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Episode 231: Adventures in Dating an Avoidant (Part 2)


Last week we went there. I shared the beauty and the pain of dating someone so close to being 'it' it hurts, only to have it come crashing down. 

I went deep into the highs of infatuation, connection, and wild chemistry, and the deep lows of dating an emotionally unavailable, avoidant attached partner. 

If you missed it, I strongly recommend clicking here to get the back story, a crash course in attachment theory, and the first 5 lessons I took away from this dating experience before jumping straight into today's episode where I continue digging into what I learned over the last couple of months.

6. If someone is interested in you you'll know, if they aren't you'll be confused.

If you listened to last week's episode you know there were a lot of mixed signals with Gym Crush. When we were together it felt like we were in such deep alignment, I've never felt so close with someone so fast, but when we were apart it was like I was dating an entirely different human - someone aloof and uninterested.

About 2 months into dating I got horribly sick with food poisoning and wanting some comfort from the man I was with, I texted him hoping he would save me from my boredom and misery with a little conversation. He ignored the text. At that point I knew it was time for a more in depth conversation and some clarity around where we stood. 

I told him when we sat down that I wanted to do a check in to see if we were on the same page about what we were looking for and about each other. 

He knew this conversation was coming, he even filled in some of the gaps of behavior I didn't even bring up. He told me he knew he needed to get better at communicating, he knew he needed to call, he knew he wasn't prioritizing enough time, he knew his behavior wasn't matching how he felt about me. 

I told him at that point that while I didn't need a title yet, I needed to know what category I fell in for him. Was I a casual gym crush fling, or was there potential here. 

While he landed on, 'you're not casual to me, I want to see where this goes' his initial response spoke volumes. He said, "I don't know how my answer to that affects our day-to-day." 

And suddenly, all the confusion I was feeling made sense. This man thought that it was perfectly fine to treat someone he was potentially serious about the way he would a casual fling. 

It was at that moment I had the heart wrenching realization that this likely wasn't going anywhere. 

The point is this, regardless of the reason - be it immaturity, their own lack of clarity around what they want, intentional manipulation, or their lack of clarity around what they want with you - if someone's actions are showing you a reality that's different from their words, always base your investment on their actions. 

Someone can want to be better, can want to change, can want to show you they care, but unless they translate that desire into behavior it's irrelevant. Never let their intentions overshadow your experience. 

Because at the end of the day when someone is all in, even if they have issues to work out (we all do), they will do everything in their power to make sure you know it and they will do everything in their power to make sure they don't lose you. 

7. Clean up your side of the street and communicate clearly. (But also, you shouldn't have to communicate that much in early dating.)

What I am most proud of through this whole experience is how consistent, clear, and calm I was in my communication. For a recovering people-pleaser and for someone who historically gets massive anxiety when it comes to conflict (particularly with romantic partners), this was a huge deal for me. 

I spent nearly a decade with a narcissist who would turn every argument around on me. He would twist my words and gaslight every experience I had. Our fights lasted for hours and I always ended up being the one apologizing at the end. 

So when I expressed (in a light hearted but very frank way) that I wanted more communication from Gym Crush between dates, when he asked me to come over to his place and I responded by saying, "I really don't want to skip the dating part of dating, let's find something fun to do!", when I brought up the mixed signals conversation and called him on his shitty behavior when I was sick... that was a version of myself that I have never experienced and I am so grateful to have become her. 

With that said, I should never have had to communicate that much in the first 2 months of dating. Early dating is when everyone is on their best behavior. It should be filled with fun, and flirting, and joy, and excitement. Not anxiety and conflict resolution. 

8. Don't base being with someone on how much you like them, base it on how they make you feel. 

This was a major lesson that I am totally stealing from Matthew Hussey. If I based my choices about Gym Crush on how I felt about him, I would've married the dude. I have an open heart and a huge capacity for love. Also being a coach, it's easy for me to remove myself from the situation and give a lot of grace and understanding to people which can make me stay in things I shouldn't. 

So switching my focus from how felt about him to how he made me feel gave me a lot of clarity. I didn't feel good majority of the time we were together. In person, sure. But apart I was in my head, anxious, unsatisfied, and lonely. And let me tell you, the only the worse than feeling lonely when you're single is feeling lonely when you're in relationship with someone. 

9. Chemistry and connection do not necessarily mean you're compatible. 

This is one I'm still struggling with, frankly. And I have to remind myself constantly that just because Gym Crush lit my world on fire with his kisses, his touches, the way he looked at me, and simply with his presence in the same room does not make him my soulmate. 

Chemistry is a bitch. It's hard to come by (in 4 years of dating I've only experienced good chemistry with maybe 3 people), so when we get a taste of it we want to hold onto it for dear life. It can feel like we're never going to catch that lightning in a bottle again. 

But as my therapist said, "Chemistry can be recreated." It's out there, and I am hell bent on finding someone I have fire chemistry with who also knows how to treat me, who wants the same things I want, and who makes me feel cherished and loved instead of anxious and uncertain.

10. Rejection is protection. 

Every time I've lost someone I thought might be it I was faced with this horrible angst. The thoughts that flooded my brain were, "I'm never going to be this attracted to someone again" "I'm never going to get hit on again" "I'm never going to find someone I have this much fun with again". 

But it's funny, every time I meet someone knew I immediately think, "Thank GOD that didn't work out, this is so much better!"

My girl friend always says, "If not this, then better." And that mantra has kept my sanity in tact through this loss. 

11. You can't lose what's meant to be yours. 

 I will say - and this shows how much my therapist has helped me over the last 4 years - this is the first time in my life that I'm not walking away from a potential partner thinking, "What could I have done differently to make them stay, to make it work, to change the outcome?"

I'm proud of how I showed up and who I am. And I know in my heart that if I lost Gym Crush it's because I was never meant to keep him. 

Here are a couple quotes that have helped me solidify this in my brain:

"The universe will never give you peace in something you were never meant to settle in." -Lewis Howes

"May you be released from wanting things that aren't meant for you." -We The Urban 

So there you have it. Despite its short duration, this may have been one of the most transformative, evolution-inducing, heart-wrenching 'breakups' I've ever gone through. And while the pain sometimes feels unbearable, I wouldn't trade it. 

I remember telling my friend a while back that I wanted to be in a relationship again because I knew it would trigger the fuck out of me (all relationships do), and it would bring to the surface the parts of me that still needed healing. And damn I was right.

Growth is usually not fun. It's messy, it's sad, it's hard, it's painful, and it is wildly uncomfortable. But that's the cost of entry for becoming the version of ourselves we were put on this planet to be. 

Some will bury their head in the sand and shy away from this process because it feels easier. But staying stuck in a past version of ourselves that we were meant to move on from, that's its own kind of torture. 

So if you take nothing else from the past two episodes... do the work. Because if you don't deal with your traumas, your loved ones will have to. 



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