Going on a first date after a dating hiatus is extremely nerve wracking. Little did I know that what I was wearing or how good my hair looked would not matter whatsoever in the first dates aftermath. What did end up mattering was a complete lack of self awareness on my part shown in the days after our date. That lack of self awareness ended up leading to a breakthrough in therapy, life and myself.

This was my first date with a handsome man I met a week prior while out with a friend. He and I made eye contact pretty quickly, and ended up in conversation later on in the evening for over an hour. We exchanged numbers, and not social media (I take no one seriously that asks for my socials instead of my number) and texted each other after we both made it home. Nothing outrageous at all, just the normal, it was great to meet you type texts. The next day, he texted letting me know that he would love to take me out and we went back and forth for a few days about our availability.

The date was set for the following week, and immediately my defensive walls went up without me realizing it. When he hadn’t texted me for a few days, I felt rejected and a bit upset. My thinking was, if he were truly interested, he would make more of an effort. I spoke to my married couple friends about it and explained the text exchanges between us. They called me out instantly! How dare them! Turns out they were right. My responses to him did come across as defensive, like I was writing him off. They told me to send a new text with days I was available for our date. I did just that, and he responded with a well planned date. Meanwhile, my wall of defense was still underneath the surface, rearing its ugly head, and rising like a phoenix from the ashes.

The date was a success. We talked the entire time and also ended up accidentally matching each others outfits. I don’t eat meat or seafood and although he does, he graciously picked out a vegan Mexican restaurant after I told him Mexican cuisine was my favorite. Like me, he also has multiple jobs and a busy schedule. When we discussed this and the ways it affects how he dates, my guard went up at his answer. When he told me it can hinder things, what I heard was, ‘I am way too busy for you.” The wall grew taller.

Throughout the date we talked about future dates we’d like to go on with each other so when he asked me to text him my availability I did the next day. His responses began with how much fun he had with me the night before and how he’d absolutely love to go out with me again. He also stated that this week was a busy one for him. I heard, ‘I am way too busy for you, don’t like you, and am not taking you on another date.” My response was, “You’ll let me know when you have a day available…have a good one.”

In therapy today my therapist and I discussed this after she asked me how my date went. I see a therapist weekly as I was recently diagnosed with PTSD after a family member physically assaulted me and sent me to urgent care. Turns out, that can cause a lot of trauma! Anyway, I related the date story and the follow up texts. She, like a few of my friends, said that it sounded like I was upset and cutting him off. Me cutting him off I thought, but HE didn’t immediately make plans…he is the one at fault here…right?!

Not necessarily, and here is why. When my date didn’t immediately respond with another date for us after I gave my availability, I interpreted that as being rejected. As a kid and teen I was not the girl that the boys chased. Especially in my elementary days surrounded by non-Black kids and being told how ugly I was almost daily. When my date complimented me in the texts, saying how much he wanted another date, and how much fun he had, my brain completely skipped over that part. The girl in me that was bashed as a kid showed up and internalized this one text as a complete rejection. She is who responded to him. She spoke for me on my behalf, but through her hurt and traumatized view.

My therapist and I talked this through as well. My walls are up from past trauma and hurtful experiences, and I tend to see things as one way or the other, with no in-between. I sent my date a text yesterday (one week later) telling him I hope he had a good week. Mainly to end things on a better note. Trauma rears it’s ugly had in a lot of ways, and for me it was a lack of self awareness in my responses to my date. This was an experience that I truly learned from and will be working on going forward through therapy as well. If I could, I would tell my fourth grade self that those little boys and their opinions of you mean absolutely nothing. That I will protect her, nurture her and show her that she is beautiful inside and out, no matter what they say. Actually, she is still in there, and there is time for me to do just that.

What are your dating no-no’s and how have you worked through those experiences? Sound off in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

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