I know how to be single. I know how to be a wife. Where does one go to learn how to be a girlfriend? To be a good “dater”? Is that what it’s even called? See?! I don’t even know the proper terminology! Ugh. It’s dawned on me that I’m no where NEAR an expert on these sorts of things. I know how to be a good wife. After doing it for so long, it’s actually a set of behaviors I naturally seem to slip into when I’m dating someone. My home is his home, anything they need or want, I try and provide, be an unfailing team mate, share everything, spend most of your free time together… blah blah blah. But in the world of dating… when you’re at that boyfriend/girlfriend stage of a relationship… I feel like I lose my footing. What’s allowed? What’s not allowed? What’s expected of me and what should I expect in return? Maybe it’s not even about expectations. In the past, it was expectations that screwed things up. Let me down. It’s a funny experience overall, as you’d think, at 32, that this would not be rocket science, and yet here it is tripping me up as I try and think about it. Where do you go to learn this? Is there some class or book I should have read? I don’t want to screw things up. I want to get it right and not fall flat on my face.
I have a few single friends right now, and watching them try and navigate the world of dating has been helpful for me, it shows me that I’m not alone in feeling a bit off balance at times. Why can’t we just live in the moment? Enjoy what we have, when we have it? It’s that damn future tripping that always seems to make us falter. Instead of living in the moment, we’re off in dream land planning for a what if that may or may not even happen. And then when something goes wrong – we’re left devastated or shaken to our core. Makes you wonder if they spent more time in the moment, would things have gone wrong? By future tripping, do we sabotage our own relationships and then make it so that they don’t thrive and flourish? It’s an interesting concept. I’ve been working on that… not future tripping, for a long time. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. Being a bit of a planner is in my nature – which means future tripping becomes easier to accidentally slip into doing as I plan things out. I guess maybe I learn to embrace more spontaneity? That’s hard with kids though. I live and breathe by my calendar and their schedules.
Tomorrow, I go back to work. I’ve spent this week working from home, and was off last week entirely. I’m happy to get some time in the office. I ended my day early today however, mini-me got home from school and I went to lay down and take a nap as I wasn’t feeling very good still. CRASHED for 3 hours. HA! Not like me at all, so I obviously needed it. Then went with the bro to get some amazing Sushi from one of our favorite holes in the walls. Funny, only a few hours after waking and i’m already ready to go back to sleep. Amazing what this sickness has done to my energy levels.
I find a certain comfort and safety in knowing and understanding my role. Whether it be at work, in the family, or with friends and loved ones. It helps me know what is expected of me. Certain roles require certain skills or come with certain benefits or costs. Roles can change on a given day depending on a whole variety of things. I was thinking about roles for something at work, and it made me think that it might be a good exercise to do for myself. Why not? The following are 13 of the roles I play.
The Domestic Mom role
The fixer, the soother, the baker of goodies. When in this role, I will typically carry and bring tissues, brownies, bandaids and hugs.
The Mom role
This is to my kids mostly – but other people’s kids too. I will play with toys, chase imaginary monsters and lovingly quote Dr. Seuss with the best of them. This also comes with the fever checker skill, the incredible ability to make magic chicken soup and the skill to chase the boogie man out of scary closets. Rewards for this skill would include hugs and kisses and snuggles. Special skills: Loyalty, strength, patience, trust, unconditional love, pride
The Listening Friend role
This role is typically filled with “hmm’s” or “ahh’s”. Complete attention is given, as well as lots of listening. This is not typically a “troubleshooting” kind of situation. More of a listening and a shoulder to support kind of role.
The Troubleshooter/Idea Generator role
There’s a problem? Let’s fix it! Brainstorm 5 solutions, then prioritize as far as reality goes then let’s try em till we get it fixed. Don’t understand? Let’s learn it! Nothing is impossible! We just have to figure out how.
The Cheerleader role
This is the role you play when people need to cheer up or lift the energy of a room. Signature moves include random spurts of the carlton dance, outbursts of song, and jokes of all nature of things.
The Best Friend role
When you need me, I am there. Rain or shine, Day or night. You lovingly will listen as I break everything down in my head on a whiteboard, you help me figure things out when I get overwhelmed. And you know that I will lovingly do the same for you. We will laugh at and with each other. Poke fun when the other is taking life a little too seriously. Rewards include hugs and companionship. Special Skills: Trust, Loyalty, Pride, Respect, Honesty, Love
The Coworker role Friendship levels here are light and shallow. Most of the time, chats not involving work projects revolve around office politics, fashion, weather, recent movies, news or local events, family and vacations and new hobbies.
The sister role
See above as far as best friend. We won’t always get along, but we’ll always come back to a place of positivity and love. I would jump in front of a train for you. ‘Nuff said. Special skills: Patience, Loyalty, Pride, Trust, unconditional love, Honesty
The daughter/granddaughter role
I will always strive to make you proud. Ambition lies in this role to some degree. I will always remember my manners, fit into any situation, just as I was taught. This is where the good girl lives too. Special skills: Loyalty, strength, pride, respect, Trust, unconditional love
The single mom role
Heads down, focused on getting the shit done that has to get done. Work, Kids, Bills, Life… rinse, wash, repeat. Men? What? Dating? Huh?! Special skills: Strength, Pride, Respect, Trust. Special boost in finances for having no life.
The “DatingSomeone” Role
I’ll schedule you in when/if I can. I’m interested, you’re interested. It’s interview time…on both sides. I will slowly let you in behind the walls and masks to see if you are interested or trust-worthy. If I’m dating you – it means I like you. I don’t do well at focusing on more than one person at a time. Special Skills: Honesty
The “in a relationship” Role
You find time when you can to share with someone you care about. It is a very compartmentalized part of your life. You might share a lot about you, but not really share all of who you are because they only ever really get to see one or two facets of who you are. They rarely meet or hang with the family or kids. Outings are scheduled and planned – hey we’re both busy. Special bonus of me wanting to spoil you because you do mean something special to me in a big way. It shows because I’ll want to spend time with you. To note: Not sure how well I’d do at sustaining this role for long periods of time. If I love you, I’m going to struggle with keeping life compartmentalized. Special Skills: Respect, Strength, Loyalty, Honesty, New Love.
The Girlfriend Role
It’s not about finding time, we make time to share with each other…not because we feel like we have to, but because we just want to. It’s MUCH less compartmentalized. If you need me, I’m there. No questions, no judgements, no keeping score. You are allowed in my inner circle of trust – this also means you’ll meet the others in that inner circle and hang with them on occasion, because they are a part of my life, and I’ll want to share in that with you. You have a standing invite to my home and utilize it. I trust you with me. You have access to utilize most of the other role’s skills as you need them. Special bonus of me wanting to spoil you. Special skills: Loyalty, Trust, Pride, Respect, Strength, Honesty, Love
The Wife/Significant Other Role
No communication is withheld. No walls. No masks. You are viewed as my equal… my king. So long as I’m your queen. I trust you with me AND my family. I share life’s ups and downs with you. You have your life, your friends, your world… but we share them with each other. We live and interact and help support each other to get through the bumps along the way. I trust that you will keep me, and my family safe. I may spoil, but more than spoil, I share… everything. Special skills: Loyalty, Trust, Pride, Respect, Strength, Honesty and Unconditional Love
There are I’m sure many I left out of the list. A neighbor, an acquaintance, a customer, a boss…. All of these are valid roles that we play in a given day. What is interesting to me is that detailing this out really helped me define some things I didn’t know about myself and who I am. Before sitting down to write this out, some of the roles were fuzzy in my mind as far as all that it would entail. I’ll admit, some of the above are kind of new to me. I’m still trying to figure out the lay of this new land called dating. Realizing some of these new ones “In a relationship” vs Girlfriend for example – I really think there is a distinction there that up until doing this exercise, I would have missed. I reflected on many of the roles I play currently… where I thought I was on a few, and where I really am on a few others. I’m happy with it all and giving them distinction gives me clarity on what it is that I expect of me. What I still have to understand is whether or not my own expectations of myself need adjustment. But it helps me feel better, I can chart my course for the time being and keep chugging along. I’ve been trying to find a pace, and I’m realizing that the pace just comes on it’s own. And that I get to ride it. Enjoy it, each role, and all the others I left out, for what it is.
Because it’s Life. Because it’s relationships. Because it’s lovely.