Tuesday, July 31, 2007

In The Dark

The problem with the whole dating thing is that, at least in the beginning, neither party knows what's going on in the other's mind. If you don't know the person from school, work, or through friends, there's no social context to ground your impressions and interpretations of the person. Instead, you have to go off of limited interactions to try to get a true sense of who the person is. Your impression of those limited interactions are further colored by your own expectations, your past personal experience, and your own set of generalizations, assumptions, and biases which all come together to create a lens through which you experience the other person.

I try to view each new person that enters my life as a chance to learn and grow, and I believe in the idea that things, people, and ideas are sent to you for reasons, such as to provide opportunities to learn certain lessons. I guess my concern is that I wonder if I've learned the lessons I was supposed to learn from past relationships, or if the universe continues to send me the same "opportunities" cloaked in different forms? I'd like to think I had learned my past lessons, had become wiser, and was no longer going to make the same mistakes, but I'm not sure about that and that uncertainty makes me nervous.

A mistake I've made in the past is to fall for unavailable men. By unavailable, I don't mean married, I mean unavailable emotionally. Men who are limited emotionally, or who simply have other priorities that take precedence over caring for someone other than themselves. Not all of the men that I've dated, nor even most of them have been like that. However, it's been a reoccurring theme that I've noticed in my past relationships that came out most starkly in my most recent one. I don't want to set myself up to become involved with another emotionally unavailable man, but I'm not sure I trust myself fully to see the signs of unavailability (especially because, try as I might to resist, I have a penchant for strong, traditionally masculine types). I certainly missed the signs in the past, so it seems possible that I could miss them again.

On the other hand, so what if I miss them? What's the worst that could happen? I could feel disappointment and hurt again, but I've already experienced that and I know I can handle it. I guess my worry goes beyond any fear of temporary disappointment or hurt; it's about being caught in a cycle and failing to progress. It's a fear of failing to learn lessons, more than a fear of the consequences of each of those failed lessons.

Unfortunately, in order to learn lessons, in order to progress, you have to take risks. Unless you give someone a chance, you don't know whether they will turn out to be unavailable or not. You don't know about their capacity for selflessness or caring. You don't know, for example, whether they've decided to be a bachelor for life and whether the time they're spending with you is destined to be nothing more than a fleeting affair...

Dating, and more specifically the uncertainty attendant to dating, is nerve-wracking. It would help things out considerably if we could read each other's souls - not minds because minds can be fickle things - but our souls because they expose our true selves. Then we could figure out before we even begin whether the risks outweigh the benefits.


Starshine said...

It seems like you'll never know until you get to know someone, so risk in an inherent part of the process. I think it is important to listen to your instincts, though, and if someone shows signs of not caring for you, disrespect, or whatever their issue is; listen to your instincts and don't stick around for any longer than necessary.

Still, we can't be paralyzed by our fears. If I wouldn't have risked getting to know eSuitor, I wouldn't have found my Husby. The cool part about dating him was that I kept waiting for those issues to surface and they never did. That's not to say that he's a perfect person. We have our conflicts, but we work through them peacefully. It's just that there were no red flags with him that had popped up in previous relationships.

gravelly said...

Garth Brooks has a great song called "The Dance"....one may be hurt eventually, but without taking a chance, one may never experience the depth of love.

InterstellarLass said...

Sadly, people don't come with warning labels or reliability ratings. It'd be nice if they did, but it's a game of chance. Measured risk-taking. Sometimes it works!

Gypsy said...

I guess the good thing about dating is that you get to know yourself pretty well, too, while you're getting to know other people.