The day a first date rolls around, and there I go, doing everything in my power to come up with a legitimate excuse to flake out of the date. My friends know this pattern very well. They also know it’s followed by nervous-wreck word vomit such as:
Why did I even okay this? And why does this guy want to spend time with me anyway? What if it’s awkward and we have nothing to talk about? What if I’m the messiest eater he’s ever seen and I completely gross him out? Or, what if I’m not as pretty or smart or interesting as he thought? What if he doesn’t get my sense of humor and he takes my sarcasm seriously? What if we both hate every second of it?
And then the question I never say out loud but know deep down is the root behind my madness:
What if I get hurt?
Now, that is the real question that’s stopped me from hopping on a train and onto dating. The idea of being hurt, caught off-guard, and vulnerable… that has always been the legitimate excuse in my book to back out of any date with a sudden fever or an urgent last minute office meeting 2.5 hours before we’re supposed to meet up.
Oh, it’s terrible. I know. If the equation were reversed and I was one of these guys who were getting ghosted by me, I’d be pretty pissed too. I know I’m in the wrong here. And the more this kept happening, the more I realized, maybe it’s time to face what’s actually going on.
For the longest time, I was convinced that I went through this annoyingly vicious cycle of canceling on first dates and settling for less, because I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I had a fear of committing. After all, I’m one who can’t even commit to an outfit. So, how could I possibly commit to a person?! I’m a hopeless romantic, but what’s problematic here is that while I am secretly pro lovey-dovey, team #mcms, I’ve never really fallen in love before. I have never had someone willingly stand beside me and all the chaos that would be committing to someone like me, and, in knowing that, I realized that’s the issue here.
Barely anyone in my life has survived the calm after the storm that I am and everything that comes along with me because I have never really given anyone a chance. I’m starting to see that it’s not a fear of committing that has stopped me from opening up to people and going on dates. No, it was my fear of someone knowing me, all of me, and then later changing their mind.
So it’s not that I have a fear of commitment; I have a fear of rejection.
A few years ago, there was this guy who knew me to a T. It was incredible and terrifying all at once. We could be at a party, and he would’ve known the exact moment I would be over dancing and wanting to leave. He read my mannerisms better than I could. My body language was like text in a children’s book for him. He got me so well to the point of revealing to me all my flaws. The flaws that made him run away; the flaws I’m so scared are going to stop someone else from sticking around too.
That is what stops me from going on these first dates. Not the idea of finding someone to commit to, but meeting someone who could get to know me and my whole package filled with my brightest of dreams and my darkest of fears and think… nah, no thanks.
I want to clarify that I do not blame this one particular guy for my irrational fears of letting someone get to know me and allowing myself to open up to people. But, he was one of the closest things I have ever had to a relationship. So, I think that’s what scared me. Not him as a person, but what happened with him.
When relationships go awry and fall apart, the one guaranteed consolation is that eventually time tells us why things went wrong. But this is where I personally take it too far.
Once I can find the tangible reasons why x, y, and z didn’t work out, why it didn’t work out with yet another guy, I hold onto these conclusions for dear life. I tell myself, if I can hold onto all these things that went wrong with everyone else, no one else will have to know that side of me. No one else will have a reason to see me like that. No one else will think, nah, no thanks.
But I’m trying to learn that as corny as it is, maybe that one side of me I try so hard to hide, which in this case is the side that means knowing me entirely, maybe that’s exactly what it will take for someone to want to be with me. Maybe those flaws that were once revealed in spite of me, will be exactly why someone wants to stick around and survive the calm after the storm that is me and the roller coaster of a person I am.
I guess all this time I thought I’d be OK—happy—as long as I could keep these guys at a particular distance. You know, they could meet the line of knowing how I drink coffee as if my life depends on it and how I like to dress up because that’s just me, and how I love pugs that wear outfits. If a guy knew me to that extent, then that’s solid.
But if I met someone who eventually got to know me better than I know myself? Which, apparently is possible…? No. I just can’t have that.
So, you see, this isn’t a fear of commitment. It’s a fear of allowing someone to get to know you out of being scared that who you really are won’t be enough.
Although I haven’t met someone who thinks I’m enough, I like to think I will someday. Maybe he will even think I’m more than enough during the times I especially don’t. No, this isn’t someone I’m going to sit around and wait for. But I also need to stop telling myself this person doesn’t exist either.
There will be someone that will think I’m more than enough. He will want all the craziness that comes with me.
But relationships are a two-way street. I can’t expect to have a relationship if I keep the one I have with myself on lock and key. I can’t expect a stork to deliver a long-term boyfriend on my front door step if I can’t even tell him more than my first name. I just have to let him get to know me. And hey, maybe the guy who’s worth conquering that fear of getting to know me won’t make that task feel so daunting anymore. Maybe he’ll like coffee, the way I dress up, and pugs who wear outfits, too. Or, maybe he’ll just want to be with me simply because he’ll know why I am sooo much more than that.