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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Buyer

#92: Emotionally Available

For all the time I’ve spent worrying if I have friends or not, the last few weeks made it clear to me that I have friends whom I enjoy spending time with more than I realized. I have a few people that I look forward to seeing each week/weekend, and that I text when I have news to share or want to get an opinion. I have 2-3 other groups of people that I look forward to making plans with about once a month. I can reliably make plans on both Saturday and Sunday. Friday is for the gym, unless there’s a specific reason to make plans on a Friday. 

The overwhelming majority of my friends are in long-term relationships and live with their partner. I’m thrilled for each of them, but selfishly, it’s difficult for me. Each of them has a person that she looks forward to spending time with after our plans - To them, I’m the ‘appetizer,’ for a while I see them as the ‘main course,’ or a break from time to myself. At least, this is how I felt in their position. Then again, I’ve never lived with anyone. I’m teetering the line between self-pity and observation here, but my goal here is strictly to observe. 

In busier times of work or dating, I’m mostly content with this. When I’m busier, I have more to occupy both my mind and time so that I require the time alone to process. Right now, my mind is so under-stimulated in a personal sense that I don’t feel as much of a reason to focus on work, nor do I have external pressure of deadlines. I sit at my computer for a similar amount of time (or more) each day, but find myself uninspired to focus, resulting in lack of productivity. When I do want to focus in off-hours, I’m plagued by guilt for working when there’s so much else I could be doing - in theory. By the same token, I have time now to dedicate to all the projects I want to accomplish for my own enjoyment, and to propel my career forward. I keep shaking myself to get this through my head, but I still feel uninspired. I wonder if it’s the lack of excitement about a person, or the lack of social interaction that’s getting to me. Don’t tell my mom.

In general, I love alone time. I look forward to the rare ‘blank canvas day’ that I can sleep in as long as I want and lazily walk to the gym. In general, my mind is also a very busy place. I’m often working through five ideas at once, trying to brainstorm complex solutions. Or maybe, my mind just likes to come up with all sorts of hypotheticals about dating or otherwise, which winds up creating a new set of issues for myself to then attempt to solve. I can only occupy myself thinking about work so much before it leads to further frustration and burnout.

I’m not currently seeing or hung-up on anyone, so my thoughts are blank. Thankfully, I quit trying to be single, because actively forcing myself to be single drained me of all hope, and as a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, I quickly felt deflated. There is good news in all of this: for the second time in my life, I can confidently say that I’m emotionally available. The last time I was emotionally available, I met someone worth pursuing shortly before losing my mind and convincing myself that I wasn’t over an ex. I feel the same thing happening to me now - With nowhere else to go, my thoughts begin to gravitate towards old situations, trying to make sense of actions and events that a) I don’t need to make sense of and b) Never made sense in the first place. I’m grateful that this time I know it’s because I’m emotionally available, not because I’m not emotionally available.

This is arguably more uncomfortable as being fresh off a heart-break, but it’s exactly what I need. If I’m going to find the right person and develop the right relationship, I owe it to myself and my future partner to be completely present and focused. I felt horrible ending my last relationship after only 8-days, but I knew it wasn’t right. Call me the bad guy if it makes it easier, but I’m proud of myself that I took action after such a short period of time, rather than waiting months to see if the connection could improve, and making it more difficult for everyone involved, Anyway, I set a goal for myself to create the space required for a long-term, sustainable relationship. In a way, I’ve been working toward this for over a year, by cutting off the connections that took up this space but didn’t serve the purpose I was looking for. I knew this requires a period of ‘loneliness,’ but I didn’t imagine it would be this challenging or understimulating. Maybe I did, and that’s why I was afraid. As much as I dislike this feeling, I need to learn to sit in this stretch, and lean into it as much as I’m capable. I’m impatient as hell, but I have the rest of my life to be with someone. I refuse to rush this. More importantly, I refuse to settle. 

I’ll continue dating with intention. This means that I do my best to give each person a chance insofar as our life goals line up. Each date is a chance to learn more information about each other. If I have enough information to know that the person is not what I’m looking for, I won’t continue to date them. Otherwise, I’ll keep seeing him, provided that he’s also interested in seeing me. I’m not going on dates for the sake of filling time. I’d rather be bored than risk jeopardizing emotional availability, although this is new for me, too. I view this as taking care of myself, rather than protecting myself. I’m far more likely to get hurt dating with intention, but it’s worth it. I avoid saying that I feel lonely at nearly all costs. Loneliness implies desperation or willingness to settle. I’m not any of those things. Rather, I’ve done the work, and will continue to work to maintain that space for my future partner. Just because you have a spare bedroom doesn’t mean you want to open your home to just anyone. Okay, I’m proud of that one. Good job, Michelle. Time to go be social. 

Well, one last thing, that’s totally going to make me late. [JK my friends cancelled anyway] It’s no secret that last February was the last time I felt truly ready for a relationship. When it didn't go my way, I used the events at the end of the relationship as an excuse of sorts to say that I wasn’t ready. I disagree completely, albeit with myself. I KNEW I was ready then, just as much as I’m ready now. I lost that ‘readiness’ when I stopped investing in myself emotionally, and spent all my energy trying to invest in someone who either wasn't ready, or capable of investing in me. That’s when things fell apart for me, personally. The difference between now and then is experience. I didn’t expect to have the experience that I did, but I learned from it, just as I would’ve learned from any other experiences within the same time frame. Not everything I learn is within my control - I learn some things because I want to, others because it's part of life’s curriculum. 

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