Day 137 - Mansbatical Revisted: Epic Fail or Interesting Development?
Updated: May 8, 2020
181 days ago I decided to take a break from men and dating. (I only started writing about it 137 days ago). That is not what happened...
I have not sworn off men or dating for that matter. This last six months has been interesting as I examine and re-examine my relationship with men and in turn dating.
Let’s start with dating first...
Dating is apparently the thing you have to do if you ever want to have a long term relationship...which is bad news to those of us who would just rather fall in love. Falling in love is easier, feels less risky and seems to kind of give you the end result in the beginning. Not that there isn’t a lot of insecurity in falling in love. There is, but when you are falling in love, you and the other person are both nuts about each other and doing stupid, silly crap together. Dating is fraught with a whole bunch of things that are way harder to navigate.
Dating involves rejection. Lots of it. Whether you are the one being rejected or the one rejecting, there is a lot of heavy lifting involved. The more dates you go on, the more opportunities for rejection. I am not even going to get into the whole online world here...that is a shitshow. Endless opportunities for rejection right in the comfort of your own home. I am convinced that online dating will be the death of all human connection. I shit you not.
Dating involves risk...a lot of it. I am so glad that I am a girl...men still pay for dates. Not always but in general they do. I would really resent having to spend my hard earned money to take some guy out and then have him be a total waste of my time. I know that doesn’t make me look very good, but it is the truth. Men are so much easier than women on many levels. They really are. They, for the most part, just want to do what they are supposed to, and not get a lot of flack about it.
Back to risk. There is so much at stake in dating. Time invested that usually provides for little return on investment. Feelings not being reciprocated. Actual physical danger. Risk of assault, abuse and even death. Especially in the online world...one never really knows who one is going out with...If we were all to really evaluate what is in play, I think we would all just stay home and continue to date Netflix.
Ok, I got sidetracked...I did not intend to give you some theoretical dissertation on dating and falling in love...I intended to tell you about how this Mansbatical has gone. I guess my embarrassment at my lack of staying the outlined course, apparent.
First of all, I took license with the word Sabbatical (which is typically defined as a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked).
For my purposes, I was defining a Mansbatical as a one year period of time taken off from dating...leaving off all the inferences of the employee and paid part...that just makes dating something else all together!
The general purpose of a sabbatical is to give an employee a chance to step back from their role at work and focus on personal enrichment and professional development.
This was also the goal of the Mansbatical. To take a step back from my dating life so as to deepen my personal enrichment and development.
And that has happened, although not as imagined or planned.
I am sure there are a great number of lessons I could have learned with spending an entire year alone. However, it is very hard to really work on yourself in relationship when you aren’t having any. And while I would love to be able to honestly stand by that statement, I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that I couldn’t do it. My need for connection too great to go an entire year without dating. Makes me feel somewhat pathetic writing that...but it is true.
So at six months in, I am going to redefine the Mansbatical so that it comports more with I am actually doing rather than what I set out to do. I also need to pull my own covers and stop retreating into the year of abstinence every time I get scared or worried. That is the dating equivalent to taking your ball and going home from childhood. “Things are going the way that I wanted, so I am out...” Pretty childish really.
I guess what I really wanted to do was write about how felt, my experience and what I learned. That I have done. Probably more so than some of you would have liked. I am out here doing what I am doing and likely have several readers that would like to hear a little less from me...that is the great thing about a blog, you can just not read it.
I have learned so much about myself over this time. I have learned a lot about men too. I have developed some pretty amazing friendships with men. Guys that I talk to, confide in and really enjoy their company. I am grateful for our connection and grateful for all the work I have done in relation to men. There were a lot of early experiences in my life that set me up to hate them, not trust them and vilify them. But that is not my experience. I have learned to love them, understand them better and enjoy the differences while seeing the similarities.
So this time off has not gone as planned but what in life does? I have deepened my relationship with myself as well as with others. So I am going eschew epic fail and go with interesting development. Hardly a smashing success but perhaps it is all about how I define it. I have remained single, taken no hostages or jumped into any serious relationships. I have dated and learned to stay on my side of the street. I have learned to allow things to develop at less than the speed of light. I have learned that sometimes I paint over things that I should really be paying attention to, and with a little distance, I can see those things better. This fact alone has stopped me from making some pretty large dating mistakes.
The best thing I have gained in the last six months is a life that feels well rounded. I have a good work/life balance. I am currently doing the work so that if and when a relationship might provide a loving connection, I don’t get lost in the shuffle and I might even have something to share with someone else. Amazing.
The most important thing I have learned is that you cannot make someone else want you, love you or spend time with you. You can’t. They are going to do whatever they are going to do. You just have to stay in your own lane and allow it to all unfold. Be curious, not so set on outcomes, be more interested in the process. This process has taught me that I want me, I love me and I enjoy spending time with me. And if I can do all of that, someday someone else might too. In the meantime, I am going to keep going with my time of enrichment and reflection. I will report back to the class what else I discover along the way...