It’s been three months since you tried to break up with me before we even started … well, anything. Your decision and your words made me feel ill inside that night. We didn’t talk for several days which was, frankly, torture for me. I finally caved and messaged you. You messaged right back, like you were waiting for me. And we continued with this dialogue that, for all intents and purposes, was eerily similar to all the other dialogue we’d had before you lost your damned mind. That’s what I told you — that I refused to accept that the “serious,” mid-coitus conversation had even happened because you had lost your g/God damned mind. You laughed. You agreed.
Things were strained the next few days in that I wanted to just keep going like nothing had happened while, at the same time, never really succeeding at forgetting that it had. We went to dinner one night and watched football and, when you dropped me off after, I said I’d invite you in but that I didn’t know the rules anymore and you needed to set them. You parked and came inside. I sat far away from you while we watched the game and you said I didn’t have to be like that. Again I said that I didn’t know the rules and I was earnestly trying to follow your lead. I want to respect whatever boundaries and rules and preferences you have. But I also don’t. Not for nothing but I also really don’t know exactly what your preferences are and now it feels kind of unsafe to broach that subject because it was SO weird the first time. So I just try to navigate without a map. It’s going great, as you can imagine.
Three months later though, we’re basically back to where we were. And that makes me really happy. I’ve loved the time we have spent together over these months and I always, always want more. I never get tired of you which is super rare for me with … any human, but, as we’ve both said out loud, there’s also really no opportunity to get tired of you. There are times when I feel incredibly happy and times, like earlier today, when I am worried if I allow it spiral too long, that you are intentionally or unintentionally drifting away. We see each other, on average, once a week right now, sometimes every other. I don’t know if it’s the whole winter blues or your basketball schedule with the kids or what, but I don’t like that at all.
I like to be alone in these shorter days too but I find myself still thinking about you every day, multiple times a day, wether you text or not, unless I’m super busy at work, yet hesitating before initiating a text because I don’t want it to be too much or too often or too needy. That’s some high school nonsense. And as much as I also recognize that’s patently ridiculous to feel about a man you are with and have been for several relatively blissful months, I can’t help the feeling. You can call it baggage. I have some.
I try not to think about past relationships, unrequited and otherwise, where I tried too hard to make it work. I gave too much or I just wanted it too much maybe but, regardless, the result was … nothing. Me alone. Never knowing if it was because of me or in spite of me or nothing to do with me at all.
Here’s what I do know and it scares the hell out of me: I am 39 years old. I have never had a relationship that was equal. I have never gotten what I have given. I have never, not in romantic relationships or friendships, been someone’s number one. Not that I always knew that at the time. I don’t know if it’s because I was with the wrong people or if that’s all that exists. I have had my heart broken, shattered twice, and yet “love” is still my holy grail. I want it and long for it and ache for it more than anything. Would I sacrifice my parents or my brother or genocide of a million strangers for it? No. No, I wouldn’t. I don’t think that’s a fair or realistic question and, thanks to Yuval Harari’s “Sapiens,” I’m also rethinking a ton of existential shit that makes me wonder just what, if anything, we have control of in this life.
Does it matter what I want? How much I want it? How deeply I feel the lack of it? Does it matter if I’m a good person? If I put kindness and generosity and sincerity out into the world? Does it have any effect on what I get back? No? Yes? Unclear.
What I also know is that it is unrealistic to think that you, or the next person I meet, is going to be “The One.” But is it worth “wasting” time at this age on someone that isn’t the one? How do you know? Would I feel more confident in this current relationship if I knew that it was, in fact, mutual now that we moved past that initial weird shit in the first month when you got scared or whatever that was? That this could be something “serious,” actually more of the dating and not just (and with increasingly-less frequency) fucking and spending less time together since the days got shorter?
It’s possible that I’ve spent too much time alone in my winter solitude, with the sads, and that I’m making something out of nothing. That happens. I’m acutely aware. So are you. We’ve talked about this. You do it too. By contrast, I might also be making something seem like nothing because I’m hypersensitive in these darker days. I like this man in front of me so much. I love spending time with him and, when I’m spending time with him or even just when we are texting, I feel completely at ease and content and happy with things just the way they are. When it’s been too many days between physical time together, my mind, my heart and that ache that buries itself deep below my rib cage come back like an unwanted specter lurking in wait. I have no idea how a man cannot want sex more frequently. That first week? He was insatiable. So once a week is, you know, less than ideal. For me.
Earlier today and, if I’m being honest, the past several days, I have been worried that he would forget about or bail on this evening. There is thing for Yelp Elite where I get to go to this opening, with free drinks and a plus one. I always love the idea of doing “holiday things,” particularly with a (gag) special someone. I am not immune to the occasional Hallmark movie trope. But I’m also interested because it’s an opportunity to do something, anything, with John. We don’t do much outside of my house. Granted, it’s only been a few months, there are plenty of times we hang out and don’t have sex, but, annoyingly, I can never really get past the “I’m not really looking for anything serious right now” sentiment from months ago. Which he said to me while buried inside me, exactly one month after we met. Who could forget that? What woman who wants to see if there might be more, possibly could?
But he did remember tonight and, although I wanted to wait for him to initiate a “hey, what time do I need to be there” text, I initiated. But then I spent an hour feeling tortured by the lack of reply; an hour that felt like several. Mind you, I waited an even longer time for a return text from a friend today about a play we’re seeing tomorrow night and that caused a very similar, silly anxiety. But John’s reply came, it was clear he was planning on it all along, and I am just so sick of fighting myself to remember he isn’t the last asshole. Or maybe he’s driving over here right now, several hours before we have to be anywhere, just to initiate another “can we be serious for a minute?” talk. I hope not. And I hope there’s never another one while we’re literally physically connected to each other.
Three months ago, after that awkwardly timed confession, I refused to accept him ending things because nothing had started and it seemed premature and unfair when things were so fun and easy and chill. Now though, because of the holidays or because of the four-month (meaningless) milestone or whatever, I can’t help but wonder if I made a mistake in refusing to just take the hurt back then and get past it eventually. Time will tell I guess.
He said back then, in August, that he didn’t want to get down the line and then hurt me because he knows himself and he is selfish with his time. The latter seems to be exactly true and I try to recognize that when I’m feeling slightly neglected. On one hand, he should want to respect that I need to feel serious the way he needs to feel not-serious. Does that, by default, make us incompatible though? Aren’t these normal early relationship things to iron out? Or am I going to get hurt again and have only myself to blame? Is it going to happen again during the holiday season; a season that is already tinged with as much heartache and longing in me as it is joy and happiness in others? I want to be hopeful and be present and just accept whatever will be.
I’m not sure if that is stupidity or willful ignorance or healthy optimism though. And I’m never sure how much of this introspection is normal or would be happening at any time of the year – or if it’s just that the sads that are never far away and are most acutely present during this time of year.
I know that I am a different person in these darker days. The sads are a pall over everything and I have to actively work to remember how easily I can be tricked into thinking my gloomier affect is reality.
It also needs to be said that I question whether I am settling or if I’m just into him because he’s, you know, around and made the mistake of talking to me in a bar in July when I was on the way to being inebriated. He remembers everything though so it helps to know he knew what he wanted. Just like me though, he didn’t know we weren’t going to just hook up and say goodbye forever. If he had, would he have been interested in coming home with me? Would I? I don’t know. He’s been different, better, easier to be with from day dot. That’s something.
I try to be logical – to really think through what I like about him as a person and figure out in my lists in my head what goes in the settling category and what goes in the I-like-it-because-I-actually-like-him category. The thing is, yes, I’m 39 and I am acutely aware of my clock and all that unfortunately and frustratingly real shit. I am also cognizant of the fact that I like being around this guy. So much! He makes me laugh, he makes me feel attractive and funny and smart and accomplished. He seems to appreciate that I am exactly who I am. He knows how extra my mind is, constantly, and he laughs about it with me. I really like his laugh. He doesn’t seem to want to change me so do I want him to change? Or do I not actually know what he wants now? I mean, it’s been four months for both of us. Things have been so, so nice since we chose to move past those silent few days in August. Time changes things, for better or for worse and sometimes back again. But at this point, it’s still early. It feels good. I love being with him. I love talking to him, for hours. I love being the person he chooses to talk to and spend his limited time with. He already makes the sads of this season feel less heavy.
I know that tonight will be fun and I am excited to spend it with him. Maybe he’s what I should have found a long time ago. Surely wish I had.