Have you read Alain de Botton’s The Course of Love? Do it. I loved it, wolfing it down. It’s partly based on Attachment Theory, and crucially for H & I, Alain suggests we bring all our faults to our first date, rather than just our good stuff. Now because we were 1641kms apart, and I thought we’d never meet and therefore had nothing to lose, I invited H to tell me all their worst qualities, as an exercise for us both.
‘H’ said ‘Yes Lets’. And then wrote:
‘Wow, I’ve never EVER laid my shit on the table to anyone… OK… I’m going to be completely honest and leave not one thing out…’
Don’t worry, I won’t go on. But the point is, we swapped shitty stuff, and got an insight into deeper levels that don’t usually see the light of day so soon.
In Episode 3 HERE, I name-checked another book called Attached; I have to say I think it’s changed my life. Synchronistically, I was reading it when I first came across H, and mentioned it in one of our early messages; H downloaded it straight away (that was the first clear ‘Yes Lets’ I got). It gave us a common vocabulary with which to talk about ourselves, our various exes stretching back 30 years, and our families. In fact, it was crucial to us continuing to message each other, after the great challenge of Fight #1…
Yup, we managed to disagree. Strongly. Apparently, I was sending mixed messages [no comment]. H misunderstood, reacted and withdrew [no comment]. I reacted back, and… THEN STOPPED MYSELF. Thank god for those 1641kms. Thanks to reading Attached, and understanding my romantic behaviours so much more deeply than ever, I saw clearly for the first time in my adult dating life that I had 3 choices:
- I could continue to be a highly-successful Avoidant, and just disappear, blowing off the perceived drama of H’s communication, and the potential ‘neediness’ behind it which I would have to deal with (damn harsh I know)
- I could get super Anxious about how I’d just fucked it up/it was all my fault/there was no hope, and just give up (equally harsh in a different way yes?)
- Take a deep breath, and practise being Secure: take responsibility for my part in the confusion, apologize, focus on and reassure our fears or concerns, then just keep showing up calmly and with love.
There’s probably a year of blog posts in why I could have chosen each one of those first two, (mmmm, especially the Avoidant- so much simpler/smoother/familiar, with an easy pleasure to it, if I’m really honest) but I’m going to spare myself all of us the agony.
Obviously, I did the third one. I literally had the book open on my lap, glancing at it as I typed:
“5 Secure principles for resolving conflict-
- Show basic concern for the other person’s wellbeing
- Maintain focus on the problem at hand
- Refrain from generalizing the conflict
- Be willing to engage
- Effectively & simply communicate feelings & needs”
I chose to Be the person I actually want to be connected with, and I can truly say I’ve never done that with such clarity or ease before. It just felt right. What an incredible opportunity it was, for both of us. And the rest, as they say, is History. Or Herstory.
Right time, right person, right place (especially as it’s not the same place- somehow, it seems to be essential in our story that we actually live so far apart for now).
But first, in real life time, I’m going to Melbourne TOMORROW for our official 4th date.
I CAN HARDLY WAIT…