A year may not be enough. They say take a year before starting a new relationship after ending a serious one. Who knows how long you should wait after a traumatic relationship? I thought because I was happy on my own that I was going to be fine dating someone. However light is being shone in places that I have kept dark for a long time: there are cracks and the structural integrity is questionable. For example:
I can't accept compliments. I don't mean that I imediately compliment someone back or say something silly. I mean that I can't accept them, like they feel like ticking timebombs. It's not as if I think the person is trying to flatter me into getting something out of me... it's that I'm scared to believe them then have the exact opposite said later in a moment of anger. So the joy of watching someone feel good when you compliment them is not something that my boyfriend (I'm very hesitant to call him that, but more about that later) gets to experience. Infact I often break into a line of intense questioning about the compliment that would deter anyone from saying anything nice about me to my face again.
I both desire and fear commitment. The desire to feel wanted is normal, the desire for stability as well. However whenever I feel like I am getting too attached I look for signs that the relationship is unhealthy. By looking for I mean with a magnifying glass and fine toothed comb. Whenever something happens that looks like a step in the direction of commitment, at first I feel all warm and fuzzy (for 5 seconds) then part of me wants to run for the hills. In defense mode I sort of make a passive aggressive joke to let him know how uncomfortable I am with the thought of commitment: "You want to keep an extra set of clothes at my house? That kinda sounds like commitment to me. Next thing you know you'll want a drawer" (Wink, wink) The worst part? It's completely equal, I want the (small) commitments just as much as I don't want them. Needless to say, he hasn't brought over that extra set of clothes yet, and who can blame him?
He called me his girlfriend to my face, which filled me with warmth. Yet, I am completely uncomfortable calling him my boyfriend, not because of shame, I am proud to be seen with him, we are publicly affectionate. Rather it is admitting to believing in his commitment to me, even if it is a small one. I don't want to trust him. I don't want to trust anyone. You can't be betrayed if you didn't trust in the first place.
I don't go to him when I am feeling emotional stress. I feel like a burden, that somehow me having a rough day is going to put too much on him. I'll confide in others first then talk to him later, after I've dealt with it... almost in a "this is what I did today" manner. If I do confide in him, I'm often apologetic while doing so and I hold back the most painful details. This lowers the amount of vulnerability I feel and it gives less ammunition for the future.
Yeah, you read that right. I still base my behaviour on what may or may not be used against me in an upcoming conflict...
So, yeah, there's some unresolved shit there (for lack of a better term) and it affects me negatively. However, I think these things can only surface during a relationship. No matter how long I abstained these issues would be waiting for me when I started dating again. So I'm just going to try to be aware of my fear filter when those hills start to seem mighty attractive.
He really has been patient with me. Perhaps he has no idea that I feel this way and just thinks I have a very sarcastic sense of humour and a great base of friends that help me through hard times. He'd be right. I have both of those things.