I frequently read articles about how the best way to get into a great relationship is by having your own life, and I believe that wholeheartedly. You’re a much more interesting, positive, and vibrant person when you have friends, hobbies, and a career you love. That attracts people of equal awesomeness. But I’ve also realized that it’s hard to toe the line between “I’m a complete person with or without a significant other” (good) and “My life is so full that I don’t have time for anyone else” (bad). It really is an art form, and it’s one that I’m still trying to perfect.
I would say that in the grand scheme of girls you could date, I’m pretty normal. I don’t have trust issues and I’m not looking to fast track a wedding. I don’t care what kind of car you drive, and I don’t need attention 24/7. These are all complaints that I’ve heard from guys who are out there dating. But in the course of my dating travels (which are not terribly extensive, but I’ve been at it for almost a year now) I’ve been told I’m “hard to get a hold of.” This is kind of a unique complaint, but it’s still valid.
For instance, there was one guy I had gone out with five or six times. Things were going well, but I could tell that he was put off by the fact that sometimes our schedules didn’t line up and we could only see each other once a week. In his defense, I get it. I’m freelancing, seeing friends, going to Book Club, doing Pilates, etc. at least several nights per week. This doesn’t always leave a ton of time for dating. But these activities are priorities to me and make me feel good. So what should I eliminate? Don’t work out? Don’t have friends? Don’t build my career? I don’t think so. When he ended up cutting things off, citing his frustration about how we lived so close to each other but struggled to get together, at first I was upset. Then that turned into relief. You can’t be with someone who wants you to renegotiate your schedule in a way that makes you uncomfortable, or who feels neglected or shortchanged. It’s bad for both of you, and eventually becomes poisonous. I’ve now been on both sides of that kind of relationship and can attest to that.
At the same time, I’m trying to be more aware about crossing from having a full life on my own to “completely unavailable, so good luck” territory. Because that’s an easy transition to make.
You absolutely need to be happy doing your own thing. You can’t look to outside sources for approval or happiness. You can’t desperately cling to someone else in hopes that they’ll make you feel whole. But you also can’t get so absorbed in your own situation that you block someone else from becoming part of your life. It really is a fine line.
Do you struggle with this issue too? How do you find that balance?