Say what you need to say
I’ve been in the dating world lately. I have to say that I’ve been hating a lot of it. I know hate is a strong word – but it truly makes me uncomfortable.
I’m realizing that these new relationships create such a heartburn for me because I don’t know how I should act around someone I don’t know…. someone I haven’t had time to figure out yet… I should just be myself, right? Everyone would say this. I would say this. But it feels much harder to actually do.
I get wrapped up in how I will appear to this person that is just getting to know me… someone who doesn’t have any real context of where I’m coming from. But beyond that, the thing that I struggle with the most is being able to ask for what I want… like being the first one to ask to do something together. I get scared that if I ask first, he will see me as too strong, too eager, too much, OR, here’s THE BIG ONE – he will say no! Oh man, the thought of rejection sometimes cripples me.That shouldn’t really come as a surprise, right? Rejection is not easy for anyone. Whether it’s in a new relationship or a long-standing one. Whether it’s with a lover or a friend or a family member. Do you struggle with it?
I’m actually starting to see that this fear of rejection shows up in all of my relationships. It just gets muted in the seasoned relationships because I’ve had the time to become ‘skilled’ at guessing when my loved ones might say ‘no.’ In fact, I have a sophisticated system of avoiding rejection: my brain is always watching people and subconsciously calculating how to avoid when it might happen. And, when that chance of a ‘no’ pops up, my brain automatically steers me away from asking for what I need or from saying what I need to say.
I know that there are times we all have to hold back, of course. But, I also know that over the long run, if my needs go unmet, I can’t really be present in that relationship and the other person will notice that something is unsaid… and that will have a negative effect on our connection.
So why have I been doing it? I have this underlying idea that if I impose myself on someone, it will make them go away from me. Yet, if I really take the time to think this through, I know that by asking for what I need, the person will only know me better. So what if they say no? We will work through it. We will actually probably understand each other better and as a result be even closer. It makes me sad to think that I’ve missed out on opportunities to do that…. especially, when I know that close relationships and deep connection are the purpose of my life.
I don’t want this fear to drive my life. I don’t want it to suffocate my relationships. So I’ve started to do something new. I’ve decided that like all other things in life, I will get better at getting rejected by letting myself experience it. I’ve decided to steer into the potential ‘nos.’ This is not easy – I’m dealing with a deep-seated fear that has driven me for a long time. I don’t expect to overcome it overnight, but I know I’ve already made progress.
I’ve been asking my dates to do things first. I’ve been asking my friends and family for help more often. I’ve been saying what’s on my mind even when it’s ‘dangerous.’ To my surprise, most of the time, the answer has actually been ‘yes’- so my brain is starting to reconfigure its auto-calculations.
I’ll let you in on my very secret, secret… every time I get stuck in my fear of rejection, I play this song by John Mayer (sometimes it’s on repeat for a long time) before I get my nerve up to just say what I need to say.