You Can’t Date Like Me

Some time ago I got out of a situation with someone who was emotionally unavailable — fresh out of a serious relationship and didn’t seem ready to get to know someone new on a deep level. Which is okay, but it’s alarming how hard it was for me. He wasn’t and isn’t a bad person. He’s an ordinary guy with reactions and behaviours which could be nice or not nice at times but nevertheless ordinary and understandable. The thing is I got carried away. I didn’t take proper time to get to know the real him. I didn’t know him. I didn’t listen to him. I made up a person in my head, treated him favourably right from day one, lost my shit when things didn’t go the way I’d anticipated, then ended up hurting myself badly. Brain chemicals and attachment got me like a little bitch. It was really just me.

I can’t pinpoint what led to this brain death but I ignored all the signs, I chose to believe only what I wanted to believe, I gave him the best benefits of the doubt, I assumed what he might be thinking and felt drawn to him for that, I made him special and attributed to him way more value than what he was to me. I’m sure he knows that. He knows the situation was nothing much and he didn’t deserve my excessive attention. He must be surprised at how naive I turn out to be and how quickly I became invested considering I seem to know how to play the game well and have experiences with men. Not wrong. But see, my heart has a soft spot, my mind has a gray area, my psychology is unusually complex, and possibly by some emotional trickery and circumstantial factors, he got a pass to it and I was stuck with an unbelievably strong irrational attachment to someone I had very few rational reasons to hold on to. It was nothing short of a brain disease.

For six months, nothing I did made sense. Six months, I fell victim to the powerful working of brain chemicals. I constantly woke up in anxiety, my mind fixated on the situation. I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t stop contacting him despite knowing there was nothing to get out of it. My thinking was royally fucked. It went round and round and I kept getting so wrapped up and coming back for more like he’d gotten a claw deep under my skin. I was full of fear. At one point, I even felt like my world was falling apart, I was stripped bare without any sense of security. I kept thinking what have I done to mess it up, so I replayed my every move and dissected his every response, feeling the stings of regrets to the depth of my soul and hell was that painful and stupid.

My biggest takeaway from all this is that oxytocin is a real bitch. You can’t date like me. Ask any man and woman. You just don’t go out and jump right in (bed) with anyone who impresses you a little and shows you some interest without thinking about compatibility. The problem isn’t how soon you do it. The problem isn’t self-respect, isn’t double standard, isn’t playing hard to get. The problem is you’ll get attached and once you get attached, you won’t see anything. Actually, you do see it, you just won’t act on it. You will do whatever it takes to be with this attachment figure who can be very wrong for you. When it gets unhealthy, forget about dignity, self-love, what’s good for you, what you truly need, your choice to walk away — you just want to feel this person’s existence, conditioned like a Skinner’s rat. The attachment is immensely powerful — I’ve experienced it firsthand. It’s the kind of natural drug that keeps you hooked enough to pump out a human baby, so yeah, listen to me.

Think first about compatibility. Get out of your head. Talk to them. Ask them questions. See them in actions. Meet them again and again until you get a good sense of your compatibility level. Then decide whether this is someone you want to get attached to. Make it a very rationally weighed choice. Don’t dive in head first like me. Don’t wear your heart on the sleeve. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t treat someone based solely on your first impressions of them and then turn your head away when they show you who they are in actions — not necessarily good or bad just who they really are. What’s done is done, don’t bargain in your head. Don’t be so naive and have your mind and heart twisted in a knot so early on or at all ever. Instant gratification is almost never worth it. You gotta face reality and update your judgment as you go. You gotta protect yourself. See, I learned it the hard way so you don’t have to. Just kidding. Learn your own goddamn lesson. It’s good for you.

I must say it’s been exceptionally tough. I made every possible mistake in the book during and post-breakup, my spirit drown in shame and pain and confusion and frustration. My need to make sense of everything added stress to it because from my part, it was clearly psychologically layered. A lot of my deep-rooted issues, as a result, were brought to my attention and I’ve been dealing with them both in my own time and professionally. Luckily I’ve never stopped working on myself and holding my life together in the background so I’m all set right now with plenty of good things I’ve gained during this process. That said, I would have never imagined it’d take me as many as six months to make up my mind about someone who was no one to me, about a situation that had absolutely no real substance… six months to break an attachment that was formed on a few rounds of sex and fantasies and emotional games. Undoubtedly, it was quite a learning curve for me — yet again.

Maybe it’s the difference in perspective, personality, past experience, culture, or how brain chemicals work between men and women, but he handled the situation much more cool-headedly and gracefully than I did. It’s fair. It makes perfect sense. It should’ve been like that for me too. Now I know. Now as the oxytocin runs out, I do see that.

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