Have you ever heard the saying, "you can't love someone if you don't love yourself"? I never knew what it meant. I understand that I have to be satisfied in my own life and I can't look to another person to "complete" me or give me emotional support or make me happy (how depressing is that?). If you aren't happy to begin with, after the initial euphoria wears off, you'll go back to feeling however you felt before Mr. Wonderful came along. If you are lucky, you'll wind up just a little bit happier than you would have been otherwise. But, if you were depressed and dissatisfied before, odds are that's where you'll end up again. A boyfriend won't fix it.
But, mostly, it's just a different kind of life. Hopefully, a better life, but certainly a different life. That's scary, isn't it? All the sacrifices that must be made, the alone time that will be lost, the need to make decisions in common, the negotiations about what to do, when to do it and who to do it with. It is nice to always (usually, mostly) have a companion, but it's exhausting to have to take someone else into consideration all the time. There's all that to worry about and I'm not even all that reluctant to make those sacrifices. I've done it over and over and, given the chance, I'll do it again. Not without some trepidation, but without much hesitation either. What's scary is that I might lose the person and end up alone, all over again, back where I started. It's exhausting.
So is it any surprise that when I start dating someone and it starts to feel serious I get a little needy? I want reassurance that I'm not wasting my time. That I'm not turning my world upside down (ignoring my bills, sleeping too little, not going dancing with CK, not calling Princess every other day) just to have him cut out in a week or a month. I start asking some of those horrible, impossible, tricky questions. Is he bored? Am I talking too much? Does he like the way I look?
I doubt everything. I'm sure he's going to leave. The more anxious I am, as it turns out, the more likely I am to be right--he is going to leave. And I stop thinking. I stop asking myself what I want. I think about what he wants. I wonder what he wants. I wonder if he likes me. I wonder why he likes me. God, it's depressing--and no fun at all.
When I was dating the Republican back in November, I started to ask him questions with no (right) answers. He said, "What do you want from me?"
"What do you mean? I just want to know how you feel..."
"You want me to tell you everything's fine?" He asked.
"Sure...I guess so. I want reassurance." I said.
"You want reassurance?"
"Yes, of course I do. Why shouldn't I? What's wrong with that?" I asked.
"I'm not doing it. We're not doing that. I'm not reassuring you." He said.
"What? Why not?" I was surprised.
"I can't do it. If I do, then you'll just keep asking, and we'll get in a cycle and it'll never stop." I stood there, in the middle of the living room, looking at him. He sat on the red sofa, eyes watering slightly from the cat hair (he was allergic). And I knew he was right. If I got us started on that road it would never end. I would never be satisfied.
"Ok. I get it. I won't ask anymore." It made perfect sense to me.
"We can't start that. You understand." He said.
"I understand. You're right. But, you know, you can say something nice every once in a while."
"You're cute. What are you doing way over there?" He smiled at me.
Maybe I already knew about the reassurance cycle, but I have a tendency to forget these things. It takes a while for the lessons to stick.
The next time you're about to ask, "Why do you like me?" or "How can you be so sure?" or "Were you really going to call me?" don't do it. Take a deep breath and ask yourself, is there an answer that I could possibly accept? If not, then don't ask. Back slowly away from those questions. Instead, you might ponder these questions: why do I like him? How sure am I? Is this what I want? Am I happy? And go from there. Just don't ask him questions that have no answers, it only causes trouble.
Grateful for: not asking for reassurance (usually).