Sometimes the hardest part of dating is not the big scary business of opening our heart with a prayer and sigh of resigned despair as we hand it over on a platter and wait for it to be smashed cruelly to dust with our lover’s mallet. Although I’ll circle back to that particular problem later. Sometimes it’s all of the cringe-worthy emotional vulnerability “paper cuts” that add up to a rather unpleasant death by stinging. Like when we are getting ready for that online date and we realize that the picture we posted may not, in fact, be preparing our date for how we look sansartist’s grade sepia, courtesy of the particular wattage of the coffee shop lighting at 7 pm on a Tuesday. In a terrible twist the one who was just a friendly likeable presence in our phone is now about to morph into an actual being that exists solely with the purpose of judging our attractiveness, and we somehow agreed to it! What trickery. What a special slice of hell.
Or like when we are cruising along, a date or two under our belts, all coolly cucumber like, getting our kiss goodnight and our cute little flirty emoji’s and then with a sudden onset the ding on our phone causes our ears to prick up like Rover when the bacon treats come out of the cupboard. We pick it up repeatedly, checking for a missed text, our next fix. We may even ever so slightly obsess. Not cool. Warm zucchini uncool. But we can’t get it back, can we, our nonchalant indifference? We are smitten, and that shit is undoable.
And let’s say one night we get a little more intimate with our Romeo or Juliette, and as the sparks are flyin’ it strikes us with a bolt of wild random lightening across a prairie sky, that we have not in fact gone out and gotten ourselves one of those Victoria’s Secret/Calvin Klein underwear model BODS, to go with our reasonably attractive underwear, and they are about to confront us with that cold, hard fact. When ’they’ told us to have safe sex, they didn’t say safe from MORTIFICATION, aka get to the gym stat. Those jerks. So we close our eyes because we can’t just stop the whole thing mid-performance and we don’t want to draw MORE attention to our painfully awkward realization, and we brace as the layers peel off. Maybe if we’re lucky it’s pitch black, or we skillfully keep on our tank top, or at least our socks (meow).
Then what about when we recover from at least partial nudity (gasp!) and move onto the business of busy-ness. There is an entirely different set of body parts from our own just waiting to trip us up. How do we work them!!?? What if Cosmo was wrong? What if they are not into position 63 variation 4 in the Kama Sutra? What cruel evil bastard made up the rules and then kept them an ever loving secret? On the outside we are all sexy, while on the inside we are stress sweating. Ewe.
It’s tiring. Exhausting. Like how long until a nap is no longer a nap but a retirement plan?
And if we make it through sex!!?? Well it should end there, for the love of all things good and beautiful, but it doesn’t.
Now we CARE about 1001 really dumb things we never cared about before and never want anyone to know we care about. We know very well it means nothing that yesterday they sent a kiss emoji and today it’s a hug. But like the look on their face and the vague comment the barista made on our new pink sweater, everything feels like a personal attack.
The voice of reason says ‘hey, you’re not so tired let’s have a quick boo on facebook’ and then it’s 4 am and we have mapped their entire family tree going back to the Conquistadors of Portugal and run the analytic diagnostics on their emoji patterns into a spreadsheet that may or may not indicate that some bitch from high school wants our man.
The same voice that says our outfit is simultaneously too revealing and too boring also shows us twenty years into the future, when we have given up our hopes and dreams and this glorious person we want so much to be accepted and adored by is suddenly not enough for us and quite plausibly the reason for our future gloom.
We are coked up on crazy thoughts, so much so that we can’t tell which ones are crazy anymore.
It’s a miracle that we come together at all.
So why do we? And why should we Erin? You’re not exactly doing a great job of romancing romance!
Well, my funny Valentine, because you are someone’s favourite work of art.
Because ego –the voice of fear, is a big ruse! It gets paid when you feel ‘less than’ beautiful, less than safe, less than enough. But you have to CHOOSE it, kiss it goodnight, and get into actual bed with it for it to have any power over you at all. And I’m here to tell you don’t sleep with that asshole! Just don’t do it.
Practice not doing it. When you feel that cold sweat, hot flash, ball gripping panic, conjure Frank Sinatra’s voice crooning Stay little Valentine, you’re the smile in my heart. Sing it to yourself until it’s stuck in your head. Until you believe it. Date the voice of love instead. She won’t throw you back because your chest hair looks like Vinnie Barbarino’s on steroids, you sexy beast.
Those ‘insecurities’ add colour and texture to the canvas.
Practice seeing yourself the way your person is going to see you. Think Jack in the Titanic, but without the frozen cold death.
Then those thousand paper cuts can become a thousand triumphs. A thousand brushstrokes that paint you from scary-ville to the end of the couple-dom rainbow.
And if you’re not coming up red roses? Well then get yourself a gardener.
Find someone to help you choose love.
Once, twice, or for say fifty first dates, until it becomes your long term memory #youbringthechocolateillbringthewine.
And what about that other problem…not the papercut but the whole heart on silver tray crushed by a mallet concern? WELL, well, well. That one requires we get in there and do a bit of restoration by so that the paintbrush doesn’t break the camel’s heart (that is a variation on the straw breaking the camel’s back, in case I’ve lost you). In other words I can help you with your big heart breaks and your little ones too.
We’ve got this. The future of the population is in our artful hands.
Yours, in love, lust and dating from the inside out.
— Love Erin
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