Lessons in Dating with Cancer

They say patterns repeat themselves until you learn them.  I can’t help but think that my latest adventures with dating ensure that I don’t fall back into an old pattern.  Sometimes I forget that there are worse things than being alone.  Like being with someone that you love and still feeling alone.  Like settling for something that leaves a part of you empty.

I’ve been chasing boys since I was in elementary school.  I always had a boyfriend.  Most of them didn’t last for long and I’d move onto the next.  Then I settled down in high school and ended up having a eighteen year relationship, but it was never right.  I found myself single as an adult and started dating again.  The opposite sex was once again a distraction for me.  I discovered that even eighteen years of monogamy didn’t change this aspect of me.  Even while married I focused on him instead of me.

After my divorce you’d often find one or three different men in my life providing some sort of companionship or entertainment.  Within a year I was in another long-term relationship, although this one would only last for two years as I learned that maybe it was time to put myself first.  I couldn’t really do this when in a relationship with someone else.  Or at least not with the people I kept entering into relationships with.

As that relationship ended I found myself licking my wounds and trying to figure out what came next.   I spent a couple of months telling myself I was done with the opposite sex at least for a time, but then one night I created a profile on an online dating site.  It didn’t take long before I had all the attention I could want, but come to find out I didn’t really want it.

Still old habits die hard so I kept the account and dated a few people from it, but it no longer held the same attraction as it had a couple of years before.  This post is a follow up to my original post where I express my frustration with dating with cancer.  (Original post:  https://gettinggolden.com/2018/04/25/adventures-in-dating-with-cancer/  ). I write this post because I feel the need to explain what I’ve realized.

Cancer isn’t to blame for my frustration with dating.  Cancer is causing major growth in my life.  It’s helping me become the best version of myself.  In the past I’d often go on dates even though I knew I’d never really have a serious relationship with the person.  I’d have little in common with them.  The connection would be shallow, but I’d find what fun or happiness I could in it.  I would strive to make them like me, want me.  It didn’t matter if I really liked them.  It was an unconscious behavior pattern that I’d developed at a very early age.  I valued their opinion of me more than my own.

This has changed over the last few months.  Outgrowing the pattern has been painful at times.  Still, I’ve come to value myself and my time too much to allow this behavior to continue.  It sends a message to me that I no longer find acceptable.  Not that I don’t want to find my partner only, the requirements required to get an interview have reached a new high.  It means that dates have become few and far between.  A new pattern in my life.

I’m in the process of chasing my dreams.  Dreams I never let myself dream before; including the dream of my partner.  I won’t settle for the “good” guy, the “funny” guy, the “provider” guy.  I won’t settle if my heart is left hurting.  I’ve come to see that even if Mr. Right never appears in my life for whatever reason, my life will still be full.  It will be full of love.  The pain I’ve experienced hasn’t come from being alone.  It’s come from letting people into my life that never understood me, that didn’t cherish me.  They demanded and criticized me.  People that made me feel less than my beautiful magical self.

So, thank you cancer, for helping me learn this lesson.  For helping break a pattern I’ve had since the wee age of seven.  It’s no longer about quantity, it’s become about quality.  I’ve learned how to say no, I’m not interested.  I’ve learned that I don’t owe anyone an explanation longer than, I’m not feeling it. I’ve learned that it’s better to take the punches for rejecting someone than waiting for them to reject me.  For the longest time I did the reverse.  I pushed down my own needs for others.  Learning to correct this behavior with my romantic interests has been another piece of the puzzle in my healing.

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