Sugar & Spice, but Not Everything Nice

Since New Year’s, when I felt ready to move onto Step 5, I’ve been trying to figure out what “admitting the exact nature of my wrongs” actually entails. For months now, I’ve confessed many unattractive obsessive qualities and maybe told more than TMI on the pages of this blog.

Nevertheless, if I think of my “wrongs” as they pertain to feeling unworthy of love or as a perceived failure in relationships, I think one of the most consistent mistakes I’ve made as a love addict is something that you’d think wouldn’t be portrayed as a bad thing.

As my mother puts it: “You’re just too nice, sweetie.”

I’d classify myself as someone who avoids controversy like the plague. Unless I feel super passionate about something, say women’s, children’s and animal rights, I allow people to state their case and calmly and kindly say, “I don’t agree with you, but I’m glad you have an opinion.” Maybe this makes me a pretty killer journalist, but in the dating scene or as someone’s girlfriend – it makes me a little vulnerable to manipulation.

After about three months of dating Mr. Idea, he went into what I called a “funk.” For whatever reason, not only did he have no interest in kissing me, making love to me, or really even holding me – but his attitude was hostile and flat-out rude. Of any man I’ve ever dated, he knew exactly what to say to make me feel the lowest of lows and his blows were harder than any boyfriend should ever give. Though he never physically hurt me (I did, however, throw a high heel shoe at his face once, woops), the emotional baggage we gave to each other was immeasurable. Needless to say, it wasn’t a healthy relationship and to deal with my extreme ups and downs, I consulted my very best friend, my mom, and my group of girlfriends.

And when I would go to them, crying, frustrated, or mad – they almost all said the exact same thing: “Why don’t you just break up with him, Linds? Why are you sticking around when he treats you so badly?

I’m not sure anyone really understands the true dynamic in a relationship unless you are one of the two experiencing it, and those who love us only want us to be surrounded by support and happiness – but when you’re in love (or even just in lust), you want to stick around because you can imagine tomorrow. And you also don’t want to leave, in fear of the “what if” monsters you’ll have to battle down the road. Because somehow, if you’re the girl who puts up with the good and the bad, the ugliness and the messiness, the frustrations and shortcomings – you must be something special, right? Because don’t we all go through hardships, don’t we all lose ourselves in funks, and don’t we all just want someone who will stick with us through the thick-and-the-thin, through the years when our breasts hit our toes, and our hair turns a lovely shade of gray?

But at what point does being the nice girl, the good girl, the girl who stands by her dude’s side encouraging him and forgiving his mishaps…get completely pissed off and leaves the relationship (or pretend one) for good?

I do believe in the best in people and perhaps even more so, I believe everyone is capable of change. But the older I get, the more confident I become in myself and with my life, I also believe that the only person who can make your life better, is yourself. It is a decision and a journey that begins and ends with taking one step forward, without looking back, and having faith in the miles ahead. And until you can be without funkiness or messiness as an individual, it is real tough to be in love or be an active, giving-and-taking participant in a relationship. My personal goal to be a better person and un-addicted to love is part of my disarray and something I should work through before I agree to be official with someone. And maybe that reasoning is why I made the agreement with Mr. Possibility in the first place. Or the reason why Mr. Unavailable was unattainable and Mr. Idea finally drove me to a point that I had to leave.

And that point is one that is taking me less time to get to as I grow in my recovery. I’m not really the kind of person to completely dismiss someone, place them on a blacklist, and curse the ground they walk on – but I also am starting to notice when I’m being just a little too nice. A little too reachable. A little too comforting. And when a man pushes you and tests your patience and your lenient nature – you reach an even more intense summit where you’re just done. Sure, girls are sugar and spice, – but we don’t have to be everything  nice.

If I want to be in a relationship one day with a man who has his act together, a stable head on his shoulders, and enough charisma to light up a room – I can’t wait around forever for him to come out of the shadows. Sure, no one is perfect, but a line has to be drawn somewhere and it is really up to me on where to place my ending point. Standing by your man or having patience with someone who you can see a future with is an attractive quality – but independence and the ability to demand respect and your needs to be met is even sexier.

While my Southern graces will stick with me until the end, the New Yorker I’m growing into knows sometimes you have to kick the grace to the curb, state your case for exiting, tie your laces, and get right back in the dating race.

PS: If you’re a fan of Confessions of a Love Addict and want to be part of a new page on the blog, email Lindsay or send her a Tweet.

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Mr. Possibility Explores Other Possibilities

My grandmother is this petite woman who has never lived outside of the South and spends most of her time watching soap operas, doing crossword puzzles, sending me cute cards asking me when I’m going to have babies, and holding hands with her adorable boyfriend, EC. She is the only grandparent that I’m close to and while she hasn’t given me much advice, once I graduated from high school to go to college, she whispered one thing in my ear in her sweet Southern accent:

“You protect your possibilities, now. Don’t let just anyone around them, ya hear?”

Possibilities are what Fergie calls “lovely lady parts” and I can’t decide if I’d rather call mine a va-jay-jay or something else. Regardless, even though she always encouraged me to wait until marriage to “park” with a boy, I think her slightly growing new-age mindset, knows otherwise.

Even though I would never tell her, I think she’d be happy with how I’ve protected my possibilities since I lost the coveted v-card with Mr. Faithful many, many moons ago. Though sometimes I wish I could be more carefree and random about sex, I know myself too well and know that if doing-the-deed is interjected into a relationship or could-be relationship, I’m going to get emotionally intertwined with the dude. Just the way the ball rolls for me (pun intended).

So maybe it comes as no surprise, that when I broke a pact Mr. Possibility and I had agreed upon (we wouldn’t tell each other if we were sleeping with or dating other people, unless we started having feelings for the person), and asked him if he had slept with anyone in the time he’s been overseas for business – and he said “Yes” – a little piece of me freaked completely out.

Now, we’ve been clear with each other from the get-go that we weren’t exclusive, that we were taking it slow, that we were going to be incredibly honest with each other, that what we were doing -whatever it is – was going to be different from the mistakes we’ve made in the past. And if I go off of technicalities, he didn’t cheat, he didn’t do anything wrong by the Rules of Dating – but emotionally speaking, he completely hurt my feelings. Maybe even more so, my trust – not so much in him (because did he really break something he promised to me? No.), but in what we are creating.

While I have the same liberties that Mr. Possibility has, I haven’t felt the need to explore outside of him since we started moving our platonic friendship into more of a romantic realm. This may be due to my own way of handling “talking” situations with a person that’s derived from an innocence I still have towards relationships, or maybe it is my own idealistic qualities that may need to be overturned. But to me, when you start to have feelings for someone, feelings that are real and true, you aren’t exactly interested in experiencing other possibilities. At least until you determine if the option in front of you is suitable or not.

Who knows, maybe this is part of an “adult relationship” and maybe I should have never asked when we made an agreement not to. Nevertheless, I did and after the news, I had some soul searching to do – not only about my feelings towards him, but my personal beefs, too.

At first, I paraded him with questions and accusations, before I realized that the more I knew, the more I’d obsess. And then, I started doubting all we had shared in the past three months – the exchanges, the dates, the glances, the connections, the moments, the weekends tucked away in my hole-in-the-wall apartment, the dinners, the romance, the intrigue…the everything. We spent hours on Gchat, text messaging, emailing, and even had a two-hour phone conversation that I’m sure cost his company a pretty penny, going over what happened, what to do next, and he, of course, apologized. And yet my mind still raced with questions that ranged from “Oh my god, was he sleeping with someone else in New York?” and “Have I been a complete fool in this whole thing, I mean, did I really introduce him to my blog as a possibility when he’s not?” to “Does he like this girl who he slept with?” and “Why was I not good enough to hold his interest?”

And as I sat with tears rolling down my cheeks, feeling like a failure in my journey to love addict recovery, reading the e-mails we had shared since he left, and glancing over at the Christmas present I bought for him at a time where I was filled with so much hope and appreciation for his presence in my life – I decided I needed to take one huge, gigantic, step back. That even though I felt like I had done everything right by this guy and was happy with the way I approached everything with him, if I allowed this not-quite infidelity to ruin another night of mine, I wasn’t doing myself justice.

Sure, I could cry and carry on, curse his name, delete him and block him from everything in my life, walk away from whatever it is that I felt or I believed or hoped for, and tell myself I made the biggest mistake ever by being interested in him. But that would be a lie.

Because in terms of love and especially in terms of defining ourselves as single women – you have to decide what’s right by you. I have to believe that regardless of the outcome or the bumps along the way – every man, every experience, every flame, every possibility – teaches me something and helps me to grow into the person I’m meant to become. That his desire to undress a possibility other than mine, really had nothing to do with me. That he knew he was free to do so, and while I didn’t desire to, he did. That while we both are not ready for a relationship, I wasn’t prepared to accept that he may be interested in women other than me, and also sleeping with them. That while I don’t think he’s a bad person in the least, my heart feels fragile near him for the time being. That maybe we’re on different pages, different levels of emotional commitment, opposite sides of the tree – maybe both out on different limbs, wondering if jumping is the right decision or not.

And so, I stopped crying. I stopped blaming myself. I stopped calling myself a fool. I stopped obsessing and thinking and analyzing and wondering what in the world I should do about it. Because I can’t solve all of the issues unresolved in my mind and in my heart in a few days, I can’t place pressure to heal the wounds overnight, and I definitely can’t predict the future. And even though I’m incredibly hurt and processing everything in my own way and time, I’m not ready to make cut-and-dry decisions right now. Perhaps his overseas address is even helpful to give me space to determine my own heart. Could I trust in the possibility of us again? I don’t know.

But what’s more important is that I woke up. I got out of my head. Out of the dreamy notions that kept me clutching at possibilities and words, and I welcomed myself back to the real world. Off of a bouquet of tulips-induced flight to cloud nine. And I realized that no matter if I decide I can let go of the image of him with someone else or not, or if I’m completely okay with a no-strings-attached relationship, I know that I can trust myself.

That I know what’s best for me, what’s acceptable in my book, what’s the best road for me to take to find happiness. And though I’m not interested in bringing new possibilities into my bedroom, because that’s just not my style, I think a dinner date or two with other men, or just with myself, may do me some good.