When You Don’t Trust Yourself to Pick the Best Partner

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I don’t proclaim to know everything there is to know about choosing the right person. I’ve been single for two years now and I still haven’t gotten the hang of dating in the digital world of social media. I am much more cautious than I was when I was younger. I also feel that the ability to hide behind technology makes it difficult to figure out someone’s true intentions.

But, I recently found myself in a situation where I had to examine how much I trusted my own ability to choose the right person for me. I realized that I didn’t trust it very much at all and that isn’t something I can blame on technology. It’s something I’ve struggled with for years even during my relationships.

I read an article that talked about the psychology behind picking the right partner. It talked about how if someone was missing something in their childhood that it becomes a blind-spot in their adult relationships. An example described if you felt safe and secure as a child, then you will feel relatively safe as an adult. If something dangerous happens, then you may alter slightly to adjust to the new red flags, but you will still feel relatively safe. However, if you didn’t feel safe, you won’t even recognize the red flags of not feeling safe. In fact, you may gravitate towards what is making you feel unsafe because it feels familiar. I thought, how can you recognize something when you don’t even know what it is supposed to look like?

Another aspect is our subconscious desire to work out the problems we experience in our relationships. We will continue to be attracted to and pick partners who give us an opportunity to work through the issues of the last unsuccessful relationship. We hope that we can resolve the issues and win in the new relationship despite them being the same issues we were unable to resolve. It’s looking at fixing the other person instead of figuring out what is going on within ourselves. It adds up to another blind-spot and many times, it is a familial relationship we are attempting to resolve through our adult relationships.

My new enlightenment showed me why I didn’t trust myself to pick the right partner. I was most likely to pick another partner who would disappoint me when I couldn’t fix him. I also didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to recognize a good partner for me because I didn’t know what red flags I needed to identify to avoid choosing someone who wouldn’t give me what I needed in a relationship. I wasn’t even sure where to start to deal with this problem.

There was a satisfaction I longed for in convincing them I was worth intimacy. There was a satisfaction in not receiving it, because it confirmed everything I believed about love and suffering. In addition, I didn’t trust myself to pick someone who would support my emotional needs. There was no trust from the beginning of the relationship.

I decided to start with what were my most familiar arguments in my last relationship. What was the thing I was always asking for, but never felt like I received? I realized the things we argued about the most were emotional support and intimacy. I didn’t feel secure in our relationship because there felt like a distance between us in our understanding of emotional needs. I didn’t feel like mine were being met which caused me to shut down. As I thought about it more, I realized this echoed through my relationships and my childhood. And, I realized that I was chasing someone who didn’t make me feel secure while ignoring people who represented the possibility of the things I say I want.

At the heart of intimacy and emotional support is trust, I didn’t trust the men to emotionally support me or give me intimacy so I was attracted to men who offered no hope of it. There was a satisfaction I longed for in convincing them I was worth intimacy. There was a satisfaction in not receiving it, because it confirmed everything I believed about love and suffering. In addition, I didn’t trust myself to pick someone who would support my emotional needs. There was no trust from the beginning of the relationship.

I also determined there was safety in chasing someone elusive or emotionally unavailable to me, because I wouldn’t be in danger of risking my heart. I understand that I feared true intimacy because I don’t even know what it looks like or if I’m good at it because I’ve never had it. On the outside, I could tell myself that the elusive person was the problem, but deep inside I was terrified of anyone actually getting close. And, I didn’t have to take the risk with anyone else because I walled off my heart and opportunities by wrapping up my feelings in someone who would never return them. To put it simply, I was afraid of getting my heart broken.

I have intellectually figured out all of this, but I am emotionally still doing the work to bring down the subconscious limits that prevent me picking the best partner for me. I hope to get to the point where I trust myself to make the best decision for my life rather than trying to resolve old issues. But, I always believe awareness is the first step and I’m sharing this so maybe someone else will see the cycle they may be in.

 

As Women, We Don’t Always Listen to Men, so I Did. This is What I Learned…

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One of the hardest things for me as a woman was to listen to the true nature of a man, but it was the most enlightening. I learned a lot being in groups with men who felt free to express exactly what they thought without worrying about alienating the women.  They became my teachers.

Let me explain the struggle.

See, as a woman, I had been given this fantasy view of men as these strong, protectors who can withstand all temptation no matter how much sex you deny them and who don’t really need much of anything emotionally to do what they have to do. They are like self-sustaining machines of power who go to work day-after-day and don’t say much if you just leave them alone to their sports and throw some meat at them. At the same time, they were idiots who couldn’t make simple decisions and had to be punished and treated like children when they did something you didn’t like. It’s a weird dichotomy.

I’m making fun of this metaphor, but it’s because I realize now how inhuman my view of men used to be.

Anyway, there is also a little unspoken thing among women that the minute a man starts to contradict your view of this fantasy that you instantly shut him down and stop listening because he has no idea what he’s talking about. He knows nothing about being a feeling human being so his input about feeling is obviously wrong and the man’s way of doing things is ass backwards. So, I got used to just shutting men down when they tried to explain how they saw things.

I read recently that crisis opens you up to change. After being cheated on, I was so open to listening because I obviously knew nothing about men and I must not have been paying attention. I got into these groups and I watched the dynamics. The first thing I learned is if you can find a man who is willing to be honest about topics that could reduce his chances of sleeping with you, that’s a gold mine. Do not shut him up. Take notes. At first, when the men used to talk, I felt an actual tension in my chest. It hurt to listen to them because it was shattering all my pretty little notions about romance and love. All my defenses went up. A few times I got so pissed that I literally shut down.

 

“You can tell the strength of a nation by the women behind its men.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

 

But, I told myself I needed to listen. I needed to make their viewpoint valid in my mind. And, as I listened I heard them for the first time. It was like when NEO suddenly could see the MATRIX (Nerd reference). I’m not saying some of the stuff doesn’t still sound ass backwards to me because some of it does. But, that’s not the point. The point is that it exists. It’s the way they approach things. It’s their needs. It’s their expectations. It’s the way they see things. What I realized is I can have argument-after-argument trying to change someone to how I want them to be or I can just understand it is their nature. I tried the pointless arguing and it didn’t work. If I had known all that I learned during my relationship, I would’ve recognized that I was with someone who would never change.

I had to stop overriding their ways of the world with what I believed it should be. I learned that men who want to be with you are very clear (in words and actions) and direct. Men who don’t want to be with you are very confusing, elusive, secretive and defensive even if they sleep beside you every single night. Men who really love you won’t risk losing you. Men who risk losing you don’t really love you. This is what men mean when they say men are simple.

What I slowly started to see is if I want to be harmonious with a man that I can’t think that he is clay that I mold into what I want. Instead, I have to use the best of what I am to work with the best of what he is. There are so many jokes about the unhappy husband who has given up on life because his wife has sucked everything out of him that makes him a man. And, as I listened to the men, I realized their fear is of being engulfed in a woman whose aim is to take everything away from him and turn him into an archetype instead of the man he is while also not being appreciative of his sacrifice. He wants something in exchange for surrendering his freedom. And, it’s more than sex, but emotional support. Emotional support for men is a loaded topic because they aren’t supposed to need it and they can’t really go to anyone but to their woman for it, so if she cuts it off they are really in trouble. They have no other source while women can go to their friends, family and even strangers on the street and receive sympathy.

I realized their fear is of being engulfed in a woman whose aim is to take everything away from him and turn him into an archetype instead of the man he is while also not being appreciative of his sacrifice.

The battle of men and women is really just men and women trying to avoid being hurt and afraid of being misunderstood. There is no us vs them. It’s just everyone wanting to be loved for who they are. And, let’s be honest, people suck whether male and female because we are all inherently selfish and self-serving. If you dug through the assholes and came out with someone who really cares about you, that’s worth working together to make it the best love for both of you. If you can learn to stop being disappointed because they aren’t like you and appreciate their differences, then it can make things a lot easier. If you want to be mad at them for who they are born and conditioned to be, the dating world is going to be a hostile place. Erase “should” from your vocabulary.

I learned if you really want to understand men, you have to ask a question and listen to their answer. But, that’s still not enough. You have to believe they mean what they say. Don’t reinterpret it in woman. See their actions as how they move through the world and not in opposition to you and your ways. It’s not about hammering a man into what you want, but finding the man who fits perfectly into the type of woman you are while still being himself.

“Any fool knows men and women think differently at times, but the biggest difference is this. Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.”
Robert Jordan

And, if you are a man reading this, before you celebrate, the reverse goes for you. Stop trying to turn her into your homeboy and enjoy her womanly qualities. If we can both accept who we are, we can begin to work together with those differences to make something beautiful.

 

How Choosing Yourself leads to Security

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I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline when I saw a post that said, “Choose her Every Day or Leave Her”. Someone had copied and pasted a blog post by Bryan Reeves. It details how he was in a 5 year relationship, but realized that he didn’t choose his partner. He focused on the negatives about her instead of seeing the beautiful aspects of her and what she brought to his life. It ultimately led to the demise of the relationship.

As I read through it, I realized that I have never been chosen. I’ve struggled with insecurity. I’m not an insecure person, meaning I’m jealous, but I never really feel safe. I can feel comfortable, but there’s an underlying feeling of being unsettled. Nothing ever seems like a done deal to me. I’m always preparing for it to fall apart.

In the post, Reeves says,  “I realize now, however, that she was often angry because she didn’t feel safe with me. She felt me not choosing her every day, in my words and my actions, and she was afraid I would abandon her.

Actually, I did abandon her.

And suddenly, I realized I don’t know the security of being chosen. As I thought back through my life, I can picture moments in my life where it was my perception that others were choosing their own self-interest over mine. I’m not saying it is accurate, but it’s my perception which makes it my reality. I often felt like my feelings didn’t matter. I, especially, felt helpless as a child when decisions were being made without my input and I think that affected my ability to feel secure in my world.

Another factor in my ability to feel secure is that fact that I actually was abandoned by a parent. So, the desire for me to feel chosen is a strong one and it’s only now that I’m realizing that I don’t know the safety of it. I move through the world feeling unprotected. But, that wasn’t my biggest revelation.

The thought that slapped me in the face and woke me up was that I wasn’t choosing myself either. In being in a relationship with someone who refused to choose me or abandoned me emotionally, I wasn’t choosing myself. I was choosing that person, who refused to give me what I needed, over me. I wasn’t valuing myself while I was trying to get them to see my value.  Even now, I discount my own feelings to avoid the pain of them being ignored by others. I devalue my own presence and make excuses when others aren’t dependable or there for me. I do things alone and pretend I don’t need anyone else because it’s easier than rejection. I don’t ask for what I need and I never ask for help. And, I ignore how all of it makes me feel deep inside. I’ve spent my life hoping someone would just ask me, “What’s wrong? Do you need anything? Can I help you?”

I wasn’t choosing me. I was the source of my own insecurity because I abandoned myself waiting for someone to validate me, prove my worth or just recognize that my needs. But, the reality is I wasn’t validating me, believing in my worth and I was ignoring my needs.

“Often romantic relationships fail because you are trying to get someone to fall in love with the YOU that you never discovered.”
Shannon L. Alder

It became clear to me that even if someone came into my life right this minute and told me they chose me that I wouldn’t feel secure and safe. I doubt I would even be able to believe them. It’s hard to recognize something in someone that you haven’t seen or don’t believe in. And, it’s possible that I’ve spent much of my life rejecting or overlooking security while chasing the instability that feels familiar. Now that I’m aware of the cause of my insecurity, I have made a conscious decision to choose myself. I have to place the value on my presence and validate my existence rather than wait for someone to come along and mirror it back to me. I should feel secure in the fact that I have a great deal to offer someone.

And, for the first time, I feel like I know the person I want someone to fall in love with because I choose her too.