The Dating Blame Game

I watched this short video last week about blame, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I’ve been doing a lot of blaming the past two weeks, none of it healthy. But first, some backstory.

Last Saturday I went on a date. Usually, I don’t announce things like these on my blog, because my mom reads my blog, and I tend to not tell her when I go on dates. I don’t like to get my own hopes up when I go on dates, but I especially don’t like to get her hopes up. Especially when the dates are with eligible, attractive, smart LDS men.

But in my euphoric folly, I suggested I meet said squire at the Mormon Trails Center, and it just so happened that friends of my parents were there and saw us. And talked to us.

So she was probably going to find out eventually anyway.

Anyway. I had a fabulous time with said squire, and was so giddishly girly afterward that I didn’t stop smiling the rest of the day. And I know I was high on endorphins and drunk on the smittens because as I graded some news stories post-date, I thought to myself, “Wow, these stories are really great!” But they really weren’t. I was just that distracted as I graded. I called my friend Amy and relayed the events of the date, and apologized multiple times for how “gross and girly” I was being, because I was really, really gross and girly. 

Being high on endorphins and drunk on the smittens can do that to a girl.

I laid in bed that night, replaying the conversation in my head, convincing myself that I actually did hear him say really nice adorable things about my eyes and ask me in a rather clever way if I’d want to see him again. He said those things, I’m sure of it.

Only now, I’m not so sure. 

Said squire has been radio silent since, and I have spent too many waking moments blaming myself.

I’m too ambitious.

I’m too fat.

I’m not funny enough.

I’m not pretty enough.

I didn’t let him talk enough.

I said something inappropriate.

He can tell I’m a crazy pinko feminist and he’d rather not hop in that beehive of angst. Which, I guess, is a fair point.

Anyway. It’s all my fault, I keep telling myself, blaming myself for nearly two weeks, for why I am nearly 42 and still not married.

Doesn’t matter that I just finished writing a memoir.

Doesn’t matter that I was accepted to a journalism adviser institute this summer.
Doesn’t matter that I am a fantastic baker, a talented musician, a good daughter, sister, aunt and friend. 
Doesn’t matter that I can be funny and loyal and kind and loving.
None of the things that really make me, me matter in this scenario, because in my crazy head, it all comes down to looks.

I watched The Bachelor for the first time this past season, and in my fine-with-being-single cocoon, I mocked these thin and beautiful women who sobbed and sobbed after not receiving a rose from The Bachelor. 

“These women are so shallow in reducing themselves to whether a man wants them! How pathetic!” 

Oh, how pride cometh before the fall…

Which catches you up to the video about blame. 

Brene Brown says that blame is an attempt to expel pain and anger. Okay, sounds good–I am in pain and angry that the squire has gone radio silent. But her antidote to blame is terrifying. We blame, she says, because what we really want is accountability.

For the past two weeks, as I’ve magnified every physical and emotional fault into insurmountable Everests, I’ve ignored that what I really crave is accountability. The question right now for me is, accountability from whom? 

In an earlier draft of this blog, I wrote that I wanted accountability from the squire. 

But as I spent the past five days reliving and editing the most heartbreaking moments of my life to finish my book, I realized I need to demand accountability from myself.

Despite my feminist ideology, part of me still falls apart when yet another man doesn’t validate my existence by making me part of his. This behavior is beyond unfair to myself, and frankly, is unacceptable. 
I’m not saying I wouldn’t make room in my life for the right man–I absolutely would. But I can’t keep reducing my own mental health to whether a man wants to make room in his life for me. That’s the accountability I need. That when I go on a date that turns me into a puddle of mush, I’m still valuable if I never hear from him again. And the only person who can remind me of that value is me.

I do too many good things in this world for my happiness to be reduced to a random man’s validation of my existence. It’s past time to hold myself accountable for spending way too much time in a self-esteem shame spiral, and just move on with what I’m good at.

That should keep me busy for quite a while.

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