I think we men and women are fascinated with the process of dating. We seek, we court, we write witty messages to ignite a bit of a spark. When we are not in a relationship, our aloneness makes us more vulnerable and honest. If we can keep our guards down, we can communicate clearly with our potential dates, and give them some insight into our world and how it might or might not fit together with their world. So, I was fascinated when a well-educated and attractive woman gave us a glimpse into her response to a man who scared her a bit.
Studying Ourselves and Sharing Our Vulnerability
I’m a bit fascinated personally by this woman’s response because she is also a coach and a relationship counselor. She’s a writer and poet, and is attempting to share some of her truth. And her story is filled with her self-awareness and tender feedback (almost coaching) of her potential romantic partner. And given the fact that we are only given a small slice of the story, my response is more of a gut reaction to one of her passages. I cannot know much about her or the man she kissed. But some part of her story seemed to contain a blindside, to me.
Here’s what she said.
And lastly, here’s some of my own vulnerability. You hugged me, and I could feel your heart. I liked that. You asked if you could kiss me, I said yes because of trust already established. You did so passionately, and that scared me. Because, you didn’t know this, but the last man to show that level of passion took from me without replenishing, and it took a long time for me to recover. And so even if your passion was a gift, I felt is as a potential threat, and this is no one’s fault. When you kissed me, my body and mind lit up with unresolved trauma and I couldn’t tell the difference between giving and take. I honestly drove home shaking.
I’m going to pull apart a bit of this narrative to see what ideas come up for me. (Again this is just about my response and has no understanding or bearing on the rest of her story or her potential future with Mr. Second Date.) But excepting an offer of a kiss is accepting a passionate kiss.
He asks to kiss her. She says yes. She feels trust between them. He kisses her with passion. She gets scared. That’s a common scenario, I think. And then the next sentence, I feel, really exposes her own pain and an area where she might need to do some healing work before dipping back into the passionate kiss part of dating again. Here’s how she describes her pain, “but the last man to show that level of passion took from me without replenishing, and it took a long time for me to recover.”
Okay, she admitted she was going to be vulnerable with us/him, and she was. But she is saying to herself that it took her a long time to recover, but it appears to me she is not recovered at all. She might be recovered enough to venture out into the dating arena, but at the first passionate kiss her defense mechanisms jump in and turn a gift into a threat. “…And even if your passion was a gift, I felt is as a potential threat, and this is no one’s fault…” She is correct, it’s nobody’s fault, other than her own. Perhaps she was not aware that a passionate kiss would retrigger her past hurt and trauma. But from her last sentence, it’s clear she’s got a bit of processing work to do outside of future dating adventures. “When you kissed me, my body and mind lit up with unresolved trauma and I couldn’t tell the difference between giving and take. I honestly drove home shaking.”
Healing While Dating, Or Healing Before Dating Again
Again, I don’t know this woman, and only today did I become aware of her story and her website and relationship co-regulation ebook and workshops. She’s an evolved and emotional leader. And yet, her trauma around dating appears to be quite triggering. Yes, she is vulnerable in sharing her pain and fear, and even more exposed telling us of her physical shaking as a result of her experience of what? A passionate kiss.
So, yes she is co-creating her relationship dream with another person, and in an evolved world both partners would be co-regulating together. My hope is that she does some more of her own work around what trauma is caused by the display of affection and passion. The key, I think is in her statement about her past relationship pain. “…The last man to show that level of passion took from me without replenishing.”
We all know about relationships with takers. And we’ve got to be solid in our boundaries and our healing to be ready to date again with arms and hearts wide open. It appears that there is still a good bit of unresolved trauma for this woman to work out. Then perhaps she can give Mr. 3rd Date his next shot at “dating.” That’s all he asks for. “To date you.” And this appears to fluster the author as if that was not the point of going on first and 2nd dates.
We Must Go for 100%
If we’re not ready to date it is best to work on ourselves, build our strengths, plumb and heal from our triggers, BEFORE getting back in the ring. If we are still wounded and vulnerable is it hard for us to (1) present the best person that we are, (2) not be drawn into unhealthy relationships because we’re lonely, (3) not casually cross intimate boundaries when we are not ready.
When you have done the work on yourself and gotten ready to date again, there is no mistaking the difference between vulnerability and unhealed trauma. Pointing fingers at previous relationships only show how that wound is still in need of release and resolution. We’ve got to be at 100% to attract and sort through all the potential partners that might stoke our passionate hearts again. That’s what we want. We want passion and we want heat. If we are still scared of that opening up, that beating of another heart, we might still have some training to do on our own.
Dating a Woman with a Past
Our author ends the article with a bit of poetry.
I know it’s hard to date a woman with a past. Thank you for all of your genuine efforts. But I’m not going to show up pretending and I don’t want you to show up overcompensating – both of us trying to make some impression.
And, my response is a bit blunt. We all have pasts. It is not “hard” to date a woman with a past, it’s “impossible.” But if that past is still limiting your future, well… I think your path is clear. Please don’t “pretend” anything. And we will do our best not to “overcompensate” for your emotional insecurity. Let’s enter this equation as equals. Both of us have pasts. Both of us have dealt with our pasts to the point that we are ready to engage and fly with another person. A passionate kiss is a rare and precious gift. Don’t waste them on people who aren’t ready for your greatness. And allow the butterflies of anxiety you feel to charge you up as well as alarm you to what’s left for you to process. Don’t kill the fire by worrying about the heat. But make sure you’re ready for the heat before allowing a man to kiss you.
This post was written as a passionate response to Dear Mister Second Date All the things I didn’t say, by Sarah Poet on The Good Men Project. My apologies to her if I’ve missed the more nuanced truths. I am appreciative of her honest expression.
John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find fulfilling relationships. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your dating/relationship challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce dating journey. Most of all, I can offer hope. And who better to edit and spiff up your online dating profile, than a single man?
Get the complete single dad story with John’s new book: Single Dad Seeks (available in all formats)
And here are a few more posts about deep relationships:
- Relationship Building Skills & Wisdom: BRAVING & The Four Agreements
- You’re Not the Only One Who Doesn’t Want to Be Alone Tonight
- Where Do You Seek Your Soulmate? Online Dating is Failing Us All
- Trying to Push the River: Forcing Your Dating Journey Won’t Work
- Planning For the Future In Your Relationship
- What A Single Dad Wants In the *Next* Relationship