A Dater's Life

Monday, March 31, 2008

Can we (gulp) talk?

What is it about communication with your (new? potential? quasi?) partner that is so intimidating? We all know, or I hope we all know, that the key to a healthy relationship is communication, being honest and open, being real. So why do we hide our feelings so much?

Saturday night, Mr. Nice initiated our first big "where are we now?" talk. It was terrifying. We talked about relationships past, some of our fears and insecurities about moving forward too quickly. We agreed that it's still too soon to talk about this in terms of making a long-term commitment, but at the same time we agreed that things as they are right now are looking pretty damn good. While there still is much uncertainty about the future of this whatevership, I know it was the right thing to do. So much of the anxiety I've been having over the past couple of weeks has stemmed from my not knowing where he's coming from (and from my not feeling like he knows where I'm coming from).

I think I shy away from being assertive in relationships out of fear of rejection; perhaps I think that if I stay silent, the relationship will magically work itself out. Even now, I'm finding myself worry that I've exposed too much, that Mr. Nice has figured out that I'm "crazy." I know it's ridiculous, that it would be better to voice what I'm feeling and be rejected than to hide it inside and suffer miserably (and probably wind up rejected in the long run, anyway).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Are we all just crazy?

I've been dating Mr. Nice for about two months now. When we're together, things are effortless. We are both so into each other, it stuns me.

But that doesn't mean all of the baggage from relationships past is gone. All of that is still there, all of that still needs to be worked on. I find myself, in the days between our dates, totally and utterly freaking out about, well, about nothing. In my brain -- and I know where this comes from; it comes from the men in the past who did this -- I conjure up this twisted fantasy where Mr. Nice will all-of-a-sudden reveal his true colors, that he'll lose interest in me over, well, over nothing.

What's helped is to talk to others, to talk to people who are in solid, committed relationships. And do you know what I'm learning? That every single person I know was infected by the crazy in the early stages of their relationships (and the crazy even pops back into the picture from time-to-time years into the relationship). I suppose it's a natural thing to go through when one is making oneself vulnerable and exposed in front of another person. Trust -- and intimacy -- takes time to build, but it's easy to let the crazy take over entirely, to let it consume us and destroy our perspective. The Crazy is simply our attempt at protecting ourselves; but in the end, if left unchecked, it leads only to one thing: sabotage.

But in the end, when I'm left alone in my protective shell, I have to ponder, "What am I missing out on?"

The other day, when I was spinning my wheels over, well, over nothing, a wise friend said to me, "OK, this is when your dear friend sits you down (virtually) and tells you to CHILL...THINGS ARE FINE! Stop looking for them not to be!"

Wise words, indeed.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Book Review -- The Girls' Guide To Hunting and Fishing

A few years ago, I picked up a copy of the popular: The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, by Melissa Bank. I wasn't all that impressed with it at the time, blasted through it in a few hours with a casual, "Shrugg. Cute."

But a couple of weeks ago, after talking with a friend about expectations and dating, I found myself picking the book up again when she suggested I read the title story. In it, the narrator, a relationship-challenged woman named Jane, finds herself struggling with what "rules" she should follow when she meets the man of her dreams. She receives a copy of a book that outlines strict guidelines for her behavior, and enters her new relationship following every bit of advice. As she contemplates her every move, the writers of the book whisper in her ear: "Don't accept a date less than four days in advance!" "Make him wonder a little!" "Don't be negative!" "Be mysterious!" "Keep him guessing!"

Essentially, be everything but what you are in order to get the man. You can be yourself only after you've gotten him.

It's advice that we've all heard, advice we've all read, and that most of us struggle with because on some level, we know that playing these games "works". For Jane, the advice obviously works at first; she lands the guy and he courts her with enthusiasm. But -- and I know you saw this coming -- in the end, it backfires. Her man pulls away, and she finds herself at a crossroads: Adhere to these "rules" or return to being myself?

I won't spoil the ending for you, but I found myself at a similar junction this weekend. Mr. Nice -- you know, Bachelor #2 -- had turned down my invitation to go hiking this weekend because he had the flu. But yesterday afternoon -- you know, Saturday afternoon -- he called to say that he was feeling better; he asked if I had made new plans and then said if I hadn't, he'd love for me to come over for dinner.

I paused. The voices started in my head. Don't accept a last-minute invitation with him! Don't be so available! Don't let him think you've been sitting around, waiting for his call!

But the truth was, I didn't have plans beyond watching a movie and taking a bubble bath. The truth was, I wanted to see him. He knows I have a life outside of him; my independence and sense of self is what attracted him to me in the first place. I looked inside of my self and said, "I refuse to play games with him."

So I took a deep breath and said, "I'd love to have dinner with you."

I won't spoil the ending for you.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

A dater's rant

There are days, okay most days, where I am just sick and tired of DATING.

Right now, I'm dating this pretty damn wonderful man. It's only been just over a month, so it's still too soon to tell where it's heading, but at this moment, I'm pretty damn happy when we're together. In the last month, we've had several lovely dates, some spanning 24 (or more) hours. We've gotten dressed up and gone all out; we've gotten dressed down and stayed in. He doesn't hesitate to talk about future-oriented things; he's even referred to our "relationship" and called me his girl. We're starting to have intimate conversations about who we are and what we want. We seem to be on the same page about so many things, and we seem to balance each other out. We have amazing sexual chemistry, but the chemistry doesn't stop in the bedroom. We genuinely have a good time together, and when we're together, things just feel comfortable. For one month of dating, it's pretty damn good.

Yes, there's a but.

But, the problem with dating someone for only one month is that I have no sense of what to expect -- from him, from me, from "us." Two weeks ago, we agreed that we both see long-term potential but that it's too soon to have a "C"ommitment. At the time, neither one of us was seeing anyone else, but we agreed that it was possible that one of us could meet someone else.

In my head, I know this is the way that dating often works. I know that it's best to not rush into anything, that a "C"ommitment too soon is often too rushed. I know that I need to stay calm, that if it doesn't work out, I haven't lost my self; I know that if it doesn't work out, I'll be fine -- and that if it does work out, it'll be pretty damn wonderful.

But in my heart, something is shifting, and it's driving me batty. The truth is, I'm really starting to like this guy, I'm really starting to fall for him, and I'm finding myself feeling exposed and vulnerable. It's bringing to the surface so many of my insecurities from relationships past, things I know I have to work on by myself and not impose upon Bachelor #2.

I'm not dating anyone else, but I'm forcing myself to log-in to the dating site where I met Bachelor #2, forcing myself to "wink" and e-mail guys I'm totally not interested in. I find myself upset and frustrated when I notice that Bachelor #2 has been active (nevermind that I've been active, though to be honest sometimes I log-in just to see if he's logged-in!) but I find myself terrified to bring up the (gulp!) subject of monogamy. In spite of my insecurities, it still feels too soon; but perhaps it feeling too soon is simply another one of my insecurities revealed.

Like I said, I don't know what to expect. Should we see each other more often? Should we be talking on the phone every day? If we go a week without seeing each other, does that mean neither of us is into each other? I'm reminded that he's dealing with his own "stuff," just like me, that he has his own insecurities about dating, and I need to be patient with him. But just as important I need to be patient with myself.

The first couple of months of dating are at once utterly thrilling and utterly terrifying. I have to remember that when I meet the right person, it will all be worth it.

It will all be worth it, right?