Love

The Day I Stopped Ignoring My Gut

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA

I’m 33 years old. I’ve been dating for half my life. Sure, many things have changed since my first date at 16: what I’m attracted to (blonde tips? Eek… thank God the boy band craze is over), my non-negotiables (generosity, humility, respect, and honesty… OK OK, and a job), and who I’m ultimately looking for (he’s pretty much described right here, in case you’re curious).

But if I have one regret over the past 17 years of dating, it’s ignoring my gut. It’s excusing troubling behavior. It’s holding on to someone too long versus letting someone go too soon. Because every time, I could’ve saved myself, and I didn’t. I didn’t trust my gut. But that’s changed.

Not too long ago, K. reached out to me. He and I were only acquainted briefly and professionally, and had very few exchanges, but I had thought him intriguing at the time. At first, he did a lot of things right. Then he did a lot of things wrong.

He portrayed confidence: He called me, we talked. He showed interest and took action: Asked me on a date, and I accepted. But then he made the mistake that so many guys make. In the time between the first contact and the time the date was scheduled, he showed aggressive, possessive, and obsessive behavior.

K. tried to force a relationship with me before it even began: a barrage of “good morning/good night” texts, phone calls while I was at work “just to talk,” @-tagging me on Facebook and commenting on tons of pictures, and when we did talk on the phone, asking unbecoming and inappropriate questions about my preferences and dating history.

Like, what?? I agreed to the date, why are you sabotaging it?!

But the main red flag that caused my stomach to turn: I warned him. Right off the bat, I told K. to slow down. I told him I scared off easily, and, if it was meant to be, to let the relationship progress naturally. I told him during the work day was not the best time to call me; I told him I wasn’t a big texter. I told him I wasn’t comfortable with certain lines of questioning. But did any of his behavior change? No. So, he either didn’t hear me, or he decided not to respect my boundaries and feelings: both of which are not OK. What this ultimately showed me was that what K. wanted mattered more than what I wanted, or that he couldn’t control his urges. Again, both qualities I don’t want in a partner.

I told my best friends about my reservations, and they said, “Julie… it’s just one date. Maybe he’s nervous. Maybe he sucks at communicating. Just see how it goes!” and I thought about it. I almost wavered. But for the first time, I decided to go with my gut. I called K., I declined the date, I told him why, and that it was too late to change my mind. Sure, he did do a few things right, at the beginning. But that doesn’t mean I owed him my time and my forgiveness of the things he did wrong; especially when to me it was such a clear indicator of future behavior.

OH, THE RELIEF! THE EMPOWERMENT!

Have I regretted this decision, nay, this MOVEMENT? Not in the slightest. I am more convinced than ever that my intuition knows what’s up. And I’m more than ready to put it to the test.

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