Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dating Changes Things

I went on a sweet hike with my friend, Eduardo, today. Okay, his name isn't actually Eduardo... but it'll do for now. His name isn't really the point of the blog.

The hike was great. Challenging...lots of uphills with some good spots for bouldering our way to the top. At one point he was off in man-land (you know, where he gets distracted with different routes and cooler paths to take, barely aware of my existence) while I was sticking strictly to the trail marked by white arrows.

I stood, close to the top of the peak, watching him at a distance shimmy up cracks and rocks debating on whether or not I should be annoyed that he had just ditched me without uttering a word. I decided I didn't care at all and kept going along my merry way.

That's when it hit me: If we were dating, I would probably be so frustrated.

Frustrated, or get my feelings hurt that he (a) hadn't told me he was going a different route, or (b) that he even wanted to take a way that didn't include me. Because, when you're dating... there's all these crazy expectations that form and suddenly a fun hike has potential to turn into a disaster of misunderstandings and arguments often backed by selfishness.

The more I pondered it, the more I realized how ridiculous it was. Ridiculous that I could go hang out with my friend Eduardo and not care if he ditched me for a few minutes to take his own adventure and not care if he said stupid things or burped or poked fun at me occasionally...but if we had been dating, the entire day might have gone differently because of how upset I may have been.

So I don't know if this is just a 'me' thing, or if this is actually a 'girl' thing... but I think I've talked to enough girls to know that most of the time when I encounter a 'me' thing, there's usually at least a handful of other girls who also deal with the same type of stuff. When I start dating someone, something changes in the relationship to cause expectations to rise. When I start dating someone, I'm suddenly c.r.a.z.y. about things I would have normally not cared about.

I don't want to be that girl.
I imagine that none of us want to be that girl.
So how do we not be that girl?
How do we remain the cool girl that can remain independent, carefree, able to laugh at dumb jokes, not care about burping, and poke fun back without letting it attack the security of the relationship?
How do we not let expectations ruin us and our relationships as we find ourselves transforming into wretched women we barely recognize who are controlling, worried, and insecure?
How do we be women who are supportive of our men's adventurous sides, their goofy personalities, their humanness (which are probably actually things that attracted us to them in the beginning...)?

I don't know.
Honestly, I don't.
But, I think there's something to being aware of being aware of your tendencies to hold your significant other to an impossibly high standard that he'll never measure up to. It may also be wise for you to have other women in your life who can help you maintain a healthy perspective of your relationship.

Because you should be able to really enjoy those types of things with your man. You should be able to enjoy an intense hike, allow him to wander off and do his own thing for a bit without it ever affecting you or making you feel insecure about your relationship or that he's not doing something he's 'supposed' to do. He should be able to go crazy in the wild!

We have to drop our expectations, especially when it comes to ridiculous things like this.

I was telling Eduardo about my realization in the car on the way back and as we talked about it, he said, 'You're onto something. You should really remember this for when you're in a relationship again.'

And he's right.
I should.
I need to.
I must.

Because I want to be able to take fun hikes, and do crazy things, and let my man be exactly who he is without me getting in the way. Without silly, unrealistic expectations....without my own fears and insecurities and selfishness interfering. I want to be able to encourage him to go off and do the very same things he would do if I wasn't there. I don't want him being with me to change that. I want to be confident in who we are and how he feels about me.

So for all you ladies who are currently in relationships and struggling with this... I'd really encourage and challenge you to have fun again. To try and erase the expectations that set both of you up to fail. To erase the unrealistic standards that you have for him. This is where it may help for you to talk through these things with someone else. And, before you bring up frustrations or hurt feelings with him, filter through it all and see what is valid and what is not. Are you stifling who he is by demanding that he do everything a certain way (your way, most likely)? Are you allowing him the freedom to be a man who loves adventure and taking risks and burping and being goofy (or whatever other things that make him who he is, whatever other things he is passionate about and good at)?

Sometimes the fun gets sucked out of relationships because we are so intent on making our relationships look a certain way instead of letting them just be what they are: two imperfect people joining forces as they learn how to love each other in the midst of their own junk. It's hard. But it doesn't need to be miserable. And every relationship is going to look different--you can't compare!

Let him be himself...
And find yourself as you explore your own trails and take your own adventures without him constantly by your side (and without fuming about the fact that he's not by your side).

Be friends. Friends who don't have to care about all those little things and can just truly enjoy a day out in creation together.

(And yes, you can remind me of all of this if I'm ever in a relationship again...because, I'm sure I'll need it).

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