A Dater's Life

Friday, April 25, 2008

Male time versus female time

It's been a couple of weeks since Mr. Nice and I have gotten together. He went out of town for five days last week, and last weekend said he was pretty swamped with work and didn't think he'd be able to get together over the weekend. He asked if I could get together earlier this week, but I was busy. So we made a plan for tonight.

Well, not to get all Mars and Venus on you, but in typical female form, I've been freaking out for much of the week. Thoughts swim through my head: Has me met someone else? Is he pulling away? Is he getting ready to dump me? Is he questioning where this is going?

We just chatted on the phone, to set a plan for the night. The conversation goes as follows:

Him: It feels like it's been awhile since we've met up.
Me: Yeah, I think it's been two weeks.
Him: It has?
Me: Yeah, remember you went out of town and then we didn't get together this past weekend.
Him: Oh yeah.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ready for the next step (?)

How do you know when you're ready to advance the relationship? There's one side that thinks that these things just "happen" naturally. Then again, there's another side that says it's best to make a conscious decision to be together.

It's been three weeks since Mr. Nice and I had our first big relationship talk. At the time, we agreed that taking things one date at a time was for the best.

But now, three weeks later, I feel like I'm moving to a place where one date at a time might not be enough. It's not that I'm unhappy with him or even want or need to see him more often (we're both fairly busy to begin with and he's been traveling for work so frequently that I'm not even sure that's possible). But it's more that I'm starting to feel like "one date at a time" is getting a bit redundant. It's more that I'm starting to feel that he and I are getting more emotionally and intellectually involved without making things "official."

I wonder how far we can progress without doing so.

But I've never dated anyone like this before. He's such a different man than the men in my past, and we're approaching this so differently. In the past, I rushed in without even thinking about my needs or desires or even about whether or not I really liked the guy. It just happened. And in every single case, the guy -- and the relationship -- quickly turned into a disaster.

This way, for all its stresses, feels so much better. At least it feels better for this relationship.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

You are now entering...

...a bizarre, parallel dating universe.

Friday night before we went to sleep, Mr. Nice suggested that we hang curtains in my bedroom. I'm not sure what triggered this suggestion (well, beyond the fact that I've lived in my condo for over a year and still have my curtains taped and tacked up to the wall like I'm in a college dorm room or something) as we had been talking about taking a nice hike or something on Saturday.

But the man's an engineer. Who's going to turn down an offer like that?!

The day passed in a blur. After a nice brunch, we came back to my place to get ready to head out to buy supplies. There was a lot of measuring and writing down of numbers. We went to three different stores, bought some lovely curtains and curtain rods and (after a lengthy conversation at the hardware store about the different types of screws to use on drywall versus mortar versus wood) my very-first level.

Again, we came back to my place. A lot of measuring and writing down of numbers and taping and more measuring and levelling went on.

Mostly, I sat on the bed (looking cute) and watched Mr. Nice's butt. He didn't seem to mind, but instead worked away, every few minutes turning around (looking cute) to flash me a grin.
I did make juice. And handed him tools every few minutes.

What on earth has happened to me? A few years ago I would have protested, I can hang my own curtains, thankyouverymuch, and wound up slapping up some cheap, lopsided rods (probably not for another year or so, probably right before I decide to move again). I would have stood on my feminist soapbox and demanded that we break the duties in half.

I know there are plenty of things I can do that Mr. Nice can't, and I also know that he doesn't view me as some helpless, frail princess, waiting for her prince to hang her curtains. As he was leaving, I said to him, Well, you've proven yourself worthy; I'll keep you around....now to figure out what I can do for you!

Because in the end, I must admit that (1) Mr. Nice really is the best man -- the best person -- for a job like this; (2) if he's the best person, I'm truly one of the worst people for a job like this; (3) I really don't think there's anything wrong with watching his butt while he hangs curtains.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Unloading baggage

A friend suggested I check out a chapter from Norah Vincent's Self-Made Man, which is the story of the year that Vincent attempted to pass as a heterosexual man. I haven't read the entire book yet, but the chapter my friend suggested is entitled "Love." The author says that her most difficult, her most challenging experiences as a man ("Ned") were with dating women. Ned was stunned by the blatant hostility he received as a man, hostility that wasn't due to anything Ned had said or done but that seemed to be targeted at him purely because of his sex. Vincent writes:
For [these women], as for so many of us, romantic hurt equaled romantic blame, and because they were exclusive heterosexuals, romantic blame was assigned more often to the sex, not the morals, of the person inflicting the pain (100).
In essence, when a woman is hurt by a man, she assumes that ALL MEN will behave this same way. Her guard is up before the man has even spoken, before they've even met, and their courtship is about him trying to prove otherwise. Instead of thinking, "You're innocent until you prove otherwise," these women are thinking, "You're guilty until you prove yourself innocent."

I know I've been guilty of this in my past, and letting go of the baggage from relationships past (and not letting it sabotage my relationships present) is one of life's biggest challenges. It's one of my ongoing challenges. A friend of mine, a single (but dating) New Yorker in her early 40s, has advised me to keep my guard up around Mr. Nice. She tells me that I need to not put myself out there too quickly, to keep my options open, to be prepared for the worst. And while I understand where she is coming from -- and even agree, to an extent, that of course you need to be careful about making yourself too vulnerable around someone you've just met a few days or weeks ago...real trust and intimacy takes time to build, after all -- I can't let myself live in such a negative way. I need optimism if I'm going to make my life -- and my quest for love -- work.

Quite literally minutes before my first date with Mr. Nice, my attitude shifted. So often with dating, especially with on-line dating, I approach the date thinking, "What's the point of getting excited about this when I know it won't work in the end?" With him, I let myself get excited. I thought to myself, "Wait a second...what if this DOES work? What if this DOES turn into something real? Isn't that kind of exciting to think about?" And I carried that positive attitude into our date and he noticed it, liked it, was attracted to it.

That isn't to say that I walked into our date with a marriage proposal. No, not at all. I knew it was only one date. But I walked into it open to the possibility of meeting someone special; I walked into it thinking, "This is a person I want to meet" as opposed to "This is just another man who's out to hurt me."

A couple of years ago, doing research for a writing project, I went to an all-woman dating seminar. The teacher was talking about this very subject. She told us that she talks to men, good and kind and sincere men, who often ask her, "Why do women always have their arms crossed? Are they holding their breasts up?"

It's a subtle movement, but it's a sign of the defensiveness that so many women carry inside of them. And it's a self-fulfilling prophecy as our defensiveness pushes men away time and time again.

Ladies, I think it's time to uncross our arms.