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The Race to Relationship

January 16, 2010
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Disclaimer: I’ve been working on this post since the week before Christmas. (PROOF) I am having a REALLY hard time getting my thoughts and feelings about the subject out, into public without feeling like I’m being too needy, too sad, too emo, or too closed off.  The thing is, however, that I have constantly reminded my readers that THS is a place for genuine honesty and that I will provide as honest as a look into my life as I can, especially when I am struggling with any sort of truth in my life- and this seems to be one of these times. I’ve opened up this draft no less than a dozen times in hope to finish up and post.  Today, Saturday, January 16, I am determined to have it post before midnight.  I am feeling more vulnerable in posting this than any other blog post previous. All that being said, please forgive my wordy ramblings and enjoy a possible look into the patheticness that is my mind as I am still, clearly, recovering from a broken heart.  [and feel free to chime in on the following: when will that end?]

 

On your mark. Get set. Go.


Several weeks ago, I sent out a call to twitter- “What is the difference, if any, between having a crush/being attracted to/being interested in someone?”

A few of the responses that came back:

Fancynewjulie – I think of crushes as just for fun. The other two I think of as more serious.

Lowfatkat – being attracted to < being interested in < having a crush on. Each is more involved than the other, IMHO.

Stepfanie – crushes are loftier goals, one that will most likely remain unrequiered.

I think I agree with Julie and Stepfanie, in the thought that a crush is the less serious of the ideas of attraction. To me, there are several different “stages” of attraction, and it usually starts in one of two ways- either finding someone attractive instantly or developing attraction.

When I first meet a guy, I may find him attractive. This usually includes thinking he’s “dreamy” or comparing his outward appearance to some sort of television star much older than myself [read: Rob Lowe, John Stamos, etc] I don’t know much about him, and I may not care to- finding someone attractive does not mean that I want to a) Marry him and have his babies b) stalk him on facebook for the next several weeks or c) ever see him again. It simply means I find him good looking. (and maybe even really, really, ridiculously good looking a la Derek Zoolander)

rob-lowejohn-stamos-20080116-364050derek_zoolander 

Finding someone I just met physically attractive is a little bit like sizing up the competition before the race starts – you take a look around at the way other people are warming up, stretching and becoming prepared. Some racers stand out to you. They look ultra-prepared, ultra-fast, or ultra-buff. [sometimes they look ultra-attractive, too 😉 ] When I ran my first 5k, I sought people who ran a similar pace to mine to start the race with, but I definitely had my eye on a few people who had a faster pace than mine, and who lined up ahead of me- these are my race crushes. People I want to run next too, but don’t actually think that’s going to happen- because in reality, I can not run a 5K in 25 minutes [not yet, anyway]. So I have a little crush on these runners, who usually line up near the front of the pack, and I may even giggle thinking about how funny it would be if I try to keep up with them for the entire 3.1 miles.

My personal idea of having a crush is a guy who I find unattainable in one form or another. I crush on guys who are out of my league or whom I don’t see any future with (sometimes this is because he is a married, 40-something film star, but I digress 😉 ) , or a guy I really don’t know much about but still relate to Mandy Moore (or Rachel on Glee) singing “It’s Just a Little Crush”. I often refer to celebrity crushes, or people who I admire from afar as my “biggest little crush” or my “celebrity boyfriend Kevin Connolly”. (don’t tell me you wouldn’t love a guy like E, in your life 😉 )

kevin-connolly

As Stepfanie reminded me several weeks ago, sometimes crushes can become more. [I’m still holding out on character-crushes to become more- hello, Sam Seaborn 😉 ] Sometimes a crush morphs into being attracted to someone. When I become “attracted to” a guy, I find myself wanting to spend more time with him. I want to know more about him, and it’s a bit like a game of detective. The great search of “who IS this guy?” Is he kind? Is he relatable? Do I find him completely annoying? Am I kidding myself? Did I like him better when I didn’t hear his “I’m a bully and I’m proud of it” story? The attraction starts to really form after I find out we have a few things in common, or note how brilliant yet humble he is, or he makes me laugh six days straight. I know I’m attracted to someone when I find excuses to be around this person, and start the common debate of “do I even have a chance or should I just run away and save myself any kind of future pain?”

But sometimes, developing attraction occurs when you are already invested in a friendship with someone. This is how it happened with the former fiancé- we were best friends first, and overtime attraction naturally developed. After spending a lot of time together, I started seeing him differently than I had when I first met him. I already knew he had a kind heart and a terrific personality, but he started to become more physically attractive to me.

It’s like running along next to people in your pace-group and suddenly, halfway in, a runner you were using to pace yourself shows an extra kick – strength in his running form, negative splits, doing cartwheels down the hill, etc. Somehow he has impressed you and you find yourself questioning your initial judgment.

When developing attraction moves on to the next step, in my personal experience, it tends to skip “crush-status” and heads straight to “being attracted to”. Even more so, developing attraction seems to sprint down to the final question, “do I have a chance or should I run?” Basically, is it worth it to harvest these feelings, water them and feed them and coddle them and nurture them, and possibly ruin an entire crop of friendship and contentment and support, not to mention invite vulnerability and possible rejection into the field? And this can be terrifying and exciting all at the same time.

This part of the race is similar to the first mental wall you may find yourself subject to during a race. You find yourself having a debate with yourself in your head. You want to walk, you want to finish, you are determined and motivated, you are tired and want to quit, are you going to make it under your goal time, should you run faster to get it over with, should you slow your pace down to save energy for the finish, is it worth it at all?

Hopefully you continue on, because finishing, even slower than you wanted to or planned on, is worth it. [it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, anyone?]

After finding someone attractive comes being interested in someone. For me, being interested in someone means pursuing, or wanting him to pursue, “more than friends” status. I start to care a bit more about how presentable I am in his presence. I find myself giggling and smiling when I’m around him. And every so often, I catch myself trying to flirt. (This is a dangerous place for me to tread, as I’m not very good at flirting- it comes out more like awkward embarrassment.)

Being interested is the last leg of the race to relationship. You see the finish line in front of you and you start putting in everything you’ve got. You sprint as fast as you can. You lay it all on the line. You are full speed ahead and do everything you can to cross that finish line.


Then Heather Said, “EEK!”

The thing with the race to relationship these days, is that I am terrified. I am avoiding lacing up my sneakers. I am avoiding scheduling training runs. I am avoiding pinning that number to my shirt. All because I am scared out of my mind.

Remember that one time I thought I found the person I was meant to be with, found a dress, planned a big ceremony and party, attended my bachelorette party and then got the rug pulled out from under me?  Like I said, terrified. For a variety of reasons. 

First of all, I have no clue what I’m doing.  I’ve never actually played any sort of dating “game.”  I’ve been on one real date ever in my entire life, and it was 7 years ago. [it was a blind date. it went poorly  awkwardly fine.] I dated two guys in high school, and kind-of dated two guys during college with whom I worked with, and then there was my former fiancé, whom I met while working in youth ministry.  And that relationship lasted forever. well, almost.

I think often about the amount of time that should pass between the broken engagement and my first step into the dating world.  Is it too soon for me to want to go out? Is it too soon for me to want to move on? Is it too soon for me to be a little bit flirty with a customer at the store, ask my co-worker to set me up on a date, or contemplate signing up for match.com with every commercial? [just kidding. kind of. ish.]
Is it too soon in societies standards, in his standards, in my standards, in my parents’ standards, in my hearts readiness?  How long should I wait?

I’m afraid of what it will feel like to be dating someone other than my former fiancé.  I know it will be exciting and new and butterflies will carry me away.  But I fear that I will constantly be comparing every man to him, and us, and where things went wrong.  What to look for and what to avoid.  What I loved about us and what I know should have warned me early on.  I am anxious, not eager, for the “first kiss since.” Trying to figure out how our hands fit together and learning what a whole new person prefers in his coffee, on the radio, and when he is stressed.   

Even more so, however, I am fearful that I may never get such a chance.  I’ve mentioned this before, and I know it sounds stupid.  I know that if any one of my friends said this about themselves I would come back at them with an hour long lecture of how untrue it is.  And I know that the “right guy” won’t care.  But as I’ve said before;

Sometimes I feel that any time I meet a nice boy, he will find out that I had been engaged before and run away because I am “damaged”.

Last night I worked at my part time retail job at the mall.  My store manager, who I was working with, didn’t know about the broken engagement until last night.  When he found out, my greatest fears manifested into truths.   After repeating, “Wow. Five years? Wow.” for almost half an hour [oh, yeah, keep saying it.  if you say it enough it seems shorter. Riiiiiight] and continuing to tell me he couldn’t believe what had happened to me, we started talking about my “getting back into the game.”  I mentioned that I was intimidated because I didn’t know how to “get back into the game” and he told me not to ever tell a guy that I was engaged.  He assured me it was a deal breaker.  He told me, more than once, “just don’t tell them for a while.”

Now, you should know I adore my store manager.  Please, do not get angry with him.  He’s very Jack Berger.  He’s not going to lie to me to protect my feelings, he’s going to tell me what other guys are afraid to say.  he’s going to tell me what they would say if I wasn’t in the room.  This conversation is the equivalent to the conversation between Berger and Miranda; the ever popular phrase turned book turned movie that crushed my soul (but more on THAT later).  “Just don’t tell them” is my own taste of  “He’s just not that into you.” 

I’m wearing my personal scarlet letter.  Because I said yes. Because I moved. Because I found a dress, and wore a bachelorette tiara doing shots with my ladies, and sent out invitations. Because I planned to my hearts content. Because he said he couldn’t.  I’ve been punctured and the healing, no matter how quickly it comes, will never come fast enough or deep enough, to erase the scar that has been left behind.

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s not that big of a deal. Being engaged previously and a broken engagement is not that big of a deal.  My future boyfriend will not think it’s that big of a deal, right? I shouldn’t worry.  It’s just a part of my past, not a part of  my future.  But if it’s truly not that big of deal, then why would it make such a difference if I did or didn’t tell someone I was dating.  If your significant other told you tonight, that he/she was engaged before and didn’t tell you until now, it would be a big deal to you.  [more than likely.] 

There is no answer to how soon I should open up about this ugly cloud hanging over my past.  There is no guide book for long I should wait when I meet someone before I tell him that this happened.  [anyone want to pen, “getting back in the dating game for dummies”?] If I do as he suggested, and don’t tell this hypothetical future love interest “for a while”, there is likely to be some sort of talk of “keeping secrets” and “being dishonest.” But if I lead every possible relationship with “by the way, I was engaged once”…well, come on- you know that if this was a movie I would be pathetic girl.

The fact is the past does affect my future.  Sometimes I’m so mad at myself for trusting him when he got down on one knee and said he meant forever.  I blame myself.  I tell myself I should have known better. I shouldn’t have let myself be in this position.  I should have never said yes. That’s what I say, SOMETIMES. Other times I remember that yes, the past does affect my future, and in more ways than one, of course.  I’ve mentioned before that I believe everything, including engagement/cross country move/break up, happens for a reason. [read Proverbs 16:9]

So, like I said. I know I shouldn’t be fearful of these things, but sometimes I am.  Sometimes I over-think things [an old friend once assure me that my brain was not a battlefield, but instead, a demolition] and I worry and I try to figure out every possible situation and avenue I should take so that when the time comes, I am prepared. [yes, I realize that I am not in control, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still fail at trusting God and moving forward.]

So, when I find myself starting feeling attracted to someone, more than just finding someone good looking, but actually desiring to be around this person more, I may or may  not panic. [I’ll leave it up to you to guess if I do indeed panic or not ;)]

As Lisa is to Screech

I’ve been twittering a bit lately about my new “crush.”  There was actually a twitter survey taken earlier this week about whether or not I should blog about this crush.  Good points were made by several people.  Here is my decision.

When it comes to the blog and break up, I tend to talk a lot more about me, my feelings, and my dealings with all things broken engagement.  I try very hard to stay away from sharing too much about my former fiancé, his feelings, his life, and his dealings with all things broken engagement.  I’ve tried pretty hard to keep his name off the blog.  I’ve tried pretty hard not to bad mouth him (because he truly is a great guy.) and keep things in perspective.  (for example: he did the right thing by calling off the wedding. broken engagement = easier than divorce. There is a future Mrs. Former Fiancé out there somewhere, and it is not her fault that I am not Mrs. Former Fiancé. I try to remind myself of this every week.  I do not want to one day hear that he is with someone new and suddenly become a jealous-ex.  I refuse to be that silly.) 

I guess it’s only right that when it comes to the blog and my new crush, I talk a lot more about me, my feelings and my dealings with all things crush-like.  For example – I tend to make a fool out of myself often in front of him.  I don’t think there is really ever going to be the possibility of a future for us together, for a variety of reasons that don’t need to be publicized here, but that’s okay. 

Because this is a milestone. I have a crush. My first [real/non-celebrity based] crush in several, SEVERAL years.  My first crush since. Knowing that I have no realistic future with said crush [for reasons that shall remain undisclosed] I have an opportunity to use this as a training field.

I found someone physically attractive and got to know him a bit better to know that I was, indeed attracted to his personality too. 
I see this man several times a week.
I am often awkward and clumsy in this mans presence. [would you expect anything less, really?]
I have no idea how to be friends with this man now that I have admitted to myself, and twitter, [and now you, dear reader] that I have a crush.
I have the reactions of a 13 year old girl; blushing, giggling, walking into walls, wanting to tell all my [blogger] friends about each and every conversation I stumble through with him. Just please STOP ME before the “do you like me” note.

Julie and I talked about it earlier this week.  I have no idea how to flirt.  Especially as a 26 year old.  [I may be able to pull of the flirting genius of a 12 year old though.] With this crush, I can learn to flirt. I NEED LESSONS, of course. [and not from Greys, as stated Thursday.]

This week, I forced myself to approach him and have a conversation try desperately not to lose my cookies as I stuttered my way through words that almost made sense together.    Not because I am in the “interested in him” stage.  Not because I want him to ask for my number, or take me to dinner, or give me his letterman. [ahem]. But because it’s 2010 and I am facing fears! [and honestly, I have to get through this “first active crush” at one point or another] And although there was some awkward silence, and lack of interesting conversation, I got through it, and I walked away standing a little bit taller.  [and perhaps my cheeks were a little more rosey]. 

It looks as though I’ve signed up for the race.  I sent in my form and wrote out my training schedule and completed a short, easy run this week. [talking to an attractive man]  I’m choosing to look forward to the long training runs ahead, no matter how long they take to appear in my life or with whom, rather than dread them. [flirting, and dates, and first kiss since.] If I fill my mind, and heart, with positive thoughts about the experiences and opportunities to come, there will be no room for the negative, no room for the fear. I’ll be moving forward at my own pace, and in my own time, and in my own ways. [that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear your suggestions and comments]  I will make my way towards the finish line, one day at a time. 

It’s the only way.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2010 11:05 pm

    You are singing my song. Nearly every note.

    When my relationship with the ex ended I was on the cusp of turning 25. We had been together for 8.5 years. I had never been on a date with anyone else. Never kissed anyone else. Never dreamed I’d be with anyone else. I thought it was forever.

    I was hurt. Broken really. In retrospect I know I mourned not so much for the break-up but for the future I thought we would have.

    All of a sudden I was an adult and didn’t know how the whole dating thing game. And I was so insecure. My ex spent most of that time trying to push me away and I didn’t think I was worth it. I had a flight instinct like you wouldn’t believe.

    I didn’t know how long it would take to feel whole again.

    While I waited to be whole I started working out, ate healthfully, went out with my friends, and generally enjoyed life. It was some time later that I decided I was almost ready. And yes my first step was to sign up for an online dating site (don’t tell my parents :P). I didn’t want to go out with anyone yet but I did want to put myself out there. A short time later I had my first crush. Oh that glorious feeling!!

    Some four or five months after signing up for the site I went on my first couple of dates. Nothing came out of them but they weren’t disasters. In fact I wrote a thank-you letter to the first date guy. Explained that it was my first date after a long relationship and thanked him for making it so nice.

    A couple of weeks later I met my now fiance. I was ready then. Ready to be with someone. But I did it on my own terms and on my own time.

    Then came the fear of telling him – that I (a full grown adult) had only dated one person for a period of time longer than a lot of marriages. I got over that fear. And on that first weekend I told him. I played it like an open book. And in return he told me everything about himself.

    Take your time. Make your own timeline. Enjoy the loveliness of that first crush. And know that the time will come when you will be ready.

    There is a forever for you out there Heather. I believe that to my very core.

  2. January 17, 2010 1:15 pm

    “If I fill my mind, and heart, with positive thoughts about the experiences and opportunities to come, there will be no room for the negative, no room for the fear. ”

    Sounds like you’ve got your head in the right place. This is the time take care of #1 – YOU! I tried doing this after breaking up with my ex-fiance, and it really helped. Take care of yourself hunnie. 🙂

  3. January 17, 2010 3:10 pm

    I think you need a night out on the town where you have to flirt with 10 guys, and just flirt and smile and laugh. Flirting doesn’t have to be intentional or hard it can just be a sexy smile or a cute laugh or event a second gaze to a good looking stranger.

  4. abbynormally permalink
    January 17, 2010 5:06 pm

    I think it’s so easy to settle… like it a race, we stop, or we walk because we think we can’t get what we wanted, or we’ve set our goals to high. It’s the same in relationships. So many girls think they will never get their superman, so they settle for someone (dont get me wrong, I’m not saying you did, just that I know some girls who do), but then a lot of them are heart broken, and so they have trouble moving on, fearing that it will happen again! You are so right that it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. There is so much to learn from these experiences! So much to learn about who we are the person we need to look for. God’s good to us by letting us experience these things. We learn so much about God’s character too.
    This reminded of my a C.S. Lewis quote:
    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
    Also, 2 Timothy 4:7
    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

    I love you, friend, keep running!

  5. January 17, 2010 6:36 pm

    I read every single word to this post. Twice.

    It’s a bit odd for me, as the girl who is in the opposite – yet so damn similar – place that you are now.

    I’m the one incapable of loving him forever. I’m the one who damages. I’m the one who walked away when I’d promised forever. I’m the one who messed him over. I’m the one…

    You see?? I struggle with a very similar scarlet letter dear. How DO you be honest about something like this? “I’m supposed to be planning a wedding but instead I’m trying to get you to kiss me.”

    I’ve gone with total honesty at this point however; that’s been aided by alcohol. See also: the boys I like while I’m drunk are the ones who don’t call me when I’m sober. End point: please, don’t take my advice on that one.

    I made this my fb status:
    If I fill my mind, and heart, with positive thoughts about the experiences and opportunities to come, there will be no room for the negative, no room for the fear.

    Because I’m so damn afraid. That I’m incapable of loving someone more than myself for an extended period of time. That no one will want me. That Kurt, from last night– the guy I spent the entire night up with, who held me for ten minutes [standing up, clothes on!] before being able to say goodbye, who bared his soul and I in turn to him, who promised he’d call when I left work at 5 yesterday [and hasn’t done anything more than accept my friend request] won’t call, won’t want me. I’m afraid that I’m damaged goods.

    Despite all of it I have this idealistic hope that the person I’m going to be with won’t care about my damage. Who will want me despite of it. Who will see my being able to walk away as an asset, not a flaw.

    Or, in your case, think that the one who walked away made the worst mistake of his life. But allowed the best thing possible to happen in Mr New Guy’s life.

  6. January 18, 2010 2:03 pm

    Ok, first of all, bravo. I am so so proud of you for posting this. I know how hard it can be to talk about the feelings you would rather keep hidden.

    Now as far as the “how long should you wait” question, it really just depends.

    John and I were together, on and off, for almost 3 years. We were engaged and I had the whole thing planned out, but realized it wasn’t what I wanted or what was best for us. Having to tell him that, and seeing myself break someones heart, was terrible. Now, having said that, the type of closure I had to get was realizing that I didn’t completely break him, just his idea of him and I. Once I realized that we really weren’t supposed to be together I was able to start picturing myself with other people, which I thought I was doing successfully. It seemed like as soon as I tried, I would run into him, and all of those feelings came back. It wasn’t until last week when I ran into him that I knew I had gotten closure. I have been talking with this guy I like, who was a friend of mine a while back, and we just recently randomly started chatting it up.

    Moral: When is it socially acceptable for you to have another crush? Immeadiately after any break up. Hell, crushes are acceptable during relationships (famous ones, but still). When is it “okay” to be attracted to someone? Whenever you are comfortable making your crush a reality. And finally, when are you allowed to feel things for someone else you never knew you could feel before? When you have closure.

    To quote Rachel Karen Green: “I’m over you. I am over you. And that my friends is what the call closure.”

    It’s not going to be easy to get it, but you will. Once you build up your self esteem enough to know that you will be just fine alone you will stop looking for him. And when you stop looking for him, he’ll be there. And until he is, He is always there. 🙂

    “Wherever you are, whenever it’s right, you’ll come out of nowhere and into my life.” -Michael Buble’, Just Haven’t Met You Yet
    My 2010 anthem.

  7. August 7, 2010 6:12 pm

    This hits so close to me even though I’m married. I was you at age 20. A guy I had met at age 17 reconnected with me at age 19 and proposed later that year. He broke it off when I wanted to finish school before moving and then getting married. I mourned that relationship for so long. I felt like it was my fault. If I had just moved we would have been together.

    It took me 4 years to get back into the game. I wasn’t comfortable as me until then. I flirted with a guy who showed interest in me my first week of seminary and we flirted casually and spent time together for two weeks. It made me realize I wasn’t as damaged as I thought. Yes it affected me and future relationships (including the one with Hunni). But it was something that made me stronger and was part of who I was. You can’t deny the past but you can move onto the future.

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