Lately it seems like Netflix has been featuring a lot of movies about suddenly-single people who are struggling to “get back out there again” and put their lives back together after a breakup.
Or maybe it is just me, suddenly noticing these types of flicks because, frankly, I might as well be starring in them.
Just like I never really noticed how many other people were buying new cars until I bought one myself a couple months back, now all of a sudden it seems I can’t get away from the newly-single dramedies playing out all around me.
The thing is, they were a lot funnier before I started watching them for dating tips.
And even though I’m not quite at the point where I really want to start dating for-real again, I am very keen to make new friends and open myself up to fresh future possibilities.
But as I go about the process of inviting new people into my inner circle, I am finding it feels pretty much the same (i.e. terrifying, panic-inducing) whether the person is a new potential friend or a new potential dating partner, or perhaps both at some future point in time.
In other words, acceptance feels like acceptance and rejection feels like rejection, regardless of what type of connection it is.
I’ve never felt like I had a particular knack for reading what I call “street vibes” – the kinds of sort-of subtle communications adult people send out to the adult people when they are interested in each other for whatever reason. So it is all I can do to muddle through whether that six-hour text exchange really meant he wants to meet me for a drink next week or it just meant his boss doesn’t let him watch Netflix at work so texting me was the next best thing.
For this reason, when a promising (at least from my point of view) new connection suddenly goes silent, I can almost feel my brain cells descending into mutiny as they argue amongst themselves about possible reasons why.
One night this week while I was lying awake trying to work out where I had clearly missed the single adult communication boat yet again, a radical thought popped into my awareness.
Perhaps I need these silences, puzzling as they may be, as much as I need the new connections that do pan out.
Each person who walks into my life, for whatever length of time they plan to stay, brings a gift for me. Every single new connection, whether it lasts for minutes or years, comes with an essential lesson attached. It is likely a lesson I very much need to learn and master, whether I happen to be aware of it or not.
For example, I need to be able to keep my sense of self-esteem and self-worth steady within myself regardless of how other people are relating to me. If a person accepts me, asks me out, wants to get to know me better, I must stay inside my own skin, standing firm at the helm of my own life, even as my desire to connect with that other person grows as well.
If a person rejects me, stops communicating after a period of time, loses interest in me, I must stay inside my own skin, standing firm and steadfast in my commitment to myself, not making assumptions about why the other person chose to draw away, simply letting it be what it is.
These are equally challenging lessons to learn and I need to learn them both equally. When I look at each potential new connection from this perspective, I find my preference for how each ultimately turns out is less skewed. Either way, regardless, it is learning the lesson that is the most important part.
The more I can learn to remain at my own side, continue to be my own cheerleader, remain aware of why I like myself and why I believe I am worth knowing, trust that another person’s seeming rejection doesn’t really even have anything to do with me, the more I can allow others to come and go into and out of my life without taking any of it personally.
In this way, I stop hurting myself unnecessarily. I refrain from blaming myself for stalled or failed connections I don’t understand. I also help myself stay open to new connections instead of shutting down in self-protection.
Seeing missed or failed connections as a gift – a blessing, if you will – is a very new perspective for me. But it feels better than how I have related to this type of situation in the past. It safeguards the value of the other person as well as my own.
Today’s Takeaway: How do you view connections that seem to hold great promise but then don’t pan out as you expected? Have you ever looked back after some time passes to see value in a missed connection that you couldn’t see at the time? I’d love to hear any stories you want to share!