Ashley Kelsch Examines Her Dating History and Holds Herself Accountable
After recently hearing from past partners, the podcast host stops to consider their perspective
I believe it’s time for a “Come to Jesus” moment, so to speak. You may have noticed that I spend most of my time with you delivering what I consider to be semi-self-deprecating — sometimes at the expense of others — hot takes on my dating life. It should first be stated that 99% of the people I’ve referenced told me that I could write about them. I have never written about a person who specifically asked me not to do so. Ironically, those people have never given me anything but wonderful things to say.
Though my dating dossier can be funny, and my intent is for it to land that way, I do know it can sound a little salty and it is putting those I am writing about in a peculiar situation. However, there is a pull to put it out there because I also know that those reading, including the ones I’m talking about, will benefit from it. Let’s face it. The likelihood of a repeat offense after being put on blast is unlikely. Frankly, I consider it humanitarian work for the Second Sex.
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It’s an interesting position to be in — one where you want to make light of and laugh about something that didn’t work out or was painful for you. You have found a way to wrap it up and want to talk about it and move on, but there is another side to the story that involves another human being who has real feelings.
Twice last month, I received messages after writing about my own personal experiences that involved others. Despite my speaking about it from an objective place — plus adding my opinion of what they did and how that made me feel — I received a text from someone saying that they didn’t want to be used as an example in my work.
When I read the message, my stomach turned a bit. Was I wrong to say something? Should I not talk about my dating life online? Do I sound like a monster?
I imagine that reading about yourself or hearing someone’s perspective of your experience in written form for others to see is jarring.
The truth is that we are so wrapped up in our minds and our side of a story that we can’t always see how we are being perceived, what our words actually sound like or what harm our actions cause those outside of us. We don’t see this until it’s been displayed in a way that calls you to the present. Hence my stomach turning — it called me into the moment, forcing my brain to consider another possibility. I had a new level of awareness.
“I believe it’s time for a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment.
I always welcome these moments because they are quick to show you parts of yourself that you may not be able to see from your own perspective. Our egos reign superior in moments when we are called into question. I rely on Byron Katie’s work in these moments and follow her instructions to take a U-turn. I put myself in the shoes of each person I referenced in this specific column and decided to look for a time that maybe I had done something similar to what they had done.
In this case, I decided to question if I had been someone who didn’t wish a partner a happy birthday, canceled plans last minute or objectified someone and their body to my friends. I spent hours flipping through my mental rolodex and came across what could be several chapters of “Why Ashley’s Dating Karma Looked Like It Did in 2022.”
In 2011, I was about five hours into my day before I realized it was my then-husband’s birthday. Sure, I could blame being tired and hungover from celebrating the night before or being preoccupied with work and kids’ schedules or the fact that I was miserable in my marriage, but nevertheless, I didn’t remember his birthday until later. Did my husband deserve better? 100%. However, thinking more recently, did I deserve better from someone I was newly dating whose life had been turned upside down? No. I wasn’t a priority and I should not have been.
Canceling plans last minute on someone? I’m not even going to begin to write the laundry list accounting for every time I’ve canceled on someone. I’m the last person to point my finger and truth be told, I’m no longer in a place in life where this actually gets to me. Last week, I had plans with a friend who I had previously dated for years. I was driving home after a long day thinking about how he would cancel at the last minute, and I was secretly hoping he would. I couldn’t help but laugh because 10 years ago, I would have lost my effing mind about it. Canceling plans, especially on someone you barely know, is fully OK in my book. If you’re dating them and it keeps happening, I wouldn’t keep dating them, but I also wouldn’t be upset or take it personally. You won’t even be thinking about it or them in six months.
Objectifying someone. I’m not guilty of sharing and talking about someone’s body with my friends or showing them pictures and discussing their parts. I’m the one known to be “no fun” in this department. Don’t get me wrong. I want to celebrate my friends and their new person, but don’t send me pictures of their bodies. I understand some people don’t care and encourage it because it makes them feel good. I support you in that! Personally, I believe there is a line between “I’m excited about my person and look how happy I am!” and “Look how hot my person is and how good this makes me look.” I certainly don’t agree with talking about or bringing attention to body parts. We are more than our parts.
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Of the two texts I received about feeling uncomfortable with being used as an example in my work, one did hit me. I could hear the pain in their voice and that was something I never considered — that they would read my words and feel that way. I instantly deleted it.
The other person? Well, I told them after thinking about it that it would appear we now both knew what it felt like to be talked about in a way that made us feel uncomfortable. I guess I am guilty of objectifying someone after all.
Ashley Kelsch is the former owner of Teddies for Betty’s, a lingerie and well-being boutique that she ran for a decade. Kelsch is also a certified professional dating, relationship and intimacy coach. She works with ambitious women who have everything but their love lives figured out. Follow her on Instagram @ashkelsch and read more of her Tribeza columns here.