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Strong Enough

It’s hard being the strong one.  

I’ve seen this meme on the Net recently about how nobody knows when the strong ones have needs and it really hit home with me.  It was pretty much the entirety of my last relationship.  I tried to be strong for her, to be there for her issues, and never let her - or anyone - know about my own needs and issues.  In the end, it hurt the relationship more than it helped.  I pretty much shut down, expressing as little emotion as I could get away with.  She thought I was withdrawing, which I was, because I couldn’t deal with the emotional roller coaster anymore and I couldn’t express that to her.

But that was then and this is now.  It’s been more than a year since we split up and I’ve spent that time recovering.  As I told her recently when she broached the subject of us getting back together, it’s like the last couple decades have worn me down to the bone and I need time to build that flesh back up.  I’ve also needed to figure out who I really am.  For the last fifteen years, I’ve been someone other than myself, someone who did what was necessary to take care of other people.  And I went from relationship to relationship, not because they were my soul mate, but because they needed me.  Somewhere along the line, I lost who I was.

Recently, I figured I’d recovered enough of myself to dip a toe into the dating scene again, but I’ve encountered a number of roadblocks.  Firstly, I don’t get out a lot.  To be quite honest, there’s no where I want to go.  I’ve done the bar scene (boy, did I ever), and I don’t want to do that again.  There’s something about being the lonely guy sitting at a bar, waiting for that one girl drunk enough to want to go home with me that depresses me more than I can say.  I’ve tried dating sites, but they mostly cater to a younger crowd and the women who are my age seem to be looking for something I’m not, and I don’t feel like changing myself at this point in order to make myself more likeable, and I’ve got to admit that some of my hobbies are not exactly mainstream.  And let’s not even start about dating in the workplace.  Though there are some women there who I’d like to get to know better, the fallout from an exploding relationship is not something I need where I make my money.

There have been a couple times when I’ve come close to meeting someone I got to know online, from one site or another, but that’s when my personality starts getting in the way.  I don’t chase because I don’t want to seem needy and they eventually stop talking to me.  If it were a party, I’d be that guy in the corner, talking to the pretty girl.  She goes away to get a drink and never comes back because she gets stopped by the player at the bar.  He’s interested enough to make a play.  I’m interested, too, but I’m not going to chase her because that goes against everything I am.

It’s a strange mix of ego and insecurity.  My ego says that I should be interesting enough for her to stick around.  My insecurity stops me from saying the things that might make her stick around.

And then there’s still the whole thing about being the strong one.

The women I do seem to attract seem to want me for what I can do for them.  I can take pictures?  Great!  They want to start a modeling career.  I’ve got a place where they can live?  Fantastic!  Their roommate’s about to kick them out.  I’ve got a job to support them?  Outstanding!  They want to go to college to become a dermatologist.  Apparently, I give off this vibe that says I’ll take care of them.  I don’t want to take care of anyone anymore.  I don’t want to be taken care of either.  

I want someone to share a life with, not someone who wants me to take over their’s.  Yes, I will do for you, but I want you to do for me, too.  Relationships are supposed to be a two way street.

I guess it’s all part of figuring out who I am.  I’m finding that the things I thought I needed in a relationship aren’t really things I need at all.  I need someone who’s going to give as well as take, someone who will take care of me as much as I take care of her.  I just don’t know how to express that.

Maybe I’m just not strong enough.

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