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  • Writer's pictureEmily Ainscough

Playing it Cool

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

TW: This post contains descriptions of symptoms of FND that some readers may find triggering.

I never understood the point of 'playing it cool'. It seems kind of manipulative and sleazy to play hard to get, and it sends out some pretty worrying messages about consent and harassment. On top of all that, its a bit of a bloody waste of time to act like you don't want something that you want, but humans love to play these kind of games with estate agents and prospective employees, so maybe it's not that surprising that the general consensus of the public is to date like your playing a game of chess against Magnus Carlsen. So, I thought it was brave of me all my life to boldly lay my cards on the table and tell people I loved them first without looking at the floor. I was proud of it.

But, like most things in life, I have taken it too far! That's what I've learned from my rejection with the venerable vegan (and that isn't to say that if I had done things differently we would have been right for each other, we weren't and aren't, and I'm not trying to rewind the tape and try and find the right combination of words or actions that would make him interested in me, because if he isn't then he isn't my person) but what I did learn, almost accidentally was that I need to play it just a little tiny bit cooler. Here's why:

As I've spoken about a lot in this blog, sometimes our own feelings and compulsions are not the best representations of what's actually going on. Just because I feel 'fat' and 'ugly' sometimes, doesn't mean I am. Just because I feel sometimes that my mobility and muscle pain will never get better, doesn't mean that it won't. And just because I feel like every muscular, tanned and rugged stud I swipe right on is the love of my life, it doesn't mean he is. It's good to be honest, I was right to be proud of that and to avoid being 'manipulative' like it would send me straight to hell, but like pretty much everything, 'playing it cool' in moderation is a sensible idea.

It's sensible both for me, and for the other person/people involved. It's sensible for me because if I followed through with every compulsion to sleep with every person I wanted to and see them as often as I wanted to and tell them all the crazy melodramatic rom-com speeches that fly through my mind on a daily basis, then I would miss really getting to know them as a complicated, flawed and wonderful human being; and if I'm not doing that, then I'm not really getting to know them at all, I'm just playing out my fantasies. I deserve more than my fantasies. It's also not safe (and remember safe = sexy).

It's not safe because even if I didn't have verbal, muscular and cognitive impairments, sharing my body and my heart with someone involves risk. If I've been on a couple of dates with a guy who's middle name I don't even know, I probably don't know for sure how sexually educated he is about what consent means for people with different needs. I also probably don't know what he thinks is appropriate, what he thinks is kind, what is and is not acceptable. I might feel like I want to move in with any one of those studs from tinder, have lots of sex and babies and get each other's names tattooed on our bums, but a few dates down the line I might realize he vapes that disgusting bubble gum stuff or is rude to customer service people or picks his nose. When I feel inflated with love and longing, that's just my mind saying, "This feels nice! This is promising!", not "This adonis is my soul mate," because he might not be...he's a virtual stranger, he 'might be' anything. He might be a summer love, a long term relationship, a bad date story, a friend for life, a misogynist, the bringer of a life lesson, my baby daddy or the star of the next 'tinder swindler' Netflix documentary!

Even if this person is the love of my life, getting carried away with yourself is not the kindest way to behave for them either. Before anything else it can be scary and overwhelming, but like I said earlier, if you're jumping ahead you're not really giving that human being the respect they deserve to be known as fully as they should be. They are a person. You cannot skip to the last page. They deserve time and space in between dates for you to rest and process and really hear what they've said.

All of this is quite new to me. I think a lot of you reading will probably already be experts in taking things slowly and not falling in love down every man-hole you step into (pun fully intended). Maybe the readers like that can learn from me, just as I am learning from them. Perhaps they need to be a little bolder, love a little braver, have sex a little wilder! But the people like me of this world need to meet them in the middle and tame the sex-crazed romance-obsessed daydreaming mega-heart that dominates their lives. In whatever direction you need it readers, exercise a bit of moderation this week.

For those of you worried that I was drowning in self-pity after my rejection you will be happy to hear that I have nursed my wounds and am back out there! I've had one date since and I have several very exciting dates with different suitors coming up on the horizon and I'll do a post about them all next week. In part, to let you know, and in part, so that I have their bios documented in case I forget who said what! (I think this is the kind of cognitive challenge my neurologist was talking about, I mean, it's more fun than the Sudoku she suggested anyway). With them, I will try to be a little more restrained, but I'm still me and I'm also not going to punish myself for being her. I can still be silly, but maybe just mix that up with a little bit of sensible too.

Thank you, as ever, for your interest in my not-so-private life, I want to get married and have lots of sex and babies with you all! (See, not a total transformation haha!) I also thought you might enjoy to hear that this morning I got stuck for half an hour winking at myself in the mirror! (Sometimes my FND causes muscles to get stuck in repetitive the right context this could be quite enjoyable!) Give yourself a wink in the mirror from me, and have a f*****g incredible week!

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