This last week has been pretty great. I’ve had a few pretty excellent first dates and a fantastic late date with L. A and I have spent more time together than we have in months as his wife is out of town so he was a little more available than he has been. It’s nice to see him recharged. He’s been burning the candle at both ends for months and the last few days he’s been more relaxed than I’ve seen him since February. It’s pretty great to see.
I’m going to forego talking about the three great first dates (that all ended with a first kiss in the same parking lot, which cracks me up) and the one really not great one I had last week and talk about a realization I made yesterday while having dinner with A. Somehow the topic of X came up, probably because I’ve been chatting with him quite a bit recently. I talked about how I still have a thing for him, but we’re skirting around the issue of our intense magnetic attraction. As the words came out of my mouth, I realized that skirting around the issue is intentional on my part. That by keeping him at arm’s length, I’m protecting myself. Protecting my heart.
This got me to thinking about the new men I’m dating. How I feel about them. I remember the all-encompassing feeling of New Relationship Energy (NRE) that I felt when I was dating X and when I started dating D. I remember the excitement when I got a text and the anticipation of the next date and the overwhelming pleasure of each touch, be it holding hands or kissing or more. I remember how I couldn’t get them out of my mind and I loved every bit of that sensation. I realized that I don’t have this intense, overwhelming NRE with the new guys. It’s not like I can turn it on or off, but I think that part of the reason I am not overwhelmed by NRE is just protection. I’m protecting myself, my heart, from taking the risk inherent in dating someone new.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. With X, it’s an active choice. I can’t take the risk of dating him and falling so madly in love with him again. The wound caused by our romantic relationship ending is so recently healed and that memory is enough for me to to not want to relive it, but keep him at a distance where I can be in control of my emotions and protect my heart. With the other men though, it’s probably more of an unconscious choice. I think that I am naturally protective of my heart just now because of the fresh scar that D left on my heart (the one that is superficially healed but requires some time to heal beneath the surface and still has some lingering pain associated with it) and that’s translating into a lack of NRE. Don’t get me wrong, I like these men, I want to spend time with them, they are all pretty incredible and I’m very attracted to them, but I’m not all consumed by NRE for any of them.
This realization takes me on two different emotional paths. The first is happiness that I can protect my heart and still embrace new relationships. That I’m a bit more in control than I was last fall when I fell so completely in love first with X, then with D. The second is a bit of sadness in knowing that I’m not putting myself all in, wondering if it’s because the part of me that feels that intense emotion broke along with my heart or if it’s just because I haven’t met the right person. Along with this is the mourning of the loss of that wonderful emotion and wondering if I’ll ever have that intense fun and excitement of falling in love, and being so certain in that love, again.
I think more than anything, it shocked me that I suddenly, mid-sentence, realized that I was protecting myself. That I’d put up barriers that I was previously unaware I could erect. That I had donned an armour built on heartbreak and hurt and disappointment. That somewhere, in all that has happened, I shed a little bit of my optimism and positivity and freedom for a little bit of safety. The broken heart is like a terrorist preventing me from enjoying everything I should in life due to fear. The threat of hurt is not paralyzing, but a very real, recently experienced source of fear. Right now, it’s protective, but I need to be cognizant of when the protection becomes limiting.