?
No. Sheila reframed it really well for me. She said that I was making progress because I was screening men out really quickly instead of spending a few months dating them and then having to end the relationship. Instead of being discouraged, she said that I should be excited because I am doing things differently and would therefore get different results. She used the analogy of a housefly that obsessively smashes itself into a window screen (until it dies) trying to get out because it doesn’t know any better. By learning to become more discerning (not pickier because that has a negative connotation), she says that I will make better choices and eventually won’t be drawing men to me that fit my past patterns.
However, I’ll admit to you what I confessed to her. I do have doubts sometimes that I will find a man that has all the qualities that I am looking for, and that I fear that if I follow her advice I will just end up a spinster, missing out on opportunities to date fun guys who don’t have it all, but whom I do enjoy. Her response was to remind me to look back at what happened when I compromised my values. Didn’t I get eventually get hurt or hurt someone else?
I thought that was a great answer. However, when I did go back and take inventory of my past relationships, I found that I mainly remembered the positive aspects of each one, even with my marriage. My sister and I have always said that we have inherited from our father the ability to forget past wounds and that it has served us really well in life. However, right now, I need to learn from my past mistakes. I need to remember how it felt to be in a relationship that isn’t working.
So I had to force myself to take a cold, hard look, as it were, at the times in which those relationships hurt me, disappointed me, or made me feel sad. When I was finally able to do that, I was better able to see what she meant about the downside of being with someone who just doesn’t share your same values. And I was finally able to admit that she was right when she said that I am better off alone that being with someone who is wrong for me.
Sheila asked me trust the process that she is teaching me. That reminded me of what my yoga teacher had said to us about staying coachable and keep practicing. I realize that at times it takes a leap of faith to try something new. However, I can already feel that my thought processes and my desires are changing. What is it that my yoga teacher says? When you stretch a wet towel it will never return to its original dimensions (isn’t that why the instructions say don’t wring?). Well, I guess I’d rather be a stretched towel than a dead housefly.
Molly Monet writes the delightful blog, Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce.