The one thing about being in a good chapter in your life is that, at some point, that chapter is going to end. We fear change because it’s out of our control and when you’ve been in control for so long, there’s so much weighing on this pivotal opening line of the chapter that’s just beginning.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how dating myself has flipped my entire love-life-philosophy upside down. It’s been great and validating and a complete relief.
But after writing it, I realized I had come to a crossroads: If I’m ready to admit that I’ve taken this time for myself and how much better of a person it’s made me, does that mean this phase is already over? Am I ready to date?
Honestly, this is a pretty vulnerable thing for me to write. It’s hard to share your insecurities with the world, to open up your guts and say, “Yep, that’s what I’m afraid of. Do with that what you will.”
But these are real insecurities, real fears, real doubts. Real selfishness. And if you’re ready to date again, too, at least we can do it together.
1. What If I want a different kind of relationship than I’ve ever had before?
I stopped dating because it just wasn’t working for me. I felt trapped, like I was someone else entirely. I had intense and anxiety and panic attacks. I don’t want that anymore. I’ve gotten to a good place where I can accept that the next relationship I have might be drastically different from anything I’ve ever had before. I might not have a template to follow or a script to recite. That’s terrifying. What if I don’t want monogamy? What if I can’t find anyone who accepts that?
2. What if I drift apart from my ex?
I’m really close to my ex. If I bring another person into my life, what does that mean for our friendship? I’m not willing to give it up and I feel like it’s okay to expect that. But what if this makes me loose both of them? I’ll be back where I started.
3. What if I’ve been on my own for too long?
I’ve become so self-sufficient it sometimes it feels like I really don’t need anyone else. But, in the past, I’ve always relied on people to take care of me in relationships. What if I don’t know how to have a relationship where I don’t need the other person? Have I been on my own so long that I don’t know how to adjust to having another person in my life?
4. What if I fall back into old habits?
If all this stuff is still hanging over me from everyone I’ve been hurt by in the past, what’s to stop it all from repeating itself? I’ve done so much work here, on myself and my life and getting it to a place that actually feels good. If I get into a relationship again, will that all come crashing down?
5. What if I get into a relationship for the wrong reasons?
I don’t want a relationship just because I’m lonely or feel like I need one. I’m scared of meeting someone who likes me who I think is just … eh. I’m a nice person. I’ve been down that road before. Saying “no thanks” is hard for anyone and I don’t want yet another relationship where honesty is something reserved for complaining about our day, but not about what’s bothering us. That’s exhausting.
6. What if I disappoint people I care about?
If I get into a relationship, another person will have all these expectations of me. I really, really don’t like letting other people down. What if they want more from me than I can give? What if we can’t reach an agreement? What if this is all too much for someone else to deal with?
7. What if I can’t find someone who I can trust and depend on?
I don’t know if you’ve gotten the picture, but I’ve had to do some deep-sea diving into what I really want in a partner. This might be selfish but I want someone who knows what they’re about and is willing to work with me on that. I need someone I can trust, who’s trustworthy and stable. Like any good R&B album: I want a collaboration. Will any of this still feel worth it if I feel like I have to start over with someone else?
8. What if I get hurt?
When it comes down to it, all of these just point to one fact: I’m scared of putting myself in harm’s way. I’ve built a protective shell around myself but the hardest thing to admit is sometimes you can’t control how you feel about someone or how they feel about you. Falling head over heels is terrifying. It’s scary and great and I’m ready but I feel like I’m jumping off a ledge over here.
I have to do it alone. And for the first time in my life, that feels okay.