“We are not in the playground anymore. There are new rules. We have to be mature, but we can't lose the spirit of childlike wonder. What is love anyway? Maybe it's supposed to break all the rules. Like me and Jan. Or Oscar and some guy. Life is short. When two people find each other, what should stand in their way? It is very easy for you to be a hero. All you need are honesty, empathy, respect and open-mindedness.” -Michael Scott
Michael Scott has over time become one of my favorite characters. He’s awkward, funny and will from time to time spill out some words that make you think.
Dating has been an interesting area in my life that I don’t talk about much. I have always kept it private because I always felt it should be but maybe I’ve kept it too private. I figured I’d share with you all some of the things I’ve been through and I continue to go through to give you insight on how I deal with all of this in my life. For any of you that are gentlemen reading this, maybe you’ll learn a few things from me on what not to do!
Dating for me has been complex. It has been complex because honestly, I’ve made it complex. In my attempts to keep everything “simple,” I’ve made everything much harder for myself and anyone involved with me. Is it possible to over complicate by trying to simplify? Is that a thing? I feel I’m a pretty simple guy but I’m learning that it isn’t always the case. Part of this post is to give insight but also admit some faults that have held me back from experiencing some of what could have been the best moments of my life.
I believe what makes this so complex for me is that my life isn’t going where I thought it was going to go ten years ago. My parents just celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary. THIRTY YEARS! That’s a long time, at least nowadays, and I’m blessed to have them as examples in my life on how to structure a functioning marriage. They have their fair share of hardships but they always get through it together which is something I respect and admire about them. Growing up, I thought I was going to be just like them. I thought I was going to find a nice girl early on, get married by the time I was twenty then spend the rest of my life with this person. I’m twenty-eight now and that clearly hasn’t happened. I, instead, chose to live this musician life that has changed the way I view relationships and go about them. Sure, financially speaking, being a musician early on isn’t an easy way to be able to support a family but I used that as an excuse to justify why I haven’t settled down. Things are different now though. I finally feel I make a good and steady living to where I can sustain supporting a family but no one to do it with. In seeking therapy, I’m finding that a lot of why dating is complex for me stems deeper than just justifying in my head being able to financially support a family. It stems deeper into admitting truths about myself that I have chosen not to deal with. Basically, facing the reality of what my life is and the consequences of all of my combined actions. After spending lots of time in deep thought and reflection, here are some things I have come across in my life that I feel comfortable sharing.
I completely fell in love with a woman who I adored very much. I also adored her entire family and wanted to be a part of it. I can, with confidence and honesty, say that she has been one of the best things that has ever happened to my life. I don’t say that lightly either. Life with her was amazing and so easy. I have never gotten along with someone so well before who had similar views and made me feel comfortable with everything going on in life. I could look into her eyes, see into her soul and feel calm with her. I would get excited seeing her name pop on my phone. I thought I had found my person, my companion, my soulmate. I was convinced that I was going to spend the rest of my life with this person and have a family together. As I was figuring things out myself, I always thought she was going to be there with me as we went through stuff together. I thought she felt the same but then came the day where she told me she didn’t feel that way and I saw her slip right through my fingers. I truly had a hold of something special and I let it slip away because of truths I wasn’t willing to admit to her and myself. I let it slip away because of my prideful and selfish ways that I wasn’t always willing to admit. I let it slip away because of my fears. Then came the painful day where I had to see her walk away with someone else and oh man did that hurt. I feel I’m pretty strong emotionally but that experience definitely got the best of me. She moved on and I was too late. It hurt because I let it happen. It hurt because that was supposed to be me with her. I don’t usually question my own decisions, especially when I feel so confidently in something, but I questioned this. Maybe I was wrong about everything.
Why share all of that? I share it because it literally made me question everything in my life. It made me question music. It made me question family. It made me question myself. It made me question this so called structure I uphold in my life. The first real heartbreak I encountered was when I was about twenty-three but that was a different time in my life. I was in college thinking about music, classes and figuring out how I was going to pay for my lunch the next day. Forward to years later, I’m thinking about how to buy a house and thinking of what kind of father I’d like to be so it hit differently and quite frankly hit deeply.
Through reflecting on everything that has happened in my dating life, both good and bad, I’ve realized there was a lot I wasn’t doing to follow through in maintaining any healthy relationship. I believe in my heart that I am genuinely a good person in this life, with good intentions, but that alone isn’t always enough to justify being good in a relationship. You have to work at it, just as I’ve seen my parents do for thirty years, to make it grow and make it stronger which if I’m honest with myself, I wasn’t always willing to do. I don’t always do well with change. I justified the “this is the way I am, always been and this is what you get” attitude to essentially not put in the work. I was lazy. Being lazy was unintentional but that’s the way it came across. If you deem a person worth it in your life, some change is going to have to happen. I’ve learned that the hard way. I’ve been too stubborn to change. Changes that I would now consider small.
So, why realize these things now? What sparked all of this deep thought and reflection? In therapy, it was said to me that the prefrontal cortex finally developed allowing me to form a deeper sense of value. I’m not saying that’s wrong at all but I think it just comes down to me being tired of things not working out in my life. I grabbed dinner with a girl I dated a long time ago in the recent months and we talked about how things went down when we dated since I ended that relationship and moved on. She said that she felt, although we dated briefly, I wasn’t invested emotionally into her. The whole conversation was great but that’s what I left with. It got me thinking, man, I need to change that. I need to be emotionally invested in people. My relationships weren’t deep enough because I hadn’t invested enough time and emotions into them. It was time for me to grow up a little and develop deeper connections with people. As much as this is a “dating” post, this also applies to any relationship I have encountered. I was too busy for people and wasn’t investing in them. I’ve been changing that and spending more time connecting with those I love, no matter how tired I may feel. I have been spending more time with my friends and investing into them because they are worth my time and I want them to know that. I haven’t been dating but when I do in the future, I will go in to it with all of these thoughts because I don’t want to go through this again.
Here are some things I have learned. Some of these I would deem as complete failures in the past and some not but I can at least now acknowledge them, learn from them, grow from them and implement them as I go about my life.
Be intentional with what you want out of whoever you’re with. If you want someone to be in your life for the long haul, be clear about your intentions and be deliberate with them. “Hey, I want to date you.” “I want you around for a while.”
Make time for talking. Talk about how you each feel about things going on in life, whether about each other or whatever else is going on. Keep an open dialogue and learn from each other.
Don’t be afraid to tell each other how you feel. Look into each other’s eyes and say what you feel. Just that can go a long way. Tell her you love her.
Make time to date. We all get carried away with how busy our lives get but don’t forget to make some time to date and get to know each other on a deeper level, whether fresh into it or years into it. Make time for date nights and spontaneous trips.
Respect each other. Respect each other’s decisions about the relationship, whether it works out or it doesn’t.
Trust. Trust each other. Always.
Hold her hand. This one is for the fellas like me. I’ve never been a PDA kind of person but holding her hand isn’t going to hurt you. Hold her hand when you’re out. Hold her hand when you’re with your friends. Hold her hand when you’re at home. Sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t.
Post about each other. In today’s culture, social media is a huge part of everybody’s lives and posting about each other is just another way of acknowledging each other and making each other feel special. I’ve never been one to post much but it’s also something I’m working on. Even just posting about friends I’m with I didn’t really do but now I’m getting better about it.
Grow together spiritually. This ones important. Faith is something that is important in my life and sharing that with someone else is just as important in building a great foundation to a relationship.
Lead. Maybe I say this because I grew up in a traditional household but I believe as a man, you should lead your partner. You do things together and share responsibilities but as a man, take charge and lead your family through adversity.
Support each other through whatever endeavors you go through. This one might be easier than said but always support each other.
Laugh! This one comes naturally to me but sometimes we can forget to just laugh at the nonsense life throws at us. Laugh together! Send each other fire memes!
Most importantly, create valuable memories together that you can go back on and smile about. Those memories are what keep you together in the toughest of times. Take some pictures together. Write together. Draw together. The world is your oyster!
There’s lots more that I can list but those are just some of the big points I can think of that I have reflected on that I feel I’ve lacked. At the end of the day, I’m human just like the rest of them. Every morning, I put my pants on one leg at a time like everybody else but recently I’ve been getting up with more fire to fix things I wasn’t good at. I don’t want to go through some of those feelings again so I’m going to change myself so that I can be better equipped to handle some of these situations in the future. It might be too late to rekindle an old love but it’s never too late to change yourself to be better for the next thing that comes into your life.
To conclude this long “love document,” that’s just a taste of what dating life for me is. I hope I have been able to provide some insight on my personal life, what I’m doing to get better at some of these personal issues and hope I was able to help some of you reading this along the way. I had dinner with a real close friend of mine recently who’s been with his girlfriend for a lot of years and I asked him, do you see yourself marrying this girl and having her around for the rest of your life? He replied “Yeah man, I do.” I said, well, let her know and don’t ever let her go! Marry her! Take that risk because the reward will payoff tenfold.
As for me, life is in a great spot right now. If the person above were to enter my life right now, to be honest, I don’t know what I would do. I’d do all of those things above because I’d want her in my life and more but the reality is that she isn’t coming back into my life. That love is lost. Life goes on. You move on and try to be a better human in this world, which I am trying to be. I will continue to love and to establish deeper, more meaningful, connections with people.