But I don’t want to date

Editor’s Note: This post was written a long time ago. Basically, a lifetime ago. If you count December 2013 as a lifetime ago (I certainly do at this point). It was written before I announced TCZP and only had it in my head, but still a fitting thing, as it deals with the insecurities and issues I was battling as an expat in Chiang Mai, and more important, as a single women in a foreign land. A part of TCZP is about dating and understanding the cultural differences in Thailand compared to my American ideals, as well as actually my own dating. While this post is old, I promise, there is new stuff coming. But, you’ve got to get the background in order to get to the present, riiiiight?

dating

I hate dating. Always have. In America, I had dates, though. In Thailand? Not so much. I’ve been on a couple, but that’s it, so when my date with Sam happens, I am so out of practice, I am so not wanting to go, that I nearly bail.

I don’t want to put myself through the first date conversation. I don’t want to have that awkward moment at the end of a date when I stand there, either wanting to kiss him or not, and waiting to see what his decision is.

But, I go. I force myself to, because, after all, isn’t the goal of The Comfort Zone Project to get out of my comfort zone and open myself up to new things? And dating in Thailand is most definitely one of those new things.

See, there’s this problem though — I don’t know if I want to be in a relationship. And, I don’t put much value in what I bring to the table. Even though everyone tells me I should, I haven’t come to the point where I believe in myself enough to actually thing I rock as much as others say.

So, naturally, while sitting across from handsome Sam over some imported beers on a rather chilly evening in Chiang Mai, I let my mind wander into my world. Forget that’s he’s good-looking. Forget that he’s got a great personality. Forget that he is actually one hell of a cool guy (jackpot, I know!). Instead of letting myself be in the moment, I revert into my fabulous mind of self-doubt.

What do I discover as he sits there and tells me about his life?

I have a huge fear of rejection.

Like, astronomical. To the point where I actually blow off dates, don’t return calls, don’t even initiate chats, because it is just easier to not start something versus getting my heart pummeled.

My self-confidence is pure shit.

I fidget nervously in my chair when has asks about me. To most people, I know the life I am living is a pretty damn cool one, but to him? I … just … don’t … know. What if I sound silly? What if I sound like I’m not grown up enough to be in a relationship with someone?

Which, of course, opens the flood gates to my personal hell of insecurities. Maybe you know the ones: Am I pretty enough? Am I funny enough? Am I smart enough? Am I interesting enough? Am I adventurous enough? Am I the woman you are looking for?

Forget just being me and loving me. For some reason, I’ve always placed my self-worth on what others think of me and how they perceive me.

I am a horrible flirt.

I once asked a guy why he wasn’t interested in me. He told me it was because I never flirted. That I never put anything out there that was sexual. I have no idea how that is possible, but it made me realize something: I am a horrible flirt. I should note, this likely could also be included above in self-confidence, but this is my rambling, so it’s not.

While I’m with Sam, he puts his arm around me and I lean in. Or, I put my hand on his knee … and leave it there. But, that’s as far as I get. My mind repeats over and over that I have nothing flirty to say, so I just don’t. And, I know I could be more physical, more outright, but again … I don’t.

Why?

Because it sets me up for being uncomfortable. For the potential of being rejected. For having my insecurities validated. And, shit, I don’t want that.

What I really learned

I seriously need to start loving myself more (Ed. Note: I feel like it is necessary at this point to remind you this was written more than half-a-year-ago and a lot has changed since then, namely the whole loving myself and respecting myself thing. And the self-confidence. And not being so paralyzed by rejection. The flirting? Well … ). It also made me realize something my mom used to always tell me, but I ignored because I like to learn things the super hard way — don’t give a shit what others think about me, what matters is what I think of myself. It’s important to shut off that part of the brain that is all “Diana, do you think this person is interested? Do you think …” and let those ideas of not fitting what the other person wants float away. As my friend told me the night before I turned 34, I am fine perfect just the way I am. Faults. Pluses. All of it. And, that is the most important thing.

This next part of TCZP is about getting back on the Dating Wagon. It’s time to take those lessons I learned from my night with Sam (which actually ended up being quite lovely, and wasn’t just one night, but also was not romantic) and apply them to dating life. Do I want a boyfriend? Nah. But, this certainly forces me out of my comfort zone and into telling those insecurities I have to politely f#$% off.

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Diary The Dating Life

The pressure of being under relationship pressure

Nary a day goes by when I don’t see updates on Facebook of friends getting engaged, friends getting married, friends having kids, friends upgrading to a bigger home to fit their nuclear family.

As a single female expat living in a place where single western female expats have basically zero chances at a real, intimate relationship with the opposite sex, it gets to me.

Ask any of my single friends in the same boat — male or female — and our sentiment is the same: we feel this pressure to be coupled. To get hitched. To pop out the kiddos. The more people in our lives who do it, the more we feel the need to keep up with the Jones’.

Only, here that option is limited: read non-existent.

So, what happens to that pressure when it boils over? When the thought of going home to an empty house, to an empty bed, to a table for one, gets stale?

Joel Bombardier

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Joel Bombardier

As my best friend and I recently discussed, the idea of having that other half weighs heavy. For a long time, I had these pre-set deadlines in my life. A career by 25. A husband by 30. Kids by 32.

Well, guess what?

At 30, I flushed my “career” down the toilet in favor of a more nomadic lifestyle. At 34, I am still single. And, the idea of having a kid right now? Well, that single thing only has something to do with it. I’m not ready to stay put. To settle down in one place. To work more and have less time for me and my goals and dreams.

This above realization has only come recently. When I finally let go of the idea that I had this magical map or timeline to do things by. When I finally let go of the idea I needed someone else to complete me, to give me comfort, to make me feel loved.

A lot has changed with The Comfort Zone Project, and admitting to myself that I am OK (albeit sometimes missing being loved by someone else), that I don’t need someone else, has been an incredibly freeing thing.

I don’t drown my single-ness in booze. I don’t go out with the hopes I will meet someone. I let go of the idea that every guy I do know could be the “one” because you know what? The one will happen for me … eventually. Today. Tomorrow. Who knows?

This peer pressure is only valid if I let it impact my decisions in life, if I meet someone and go through the motions while envisioning them becoming a better version of themselves and someone I know can adapt to the lifestyle I envision for me. You know what? That is called settling. I’ve done that, and I will never do it again.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I took the first guy I dated, the 10th guy I dated, and somehow convinced myself they were the right person for me. Or, took the first person I thought I loved and married them. My life is on the trajectory it needs to be on for me. Sure, I get those side glances from couples … hell, I am the single girl at the party perpetually, but I like my life. I like me, and to be in a relationship right now compromises the things I need in my life.

So, yeah, being in Chiang Mai likely means I will never meet the “one,” but for now, the only “one” I need is me.

Diary The Dating Life