Who’s Going Rafting?

You-have-now-reachedI received an email from a woman yesterday who is really in a panic. She’s been seeing this guy for six weeks, and is totally over the moon for him. She’s already got their life planned out for the next sixty years. There’s a small problem (there are a few, actually) which is that she feels she needs to present herself as someone who likes the things he likes. So apparently she told him she loves the outdoors just as he does, loves to go camping and whitewater rafting, loves long, strenuous hikes, and feels very comfortable roughing it. So he planned a surprise camping trip involving all those things, and sister has never been camping or rafting, doesn’t feel like a very strong swimmer, doesn’t ever hike, and has intense fear of snakes, bears, camping, being bitten by anything, and being anywhere she can’t plug in a hairdryer. She doesn’t want to tell him any of that because then he’ll know she lied to him, so she’s busy buying gear and trying to figure out what she needs to know so it looks like she’s been rafting before.

I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen this weekend, but I do know they aren’t off to a great start because if you can’t be yourself, if you feel you have to be something other than you are, you don’t give the other person a chance to know you. You don’t allow a genuine connection to build and you know you’re not presenting yourself honestly, so the whole thing becomes an experience in which you feel insecure. This person doesn’t know or love the real me, and just like that, your foundation is shaky. Conquering fear is great, but not when it’s forced on you because you were dishonest about who you are. If you’re going to face down some of the stuff that scares you, it’s nice if you can do it with some support and care. Instead, she’s been hiking the last three days, just near her house, with a knapsack loaded with about a third of what she’s planning to bring. Her feet are blistered, she’s completely sore, and she’s hiked less than a mile each day. His plan is that they’ll be hiking between six and nine miles a day. I don’t think infatuation is going to be enough to pull her through.

When a person doesn’t have a strong center, a solid sense of self, confidence in her or his worth, it’s a recipe for disaster because powerful feelings like infatuation are enough to knock a person off her feet. She told me her back-up plan is to fake an injury, say she’s pulled her hamstring or something. I asked her how much lying she wants to do at the beginning of this thing, but she feels backed into a corner even though she’s very aware it’s a corner of her own making. I expressed concern about her physical well-being, given that she doesn’t love the water, and she said she would get herself out of it if she felt she couldn’t handle the rafting part, but that she would try to avoid having to do that if possible. Putting yourself in jeopardy isn’t loving and it isn’t healthy, either. Being reckless with yourself is a sign of significant self-esteem issues, and a lack of understanding of how precious you are. There’s only one of this woman. Only one her and she’s taking her one self and undervaluing her own particular spark.

She also said he’s mentioned he might need to move across the country for work, and even though she has no interest in moving that far away from her family, she’d do it in a second if he asked. So basically, she’s just giving herself away. Chasing or selling yourself, or sacrificing everything and anything that’s important to you for a relationship is not love. It’s not loving to you, or to the other person. You’re denying yourself and them the chance to see if your relationship has legs, to see if there’s any there there. It takes time and honesty to figure that out, to realize whether infatuation, which can be fun and healthy and exciting, might blossom into something that lasts. You have to see people in different situations over time, notice what’s stirred within you when you’re around that person, and I’m not talking about hormones. Knowing yourself and loving yourself, so you have a clear idea of whether the person you’re with is someone you could love for sixty minutes, or sixty days, or sixty years. You’ll never figure that out if you’re trying to fit yourself into some mold trying to be the perfect partner for them. Try flipping it around if you make a habit of entering relationships this way, and ask yourself if this person seems like the perfect partner for you. Hormones and obsession will steer you in some pretty insane directions. Know yourself and honor yourself, and then you’ll have your compass.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton