Tonight as I was driving home, I was binge listening to Lizzy McAlpine because obviously night drives are for sad girl songs. Don’t worry, I’m not sad, just carry a strong appreciation for a good melancholy tune.
Her song “Let Light Be Light” came on and the lyrics stood out in a way they hadn’t before. She’s processing how she’s in a new relationship and she thinks it’s healthy, but also isn’t sure. In the past, she’d been codependent and was wary of repeating that–and of course in a relationship you should (in healthy ways) be attached and dependent on that person. It’s interesting how it’s hard to know what the difference is between a healthy dependence on someone and what isn’t.
“I don’t like getting attached
It makes me feel like I’ve done something bad
‘Cause I’m not dependent and I know that
So why am I scared I’m reliving
That part of my past?”
The part that struck me in the heart and made me pay attention was the line “It makes me feel like I’ve done something bad”. I resonate with that sentiment. For years, I nurtured an attachment and deep love for someone it seemed obvious that I needed to let go of, or rather it was obvious to everyone else. So now, the feeling of wanting to be around someone (romantically) and wanting to rely on them feels wrong. At the end of the day, what if I get attached and everything turns out to be a lie? What if I thought they loved me but they didn’t at all? What if I miss the signs? What if? Somehow this twisted truth has settled in my heart that if they turn out to be different than who they say they are, it’s not their fault, it’s mine. I should have known, right? My head knows that is ridiculous, but my heart feels fragile and eager to make sure it only lets people in who have the best intentions.
Sometimes there are signs. A lot of times there aren’t. People are good at hiding, but I wish they wouldn’t. I wish we could all be honest and transparent with one another. I wish we said what we mean and did what we said.
But then again, even I am guilty of this. We all fall short of who we say we are.
As a long time single person with short-lived sparks of relationships, life thus far has been a mostly independent experience. I’ve wondered lately if I am capable of giving that up to make room for another person. It took so long to get all of me back into place, losing myself in another person is a reality I don’t ever want to live again.
Honestly, I think most people outside of my closest friends would be surprised by how much my anxiety goes through the roof when it comes to dating.
To most, I seem to know what I’m doing in the dating world and feel comfortable doing it. I’m open to dating. I go on dates. I’ll go on blind dates, meet on apps, have friends introduce me to people, be asked out and even do the asking. Compared to most of the people around me, I seem to know how to date and do it well. Perhaps there is truth to that and I’m being hard on myself. I don’t really know. I can state for a fact that I highly dislike first dates (third dates are the best).
I can talk to any guy one-on-one easy, but call it a date and immediately the fear rises in my throat trying to suffocate me, taking the joy out of the experience. My brain turns on and my eyes are scanning the horizon for signs of danger. I am determined to not be made the fool and find myself conquered by someone who came to make my fire smaller or take that fire all together. I know I need to put my weapons down, but is it wise to be defenseless? How do you let someone in gradually as they earn that right?
Please don’t hear me say that I think that men are awful or that they’re all out to manipulate. I know many wonderfully, kind men who I look up to and am aware that women are just as capable of having bad intentions. The thing is that I just wish there was a way to know which men to avoid.
“Is this what it’s supposed to feel like?
Is this what it’s supposed to feel like?
Is this what it’s supposed to feel like?
Is this what it’s supposed to feel like?”
This verse of the song and the way that it repeats itself resembles the spinning doubts that cycle through my mind as I try to push away the thoughts shouting that being interested and attached to someone is a bad thing. As feelings starts to grow deeper, my heart beats fast, and nausea adds to the queasy uncertainty. What does love feel like? I imagine it must resemble what I have experienced from good friends, yet I think it must be different somehow. At least slightly. Right? Trusting someone will always have a bit of risk involved, but I don’t think it should feel terrifying all the time. I’ve been told by friends deeply in love that to an extent dating someone who’s right for you feels easy. There’s effort required, but both people are equally invested so you’re building trust together, equally sharing vulnerable parts of your heart and past. My heart longs to be with someone who is kind, emotionally mature, and has a depth of spirit—a person to whom honest conversation is as natural as breathing.
“‘Cause I’m alone almost every night and
I don’t know if I’m processing right
But my therapist says
To just let light be light
So I’m letting him stay around
I think that he’s good for me
This boy that I found”
“I don’t know if I’m processing right” translates in my mind to “I can’t trust my own thoughts or feelings because they’ve led me astray before“. Goodness. The loss of self that can happen when you’ve been lied and broken down bit by bit is truly a traumatic experience that takes a lot of time and grace to heal from. I love how in the next line she shares her therapist’s words, that essentially encourage her to stop self sabotaging something that so far is a good thing.
Trying to find all the red flags before you get to know someone is impossible. It can’t be done and all that happens is the quick unraveling of your own mind and heart as you exhaust yourself trying to find all the danger. No one is perfect, sure. I don’t know what you’re scared of discovering in someone. For me, it’s narcissism and sociopathic tendencies. Statistically the amount of people who have those personality disorders is small compared to the people I will meet in my lifetime. Yet the fear is still there.
I think dating should be fun, but for myself, and a lot of people it isn’t. It’s worth asking the question “why?” and thinking through what would help with getting to a place where it can be fun. I’m hopeful for that to become reality.
For me, professional counseling is great for many aspects of my life, but it feels like the grounding I need to help with catching the “self-sabatoge” spiral before it starts. Good friends who know me and know my fears intimately are also helpful with de-escalating and encouraging a lightheartedness and level-headedness in my dating life. God uses the people around me in tremendously kind ways. I am so incredibly thankful for their patience in listening to the same monologues date after date. It brings me to tears thinking of all the fragile moments that friends have gently guided me away from the cliff. They haven’t laughed at me, only with me. They haven’t overlooked my feelings as inconsequential or dramatic. They have seen me and loved me always.
If you resonate with this, I hope you feel seen and a little less alone by peeking into what lies in my heart. I’m praying for you and I hope you’ll pray for me.
Lets take a deep breath and go on that date.
As always–thanks for reading—
One thought on “Why isn’t dating fun?”
This is me too after being in two relationships that didn’t end the way I hoped they would. It’s exhausting even thinking about dating again. 😅 This was really encouraging, thanks so much for sharing!