Age 11 is the earliest time that I can remember being truly vulnerable. There was this girl I really liked in the 6th grade. When I asked her out she said, yes. Like any innocent kid with a crush, it meant the world to me up until the point where her friend told me, she was only pretending to be my girlfriend.
It's one of my clearest memories. I’m walking down the hallway from music class. Usually it was filled with voices and lockers banging. But I zoned out. Pretending? Her friends had to be lying. Why would a girl lie about something like that? To me? I hadn’t done anything to to deserve it.
I was too young and inexperienced to comprehend it. This wasn’t something I could imagine happening. Especially not with someone I had admired. I could hear my heart beating slow yet loudly as I got to my next period class. Language arts. It was still passing period. I had time to ask her. She confirmed it.
Then out of nowhere her friends circled around me laughing and singing, “You got played.”. I’m sure this only lasted a few seconds but thinking back it still feels like it lasted an incredibly long time. It went on until I ran out of the class, to the restroom and hid in the very last stall crying.
That was the day I developed this habit of being extremely aloof around girls. Especially if I had a crush on them. Whenever I liked a girl, I would act as if she didn’t exist. I wouldn’t look in her direction or speak to her whenever I noticed she was around or knew we'd be in the same room. Even when I had friends tell a girl I liked her or showed her interests directly, I’d keep this wall of aloofness up. The wall didn’t come down until I for sure knew a woman is safe.
I didn’t get my first kiss until I was 18. I sorta blossomed sexually all at once. For some reason at 18 I started dating a lot, started having sex and got into my first few relationships. I taught myself how to temporarily let that wall down when I saw a girl I liked and once I met a few girls in a row it was easy to consistently meet women. But once I got into a relationship and it ended, it was hard for me to let that wall down and get back out there.
Between 18 and now (27) I’ve had this pattern. I’ll go months or a year without dating, then there will be a period where I’m consistently meeting women until I eventually get into a relationship. The relationships would last anywhere from a month to half a year , mainly due to me staying with a woman who’s only right for me physically, hoping she’ll become right for me later. Too afraid to end things so I could find a woman who's truly right for me.
I’ve dated my fair share of women and I realize that what I experienced as a child holds me back a lot. It’s kept me from finding the right woman and it’s also made the process take longer. Ironically, I’ve never had a tough time getting a date. Almost every woman I’ve dated was a girl I initially thought wouldn’t be into me. This fear I’ve had has never manifested itself. Sure I’ve been through breakups but nothing as terrible as what happened in the 6th grade.
As an adult I understand how things we go through as children can affect us in adulthood if we aren’t taught healthy ways to cope with hurt. In my mind, if a girl doesn’t know I know she exist, then there’s no way she can hurt me. That’s why that wall is there. But that wall also keeps girls from knowing I like them or a the very least it will make them think I don’t like them. This is especially true for girls I’ve shown genuine interests in.
There’s this girl I’ve spoken to at the gym. We ended up talking about what she was passionate about and she told me about her graphic novel and I told her how impressive I thought it was. I know women get hit on often. But having a guy show genuine interest in something about a woman other than her looks and making her feel good about it? At the least it’s memorable. And since then, I walk right past this woman each time I see her as if the conversation never happened. She’s not the first girl I’ve done this to.
I always assume people have their shit together but the reality is everyone is going through something. That woman might think she weirded me out or I think somethings wrong with her. I barely know her and I’m not the type to obsess over someone I’ve never been on a date with. But the other day it felt like she was watching me and I felt bad because the thought crossed my mind that I’ve might of hurt her feelings by acting like I didn’t know she was there.
I’ve known about my walls for a while and my self-improvement makes me reflect a lot. As I worked-out I wondered. How many amazing women have I missed out on because of this wall? Genuinely nice and catchy women. How many have I walked past without saying a word because of this fear? How many liked me at first but lost interests because I never spoke to them again? Well those days are over.
I’m working on it one day at a time now. Even if I look dumb for a little while. If I notice a woman I like, I let her know it. I understand why my wall was build and understand that I was a child when it happened. As a man, I can handle whatever is thrown my way. And also women are way more mature now. Like I said before I haven’t had a single traumatic experience with any girl since I was 11 and I don’t have a hard time getting a date. I have always been my biggest obstacle. And now I’m working on it.
Thanks for reading. It was long. I thought I’d share this and inspire some people to let go of old pain. I know I’m not the only one. Share your stories if you have any similar ones!