Recently Lea Thau of the Strangers podcast explores why she has been single for four years now in a series she calls “Love Hurts.” Lea talks to two past dates, a dating coach and even a guy she rejected all as research into her single status. It’s all very honest and very revealing. I think most of my fellow singletons will also relate in some way or another.
Lea had basically been in some sort of committed relationship for most of her adult life and so I thought it would be a little difficult to relate to. Yours truly has had more “dry spells” so to speak than this gal who is a little older than I am. But then Lea said something really interesting in the fourth installment: “But there is a way in which I don’t bring myself true self ever to relationships with men I’m romantically involved with because I’m afraid that it will scare them off.”
That admission really struck me more than all the horrors of her relationship with her ex-fiance (baby daddy) or the guys from her online dates who simply disappeared. It was the most honest statement she had made in four episodes and the most telling. And it was the thing that made me relate to Lea as I had not expected.
We all have bits of ourselves that we feel aren’t worthy of those whom we love. Some of us just take it to a more extreme level. This is especially true after being rejected in the past.
I can remember telling guys who wanted to date me in my college years: “You don’t know me very well and if you did, you wouldn’t like me that much.” Most of them took that as a challenge but, yes, those relationships would not last very long. And I think that’s mostly because I would censor myself a little and try not to require too much attention or do anything that they might not like. Which is pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? It’s walking around all perfectly contained and lacking in substance. That’s not a relationship, it’s a play.
Unfortunately, it is something I still struggle with to an extent. I’m not a social butterfly by nature and happen to find being social (while enjoyable in small doses) to be physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s near to impossible to find someone who understands that without knowing me for years. Even then, this concept is hard to grasp if you’re naturally outgoing and thrive off of social activity. One of my office mates thinks I’m angry with her when I’m quiet. (It really just means I’m very busy.)
I have a feeling I seem a little Jekyll and Hyde sometimes because I can flip my “social switch” when necessary. I might not be the life of the party but I can talk to people and not just the ones I know. Yet, there will always be times when I need peace, a cup of tea and a really good book. In my college days, people like me were the boring ones and I didn’t want a guy I really liked to think I was boring when my roommates already did. (They knew my habit to disappear into a book while they were out flirting with frat boys.)
Thus why it felt necessary to hide my true nature when possible. To mask the quiet, mostly introverted me and try to be fun and lively as much as I could. But the times when I couldn’t, the guys tended to back off because they thought I didn’t like them. It was a pattern and one I’m still working to move past just like Lea. (Except that she’s willing to go online dating… good for her!)
Have you listened to the Strangers podcast? What did you think of the “Love Hurts” episodes?