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  • Writer's pictureEmily Ainscough

Repudiating Guilt

In my first post on this blog, I talked about how sharing my experiences with you might help me work some things out. I'm hoping that will be the case with this post. I've been feeling a lot this past week something that I think mainly afflicts women in dating, or perhaps, minorities in dating. I'm talking about feeling guilty about things we oughtn't feel guilty about. Changing our minds, breaking up with people, saying no, cutting ties. "I had a really lovely time with you tonight but I don't think I want to meet up romantically again," is a wonderful thing to be able to say. It is honest, it is kind and it takes a lot of courage to say it. One of the best things dating has given me is confidence to say things like this, practice at respecting my own boundaries and asking others to do the same. But even now, even when I know saying 'no, thank you,' was the right thing to say, I still go home feeling physically sick in my tummy with guilt.

I went on a date last week with a very sweet young mechanic (let's call him Harry), and I honestly had a wonderful time. We had dinner, drinks, chatted and got on really well. We ended up having sex. I had hoped that this would be the first of many wonderful dates together. However, in the morning I woke up and I wasn't feeling it. I had enjoyed our time together but I didn't want any more. Suddenly, I wasn't comfortable in the dynamic. So I told him the truth, with the kindness I strive for. I said that it was a wonderful evening, and that I'd look back fondly on it. That I would still love to chat socially in a non-romantic setting and that if he wanted to talk anything through about the date I was willing to have that conversation. But he was angry and he was hurt. We haven't spoken since.

I had another date lined up to happen this weekend, but I felt I wasn't in the right head-space and asked if we could rearrange. This other date was angry too, he had booked the day of work and he rarely gets time off. I ended up in mental torture with the guilt of disappointing Harry and now the guilt of disappointing this new guy. I felt like, for some reason because I had agreed to have sex with Harry, I was then obligated to go on that second date. I felt like because the other man had booked time off work, I was obligated to go on that date. But here is the thing: I didn't do anything wrong.

It is fine to change your mind, or to feel a different way about somebody as you did before. It is fine to match with somebody and then not message them because maybe you noticed something on their profile that you didn't before, or you just aren't as attracted to them as you initially were. You don't need to explain why a 'vibe' isn't right for you, why you don't feel comfortable or as 'in to it' as you were before. When he booked that day off, that was for the possibility of sharing the day with me, and it's a shame it didn't happen, but that is the risk that he took. Rejection isn't fun for anybody, but that isn't a reason to go through with things that don't feel totally right for you. Dating is about being comfortable, safe and confident, without that there is no point in any of it, for anyone.

I do think it's worse for minorities. I've noticed that since having my condition guys seem to take rejection harder. As though I should be happy with whatever I can get, or that because I'm disabled they're doing me a favor. Well trust me chaps, you're not. I see a lot of guys put things on their profiles like "if you're going to message 'hey' then don't bother", or "stop matching and not messaging" and you know what, it just comes across bitter and sad. It takes guts to message a stranger, even just saying 'hey', and you are not entitled to any of it. Not even a 'hey', and definitely not a shag or a kiss goodnight or a promise of a second date. I was right, writing this has helped me feel better. To all you sexy minorities in the dating scene right now, remember to do it on your own terms, and just because you're feeling guilty, it doesn't mean that you've got something to feel guilty about (just like in the post about feeling 'fat' or 'un-sexy'... sometimes our feelings are lying to us).

Wow - that was so therapeutic, 'be banished guilt!' - I am free.

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