In addition to learning to be vulnerable all over again, I find that there’s a bit of an adjustment period to allowing one’s self to be appreciated. Goodness me, it’s sometimes difficult and uncomfortable to accept a steady stream of kind, thoughtful and flattering words, behaviors and attention! It’s been a long time since a fella has adored me for being me — all of me, which can be a lot! — and one hardly knows what to make of it all…
I find that I have three conflicting (and rather telling) automatic responses to all of this:
- The first is to be skeptical and suspicious, to wonder if I’m being flattered to some end, or played. But as I quickly rule this out, I wonder:
- Have I aimed too low? Is this man who seems to adore me putting me on some sort of pedestal? Does he worship me because I’m somehow a better combination of smarter and prettier than he’s dated in the past? (Egad, this appears so narcissistic in black and white!) Stated even more plainly: “He likes me; what on earth is wrong with him?!”
- Finally, I have to concede that it’s possible that a kind, intelligent and attractive man simply enjoys my company, respects me, finds me attractive, and treats me as I ought to be treated.
Let me point out that I think it’s big of me to admit the kind of bullshit that I’ve uncovered in my psyche. Here’s the truth: I’ve always gone for really attractive men — often the kind of men who are out of reach, unattainable, narcissistic, or who I somehow end up feeling that I have to chase or do something to be worthy. I may have felt I’d achieved something by “getting” that kind of man in the past (for the time we were together) but, in the end, there was always a part of me that ended up feeling insecure in ways.
This time, it’s different. I know that for a relationship to be successful, I’m going to need to let someone into my life who adores me for just being who I am. I wrote earlier about paying attention to my feelings, observing a man’s behavior and actually putting some of the “dating theory” type stuff I’ve learned into practice. A man will demonstrate the type of person he is. He will show me right from the beginning how he intends to treat me. And I will create very clear expectations.
I see myself doing this in relationship to a beau these days and, against all odds, these new behaviors, attitudes and perspective are coming quite naturally to the fierce new me: I let him call, plan and make dinner reservations; I allow him to buy me dinner; I expect him to open doors for me and offer me his coat when I’m chilled; I don’t protest when he says or does something kind; I surrender to his putting my pleasure before his own. And I find I’m quite okay with being adored!