Why Do I Take Refuge in Men?

I woke up new years morning and started crying. Allowing myself to be vulnerable opened up the flood gates for every vulnerability I am aware that I have. I find that most often I want to take refuge in sex or affection from a man. I had to unravel the insecurities from the refuge. I found myself questioning, “Why do I need affirmation from a young man?” Not only from a young man, but an attractive one, who has all these good qualities and is too good for me. My fantasies are usually of an attractive man who is desired by other women and has all of these beautiful inner qualities inexplicably desires me over everyone else. Sometimes, he goes through exhausting lengths to pursue me, but I can’t accept someone like him could like me. He has to somehow convince me that I am beautiful, desirable, and have all of these good qualities myself. If he manages to convince me or I get bored of that fantasy, then the story ends and I start a new one.

I have learned in life experience that this does not work with real life men and that the being told I look beautiful does not make me feel beautiful. That only when I feel beautiful I can accept a compliment towards my appearance. Now-a-days, I have accepted myself as average looking or a little above average depending on how materialistic you are. Some people cannot see past makeup and nice clothes. People who prefer women without makeup tend to think I am above average looking, but I find myself grasping to being gorgeous.

I feel awkward being me. I feel like I need to earn affection. In my relationships with men, I have found that it is really annoying for them to constantly reaffirm me and listen to my insecurities, so I started practicing the other extreme and started suffering silently without asking for any comfort from them at all. I took on the role of girlfriend to mean giver. That I help them and ask for nothing in return. I now feel awkward considering asking for someone for help.

I felt myself questioning in the morning, “Why do I need to take refuge in a man?” I was painfully grasping at the gentleness and reassurance that I wish I provided for myself from a man. I didn’t feel like I could provide for myself at that moment, so I began to look outward. I have found that asking for help from men, family, friends wasn’t a guarantee. I can’t guarantee any of these people will be wise, compassionate, or self-less enough at any moment of the day to drop everything to make me feel better and asking them to do so feels selfish.

I found myself wondering why I couldn’t take refuge in Buddha. Why did it need to be a handsome young man? I found I couldn’t accept the idea of an enlightened person like Lama Zopa Rinpoche just loving me for no reason. I felt like love couldn’t exist without reason. Buddhas are supposed to spontaneously feel love for all sentient beings. They say if one person used a knife to draw blood on one arm of the Buddha and another person gave perfume to the other arm that Buddha would feel exactly the same towards of them. If he loves both of them equally, then neither of them are special. I am so sure that in order to be loved I must be special. In order to be loved I must be good because people love good things and hate bad things; because of this, shouldn’t I only love myself when I am good? Isn’t it wrong to love myself when I am bad?

I find myself grasping at wanting to be special or important. I want to be liked. Maybe, I don’t really want love. Maybe, I want to be liked—reputation. I suppose I have never put much thought into whether the way people treat me when they like me versus when they love me is different. Usually, the two are a package deal unless that person is upset with you at that moment. This is interesting because my decision between being vulnerable and kind to myself and my tendency to be a slave driver seems to correlate. When I want love, I become vulnerable and soft and open myself up; but when I want to be liked, I’m a slave driver seeking reputation and whip myself into being “powerful and strong.” Would I be happy if I only received love? Is this why I always seek the approval of the Buddha instead of the refuge of the Buddha?

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