One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote a post that stuck with me, and helped articulate my current conflicted feelings about the guy I’ve started dating.
After a long, long… loooong time of being alone, of hapless first dates, desperate drunken fumbles and one shocking dump-age, I find myself in a good place, with a good man, having an amazing time. He makes me laugh, he’s smart, cute and is willing to endure my sizable list of anxieties (this may change.. give it time) and I like him. He bizarrely seems to feel the same way. That never happens.
I like him in a ‘wow I actually can stand to be around you for hours at a time and still enjoy you’ type way. (Rare since I generally love people, but only in 1-2 hour stints) and after a first date of 8 hours, a second date of 9 hours and a third date of well.. a weekend.. I’m feeling like the 8 year old girl at school who just found their new bestest friend.
But as we move from ‘oh its amazing that I met someone who I like’, who doesn’t need to be lifted by a crane from his house, or need an intervention, whose ego isn’t swallowing him whole and whose lack of selfishness is – frankly- astonishing… well of course. Its time for my anxiety to swell to whole new levels and the deconstruction of his personality, his quirks, his ‘shit’… to start.
I wish I was a Buddist. I fervently wish I could ‘be here now’ and I really do try to just ‘be in the moment’ but my brain can’t help itself. Ifs its not spinning at 600rpm, its not comfortable. So while I’m basking in the satiation of a joyful weekend with my *gulp* boyfriend, my sentient brain is looking for the cracks. The flaws. The elements that make this guy human.. but which I just know, will drive me insane in about 6 months and cause me to run for the hills.
And while he’s busy being himself, eagerly sharing his great day, or ideas for a future weekend, I suddenly find my throat closing up and all of the air sucking out of the room. I can’t breathe. I need space. Its too much and my head might explode any second…to whit.. I have to get off the phone asap with a rapidly invented ‘class’ that amazingly starts in 10 minutes.
As soon as I hit ‘End’ on the phone the air rushes back in. My pulse rate returns to normal and this huge weight of expectation leaves my shoulders.
I know.. I know… its ridiculous. I’m a chick. We’re meant to love planners, and men who want to spend time with us. We want guys who talk on the phone and can’t wait to see us.
But I’m not that chick.
I’ve dated and married men with cool detachment. Men who call, but don’t have much to say. Who literally ask ‘how was your day?’ and then get off the phone in 10 minutes. Who like silence. Who would no more tell me about their day than talk to me in the bathroom. Who understand the need for space.. in fact, need even more than I do.
Faced with someone who wants to close that space, engage with me daily, chat on the phone for hours and make plans 3 days out.
Well I’m sweating even thinking about it.
I know its my problem. He’s just acting like a guy who likes a chick. He has a life, I have a life. He’s not asking to move in (oh boy that guy was a piece of work) and he’s certainly not monopolizing my time (ditto).. but I can’t help but freak out every time he knocks on one of my carefully constructed mental walls, even if its just to check I’m ok and ask if I need another cup of tea.
It literally makes me want to run screaming.
(now you get why I’m in therapy). Intimacy… its kind of a bit of a problem for me.
I know this will pass. Over time I know I will be able to relax. Enjoy the attention and the connection – after all, its what I’ve been looking since I lost it back in my 30’s.
So for now, I’m trying to take it one day at a time. Speak with kindness. Try not to project my abject fear onto him and remember that its not ‘him’ and that yes, whatever we’ve got going on.. well ..it is kinda awesome.
Me? Well I’m not quite ‘awesome’ with it yet.
But I know its ok not to be and that as with all things.. this too will pass.
The sense of claustrophobia will ease, my desire to reinforce the carefully constructed walls around my life will fade, and who knows.. maybe one day, I’ll make like East Germany and knock those fuckers down.
I’ll always be someone who likes silence. Who needs space.. even if its to do nothing. Who recharges without words and who lives in their head. But after many years of trying to change, I know that to be with someone doesn’t mean that I have to lose these things. At 42, I’m not going to change… but I can flex.
I just need to open my mouth and start the conversation about how its awesome… but sometimes, I’m not.