Ok, so, yes, I am on a dating app; Bumble to be specific.
I haven’t talked about it much here, mostly because there hasn’t been a whole lot to say at least over these last seven, COVID-filled months. But, things are still moving along, albeit slowly, and I have my first date since February coming up this week.
It’s this among other things that has some thoughts rolling around in my noggin.
When you get on a dating app in your forties uncertainties abound, but one thing you can be fairly certain of is this: everyone has their “stuff,” their baggage. I mean really, it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of what. So, of course, the follow-on question that everyone must try to answer is what and/or how much stuff is their deal-breaker.
And man is this tough. And I’ve also found, that even when you have a sense of your answer, each person presents differences - nuances - to be considered.
We’re human, after all. Not robots.
But something I’ve also started to get, painstakingly over time, is that maybe this question is the wrong one to be asking. That is, maybe, instead of asking what or how much stuff of yours I can handle, it’s are you trying to handle your own stuff?
I’ve often said, when describing the relationship I’d like to have, the following:
I’m driving my own bus, going in my own direction. Moving my life forward with or without someone else along for the ride. I want someone who is doing the same, who is driving their bus and is perhaps, headed in my general direction. That way, we can stop off together and see the sights, but we’re each still driving our buses separately as we go from place to place.
I guess this is my way of illustrating the same question. Because if you’re driving your bus and doing what you can to maintain it and keep it humming along, well, that’s it then really. It’s saying that you’re living your own life and trying to handle your own stuff. And that you aren’t waiting for, or expecting, someone else to do it for you.
Or worse, that you don't believe your stuff needs to be handled at all...yeesh!
It doesn’t have to be perfect, mind you. Goodness no. I would be undatable if that were the benchmark. But just a willingness to acknowledge your stuff and, as Brené Brown so eloquently put it, not work your shit out on other people.
Let’s face it guys. Life is hard as it is. We’re all just bumbling along. And all the events that have piled on this year, stacking uncertainty on top of uncertainty? We’re all a little nutty right now as well, which means those of us who were nutty already might be holding it together by a thread.
So, it’s not about being judgmental about people’s pasts, however challenging. It’s more about asking what’s right for us to be expected to take on?
Because we do not have to accept anybody else’s stuff. Ever.
It’s also not about not being there for someone who’s got stuff in need of working through. It is possible to be available, to be supportive, to be loving and kind without carrying the load.
And I’ll go out on a limb a bit and propose that this philosophy applies to other types of relationships too. (All relationships maybe?) Even ones we’ve had for a long, long time.
We always have the right to re-evaluate. We always have the right to acknowledge when a relationship is not serving us well. We always have the right to speak up and expect to be heard in this situation. We always have the right to stand firm if we aren’t.
The healthy ones will withstand it. Change. Evolve. And even - often - grow stronger.
Unhealthy ones? Well, a horse of a different color I’m afraid, and a topic for another day.