I decided to re open myself to the idea of dating today. Truthfully, I have never dated before. I have an anxious attachment style, which means that I like to merge with others. I’m not avoidant or careful really about relationships at all. And men tend to be very quick about asking me for an exclusive commitment. I’ve been proposed to eleven times. So, I tend to fall straight from a committed relationship with one man to a committed relationship with the next. I’ve never “dated” for more than one date. And I’ve never dated multiple men. Psychologists who specialize in attachment styles say that the best thing for my type to do is to go on lots of dates with multiple different men and decide which one of them is the best for me and then commit to and merge with that guy.
For people with the anxious attachment style, their primary relationship is the most important part of their life. Humans are genetically wired to seek the security of a relationship because that was evolutionarily advantageous. But the “attachment systems” of anxious types (like me), are especially wired to equate survival with a relationship. They are at their very best when “merged” with another person. It seems paradoxical, but it is true that humans in general (unless you have an avoidant attachment style) are more independent when they have someone to be dependent on. You can see this with babies and toddlers. When they have the security of knowing their primary attachment figure (mom or dad) is close, they tend to venture off and explore more. If they are unsure of the availability of their primary attachment figure, they freeze and exhibit protest behavior. Protest behavior is behavior that is designed to get the primary attachment figure to re-establish intimacy and reassurance, such as crying or banging on things or calling out for them. The thing is, this doesn’t change when we get older. We’re still more likely to be autonomous when we have the security of a symbiotic relationship.
So, all this being said, anxious attachment style types (like me) tend to merge with a partner so fast that they get too deep into the bond to pull back from it when the person they’ve attached to proves to be abusive, or avoidant or just not what they really want. They live out very unsatisfactory relationships of emotional volatility because the original commitment was not made to the kind of partner who is #1 what they are looking for in a partner, #2 capable of deep intimacy or emotional availability. So, the idea behind this “date multiple people” theory is that the survival attachment system will not get as triggered and desperate to merge with someone, if it has multiple partnering potentials. And therefore, the person (me) will be able to make a more intelligent decision about which person to partner with, thus greatly increasing the chances of an enjoyable, secure relationship.
I love the theory. It resonates with me greatly, so I’ve decided I’m going to attempt to date multiple people and allow myself to ask for my relationship needs to be met. I’m going to find a man with a “secure” attachment style. This will be a radical new approach to relationships for me. I’m the person who typically thinks I should have no needs, so I feel guilty when I have needs in relationships. And when my needs aren’t met, I don’t feel as if I can ask for them to be met and remain a respectable or good person at the same time. We shall see in the upcoming months how this approach to romantic relationships works for me. It’s a self-imposed experiment. You know what they say, if something you’ve been doing isn’t working, try something new. Now the only challenge will be to temper my extreme impulse to merge, so that I can make sure I don’t immediately bond with the first person I date (as I my tendency).
My excitement is tinted with fear. I’m feeling very vulnerable and not as brave about this endeavor as I would hope. It is frightening to willingly open yourself up to love after years of painful relationships. Both potentials are painful. To be alone, without love is painful. To be in an unhappy relationship, with love is painful. I have never experienced a romantic relationship that wasn’t more painful than it was enjoyable. I cannot yet conceptualize of what it would be like to feel secure in a relationship. I cannot yet conceptualize what it would feel like to be in a relationship with someone who was consistently emotionally available. And most especially, I cannot yet conceptualize of what it would feel like to be with someone who was able to enable my healing relative to relationships by virtue of developing a healthy and ever evolving relationship with me. It is both the most tempting desire I have thus given birth to and the most frightening. You can only get hurt so many times by relationships before you start to feel like you can’t take one more thing. It is difficult not to slip into the bitter distrust that follows such hurt. But bitterness does not suit me. And I have always been more interested in chasing my desires than avoiding them for fear of them not becoming reality.
Blake finally admitted to himself today, after ten years of hoping, that we would never be in a romantic relationship together again. We have followed a pattern for the last ten years, where we are like brother and sister (who are also best friends) when I am in a relationship with another man. But when I am “available” again, he tries to close the gap between us and become lovers again. We had a community meeting today to discuss his feelings and he admitted that he has always harbored the hope. But it is not to be born, for the same reasons that our romantic relationship ended in the first place. Blake is not inherently the person I have always wanted to be with. He has to become someone else to be that man. And he fails at it, which is good because a relationship where you can never really be yourself is inevitable torture. For me to be with Blake, I would have to deny my truest desires in order to be lovingly committed to him for who he really is. And I fail at it, which is good because a relationship where I can never really let myself have what I want and need, is inevitable torture. When we are romantically together, he always feels like a failure and I always feel like a bitch. There is nothing worse than a relationship that chronically feeds a poor self-concept.
Blake has gone off into town to journal at a coffee shop after his realization. Inside I know that our bond is deeper than anyone understands. We became each other’s family when both of us felt like we had none. No romantic bond or lack there of, could ever strip us from each other’s hearts and lives. We are like reunited litter-mates. But it doesn’t stop me from being nervous of how this realization will affect the relationship between us. Deep down, I know that this will enable him to release the clasp he has on me, which is currently disallowing the love he wants so badly to find. He will find a woman who is capable of loving him for exactly who he is right here and now, instead of for the potential of who he could be. I can only hope that she will have a place in her heart for me.