validate me

I had a little chat with my guy this weekend about my flirting habit and need for validation. I don’t think I am crossing any boundaries or acting inappropriately based on current stage of our relationship, but something I said clearly made my guy think twice.

I’m flirtatious and playful, and I’m that way with both girlfriends and guy friends… That’s not likely to change, and it’s not something I’d want to change about myself. Still, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that amusing email exchange with Chi-guy — particularly not at the moment I brought it up. But it was funny! And I’m transparent like that. I don’t think anything of it — i.e. this sort of back-and-forth communication is not leading to any sort of activity. (As my readers know, Chi-guy didn’t make any moves when given the chance.) So it was no big deal to me.

My guy is more Southern, more traditional, more proper. His boundaries are clearly in a different place than mine and, frankly, that gives me great comfort. Still, I am capable of exclusivity — and I don’t think a harmless flirtation, via email no less, should bring my character into question.

But then, while at work today, I noticed my need for validation… In fact, I thought about shooting a note to the guy (formerly in the next cubicle) who used to give me attention. I realized, “Wow, I do have a heightened need for validation and attention right now.” So I got another cup of tea and went back to work.

Perhaps this need for validation is a result of where I am in my life – divorced, dating again, working hard to restore my feelings of attractiveness and self-confidence. Perhaps it’s a recent habit. Or perhaps I’ve been like this for years.

So I’m glad we had that chat. Because, while I have much firmer boundaries than I’ve had in the past and my sense of what’s appropriate is more in line with the cultural norms of surrounding adults, it’s good for me to be reminded to mind my behaviors. Not everyone is so generous in their perceptions of flirty women.

Still, this discussion about flirting with other men and my need for validation brings up a question:  Am I really ready for exclusivity? Can I allow this to progress naturally and, should things become more serious, reign in a flirtatiousness that seems so natural to me?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:  I like to flirt because it makes others feel as good as it makes me feel. When I’m at my best, I charm and put anyone at ease — a good skill to have. So I’ll be a flirt, more consciously, in its higher form…and I’ll learn to validate myself when I need that.

much ado about exclusivity

The gentleman I’ve been seeing recently asked me if I was ready to be in an exclusive dating relationship with him, to “give this thing a chance.” We talked about it for a while over the phone (which is how we manage the challenge of our sporadic actual in-person dates scheduled around my parenting gig), and then decided to think about it overnight.

I can’t deny having had mixed feelings. I mean, I like the thought of casually dating at this time in my life. Being open to receiving masculine energy from more than one direction sounds great — at least as a concept or in theory. In practicality, I haven’t the time to date more than one man at a time and, besides, I like the one I am seeing. My personal history shows that I am a monogamist at heart.

Also, we’d already been physically intimate, both expressed a desire to respect and attend to another’s physical and emotional safety and, frankly, this exclusivity discussion was overdue — at least as far as sex was concerned. I don’t sleep around, and I don’t want to be intimate with someone who’s putting my health at risk, either. So even if I were interested in keeping my options open, I wouldn’t be interested in getting physical with another man at present.

Still, I was startled to experience fear in considering whether I was ready for exclusivity. To be fair, my beau used the word “commitment” almost interchangeably with “exclusivity” and, in my mind, these are vastly different concepts (as in one of them usually comes with a ring). When we were able to meet the next evening, he clarified that he had merely meant to imply certain expectations, in particular honesty and open communication.

Ultimately, we agreed to giving this thing a chance, fears be damned. I can agree to being as honest and open as possible. I can open my heart to possibility. And we agreed to use the more palatable “exclusive” to describe it.