This weekend at our Conscious Singles Retreat, I (Ruth) told a lot of stories about the “bad old days” when I was a very unconscious girlfriend.
For instance, there was the time when a partner and I had been struggling for most of the year we’d been together. I was at the end of my rope. We had tried so hard, there had been so much promise between us – and so much pain.
When we finally decided to end it, I felt hollow inside. Confused and hurting, but determined to find the love I wanted somewhere, I immediately went and searched an online dating service.
That same night I saw a profile that sounded great, responded, and quickly started emailing with someone I’ll call Liz (not her real name.) She sounded great! We were both professors, feminists and writers – and she only lived a few hours away! We made plans to meet the following weekend, and sent a lot of emails that week.
When Liz and I met, it wasn’t a “wow,” but it was a “Hmmm, okay, maybe.” It seemed promising enough for me to want to see her again.
But then the next day my newly ex-partner and I talked. Something opened up between us (maybe it was partly a result of my having met Liz, so I wasn’t “putting all my emotional eggs into one basket.”) In that conversation, we decided to try again.
I wrote Liz and told her what had happened. I felt bad, but not that bad. After all, we’d only met once…
Liz wrote me back several days later that my email had sent her into a total tailspin. She’d cried for 24 hours straight. She had been so sure that she and I would end up together.
Yikes! I felt terrible. Truly.
But the story didn’t end there…
Not surprisingly, less than two weeks later my partner and I reached another impasse. None of our issues or difficulties communicating had gone away. (Of course they hadn’t. They never do.) And she still wasn’t willing to go to therapy together. (We didn’t know about relationship coaching in those days, but I’m sure she wouldn’t have done that either.) So, we ended things – again.
And, you guessed it. I emailed Liz and told her. She was thrilled! And we made plans to meet again the following week.
Liz and I met at a nature preserve halfway between her house and mine – and in between watching the birds, we made out passionately. It was only the second time we’d met. Can you see the writing on this wall?
Who was the real menace here? Both of us.
Here’s why I was a menace, both to Liz and to myself: I was seriously not ready for a new relationship. I wasn’t even really out of my last one yet! I had absolutely no business dating someone new.
But Liz was also a menace to herself. She was making a big mistake by choosing to date me at all. And a second big mistake by making out with me. And the biggest mistake of all by getting extremely emotionally invested in being with me – even when she still didn’t really know me at all.
Liz had quickly fallen in love – not with me, but her fantasy of me. She was so attached to that fantasy that she wasn’t actually paying much attention to me. (Or rather, she was selectively paying attention to the things that made me look good to her – and ignoring the big red flags I was waving in her face.)
As you might imagine, the story didn’t end here. Liz and I met several more times, and then slept together. It was a bad decision for both of us. I wasn’t really emotionally open to her, and being in bed with her just made that clearer. It was a confusing, painful night for both of us.
The next morning, I told Liz I needed to stop dating her. “It’s not you, it’s me. I need to take some time to be single, heal from my last relationship, and get ready before I start something new.” I was telling the truth, but Liz took it personally. She felt insecure about her body, so in her mind, my decision just confirmed all her worst fears.
As I drove home that day, I felt like the most horrible person on earth. I knew I had both caused Liz pain, and actually made things a lot harder for myself as well. I knew something had to change.
And that was one of the moments – not the only one, but one of many – in which I committed myself to becoming what Michelle and I now call “a conscious girlfriend.” I didn’t want to keep hurting other women, or getting hurt by them, or hurting myself. I wanted a different way.
I am sooo grateful that I found that way. This story happened back in early 2002, so it’s been nearly 13 1/2 years since then, and Michelle and I have created conscious, deep, stable, sane, magical love together for 9 of those years. But we sure didn’t get here by luck or by magic. We got here because we both got ready, and gained and used the tools we teach women now.
We teach those tools in many ways, but one of our favorite ways to help women stop being menaces to themselves and/or other women is through our 12-Week Roadmap to Conscious Lesbian Dating & Lasting Love. This is a comprehensive online course and community experience which is exactly what it sounds like: a roadmap to getting out of pain and into lasting love.
We only start this course 3 times a year, and the next round of the course begins tomorrow, September 22! Get more info and sign up here.
If you’re ready to get both the tools and support you need in order to truly be ready for love, date wisely, and lay the foundation for a strong, healthy partnership, the Roadmap course could be a great way to do it. We have women from all over the U.S. and two other countries participating in this coming round – and all will be learning together and supporting one another through our weekly lessons, group coaching calls (now on video chat for those who want to see each other and see us!), secret Facebook group, and private coaching. We’d love to have you join us.
(And if you’re reading this shortly after September 22, we may still be able to fit you in! Otherwise, new 12-Week Roadmap courses usually begin in January and May/June. )
P.S. “Liz,” if you’re reading this, you know who you are. I’m so sorry. It really was me, not you.