Rewinding to Rochelle: Part 2 – The Restaurant Menu

This is part of my “Rewinding to Rochelle” series that sheds light on what an abusive relationship can look like.

Trigger Warning: This contains content that may be upsetting to some readers. While the incidents are real, all names are fictitious.

Rochelle and I sat down at restaurant. I don’t even remember which one.

Rochelle: What should I eat?
The Dating Introvert: I’m not sure. I haven’t been here before.
Rochelle: I want to date a guy who knows what’s good on the menu and can tell me what to pick.

There are only two possibilities here. Either:

  • Rochelle wanted me to have visited all restaurants beforehand, to prepare for a date with her: This was obviously unreasonable.
  • Or, she wanted a guy who could “take charge” – the kind of guy who would order the steak for himself and then tell the waiter that “she’ll be having the salad”, without even giving her a chance to speak.

In hindsight, the conversation was disrespectful as she was putting me down, by basically saying that I wasn’t good enough. This was just another example of the abuse I dealt with throughout the relationship.

As for wanting the kind of guy who could “take charge”, she was seeking a toxically masculine figure. She wanted a sexist man who would dominate her and put himself first, because she confused misogyny with confidence and power.

In the years since, I’ve realized that she always sought out uneven relationships, where either she abused her partner, or her partner would abuse her. I wish I were making this up – in a future post, I will write about the violent man she dated next. I hope she gets help and breaks out of this cycle.

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Stop Trying to Make Everyone Like You

When I first tried to figure out dating, I was told to do activities to become an interesting person. However, it turns out that this advice is all backwards. The advice was about becoming interesting, to other people. It was about basing my self-worth on what other people thought.

This was a bad idea because I would go around doing activities (or favors) that I didn’t like, to try to make other people like me. I would also be strung along by people who would happily request gifts and help moving apartment, but who never respected me. And when I found out that these people didn’t actually like me, I would feel crushed because my self-worth revolved around them.

Well, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, despite the tendency of his office to shut down the George Washington Bridge to get back at a political opponent, has some great advice:

We’ve got to stop worrying about being loved, and starting caring about being respected again.

[Video – 7 seconds in]

So let me reword the advice I was given so many years ago:

You should do activities that you find interesting, and you and only you get to define your self-worth.

If you like playing hockey, go play hockey.  If you like knitting, go knit.

Do activities to build confidence and develop yourself into a person that you are proud of. You will eventually attract like-minded people who will like you for who you are.

After all, you can’t be everything to everyone. No matter what you do, some people will never see you as fitting their idea of attractiveness or masculinity (or femininity, for that matter). As a case in point, I once spent an extraordinary amount of effort trying to impress a girl – let’s call her Kaitlin.

After a nice flight on a sunny afternoon, I landed the plane and went to grab a hook (an aviation tool).

I was gone for maybe 30 seconds before she was openly flirting with another guy. And I hadn’t even had the chance to start pulling the 700lb plane to the parking spot, in front of her, using my hands!

Now, maybe people around here are all friendly like that and I was being particularly jealous. However, I can assure you that I’ve never had someone start randomly flirting with me, the many times I’ve been standing next to the runway of a regional airport. The point is that if Kaitlin actually liked me, she wouldn’t be flirting with other guys on almost every single date.

So, in summary, stop trying to impress other people. Work on impressing yourself first and others will be impressed by you.

Until next time my friends, keep dating!