Trying to date in your 30’s, after nearly 20 years, is less than a thrill. Dealing with decades of anxiety and insecurity probably makes it less than thrilling to date me. 😂
Being in a healthy, albeit somewhat non-traditional relationship has taught me a lot.
People do care what I have to say – I have a tendency to speak quietly and almost mutter, and he often has to ask me to repeat myself (or ask me if I’m speaking English, ha ha). I’ve come to realize that’s because I’ve been conditioned that no one really cares what I have to say. He’s told me that he does. I’m still shocked when I tell him something and he remembers. Sometimes I’m not even sure he’s listening but he is.
I’m enough as I am, but I’m growing – he accepts me as I am, with all my flaws, but he encourages me to grow, learn, and be the best I can. I do the same for him, and he’s willing to grow as well.
It’s OK to be a little needy sometimes – When I need something, it’s OK to ask for it. Though I’m not a “high maintenance” woman by traditional standards (spend time with me vs. buy me stuff) I do need a lot of reassurance, and I tend to be afraid to ask for it. I had shared the image above with him, and a few days later he reminded me that being low maintenance isn’t a virtue when I was being squirreley about asking for what I needed.
It’s OK to ask for help – I’m not sure exactly why it’s so hard for me to ask for help, but I’m working on it.
My opinions are valued, I am good at things, and I am appreciated – He may ask for my help on something or ask me what I think, and he actually wants to hear what I have to say and is grateful for my help. He has said things like “your mom is so smart” to my kids, and his friend told me that he says nice things about me to his friends. As a single mom who is trying to work, go to college full time, take care of kids, a household, and nurture relationships, I often feel like I’m not doing anything well. He makes me feel like my existence is a positive thing. I’m not worthless.
Mistakes don’t define you – While on a road trip, I locked the keys in the van while we were at a skate park. I sat on the bumper of the van while waiting for AAA, figuring I had ruined the day, if not the whole trip. He sent me a text to get out of the sun and come sit with him. Then he reassured me that while he was maybe annoyed for a minute, it’s not a big deal. He’d done it himself several times and so what, he got to ride for a few more minutes.
Disagreements aren’t the end of the world – We can disagree and move on, and in fact, working through disagreements can be a source of growth. He doesn’t give me the silent treatment and a disagreement (or my being a little – ok a lot – annoying) doesn’t mean the end of our relationship.
We’re different and that’s OK – Building on the above. I tend to be a pursuer and when we disagree, I can get panicky and want to text endlessly and make things better. He needs time to himself to think and reflect. He cares enough to know me well and sees things I don’t see in myself at times. I was having a rough day, and he called while I was away from my phone checking a plumbing leak. He left me a sweet message and said I “sounded bummed.” I re-read our texts from that morning and I couldn’t figure out how he knew that from what I’d texted, but he was right.
I deserve good things – Like many moms, I have a lot of guilt for making myself a priority. Whether that’s making time to work out or doing something for myself, my children will benefit from a mom that feels whole. I deserve to be happy and need to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop when things are going well. He made me realize that I can be self-destructive and almost look for ways to make myself unhappy. I believe this is something I unconsciously do out of self-preservation and a need for control. Ruin things before they’re ruined for me.
Worrying about things you can’t control just makes you suffer unnecessarily – I can control how I react to things, but that’s about it. Worrying about something I can’t control just makes me miserable.
When you have anxiety, it’s easier said than done, but I’ve been working on logically thinking about what good it will do me to worry, and try to move on.
I’m responsible for my own happiness and I’m complete on my own – Life is better with him, but how someone feels about me doesn’t define me.
A healthy relationship will add to your life – Building on the above, relationships (friends, family, romantic relationships etc.) should enhance your life, not make you miserable. People who care about you build you up, hold you accountable, and make your days better.
So there you have it. I’m learning more and more every day and at age 38, you’d think I would have already known these things, but I didn’t. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, I hope you will realize these truths on your own, or with the help of someone wonderful!