Dating is complicated. Add perfectionism leftover from an eating disorder; add trust issues from PTSD and I am a mess in the dating arena. I try to do everything and be everything, perfectly. I plan things out just right, so I am the perfect combination of 1950’s housewife with fantastic cooking skills and clean house not a hair out of place, carefree wild-child, and the laid-back cool girlfriend who doesn’t hold-back her partner. I try and make everything I do look effortless; like ‘hey no big deal I just happen to have this 4-course meal ready oh I had no idea you were coming over today’.
This isn’t me. The real me does love to cook, bake, and clean, those things are stress relief. The real me is an anxiety ridden control freak who so cares about where her partner is, what they are doing, where they are going, and who they are with. I am clingy as plastic wrap. I have been told this isn’t a good quality. I shouldn’t want to be around my partner a lot or need as much attention as I do. It isn’t helping anyone for me to pretend otherwise. I can do fine on my own. I don’t want to.
Dating a single dad has helped me throw out everything I thought I needed to be in a relationship. Not because he has asked me to change, because I want to be more myself. He often shows up at my house in a hoodie covered in food from his two tiny humans. I love it. It gives me permission to take my guard down. When I cook a meal for him I do it because I genuinely want to, not because I’m trying to impress him. I see how hard he is working and know how much he would appreciate to not have to do one more thing at the end of the night.
Yesterday, in the throes of a winter cold I was trying to hold my coffee mug, blow my nose, and pick up my phone at the same time. All of a sudden, he was holding both mine and his coffee mug so I could do all the things I thought I had to do at one moment. I think this is something only a dad would have the instinct to do. There are so many little moments like this that I appreciate about him. I thought that dating a single father would be hard, and sometimes it is. No relationship is ever perfect. I have finally come to learn that. There are so many things that are extra great about my relationship because my partner is a father. He is attentive, kind, loving, gentle, and isn’t afraid to be curious about the world still.
Just as important, I am a changed person. I am learning to be unafraid to be myself. I am starting to see that I can show up in my relationship all human, and messy, and imperfect, and nothing will fail. Even on the days I drooled all night and sweat through my clothes. Even on the days I decide to wear my oldest, most stained sweatshirt and not brush my hair. Even when I don’t vacuum for days so the cat hair piles up. I am still worthy of this relationship; I always was. I am worthy right now, I will be worthy tomorrow, I will be worthy always.
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