In high school, as a teenager who just wanted to fit in, I “decided” I wanted to date a guy who had been a friend of mine for a couple years. We began “dating” after some typical high school giggly crap. Our “relationship” lasted two months. He was very sweet to me and seemed pretty excited to be dating me. I did not feel the same. He wanted to hold hands and hug in public, I did not – but I did anyway. He wanted to hold hands and hug in private. I did not – but I did anyway. Sometimes he would wrap his arm around my shoulder and it was as if there were little bolts of electricity jarring me with every touch, and I just wanted to get rid of it. I specifically remember a time when he put his hand on my right shoulder, and my skin was crawling right around each of his fingertips.
We kissed twice during our entire relationship. Neither of us really knew how to kiss, so it was very awkward. Just like everything else with our “relationship”, he enjoyed it, but I did not. I pretended as if everything was fine, for his sake. I quickly realized that it wasn’t fair of me to continue to lead him on as if I were happy being with him. I still respected and valued him as a person and a friend, but I couldn’t handle dating him. I didn’t know why at the time… All I know is I felt very messed up.
I broke up with him on or just before New Year’s Eve. Mainly because I couldn’t handle having to kiss him again, which I knew he wanted. I’ve been told I broke his heart. I never could understand how that was, considering those two months, for me, were very faked. He and I remained friends for a short while, although it was strained. He got over me, though, and very soon was dating someone else. I was truly glad for him.
This was when I was a junior in high school at the age of 17. I am now 24, and I have not dated anyone since him. I’ve had no interest in dating. I kept trying to convince myself that eventually the right person would find me, but I don’t think I’ve been truly open to the prospect of dating, and perhaps other people could sense that. In the time that has passed since when I first dated in high school, I have realized that the core reason behind the issues I had with dating was the years of abuse I suffered beginning when I was five years old. And it had made me so frustrated, because all I want is to be able to care for someone and to have someone care for me. I’ve felt, and continue to feel, as if that is an impossibility for me.
Many of my friends have recently gotten married and/or had children. I’ve never been one to be jealous of this kind of thing, because I’ve never felt lonely being a singleton. Being in therapy for years now, I have simply been learning to be comfortable with myself. I have no idea how to incorporate a significant other in that. However my thinking started to change when my two closest friends recently got engaged, and I realized that maybe I’m preventing myself from living a full life.
I’ve “tried” online dating before. They were very pathetic attempts. I talked to a few guys and even got to the point of possibly setting up a time to meet one. But I’ve chickened out every time, coming up with a lame excuse as to why I couldn’t come and then being afraid of talking to them ever again. I decided to give it another go around the beginning of December. I had a different attitude in approaching it this time. I wasn’t tying my self worth into a man’s perception of me. I didn’t care if someone suddenly quit responding to me.
I started to talk with this one particular guy, whom I’ll call J. He was kind and funny in his messages to me and seemed to be genuinely interested in what I had to say. We talked back and forth for a few weeks before we recently decided to meet up at a local coffee shop to get to know each other. As first dates go, this one wasn’t too bad. Sure, it had its awkward silences and flat conversations, but we also shared some laughs. I noticed, before, during, and after this date that I did not feel anything in regards to J. Not that I was uninterested; it was more that I convinced myself so completely not to care about him or how he feels about me that I shut everything else off as well.
Regardless, I made plans with him to go ice skating. Neither of us had ever been, and living in a mountain resort town, we both felt it was about time we learn. After a scheduling change due to weather, we went out to dinner and then went skating together, followed by some hot chocolate. There was much less awkwardness this time. Things were a bit easier, the conversation lighter, and we laughed much more freely than before. J even admitted to having skated a few days prior so that I could hold onto him as I learned. This ended up being good, as I was able to hang onto him to keep from falling. I’m not naive enough to believe that he didn’t just love that.
Later that evening, he was driving me back to my car, and I felt my nerves start to kick in. I knew what was coming next, I could tell he was expecting it, and I was terrified. I kissed a man for the first time since I was 17 years old, and I felt absolutely nothing. I pretended as if I was fine, though. He seemed very happy.
Then I got in my car and felt as if I was on the verge of a breakdown, but I couldn’t cry. I was caught between numbness and something that I can only describe as disgust. Not at him, and not exclusively around the actual kiss, but the fact that I participated in it. There was some part of me that was so astonished and disgusted at what had just happened. I drove home in complete silence, no music playing at all, because I couldn’t comprehend my reaction.
On the one hand, I was pleasantly surprised with the evening. I enjoyed my time with J and felt happy that I’m finally establishing a close relationship with someone. On the other hand, I couldn’t stand being in my own body. And both of those conflicting feelings are still stirring in me now.
He texted me later that night to make sure I got home safely in the snow, that he had a wonderful evening, and he can’t wait to see me again sometime soon. It’s a couple days later and I will be going to his house for dinner and a movie. I’m terrified again. He might think that I have more experience in relationships than I do, although I know, in earlier conversations, that I told him how little I have dated. He is a safe guy, the rational me can tell. But I’m still scared.
They have been quiet for a long time, but there are parts of me that are convinced that I am too messed up to be able to have a normal relationship with someone and that once he sees the real me, with all of my issues and flaws, he will run in the opposite direction. I almost want that so that I don’t have to deal with the sheer terror of this, but rational me knows that new things are supposed to be scary. I suppose they are just a little scarier with a history like mine.
I’m very scared about what he might be expecting from me this evening. I know I need to prepare myself to have some sort of conversation with him about expectations if things are moving too quickly for me. A part of me is convinced that will be the nail in the coffin, though, because he’ll realize just how messed up I am.
It’s times like these that I truly hate my father for what he’s done to me, making me incapable of having a relationship, just like he predicted. Maybe I can prove him wrong.