Dating Advice From a Lesbian: Showing Someone Your All

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day.  She recently started dating someone, and has been getting a lot of negativity back surrounding her new partner.  Someone even told her, “Don’t show her all of yourself.”  I laughed out loud when I heard that.

You see, her partner has a history, much like a lot of people do, of having “commitment issues” or of being a “runner.”  She was hearing a lot of people talk about her new girlfriend’s past with them and others she had dated.  She was hearing people tell her that her girlfriend runs from relationships, that she hurts people.  She’ll see everything about you and she’ll run the other way, just like she did with everyone else.

“That is the worst advice I have ever heard,” I said.

Here’s how I usually date people: Meet someone knew, see all their best qualities, show them all my best qualities, fall madly into what I thought was love, date blissfully for six or so months, then see the not-so-awesome parts of a person, be unable to deal or realize that we’re fundamentally incapable of being together, believe that love and relationships are about choice and try to make it work for another couple of months while feeling trapped or miserable, and then end up hurting the other person from what the see as a sudden and unexpected break up.

I’ve hurt a lot of people in my past from perceived running or lying in a relationship.  I am friends with my friend’s new partner, and we get a long because we share a common history with common themes: We sacrifice ourselves in a relationship by hiding aspects of our personalities that others might not like.  We put the other person first to the point of hurting ourselves, and we do this until we absolutely cannot take it for another day.

Earlier this week, I was driving home from work and thinking about my past. I do this a lot because we really and truly learn from our experiences and our past, but only if we are willing to think critically about our actions and take responsibility for our choices. I was thinking about how many of my past relationships have ended the same way: with me ending things and a lot of heartache.

I thought about all the big and little things about them that made me realize that it wasn’t going to work out with those people and when I realized it. Sometimes, it was months before I actually broke up with them. It caused a lot of pain and heartache, and I take full responsibility for that.  I have, in the past, had two very big problems: 1) standing up for myself in a relationship because of a fear of rejection and 2) an wish not to hurt someone.  Those two, in combination with each other, are not good.

I started dating/talking to this girl.  She was a vet tech, and attractive and charismatic and drew everyone who knew her in.  She was also highly manipulative and a leech, and she took me for everything I would give her, which was a lot.  I was taking her to work one day, and she was arguing with me about something, and I realized, “I’m doing it again.  I’m sacrificing myself for someone and we are fundamentally not going to work out.  Ever.”

It was about a week after that when things ended, but this time, the only person who was really attached to the whatever-the-hell that was… was me.  I was the one who got hurt, and that’s when I decided: I absolutely will not EVER do that again.

And I always find myself in these situations because I refuse to show someone my all.  That’s how we were taught, wasn’t it?  We see it all the movies about women needing to be reserved in the relationship… To not show the other person everything about us or how we feel for fear of coming on too strong.  We end up shielding parts of us (whether it’s our emotions or things we like.  For me, it’s all about the SciFi… I always have to hide the nerd, which is pretty much the biggest part of me).

I told my friend, “Don’t.  Whatever you do, don’t take that woman’s advice.”

Your true self is going to come out eventually if you try to hide it.  Your partner is going to have to make the decision whether or not they can handle your true self, and then decide on whether or not they are able to be with you.

Everyone on this planet who has broken up with someone has “run” from someone.  Everyone who has ever ended a relationship has been called a “runner” at some point unless it’s the rare occasion where it’s a mutual understanding that the relationship isn’t working out an it’s over.  I’ve been the person who’s called the runner, and I’ve had many people warned against me to shield themselves from me because of it.  But when I look out at my exes, I see them all out there dating other people and the seem to be happy with their partners, which says to me that I wasn’t running from “the best thing that ever happened to me” (as we often hear out there) but that I was leaving a relationship (in probably a really horrible way, I know) that wasn’t meant to work out anyway.  I care about all my exes, even the ones that really, really dislike me, and I’m glad they were/are a part of my life (many of us are friends), but we all know that it wasn’t meant to be, and we’re all okay with it.

Do not get me wrong: I am not at all trying to dismiss the pain and hurt that I’ve caused people in the past, rather I’m accepting responsibility and learning from my history.

And this is where the dating advice comes in:  Do not shield yourself from the person that you’re with.  Do not sacrifice parts of yourself.

When Erin and I started talking through e-mail and I was calling her my “lesbian pen pal,” I made it a point not to hide myself from her.  I told her about my likes and my dislikes, I opened myself up to her in a way that I had never immediately done before because I realized that it was better for her to know all of me up front.

When we start dating someone, we get invested in a person.  Some of us get invested in a relationship a lot faster than others get invested, but we generally all get invested in a relationship.  When things start to go south, it’s sometimes caused because the person we’re with “isn’t the person we thought they were” or they’ve “changed.”  The truth is: they haven’t changed any more than you’ve changed.  You’re just now starting to show your all to this person that was shielded or they’re showing it to you, and it’s something that you might have liked to know sooner than when you found out.

Imagine what our relationships would be like if we knew upfront what the all of a person was… We knew all their good and bad qualities before we got invested so we could make better choices about whether or not we’d want to get invested.  When Erin and I started talking, I said to myself, “She’s going to learn everything there is to learn about me.  I’m not going to hide any part of myself with her, and she’s either going to love me for who I truly am, or we’re going to be friends, or maybe nothing at all.”

And when I started telling her everything I could about myself, she responded by doing the same.  When we finally met face-to-face five months down the road, it was like we’d known each other for a very long time, and when we started dating a month after that, I knew exactly who it was I was getting into a relationship with and had no worries about making my choice to say “yes.”

Don’t shield yourself from someone.  Your partner deserves to see all of you, and you deserve to see all of them.  Don’t hide parts of you that you think your partner isn’t going to like because those parts will come out eventually, and it’s better they come out sooner… rather than later… because it will save you and the person you’re with a lot of heartache and pain.  It is better to be fully upfront and honest with a person than to attempt to make things work through cover ups and with holding information.

Trust me on this: telling people your all upfront will protect your feelings, the feelings of those around you, and make any future relationships that you have stronger and more secure.

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Posted on May 25, 2014, in Dating Advice from a Lesbian, Life, Love, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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