it’s not personal, it’s dating

Typically, when a boy says “hello,” I put my running shoes on. Then when he says, “How are you?” I turn to face the door. And when he says, “What’s your name?” I’ve already left, the wind from my sprint kissing his face, the only kiss he’ll get from me.

I’ve made a decision. I’m facing my dating demons. I’m putting the running shoes in a locked closet. I am, however, still very much carrying the key.

The latest boy says things like, “I’m glad you want 3 kids. I want 3 kids too. I think we might make a nice couple.” He calls me “cutie.” The whole time I am cringing, reaching for and fingering that key in my pocket. And it has nothing to do with him. It’s not personal, it’s dating.

I tell friends that I need practice. I get all kinds of questions and looks and oo's and ahs with this comment. “I’m not talking about that,” I say. Sheesh people. Get a grip. On further explanation it goes like this, “I need practice in how I present myself, what I reveal, what I hide, how I let someone know me. And I need to figure out how you get to know someone of the opposite sex.” The thing is is that with women and with safe (typically married to my friends) men, I am an expert at this. Conversation is easy and the back and forth of “this is me/ what about you” is peppered with sarcasms and funny stories. And these are the conversations where I breathe easily and life feels so good.

When dating, life is horrible and I’m suffocating. My walls are so thick, so high and my radar for “this guy is such a freak” is supersensitive. I pick apart every word, every non-word. I am his worst critic. And all the while I’m looking for escape routes. But now, with my running shoes tucked away, I see that I am becoming a bitch. I’m putting up the wall that says, “Why the hell are you interested in me?” It’s not a fair wall and I’m sure it does wonders for the guys’ ego, but it’s not personal, it’s dating.

I hardly know this new guy, actually I don’t know him at all and all of my preconceptions are unfair and leave me uneasy. Can I do this? Can I enter into this world and leave my cynicism behind? Will I always be looking for exits? I have no idea and if he turns the tide and rejects me then I just have to remember that it’s not personal, it’s dating.

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