I was sitting in the audience of a fashion show next to my best friend. It was a small event, definitely not New York Fashion Week or anything remarkably close, but my friend was a member of the group that was throwing the event and I was there to support her, the way friends usually do.
It was dark, the models were strutting up and down the runway, and all I could think was “I really wish I could go for my phone, but it would be way too obvious in the dark.” I was itching to check whether or not This Dude had texted me.
I really liked This Dude. We’d been seeing each other for a couple months and I was ready for him to step into the role of Next Boyfriend. I knew he was out with his buddies while I was sitting at the fashion show, and I wanted to know if he’d been thinking about me, or if he was going to invite me out to join them later. I was close to tapping my foot in nervous frustration, but I held it steady. I didn’t want my best friend to pick up on my energy.
I’m not totally certain why this memory stands out to me so clearly, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s probably because it should have been my first sign that something was off.
There’s a difference between the excited, anticipatory energy of “I like this person so much, and I know they like me a lot, too, and I can’t wait to see them again!” and what I was doing, which was “I really like this dude and I think he likes me … but I feel like he might not be thinking about me and I’m anxious about that.”
If I’d been in tune with my intuition, I would have realized that my foot-tapping compulsion to check my phone was not being compelled by an intense mutual interest between the two of us. I could sense, subconsciously at that point, that he just wasn’t as into me as I was into him. My desire to grab my phone was fueled by the need to keep a hold of This Dude (which I shouldn’t have felt the need to do, if this thing was mutual).
When the fashion show ended (“Thank God. Finally.”) I dove for my phone and eagerly unlocked it…
And of course, then I felt … sinking disappointment. Tears pricking in the corners of my eyes. I was so mad, and I didn’t know who deserved it more in that moment. This Dude? Or me? (Hint: me, definitely me.) I’d gotten all worked up and stressed out over This Dude, and he wasn’t thinking about me the way I was thinking about him. If he was, he would have texted me, right? (Right?!)
I know now that during the entire pseudo-but-not-really-anything-relationship with This Dude, I was absolutely fear dating.
This moment wasn’t the only time that I ignored my intuition (far from it), and that I didn’t ask what the sinking, awful feeling in my gut really meant. I wasn’t conscious enough to know better then, but it was more than that. I didn’t want to know better. It would have been scary to listen to my gut. I would have ended up single again if I listened to it. And I liked being liked … even if it meant being liked on his terms, not mine.
And maybe worst of all … I wasn’t present for my friend at her event. I neglected a event in a friendship I’d had for years and years (way longer than the blip in history that This Dude was around for). Fear dating led me to be a crappy friend to her in that moment.
I ended up holding on to non-hope with This Dude for a little while longer, until I didn’t hear from him for four days and finally confronted him. I thought I was being strong by saying, “Either we make this official or break it off, because the in between is not fun for me.” What do you think he did?
Ignoring your gut is a big misstep. I ended up single again, anyway. It could have been my choice, but I gave up some of my power and allowed him to (once again) define the terms (read: break it off) of our non-relationship.
You know when you’re ignoring your intuition. It feels off. It’s uncomfortable. It’s nervous and anxious.
Feel it. Even if you don’t want to, even if it’s scary. Don’t keep letting fear run your life.
Rachel (& Kristen)