Hey everyone, I've not posted on here for a while which I guess is a good thing as I'm doing ok out in the real world without being consumed by the affair.
I just wanted to share with you my experience in dating and lessons I've learned really and if anyone else thinking about dipping their toe into dating again can take anything from it then great!
So I started talking with an old work colleague about 2 months after separating from my WS, another 2 months on from then we actually started meeting up, just for a quick chat and a coffee sort of thing until we actually went on a proper date about 5 months post split. All of this is granted VERY soon and I was very much like a fish out of water through all this but the date actually went well, we held hands afterwards and even kissed. Then, out of the blue she called things off, purely for things going on in her own personal life but we remained friends and slowly but surely we became close again and she asked if I would like to meet up again, so I said yes!
We went on a couple of dates and things were progressing well, it was slow going but we were close, holding hands, hugging, kissing etc.
Now this is where things go off the rails a bit! With things progressing well I started experiencing a whole load of insecurities that I never experienced through the 12 years of being with my WS. This mainly manifested with anxiety and trust issues, not anything like thinking she was cheating but more like needing constant re-assurance that she was actually interested in me. Slow responses to texts or short replies would result in me feeling like she had lost interest in me. I'd obsesses over how many times she text me first compared to how many times I text her first, I would be checking when she was last online to see if she had been ignoring my texts etc. It was driving me crazy and I think I can attribute this to the lies and gas lighting from my WS where she would tell me she loved me and I had nothing to worry about when in actual fact she was cheating on me!
Anyway, this came to a head when I went away for a weekend on my own and I felt that her lack of interest in what I was doing and not checking up on me was a sure fire sign that she wasn't into me so I decided not to message at all the following day (again, obsessing over who messages who first). We went about 36 hours without any texts between us before she eventually reached out to ask if she had done anything wrong. After talking about it this kind of scared her off a bit and she called things off again, saying she didn't think she had the capacity to be in a relationship right now.
As before we agreed to be remain friends and this was going well for a while, however, I still really liked her and once again found myself obsessing over the same things as before and looking for signs that she would want to rekindle things again. I was then triggered by some meme she put on social media, something about concentrating on yourself, chasing goals and not chasing "the one". So this just set me off in a spiral thinking it was directed at me, a subtle hint that she wasn't interested.
So I thought about it over night and then composed a message to her essentially saying that I still had feelings for her, it wasn't fair on either of us that we were maintaining a friendship under false pretences and that I think it would be best that we just cut contact all together. She seemed quite upset / angry about this, that it had seemingly come out of nowhere and that she really valued having me in her life, if only as a friend for now but had hoped things could have developed into more later down the line.
I just explained that I don't think my mental state could cope with 6/12/18 months potentially of that when I knew how I felt about her now and that there would be no guarantees that anything would ever come of it so we agreed to end our friendship there and then. She has removed me off all her social media accounts now so I think it's pretty final this time.
I'm actually quite upset about this, I really liked her and do wish I was in a better mental state to have dealt with this properly as I think just being more chill and taking things slow would have seen us progress at a steady pace. I also feel guilty about upsetting her and letting her down as such by not being as strong and ready to date as I thought I was, I hate the thought of being spoken about as a "toxic male" or something similar. I think what I now have which I didn't have previously in my last relationship is an anxious attachment style, I seem to tick all the boxes!
I do think whether the problem here is solely me or if being with someone who isn't appreciative of the trauma I've been through and wouldn't be empathetic to that and make allowances for me is a contributing factor too? I really don't know.
Anyway, this has kind of put me off dating now, I think with these issues rearing their head unexpectedly it's something new to deal with and try and overcome before I can be a safe partner for someone else.
So, if I can give some feedback to anyone considering dating again I would say the following:
- Don't be afraid to do it, I had fun, it gave me a confidence boost that yes, there are people out there who will find you attractive and a viable person to date.
- Being intimate with someone else, whether that's just holding hands, hugging, kissing etc rather than full blown sex is a huge hurdle to get over after being with someone else for so long, it feels great too!
- Be mindful of any unexpected feelings / emotions and try and act rationally rather than just acting on them immediately out of impulse! Having a close friend to talk through scenarios with and ask for their advice on how to proceed would be good.
- It's ok to admit you aren't ready if you try and fail.