Being vulnerable is hard. To most, it might seem ridiculous or maybe even bizarre that the thought of being treated well would invoke such a fear. As womxn, I think we can often set a bar so low that when the minimum threshold is met we feel unbelievably grateful. As though just being treated with respect is worthy of applause.
Characteristically, I have been drawn like a fly to honey to emotionally unavailable, non-committed men. Part of the danger with this attraction was that I always romanticised toxic qualities because who doesn’t love the chase and never quite knowing where you stand with someone. It is a little ironic considering my chronic need to over-communicate but opposites often do attract.
Going on so many dates in London gave me quite the sampling menu (excuse the tackiness of that metaphor). The thrill wears off though and after you’ve regurgitated your life story more than twenty times it gets draining. Friends took the piss because I would go on bi-weekly self-care breaks only to arrange another date after a day. Part of finding vulnerability difficult I found was also in knowing how to handle being treated like crap. When I’d had sex with someone and didn’t hear from them again, I felt shit and I’d never really had to deal with that sort of thing before.
Feeling disposable is horrible and I think sadly a semi-normalised part of modern dating. I wasn’t attaching my feelings to the person but in just finding their behaviour rude and disrespectful- the audacity, you know. Treat people with respect. Like any rational person would, I handled this by going on even more dates until I caught myself in a spin cycle of emotions. Honestly, the level of emotional detachment I developed threw me off and unintentionally made me realise how easy it is to just end up being a slightly shit person when you’re never quite developing a meaningful connection with anyone. It makes sense though if you’re not seeing someone enough to build any kind of bond, it’s easier to just get rid without really having to feel accountable for anything other than maybe paying your part of the bill.
A lot of my issues surrounding trust and vulnerability stem from my dad. I don’t talk about this very often because I often just don’t really care to and because seeking purely casual situations meant I often never needed to dumpster dive into my emotions.
Coming from a single-parent household made me feel empowered. My mother is quite simply incredible and I will never stop praising her for all she has literally done for me- from being in her womb to being sat in my overpriced London room (please appreciate the rhyming). That woman is top-notch. She installed the most robust self-sufficient, independent programming in me so much so that I never really felt like I would ever want or need a man for anything. I don’t want to berate my dad nor do I want to blame him but it’s true that the distanced relationship I had with him impacted how I often have seen men. Commitment and trust just seemed scary. Learning about their divorce and appreciating how complicated relationships can be definitely had some kind of impact on what I thought I would want.
I think if you’ve experienced any sort of trauma it can have an effect on your ability to accept and trust in people’s actions. Sometimes I feel like I have done all my healing as if I have emptied a bucket and remedied that it can’t ever be refilled. Emotions don’t really work like that though as much as I wish they did. They’re gnarly fuckers. Finding myself developing a deeper bond now is a little scary and accepting that hurt is a part of the process is even scarier. I always felt like my family bubble-wrapped me a little because of my dad and so as I got older I felt preconditioned to bubble-wrap myself. Being defensive and self-protective to a degree is a natural human response but doing so to the detriment of something positive that brings happiness isn’t. It’s hard to articulate this sometimes especially if someone doesn’t know why you might be self-sabotaging a good thing.
Letting someone in and communicating openly isn’t easy but it’s worthwhile. Nothing can truly be controlled, emotions are transcient and unpredictable. Simply embracing something in the moment because it’s fun and easy and carefree is all you need at times and not knowing how it will unfold can be unnerving but again- totally out of your hands.
Part of the process is just dealing with things as they happen, one of my biggest protective mechanisms was in needing to have a solution and escape route for a million different things. I do better when I don’t micro-manage all aspects of my life.
It’s hard but saves the headache.