I really thought this guy was it – his smile, the way he thought about things, and his crazy sense of humor all touched my heart in a way that left me shaking my head.
There was just one problem. He had a girlfriend in another state.
Yet, the desire to see and talk with each other was a mutual one, and so, over the course of a month, we met on weekends within a group of friends – new ones to me, old to him.
For the first two weeks, all was bliss (as is usually the case). We looked forward to our times together and conversations. By week three, however, I could feel myself becoming grabby. Insecurities wiggled up within me and thoughts about him whirled in my brain constantly. I fought to stay centered, but it never lasted for very long.
Furthermore, I noticed this new social lifestyle, though fun (something my responsible self had pulled the plug on for years!), often left me feeling more alone when I shut my bedroom door at night.
After complaining to a friend of all the ways this guy avoided commitments to anyone, she said to me, “As much as you feel he’s unavailable, a part of you likes that he is unavailable.” (This is how you know you have a good friend, they don’t support the story, they support the truth).
Her comment stopped me in my tracks. She was right, of course. I could say I wanted deeper connections with people, but how willing was I to open up to people to have them? How willing was I to expose myself to someone who could really be a potential partner? Or was it easier just to hide behind blaming and judging others so I could keep myself separate?
Anytime we have one finger pointing at someone, three are pointing back at us. Who was the one really afraid of commitment?
While a part of me felt excited connecting to others in this fun, party atmosphere, including with this man, another part was looking for a filler – an easy, safe way of bonding that didn’t require giving too much of myself away. Trying to satisfy my need for connection, I settled for playing the role of confidante. And though I loved hearing and learning about people’s insides, it was an easy way for me to stay on the outside.
Instead of risking, I settled for comfortable because “comfortable” meant I could avoid depending on anyone. Because not needing anyone meant I didn’t have to risk rejection, rejection I’d felt for the times I tried needing someone and found myself alone. Staying “comfortable” bypassed all that pain. But it also bypassed any chance for the real intimacy and love I craved.
Being unavailable didn’t make him the bad guy, it made him the safe guy. It also made him my teacher.
It takes courage to risk opening ourselves to others, exposing our soft spots, and seeing if they stay. But the alternative is feeling separate, experiencing a deep sense of loneliness, and engaging in addictive behaviors to avoid feeling the pain of all that loneliness.
What do we really want in relationships? This is the real question. It matters what we put into our souls as much as it matters what we put into our bodies. Real love grows when two people can meet each other on a level that’s safe and satisfying to both. Where either person holds back, the relationship suffers. We must become willing to risk the rejection we fear, without blame, to have the love we want.
Last night, I met up with this same crowd, and instead of changing them, I decided to change me. I began talking to one of the women whom I felt drawn to and shared with her something vulnerable about myself. Happily, she responded with an open heart.
I may not be willing to divulge my deepest, darkest secret, not should I, but for today, I am willing to risk sharing my insides with others, so love may have a chance to grow.
Be aware of where you hold yourself back from the possibility of love and connection.
“Only what you are not giving can be lacking in any situation.” – A Course in Miracles