It’s time for another Guest Blog today. This installment is a true-life story written by Danielle, a woman who has learned to date with dignity in 2009. Her transformation is brilliant. Her heart open. And her intention magnificent. Enjoy her story….
“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” -Dr. Suess
I am laying on his bed, wearing his shirt and silk pajama pants. As I type my eyes wander to HIM, attentively matching socks from his clean laundry hamper. These is something quite calming and relaxing about watching his hands glide over those socks. We have just returned from a fantasy-filled, romantic road trip up Highway 1, in which we explored the California coast, meandered through castles, held hands, watched sunsets, saw the crashing waves on stunning cliffs, and discovered more about each other than we had imagined possible. But right now, this is reality; I am watching him fold socks.
First, some background on me. I am 27, have been dating HIM for seven months, and am becoming a Dignity Dater, proud to be recovering from a perceptional ailment I called “FFS –Female Fantasy Syndrome.”
I had it BAD.
I’m not sure why, except I know that as a woman I was raised with a very fantastical portrayal of how relationships should be, and in desperation of finding love I became a very needy creature who “filled in the blanks” with all things I wanted and hoped the other person to be. What follows then are the biggest lessons I have learned in my quest to date with dignity thus far:
Mr.Right’s last name is…. NOW.
You both are getting to know each other, so knock the wedding bells out of your ears. It takes time to really fall in love with someone because you have to get to know them first. If you go into this phase of your relationship gaga and starry-eyed, planning your wedding in the first few weeks, you’ve missed the best part of your relationship. Say you marry, and then are married for 60 years, your courtship will be just a fraction of that, so enjoy the process. Take it slow. Really get to know him. Be present for every little amazing thing. Start off with Mr. Right Now. Make him earn the title of Mr.Right.
Knock him off his pedestal
I know, he’s tall, handsome, has his Phd in hotness, takes his mom out to lunch on Sundays and your neighbors changed their internet network ID to “”we-can-hear-you-having-sex.” To you, he seems PERFECT. You look up to him and talk excitedly to all your friends about how “he’s the one” and “he makes you so happy,” emphasis on him making you happy instead of you experiencing happiness as a result of adding him to your life. Stop. NOW. He will read this as “performance pressure,” and will be scared of not performing and letting you down. Simmer down girl. Do not forget yourself and your life. Take a really good look at him. He is not perfect. Neither are you. As soon as you de-throne him and allow him to just be, he will most likely open up faster and want to please you without the pressures of being perfect.
Drop the romantic assumptions, ask for what you want
I thought the first time he would say he loved me was at sunset on the beach in Hawaii. Five months into our relationship I held fast and did not say it first because I wanted to make sure I gave him the space and time to make up his mind. What’s more, I took the time to REALLY know if I was in love with him. I wanted to mean it. It was in the midst of reality that he said he loved me. In the middle of a fight. Here, in the heat of building and working on our relationship, blowing off steam and working so hard to hear the other persons point of view, he said he loved me. No sunset. No Beach. No Hawaii. But I knew he meant it from the depths of his heart because he did not like me at that moment, but damn he loved me. Allowing for romance to spring from reality is key. If you want something romantic from him, ask for it. Make a goal for him, so that when he achieves that goal and pleases his woman he is proud, loving the the stamp of approval he gets from you. No whining, no negatives, just ask. I asked my baby to take me out on a date. He ended up taking me to the griffith observatory to watch the stars. I’m happy, and he feels like he’s the best boyfriend ever. Bottom line: Everyone is happy. No guess work.
He doesn’t want to see you 24/7
Don’t forget that you have a life separate from him. Just moved into the city and met him, (like me) create a life for yourself! You have to make sure that you have a happy, fulfilling life. Joy is jumping, no wait, bounding out of you and when you are apart from him you don’t feel empty or neglected. He NEEDS time away from you, with the boys, at the gym, vegging by himself. Almost every time my man needs space, it has nothing to do with me. His car broke down and he’s trying to figure out what to do, his Mom called with family drama, he doesn’t know why and just needs to be alone…what ever the reason, I now trust that he will come back.
Be like Nike. No games, just sports.
My man needed a night off to decompress before leaving the next day for our trip. I had a girfriend come help me cook dinner and catch up. I was whole, happy, and completely fine. There was no game involved. No missing phone calls, no pretending. When I go off on my run and take care of my body, plan trips with my friends, try new art classes and have my own life, he reads this as I am completely responsible for my own happiness, and he knows I will not hold him accountable for it. It creates space for him to enter my life.
Change is the only constant
A friend I met who has been married for a while said that two people in a relationship change and that you have to keep coming back to the negotiation table. We are only seven months in and have already come to the negotiation table several times. To believe that once you have him, then that’s it, you’ve done your work and everything else is now owed to you, is fool’s play. Change is the only constant, and you have to move with the changes, or you will grow apart. You both will go through different bodies, careers, economical status as well as the changes in your relationship, as you develop. Just like the bamboo that only bends with the wind, so must you bend and flex during the seasons of your relationship.
I am on a journey — same as you. I know I talk about not being stuck in the fantasy of romantic love, but that does not mean I had to stop looking at life as a romantic. I enjoy every sunset, rose, and every kiss. I am learning to be present and thankful for what I have. And as l have learned to come down to earth, my partner has been increasingly more romantic with me. I’m up late and not sleeping as I write this, because, truly, reality is better than any dream I ever had. I started this day with him in San Francisco. The room we shared had a view of the water and the bridge, and he served me breakfast in bed. I ended my day with a kiss from his sweet lips, and safely I will sleep in the cove of his arms.
I hope that each of you that read this, male or female, will learn to love yourself, create a life you love, and find love like I have. Modern-day fairytales — based on reality — really can come true. Here’s to Dating With Dignity in 2010. I’ll keep you posted.
By Danielle Townsend.
Danielle is a 27 year old dignity dater who, after two years of fantastic disasters, finally woke up to reality and met her match through a serendipitous invitation by Marni to a party.